Japan is unlike any other country I’ve been to, so unique in its culture – every day, every meal time and every journey brings a completely new experience..
A Hot piece of Ass
What could be better on a cold Winter’s Morn in Japan than sliding off one’s
undergarments, and lowering one’s arse to a toilet to find said arse is met with… Ahh! Warmth! Japanese toilets feature heated seats. Other highlights include music and sound effects… I suppose I better get off the toilet and start exploring some of Tokyo!
2. Life in plastic, it’s fantastic
About 90% of restaurants in Japan have plastic models of the menu to help you figure out what you’re ordering. If there’s no plastic, you’ll typically get handed a picture book of the menu. Not completely idiot proof but handy nonetheless!
A middle aged woman in central London with a heap of stuffed animals dangling from her backpack? Tragic! A woman in Tokyo doing the same? Standard! There’s a reason that “Kawaii” is one of the few Japanese words that foreigners know – everything here is cutesified – from Hello Kitty backpacks to your food.
Forget Uber, getting taxis in Japan is a classy soirée; these guys wear little Chauffeurs hats and white gloves and when you reach your destination, the doors open automatically – now that’s what I call service!
Izakayas are awesome! Especially if you’re lazy like I am. It’s basically a restaurant where you have a button on your table that you press whenever you need more food or drinks – the wait staff seem to materialise instantly too!
6. Valueless Coins
The one yen coin reminds me of that toy money you got with those cashier till sets as a child. It has virtually no value – coming in at 0.00059 GBP or 0.0084 USD! I found I accrued a ton of these over my time in Japan.
7. People are SO polite
In London (and actually most places I’ve traveled with a metro system but especially London!) if a train is running late, people are huffing, puffing and stomping down the platform with steam coming out of their ears – and I’m not even talking about a substantially late train here, I’m talking 3-4 minutes behind schedule! Then when the train arrives, it’s all elbows for people trying to get on first. Not in Japan, people form orderly queues for the subway and wait their turn – there are even markings on the platform where the doors open to show where to queue and some places even have conductors!
8. Everyone wears masks
The Japanese are major germ-a-phobes. The first time I flew to Tokyo was amidst the Ebola outbreak and I was greeted by Airport staff in Hazmat suits!
The general population love those surgeon style masks; If you cough, sneeze or clear your throat, watch them as they nervously fiddle to ensure their masks are on securely!
9. Sweets for my sweet
I love a good pudding. I will be spherical and toothless before I stop eating cakes and desserts multiple times a day. Thankfully this notion seems to be shared by the Japanese – this stuff is everywhere! You will find a ton of bakeries selling cakes and sweet treats for 100-200 yen a piece and people leaving with 10 or more cakes! (My kinda people)
10. The machines are taking over!
Vending machines are everywhere too – on every street corner you will find a drinks vending machine. The bottled coffees are fab and some of them come hot. Taking it to the next level, there’s also a bunch of vending machine restaurants (!)
11. Long & leggy
At 5″1 I could seriously be a contender for the World’s smallest woman. In Japan, I can finally reach things on shelves! It’s like I’ve found my own! You’ll find this reflected in clothing sizes too – all much much smaller than the US and UK.
Missed your train home? Don’t worry! Just head to one of the many 24 hour karaoke dedicated skyscrapers that are dotted around! Karaoke is a big deal here, it’s definitely a must try as you get a private room for you and your friends and they have some real spectacular views that could give Tokyo tower a run for its money.
13. Themed Cafes
How about a nice plate of tantalising curry dressed up like diarrhea and served up on a miniature squat toilet? No? Well then what about drinking coffee with 9-10 cats? Japan is full of quirky themed restaurants and interactive animal cafes.
14. Secret underground shopping
Ok I lied, it’s not so much of a secret. Some of the major shopping malls are to be found in the subway stations – Shinjuku is full of premium brand stores.
Coming to Japan and not drinking Sake is like going to Rome and not doing as the Romans, you know? Forget wine tasting or trying Ale samples, some bars do platters of different strength Sakes for you to try.
16. Bow down
Like much of Asia, it is customary for retail staff to bow when thanking you for your patronage. Japan seems to take it to the next step though – make a purchase and count the bows!
When I was shopping in Ginza, the store worker bowed as she finalised my payment, bowed as she handed me my shopping bag and bowed again as I left the store! I looked back after I’d walked a few paces down the street to find her still bent in a bow stance!
Pachinko is a popular gambling game played by the Japanese – a Japanese version of pinball if you will, but these guys are addicted! “Pachinko Parlours” line the streets of Akihabara, and people are there so long that they have built in cafe areas, convenience stores and showers!
If you stay in traditional accommodation, or venture into greater Japan, a lot of places have Tatami mats in place of Western beds – it’s essentially a thin mattress on the floor. It takes some getting used to but now I think I prefer them – they do wonders for your back too!
So what were your favourite quirks about the Japanese culture during your trip in Japan?