50 Utterly Unexpected Facts About Japan

We share with you 50 curious facts about the Land of the Rising Sun.

  1. In Japan, it’s usually women who show their affection and give gifts to men on Valentine’s Day. This tradition allows girls to express their feelings, and they don’t have to wait for the man to make the first move.
  2. In the Land of the Rising Sun, everyone normally makes a snowman with just two snowballs.
  1. Fish and meat are very cheap in this country. However, fruit is very expensive. An apple usually costs $2, while a bunch of bananas can be purchased for about $5. The most expensive fruit is melon: in Tokyo, it will cost around $200.
  2. Colonel Sanders is one of the major symbols of Christmas in Japan, just as Coca-Cola is in the United States. On Christmas Eve, the Japanese go to KFC and eat a large portion of chicken wings. Since the vast majority of Japanese people are either Buddhists or Shintoists, they celebrate Christmas just for the fun of it.

  1. Pornography is sold absolutely everywhere, and every “combini“ (grocery store) has a separate shelf for it. In small bookstores, pornography comprises about one-third of the entire assortment, while in the large bookstores, 2 to 3 floors are assigned to adult content.
  2. People in Japan eat dolphins. The Japanese use them to prepare soups, ”kushiyaki” (skewered chicken), or even eat them uncooked. Dolphin meat is quite tasty and has a unique taste that doesn’t resemble that of fish.
  3. Japan has female-only carriages on its metro system. These are mostly used during the morning rush hour so that women can ride with a sense of security. A lot of Japanese men practice voyeurism, so touching or groping women on crowded subway trains is a common thing here. However, this country has one of the lowest rates of rape in the world.
  4. In Japan, everyone knows that Hello Kitty was created in England.

  1. The Japanese never leave work on time. Employees usually wait until their boss lets them go home or leave only after their employer has left. Since the executives in Japan usually stay at work for three or four extra hours, their subordinates often have to work late into the night too. Leaving work on time (even if you have a good reason for it) is enough to invite accusations of disloyalty to the company.
  2. The school year begins on April 1 and is divided into trimesters.
  3. Schoolgirls in Japan are not allowed to wear tights even in cold weather. Knee-high socks, which are part of the standard school uniform, should be worn throughout the year. Students’ skirts vary in length depending on their age: the older the girl, the shorter the skirt is.
  1. In Japan, it’s absolutely normal to see a woman on the street wearing a skirt so short that it reveals her underwear or a part of her buttocks. However, dresses or tops with a deep neckline are considered vulgar.
  2. The concept of honor is very important to Japanese people. Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama resigned because he couldn’t fulfill his pre-election promises. The two ministers that preceded him had also behaved the same way.
  3. Japan is the only country in the world where a one-minute threshold is considered the criterion of being late. The only reason for the delay of a train is a suicide under its wheels.
  4. Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Sometimes suicides are committed just in order to support another person or because the head of the family has decided so.
  5. Even today in Japan, about 30% of all marriages are arranged by the parents. This tradition is called “Omiai.”

  1. In all northern cities of Japan, streets and sidewalks are heated in the winter, so there is no ice. However, most Japanese homes and apartments don’t come with any form of central heating. Most homes rely primarily on oil heaters and gas or kerosene stoves.
  2. The Japanese language has the interesting word “karoshi“ that means ”death from overwork.” This diagnosis contributes to the deaths of more than 10,000 Japanese workers each year.
  3. In Japan, you can smoke everywhere except on railway station platforms and at the airports. However, there are no waste bins, and one is not allowed to flick cigarette ash to the ground. That’s why every smoker in Japan carries a small ashtray with them.
  4. Japan is the last country in the world that can be called an empire. The Japanese imperial dynasty was never interrupted. Akihito, the reigning Emperor of Japan, is a direct descendant of the first Emperor Jimmu, who founded the empire in 711 BC.
  5. The Japanese love to eat and love to talk about food. While eating, it is necessary to praise the meal. It is considered very impolite not to say “delicious” several times during the meal.

  1. Raw horse meat is considered a delicacy in Japan. It is called basashi and is sliced thinly and eaten raw.
  2. The Japanese language uses three different systems for writing: hiragana (syllabic system for writing Japanese words), katakana (an alphabet used to write non-Japanese borrowed words), and kanji (hieroglyphic writing).
  3. There are no foreign workers in Japan. According to Japanese law, the minimum wage for foreign workers is higher than the average salary of a Japanese citizen. That’s why companies in this country are more likely to hire a Japanese citizen than an immigrant.
  4. Almost all railways in Japan are private. The only exceptions are the shinkansen: high-speed trains connecting the big cities of Japan.
  5. Mount Fujiyama is the private property of The Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha shrine. Takeda Shingen donated the territory on Mount Fuji to this temple back in 1609.

  1. The Japanese language has several degrees of courtesy: conversational, respectful, polite, and very polite. Women’s speech usually contains more respectful forms than men’s.
  2. The Japanese have no month names. Instead, months are named with sequential numbers. For example, September is “kugatsu,“ which means ”the ninth month.“
  3. Ethnic Japanese make up 98.4% of the total population of Japan.
  4. In Japan, prisoners do not have the right to vote in elections.
  5. If a Japanese person does not want to assist you with something, they will never say “no.” Instead they will assure you that they will think over the ways to help or that your problem needs some time to check. However, you will never get an answer.
  6. Tokyo is the safest city in the world. Six-year-olds can travel on public transport on their own.
  7. The ninth article of the Japanese Constitution renounces war and prohibits Japan from establishing its own military forces.

  1. There are no landfills in Japan because all garbage is recycled. Garbage is classified into four types: combustible trash, incombustible trash, glass containers, and recyclable waste.
  2. There are no dustbins on the streets, only special containers for collecting bottles.
  3. Public pensions in Japan are very low, and there is no obligatory pension insurance. Every Japanese person has to take care of their old age by themselves.
  4. Men are always served first. In restaurants, men are usually first to order their meals, and in stores, shop assistants normally greet men first.
  5. All toilets in Japan are equipped with heated seats and at least ten additional buttons. Moreover, most Japanese public restrooms have water-flushing sound machines to mask any embarrassing sounds.

  1. Leaving tips is not a common practice in Japan. It is believed that as long as the customer pays the actual price for the service, they treat the seller as an equal. If you do attempt to tip someone, it can be considered rude.
  2. The age of consent in Japan is 13 years old. It is the minimum age at which an individual is considered legally old enough to consent to participation in sexual activity.
  3. In Japanese, the notions of “being wrong“ and ”being different“ are expressed by the same word: “chigau.”
  4. All Japanese cell phones come with a built-in emergency notification alert. When a disaster happens, the phone will beep loudly (even if the sound is turned off), and every person will receive an emergency message warning them of the danger and giving them instructions on how to act.
  5. Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Japan. Three inmates were executed last year, while seven people were given the death penalty.
  6. Small circular or square seals called ”hanko” are used instead of a signature on many documents in Japan. Each Japanese person has such a seal, and it is used many times during the day. You can buy such a seal in any shop.

  1. In Japan, it is impolite to open a present in the presence of the person who has given it. You should say thank you for the gift and open it only after the guests have left.
  2. The Japanese believe that every person should be able to hide their suffering behind a mask of smiles and happiness.
  3. Japan has the third longest life expectancy in the world with men living to 81 years and women living to almost 88 years.
  4. Property rights in Japan are highly respected. There are dozens of companies with more than a thousand-year history. For example, Houshi Ryokan hotel has been in business since 718, and the same family has run it for 46 generations.
  5. Two-thirds of Japan’s territory is covered with forests. However, the Japanese government has banned the use of the country’s own wood for commercial purposes. So Japan consumes about 40% of all wood harvested from tropical forests.
  6. The Japanese language has thousands of borrowed foreign words, known as “gairaigo.“ These words are often truncated, e.g. personal computer = ”paso kon.”



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