Japan has long been known for its distinct culture and traditions, and visiting the Land of the Rising Sun might feel like plunging into a cultural ice bucket.
Many cultural features developed entirely undisturbed by outside influences as an island nation with a long history of isolation. Feudal samurai ideals collide with cutting-edge technology as elderly survivors of the atomic explosion rub shoulders with teenagers dressed in Pokemon costumes.
So it’s no surprise that Japan appears to have a high tolerance for strangeness to Western eyes.
Japan is without a doubt one of the world’s most innovative and creative societies. Where else can you find trains that go at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour or toilets that play music while you do your business?
But this is only touching the surface of Japan’s incredible beauty. From vending machine fetishes to cartoons, food, and more, Japan is simply intriguing.
We want to emphasize that “weird” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s completely legitimate to wonder why the West is so strange compared to Japan.
However, for visitors to Japan, the country’s distinct characteristics of culture make it one of the fascinating destinations on the planet.
Weirdest Things in Japan
Japan is a stunning country full of natural wonders. This is a modern country, one of its technological leaders, but it retains much of its traditional spirit.
Japan’s long history and diverse culture are both fascinating and perplexing to outsiders. As a result, one might conclude that Japan is a strange and contradictory place.
In reality, everything that may appear perplexing to Westerners makes perfect sense when viewed through the lens of Japanese culture. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any oddities; Japan isn’t afraid of them.
In any case, many foreigners find Japan fascinating, partly because of its culture and many things that seem strange from a Western perspective.
Here are the weirdest things in Japan:
Super Weird Game Shows
Japanese game shows may be completely insane, and some of them are so outrageous that they wouldn’t be allowed to air in any other country.
This game shows frequently place competitors in excruciatingly humiliating positions. They can be downright bizarre, such as one game show where one item in a room is replaced with a chocolate replica, and competitors must try to discover it by biting into several objects.
They can also be outright revolting, including gore and nasty stuff. One thing is sure: they aren’t Wheel Of Fortune games. Japanese game shows embrace oddity to the fullest extent possible.
This is a fantastic concept for cat lovers who don’t want to deal with the hassle of caring for them. Enjoy your hot beverage while touching adorable fluffy kittens.
This is a fantastic way to unwind after a long day at the office. Are you a cat person? Then go hedgehog hunting and learn about a trip to Tokyo’s HARRY – Hedgehog Cafe.
These may seem strange, but they were so popular in Japan that several other countries built their pet cafes.
You usually pay an entrance charge, receive a complimentary drink and spend around an hour surrounded by pets.
Vending machines are one of Japan’s most robust features. You may be accustomed to the “standard” vending machines found worldwide, but the Japanese variation is unique.
While some vending machines sell standard items like soda and sweets, many others sell pretty unique items. Vending machines in Japan offer such a wide range of products that you may buy nearly anything from them.
Vending machines sell things such as canned bread, milk, noodles, manga, and other necessities. Vending machines also sell pants, t-shirts, and a variety of other clothing products.
Vending machines may be found all across Japan, and they are bright and offer a diverse selection of goods. Vending machines are popular with tourists because of the strange products they offer.
Still, they are far from novelty items: residents widely utilize them and are often regarded as a convenient means to acquire necessities.
Square Watermelons, Ultra-Expensive
In Japan, watermelon is a popular summer fruit. People frequently present them as gifts and play “suikawari,” a watermelon-based version of piata. But then there are square watermelons, which are unusual, intriguing, and extremely pricey.
Square watermelons were initially created to fit more compactly in refrigerators and cut more simply, but they’ve since evolved into decorative pieces that can cost up to $160. However, farmers in Japan didn’t stop at square shapes, either.
Love hearts and triangles, for example, are grown in special containers or holds and require years of practice to get the desired shape.
In the heart of Tokyo, finding room for real estate development might be difficult. On the other hand, the Japanese successfully devised a brilliant answer in the form of the capsule hotel.
These are a one-of-a-kind item available exclusively in Japan, and while they may appear strange at first, they are pretty comfy.
Initially designed for businesses, capsule hotels have recently gained popularity with low-budget travelers and foreign tourists seeking a more adventurous experience.
A single capsule typically measures 1.2 meters in width, 2 meters in length, and 1 meter in height, and most people say they are more comfortable than they appear.
Furthermore, visiting Japan, which is known for being an expensive country, will not break the wallet.
Tipping Is An Insult
If you stay in the United States or Europe, you probably can’t imagine not tipping when you go out to eat. Isn’t that plain rude? In Japan, however, leaving a gratuity is considered impolite.
In Japan, the prevalent attitude is that why spend more if you’re paying for decent service? Many Japanese people believe that excellent service should be the standard; hence tipping is frowned upon.
No matter how strange it may sound, it is a good rule of thumb not to tip in a restaurant. Instead, be courteous and thank your server for their assistance.
Hotel employees do not anticipate a tip; however, some tourist company employees are accustomed to getting tips and may appreciate a small gesture. Just make sure to keep the money hidden and put it in an envelope.
Hi-Tech Japanese Toilet is well-known in Japan. Unlike toilets in the Western world, Japanese toilets are fully equipped to conduct various activities, including spray washing and deodorizing.
While most hi-tech Japanese Toilet is found in people’s houses, you don’t have to travel far to find one: most public restrooms, including those found in places like train stations, are also hi-tech.
There, you can make use of the many different features that a high-tech toilet can provide. For example, adjusting the water pressure, utilizing the bidet, or applying a deodorizer are standard options.
Not to mention that you can usually modify the water’s temperature or choose between pulsing or other personalized sprays. A high-tech toilet may also include a heated seat and other unique features, such as the flushing sound.
Many of Japan’s high-tech toilets have sensors that “know” when they are occupied and will automatically lower or raise the toilet seat and lid.
The Rent-A-Cuddle Cafe
The first “cuddle cafes” opened in Tokyo in 2012. Male clients can sleep next to a woman at Soine-ya for a fee (literally “sleep-together shop”). Unfortunately, there is no space for kidding about, and just getting in costs around $25.
Begin with a 20-minute nap and gradually increase to a 10-hour nap or a whole night’s sleep. The lowest affordable option costs roughly $40, while the most expensive option costs more than $400.
Takotamago is a little octopus served on a stick with a cooked egg in its head. It is the strangest and most delicious cuisine on the planet. I discovered these at Kyoto’s markets and fell in love with them.
These are the ideal snack and are undoubtedly among the top Japanese cuisine you should taste while in Japan. I believe the strange thing is how they managed to put an egg in the octopus’s head.
After being featured on various blogs and movies exposing how strange Japan can be, Takotamago became immensely popular with travelers.
Canned Food Restaurant
Mr. Kanso restaurant in Osaka is notable for serving only canned cuisine, making it one of the strangest eateries in the world. While this may not be everyone’s idea of a tasty lunch, the restaurant does provide an excellent selection of canned foods from around the world.
This is one of the few sites in the world where you can get so many distinct canned food brands in one location. Because of the wide range of options, it’s no surprise that the restaurant is quite popular.
Mr. Kanso does not have a menu; instead, diners can choose cans from the shelf to build their lunch. All guests are given plastic cutlery, so all you have to do now is pick whatever cans you want to try and settle down to eat.
In addition, the restaurant boasts plush chairs and a relaxing environment, making it more delightful than it appears at first.
The Streets Have No Name
The majority of Japanese streets are unnamed. Starting with the prefecture (similar to a state), the city or municipality, the district, and finally the block (for urban addresses) or the land number, the postal address system is complex and distinctive (in rural locations).
The spaces between streets are called, and specific house numbers are assigned numbers based on when they were built, but most Japanese streets are unnamed, except for Kyoto and a few Hokkaido cities. Does that answer your question?
A Ramen Noodle Bath
Traditional bathhouses have been a part of Japan’s culture for millennia. You might assume it’s no big deal because other countries have similar laws.
The Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone, on the other hand, has given the spa tradition a particularly Japanese twist.
Consider the following scenario: Bathing in a vat of ramen noodles and pork soup. You might wonder why I would do such a thing. That is an excellent question.
“People are increasingly interested in having attractive skin, and they are aware of the benefits of collagen, which is present in our pork-based broth. Everyone may have fun and benefit from the beneficial ingredients of ramen noodles at this bath,” adds Ichiro Furuya, the spa’s proprietor.
If ramen isn’t your thing, don’t worry. A sake bath, a green tea bath, and other treatments are available at Yunessan Spa.
These boutique or fashion hotels have self-explanatory names. For a limited time, love hotels provide double rooms. You have the option of taking a break (one to three hours) or staying (the whole night starting at 10 pm).
The majority of rooms have sensual programming as well as the ability to buy or rent outfits. By pressing a button on a board, you can select your desired room, then pay at the window where you won’t be able to see the receptionist.
Here, discretion is crucial. These are unquestionably aspects of the Tokyo adult guide. As enticing as they may appear, a word of warning here: many hotels are run by the Japanese mafia.
So it’s best to keep safe unless you know your way about it, have a good recommendation for one of these hotels, or know at least some Japanese.
The Japanese have a taste for unusual meals and beverages, which might be perplexing to Western palates. Kit-Kats are no exception, with over 300 flavors to choose from, including soy sauce, European cheese, wasabi, grilled corn, miso, and sweet potato, to name a few.
Because the candy bar’s name sounds similar to the Japanese term Kitto Katsu, which means “You will Certainly Win,” it’s also a favorite good-luck present for students before university examinations.
Kids Clean Their Own Schools
Cleaning one’s classroom and school is a part of their school education in Japan, so forget about janitors. O-soji is a Japanese tradition in which students as young as first grade set aside time each day to clean and maintain their classrooms, serve lunch to their peers, and even clean the bathrooms.
They also clean up the community around the school a few times a year to teach children to help others and appreciate their surroundings.
Okunoshima is a small island in Japan’s Inland Sea nicknamed “Rabbit Island.” The island draws visitors from all over the world because of its high population of rabbits. However, the island’s most unique feature is that rabbits can graze freely throughout the area.
It is illegal to hurt or kill rabbits, and bringing cats or dogs to the island is prohibited. This safeguard is in place to ensure that the rabbits are not harmed. The rabbits, on the other hand, are allowed to be fed by visitors.
The island is now considered a lovely tourist destination because of the bunnies, but it has a tragic history. The island was home to a poison gas facility during World War II. The island was turned into a park and colonized by rabbits after the war.
The feral rabbits that live on the island are usually friendly and unafraid of humans, which is fantastic news for those who want to feed and engage with them. The island also contains a hotel and a golf course, and all guests are welcome to swim in the nearby seas.
Let’s talk about maid cafés while we’re on the subject of strange Japanese things.
Cute pancakes, teddy-shaped ice cream, and a rainbow of sundaes may be found here. All of this will be brought to you by Japanese maids who appear to be innocent.
These types of cafés are best found in Akihabara. Girls dressed in lolita clothes are often stopping men on the street and taking them to cafés.
Birthday parties for children are held here, but they are also scheduled by middle-aged Japanese males searching for something adorable. Weird? Creepy?
We inquired about these and were told that they are acceptable for foreigners and tourists but that Japanese guys should avoid them since they are scary and inappropriate.
Ice-Cream That Doesn’t Melt
Japan’s food scientists have developed non-melting ice cream bars.
These scientists discovered a chemical that solidifies cream almost instantly while experimenting with the chemistry of strawberries to help farmers affected by the 2011 tsunami.
This compound allows ice cream bars to withstand the heat of an air dryer for five minutes without melting. Best of all, your taste buds will be completely unaffected.
Folks, the future has arrived.
Kawaii Culture And A Love Of All Things Cute
Isn’t it genuine that everyone likes cute things? On the other hand, Japan takes cuteness to a whole new level, and it’s a well-established and widely accepted component of the culture.
The term “kawaii” comes from the Japanese phrase “a dazzling face,” which alludes to someone blushing in embarrassment. The meaning has evolved to the current “cute,” whereas the Japanese script means “able to be liked.”
This country cherishes cuteness like no other, as evidenced by Hello Kitty, Nintendo, and Harajuku. Kawaiiness is one of the most desired traits an item can have, from adorable mascots and warning signs to pop culture icons and ads.
Blue Traffic Lights – Or Are They Green?
Almost universally, red denotes a halt, and green denotes a start. Most of us learn this lesson long before we are old enough to see over the dashboard. But what if you live in a society where green is also a synonym for blue?
You’ll notice green, teal, turquoise, and aqua lights as you drive throughout Japan, and it’s all due to a grammatical quirk in the Japanese language.
While there are now distinct words for blue and green, the word ao was once used to describe both colors. So although the word Midori now denotes green in modern Japanese, the lights are still referred to as ao in the official documentation.
Although international traffic law mandates that green lights represent all “go” signals, Japanese linguists chastised their government for continuing to use the term ao to describe what Midori was.
The government reached a compromise and required traffic lights to be painted in the bluest shade of green possible—still officially green, but blue enough to be dubbed ao. Isn’t it simple?
Foreigners are often perplexed by Japan’s peculiarities, such as public sleeping. However, Inemuri is a uniquely Japanese concept that encompasses more than just people falling asleep in public settings.
This appears to be the case to the untrained eye: people may be seen napping on trains, in parks, and even at meetings around Japan. However, even stranger to Westerners is that these people are usually dressed professionally and elegantly as if they are on their way to work.
This is precisely what is happening: the majority of public sleepers are businesspeople who are overworked. Many people in Japan have a tight work ethic and aim to offer their best at work, even if it means they won’t get enough sleep at home.
As a result, kids are frequently exhausted and sleepy, leading to fast (or not so quick) naps in public areas. Inemuri is not regarded as disrespectful; instead, it is a sign that people are so focused on their work that they don’t get much sleep at night.
Inemuri is accepted and even viewed positively, albeit there are some ground rules to follow. The crucial thing to remember is that public napping is often accepted more in older people in positions of power rather than in the case of young workers trying to show themselves.
Another thing to remember is that public sleeping etiquette dictates that the person must appear to have fallen asleep unintentionally: in the chair, at work, etc. It is impolite to make yourself comfortable or appear to be getting a good night’s sleep.
Pachinko is an arcade game that is a cross between a slot machine and a pinball machine. These establishments are bright, colorful, noisy, and smokey. We discovered a number of them in Akihabara.
What is it about them that makes you think they’re strange? Because gambling is outlawed in Japan, these arcades are theoretically considered gambling establishments, although they aren’t…really.
As you can see, the Japanese devised a brilliant method of circumventing the restrictions. They earn worthless tokens that can be removed from the pachinko without infringing the law because you can bet for money under the law.
However, cashiers are a few meters away from the parlors who essentially “purchase” these tokens for money. Again, there is no legal prohibition.
KFC…All I Want For Christmas Is
Although a fast food restaurant may seem like the last place you’d want to celebrate Christmas, KFC is the traditional meal on Christmas Eve in Japan.
The custom is said to have begun in the 1970s when Japan’s first KFC manager overheard foreigners lamenting the lack of turkey on Christmas, a meat that is difficult to come by in Japan.
Although few Japanese people observe the occasion, the management thought that fried chicken would suffice as an alternative for those seeking fowl.
The custom has stuck because of good marketing, and it’s now so popular that you may need to order your KFC Christmas meal weeks in advance or risk spending hours in line.
Green Kit Kat (and Other Novelty Food)
Japan is well-known for its unusual cuisine. While “regular” Japanese food, particularly national cuisine, is excellent, Japan strongly prefers novelty foods.
There are many various types of novelty foods to try, and the majority of them are unexpectedly tasty. However, kit Kat, or, more correctly, quirky Kit Kat variations, are maybe the most popular commodity.
Green Kit Kat varieties appear to be the most popular with foreigners. However, there are a variety of other flavors to pick from. Kit Kat comes in various flavors, including green tea, soybean, grilled potato, and wasabi, in addition to the “regular” ones available in the West.
One of the critical reasons for the brand’s success is the name: “Kit Kat” sounds a lot like “Kitto katsu,” which means “certainly win.” As a result, it is thought to be an excellent present to give to someone, and it is trendy among students. Before their college entrance tests, many Japanese students have given Kit Kat sweets.
Crooked Teeth Are A Fashion Statement
Anyone who has endured the stigma of wearing braces (or a parent who has spent thousands on orthodonture) understands the lengths to which individuals in Western countries would go to get straight, perfect teeth.
On the other hand, young Japanese women increasingly wear yaeba (literally “double tooth”) caps on their canines, giving their smiles a packed, crooked appearance.
As far as strange beauty trends go, this one is a bit pricey to put into practice. Fortunately, if this craze fails, the procedure may be reversed.
Japan’s Hikikomori Hermits
Every culture has a tiny percentage of people who could be classified as reclusive, and many of these people are suffering from mental diseases like depression or agoraphobia.
The Hikikomori, a term used to describe more than half a million Japanese (80% male) who withdraw from all social ties – work, school, friends, hobbies – and lock themselves in their bedrooms, often whittling away their time on the internet, playing video games, or watching TV, has emerged in Japan over the last decade.
Hikikomori hermits in Japan are primarily disaffected teenagers and twenty-somethings, and they’ve been termed “the missing million.”
The explanation, according to psychologists, is a downturn in Japan’s economy, combined with a centuries-old sense of shame or failure rooted in Japan’s collectivist society.
Although Japanese cuisine is highly regarded around the world, not all Japanese delicacies are suitable for everyone. Mr. Kanso, a chain of eateries that solely serves food from cans, is a prime example of the national palate’s wacky side.
Diners can choose from more than 300 dishes from cuisines worldwide at more than 40 venues across the country. Salad in a tin from France, sea lion curry and Korean silkworm chrysalis are among the options. We’re confident it’s delectable.
Naki Sumo Baby Crying Contest
Getting a crying baby to stop is usually the most challenging part of a parent’s day. Yet, parents will still hand over their children to sumo wrestlers in the hopes of seeing tears at the Nai Sumo Baby Crying Festival.
The traditional festival occurs at Tokyo’s Sensoji Temple, where Sumo wrestlers attempt to get the participating babies to start bellowing by holding them up on stage.
The strange practice has been around for hundreds of years, and it is based on the belief that the piercing wails work to drive away from nearby demons who would otherwise harm you.
The old standby of yelling into their little faces and putting on a scary mask to freak out the babies are among the techniques used to make them cry. It’s all worth it, though, because the best Cryer will live a long and healthy life.
Monkeys in a Hot Bath
In Japan, you can see monkeys bathing in hot springs. This is a phenomenon most commonly associated with Nagano Prefecture’s Jigokudani Monkey Park.
The park is part of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, which encompasses the Yokoyu-River valley. Jigokudani is known as “Hell’s Valley” because of the numerous hot streams and spots where scorching water emerges from holes in the frozen ground.
Because the area is notorious for high snowfall and cold temperatures, these waters are the warmest area all year. The monkeys who use the hot water to remain warm are one of the park’s most remarkable features.
They can be spotted relaxing and playing in the water on cold days. The sight of a troop of monkeys taking a hot bath in the middle of nowhere is something you should see when in Japan.
Train Delays Make National Headlines
A Japanese railway firm apologized in 2017 after sending a train off 20 seconds early. However, most passengers worldwide are unfamiliar with the concept of “truly sorry” for the “extreme inconvenience” of a 20-second delay, as they are subjected to far more significant disruption with little to no acknowledgment.
Japanese trains are among the world’s most timely. The Tkaid Shinkansen, the world’s most heavily traveled high-speed train route, with an average delay of around half a minute.
If a train is five minutes late, the railway operator may give official delay certificates as proof for employers and appointments. A train may make the headlines if it’s delayed for an hour or longer.
The concept of a public bath shouts strangeness. Why? Because in Japan, after a long day at work, this is the ideal way to unwind and socialize…naked.
Swimsuits are not permitted in public baths, which are divided by gender. In Japan, these are entirely commonplace, and foreigners can use them as well. Some public baths, however, may reject admittance if you have a tattoo on your body.
Godzilla Is An Official Citizen Of Japan
Shinjuku ward in Tokyo has a population density of roughly 17,000 people per square kilometer, yet in 2015 it gave citizenship to its most famous resident, Godzilla.
Godzilla’s citizenship came with a job offer: he became the Shinjuku ward’s tourism ambassador, which is the least he can do after destroying the area in three of his films.
Godzilla’s unique residency was recognized as promoting the entertainment of and looking over the Kabukicho district and attracting people from all over the world.
At a special ceremony to commemorate the milestone, Shinjuku ward mayor Kenichi Yoshizumi said, “Godzilla is a character that represents the pride of Japan.” That young man has progressed a long way.
Melons Are Cute
How many times have you seen a melon with a bow in your lifetime? This is what I refer to as “added value.” In fact, in Japan, almost every delectable fruit comes with extra packaging designed to look like a gift.
This is because these fruits are typically quite expensive and are wrapped to be given as a gift.
Mango, which costs the equivalent of £75 ($102) in Japan. That is one pricey mango! There are also white strawberries that are unique to Japan. They’re about £20 each and are pretty cute.
Take a look at the image below. The equivalent of £75 in Japanese yen is 10,800 yen.
Sleeping On The Job Is A Sign Of Commitment
Being caught napping on the work is frowned upon in most nations. However, in Japan, it is quite acceptable because it denotes hard labor rather than laziness.
Employees at some workplaces are even allowed to take 30-minute naps any time between 1 and 4 p.m., and it’s so common that it has its name.
Sleeping at railway stations, in class, or at the office is a lot more common in Japan than in America or Europe since it is considered a sign of commitment.
We appreciate you taking the time to read our post about the 34 Weirdest Things in Japan. Kindly notify us if you have any additional comments or questions in the section below. We’d be delighted to hear from you.
Also Read: 9 Best Things to Do in Tokyo at Night
Weirdest Things in Japan
- Super Weird Game Shows
- Cat Cafés
- Vending Machines
- Square Watermelons, Ultra-Expensive
- Capsule Hotels
- Tipping Is An Insult
- Hi-Tech Toilets
- The Rent-A-Cuddle Cafe
- Canned Food Restaurant
- The Streets Have No Name
- A Ramen Noodle Bath
- Love Hotels
- Flavoured Kit-Kats
- Kids Clean Their Own Schools
- Rabbit Island
- Maid Cafés
- Ice-Cream That Doesn’t Melt
- Kawaii Culture And A Love Of All Things Cute
- Blue Traffic Lights – Or Are They Green?
- Public Sleeping
- Pachinko Parlours
- KFC…All I Want For Christmas Is
- Green Kit Kat (and Other Novelty Food)
- Crooked Teeth Are A Fashion Statement
- Japan’s Hikikomori Hermits
- Sea Lion Curry In A Can
- Naki Sumo Baby Crying Contest
- Monkeys in a Hot Bath
- Train Delays Make National Headlines
- Public Baths
- Godzilla Is An Official Citizen Of Japan
- Melons Are Cute
- Sleeping On The Job Is A Sign Of Commitment