20 Things That Blow People’s Minds When They Visit Japan
It’s more than just anime and ninjas.
1. They still use fax machines like it’s no big deal.
Yes, the land of robots and cutting-edge tech still relies heavily on fax machines. They are used daily in business, and in most cases actually preferred.
2. Stamps are the mainstream, not signatures.
Instead of a quick signature at the end of the document, Japan prefers red stamps with last names engraved in them. They even sell a wide variety of them with many common names in the dollar store, which makes the authentication of them a bit…questionable.
3. You have to shout “excuse me!” in restaurants or else nobody will come.
Japan seems to be the polar opposite of the US when it comes to servers. Instead of asking how the meal is every five minutes, Japanese waiters will not come until they are called, and raising your hand is not a thing here — you need to shout.
4. Corn is a “normal” pizza topping.
If you ever try to order pizza in Japan, you will quickly learn that pizza is something very different here. You will find potatoes, shrimp, mochi (rice cakes), and even mayonnaise as toppings you can choose from.
5. They have a mild obsession with “mayo-corn.”
The combo of mayonnaise and corn is a little like peanut butter and jelly. It sounds weird at first, but once you try it you kinda understand it.
6. Businessmen are passed out drunk on the street everywhere.
Businessmen, or, in Japanese, salarymen, love to drink. Just walk around any major station late at night, and you can see many of them passed out on the ground. FYI Japan is a very safe place, so they don’t need to worry much about being mugged.
7. Everything is individually wrapped.
Open a bag of cookies, and you will find each of them individually wrapped, lined up nicely on a plastic tray.Which brings us to our next point…
8. SO. MUCH. PLASTIC.
Almost anything you buy will be put inside a plastic bag, unless you say otherwise. Building entrances even have little plastic bags to put your umbrella in.
9. There are no public trash cans, but the streets stay clean.
If you ever need to throw some trash away while you’re outside in Japan, good luck finding a place to do it, because there are no public trash cans. The streets will mysteriously stay clean, though. Maybe people carry their trash around?
10. ATM machines have closing times.
ATM machines in Japan have operating hours, which means you might be out of luck trying to get cash at 2 a.m. Which, ironically, is when you most need emergency cash for cabs.
11. EVERYBODY parks in reverse.
It is super rare in Japan to see a car parked facing forward, and if you do see one, it will probably be a foreigner doing it. Reverse parking is seen as the safer option.
12. The AC is kept at high temperatures.
Japan has some of the most humid and hot summers, but that doesn’t mean the AC will be cranked up on full blast. Most ACs are kept at around 28 degrees Celsius (which is about 82º Fahrenheit). Better bring a desk fan!
13. There is a once-an-hour mandatory “break time” at public pools.
Every hour the lifeguards will blow their whistles and force everybody out of the pool for 10 minutes. This time is to be used as “rest time,” so don’t even think about doing sit-ups!
14. People wear masks when they’re sick.
If you get sick in Japan, the polite thing to do is wear a mask, so you don’t cough and pass around germs. Many women also use masks when they’re feeling too lazy to put on makeup.
15. Taking naps in the office is fine.
Do you have to force yourself to stay awake at work? Then you might want to consider moving to Japan. Not all, but many places will just assume you have been working extra hard and let you catch some Z’s in peace.
16. People peel the skin off each grape before eating it.
“You can eat the skin!?” is something you will be asked if you decide not to peel.
17. Cars with megaphones attached will wake you up early and it’s totally fine.
During election season, candidates drive around in cars while campaigning through a megaphone attached to the top of the car. This might wake you up from time to time, but it’s completely legal and fine.
18. There are snacks for “men.”
I’m still not sure what “men’s” chocolate is.
19. Fruit is crazy expensive.
Buying fruit at a supermarket can fully be considered splurging, since fruit is just damn expensive here. Like these white strawberries, selling for around $100.
20. People wear ninja-style sun protection wear.
Many Japanese women will go to great lengths to avoid getting a tan, like wearing long black sleeves and hats that cover your face in the middle of summer.