Japan has always come across as the mysterious oriental country where the unusual is followed as normal. Even Jonathan Swift could not resist writing something on the uncanny nature of this country as he makes Gulliver, the protagonist travel around the world in Gulliver’s Travels. In his fictional account, Japan comes across as the closed society that did not generally want to traffic with the outside world. It was at the far edge of the East and as mysterious as these truly fictional places. The situations might have changed now as the country has become liberal and tolerant towards other cultures. However, as the first time traveller to this country you cannot help wonder.
Check out these weird things in Japan that will make you go WHAAAT?!
1. Capsule Hotels
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Have you ever slept in a room whose dimensions match that of your body? In Japan, the luxurious facilities are seen as a waste of money and people love to stay in capsule hotels, where the rooms are big enough to fit just a bed and perhaps a small mounted television. Most of these hotels you shall find in Tokyo.
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2. Tipping in Japan
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Beware! If you tip in Japan you will be frowned upon! In this country, tipping is almost non existent. Waiters, hotel workers, taxi drivers and others do not expect to be tipped at all.
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3. Adult Adoption
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You would have always thought that you can adopt the children! But, look at Japan- the country promotes adoption of the adults. An incredible 98% of all adoptions in Japan involve adults aged;20 to 30, the vast majority of these being men. If the owner of a family business doesn’t have a son to keep the family name alive, a suitable heir will be found and adopted into the family. The custom is also employed if a father deems his son incapable of running the business. That is really something commendable. Isn’t it?
4. Banishment Rooms
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Japan has come up with a strange policy that in order to fire people from the jobs, the employers ask the employees to shift in banishment rooms. There, the employees are sent to do tasks that serve no purpose or are mind numbingly boring. One of the examples is to ask the staff to stare at a TV monitor; for up to 10 hours a day. Eventually the employees become so bored that they voluntarily resign and are thus no longer entitled to benefits, saving the business money. Yep, thats a strange fact of Japan I bet no one knew!
5. No janitors in Japan's schools
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This is one encouraging policy that the world should seek to. Instead of employing someone to clean up the children’s trash, the schools teach students to clean up after themselves. The schools especially dedicate the time for this activity. The children work together to clean classrooms, scrub floors and keep the bathroom spotless. It also extends to eating lunch. Rather than a cafeteria, students eat in their own classroom with their teacher and hand out the food themselves. The idea is to instil a sense of responsibility. No wonder if you visit a Japanese home you’ll find it ultra clean!
6. Falling asleep at work is considered as a good practice
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The afternoon siesta at work is considered as a good practice in this country. This practice is called as "inemuri" - or napping on the job. This power nap is encouraged to let people refresh themselves for further work ahead!
7. Japan has the world’s shortest escalator
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The world’s shortest escalator is located in the basement of More’s Department store in Kawasaki, Japan. It has only five steps.
8. The naked festival
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No points for guessing! Hadaka Matsuri is a festival involving thousands of Japanese men removing their clothes in public due to the ancient belief that a nearly-naked man has a greater ability to absorb evil spirits.
9. Slurping is a good habit
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West has always considered slurping as unsightly. In Japan, the noodles, especially soba (buckwheat), are slurped somewhat loudly when eaten. This implies that the food is delicious and leaves the chef with compliments.
10. You have to wear special shoes in the bathroom
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Japanese are ultra cautious when it comes to hygiene. When you use the restroom in someone's home you may need to put on designated bathroom slippers. Since many Japanese bathrooms don't have a separate area for the shower, meaning the floor is often wet.
11. Double tooth fashion trend
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Straight teeth are seen as a symbol of beauty everywhere in the world. Infact, children are encouraged to have braces fit to fix misaligned teeth. However, over the last couple of years in Japan a new craze has been growing where people do the exact opposite. Many women and girls are having cosmetic surgerydone to their teeth in order to make them deliberately imperfect.
12. KFC is the Christmas food
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KFC outlets became a rage among foreigners in Japan as they couldn’t find a whole chicken or turkey elsewhere. Japanese people eventually followed the trend.
13. Learning to prepare Fugu can kill you
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It takes about 11 years of intensive training to become a fugu, or poisonous blowfish chef. If the blowfish is prepared the wrong way, it will kill the person who consumes it. Fugu chefs need to eat their own fish in order to pass the training and be certified to prepare the fish at a restaurant.
14. Japanese men refuse to leave their rooms
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Japan follows a strange practice called "hikikomori", which means withdrawn. According to this, men lock themselves away in their rooms and refuse contact with the outside world. Psychologists consider that the condition is closely related to depression and anxiety about Japan's extreme social pressures.
15. Love hotels
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There are short stay hotels in Japan that are designed for amorous couples. These hotels have increasingly become popular in Japan, where space, and therefore privacy, is at a premium. An estimated two per cent of Japan's population visit one each day. Love hotels can usually be identified by the offer of two different room rates: a "rest", as well as an overnight stay. The name, and the presence of heart symbols, is also a giveaway. Definitely a weird place to visit in Japan, don't you think?
16. The Suicide forest
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Aokigahara, a forest at the base of Mount Fuji has a historic association with demons in Japanese mythology, and is the second most popular place in the world for suicides, after San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. More than 50 people took their own lives here in 2010 alone, and an annual body hunt is undertaken by volunteers.
17. Island of the gas masks
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Situated in the Izu islands of Japan, Miyake-jima's most prominent feature is its active volcano, Mount Oyama, which has erupted several times in recent history. Since the most recent explosion, in 2005, the volcano has constantly leaked poisonous gas, requiring residents to carry a gas mask at all times. The government warns the residents with sirens that go off across the island when the levels of sulphur rise sharply.
18. Rabbit island
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Okunoshima is a small island located in Japan's Inland Sea, that has become something of a tourist attraction due to its floppy eared population of rabbits. Sources claim they were brought here during the Second World War, when the islands (and the rabbits) were used to test the effects of poison gas. They have since flourished in the predator-free environment, and there are hundreds roaming free.
19. The Ghost island
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Found around 15km from Nagasaki, Hashima was used as a coal mining facility between 1887 and 1974, with its population reaching a peak of 5,259 people in 1959. After petroleum replaced coal throughout Japan in the 1960s, Hashima was abandoned, and is now known as "Ghost Island". A small portion of the island was reopened to tourists in 2009, and sightseeing boat trips often stop here.
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‘Kancho,’ is a common prank often carried out in Japanese playgrounds. It is performed by the individual clasping their hands together into the shape of a gun. It is then customary to attempt to insert the index fingers harshly into the derrire of the unsuspecting victim while shouting ‘KANCHO!’
This world can be the weirdest of the places. And Japan has proved it. So, which weird thing in Japan made you scratch your head twice?
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