Japan is famous all around the world for being very..mmhh…let’s say unique! Their culture compared to Western ones is like being on another world, but at the same time, it is also different from any other asian countries. Japanese are really hard-working people for example have you ever heard of Salaryman? This the term is employed in Japan to describe the employees of some firms wearing black suit and taking the metro every morning in order to go working. They literally work until they die: some of them get heart attack and this fact is acknowledged by the government too. As consequence, the society pressures the people but Japanese always find unique ways to express themselves with very weird clothes, anime or any other future-like inventions. The japanese fashion I like the most is Gothic-Lolita, with those victorians dresses adorned with a lot of laces and ribbons <3 After this brief introduction about the Japanese and their wonderful character, I would like to list here my top ten weird things I have seen when I visited Japan 😉
Food Plastic Model
You know, I was terribly afraid of choosing the food to eat in Japan, I did not know anything about it, even though I was sure it is very tasty. My problem is: I have a very serious hatred towards fish therefore I did not want any fishy food and I was always cautious to avoid it xD Although I can read Japanese very well, I could not decipher what kind of dishes were on the menu BUT FEAR NOT! Japanese have the solution as always! The most restaurants display in their shop window plastic models of the food they offer in their menu. It is something crazy! I really loved these plastic models, they look real xD At the beginning I was like: why do they put cooked food outside?! (I did not know it was fake). So when you go to Japan, do not worry much about choosing food as you have this beautiful food plastic model to orientate you, moreover Japanese food is all very tasty (maybe not that poisonous fish that if eaten could kill you, avoid it).
These konbini are 24 hours open shops that sell literally everything: chicken that is being cooked on the spot, childish snacks, drinks I have never seen in my whole life, manga, meat, vegetables, clearly-arranged porn magazines at the entrance….in Japan, it is not a big sin to read porn magazines xD The name konbini comes from english (yeah, when Japanese try to transliterate english words in their language, they just change it completely and end up being a real Japanese word) Convenience Store. So, if you are wandering around Tokyo or Kyoto or Osaka or any other Japanese cities at three a.m. and you’re hungry, bear in mind that you can always visit one of these shops and they will welcome you with a big smile (or maybe not).
Oh Oh Oh! Such memories! The first time I arrived in Japan, I had to eat Udon soup with chopsticks although I never had used them before…Of course I knew that in Asia, especially Japan and China, the chopsticks are widely used but I did not expect them to give the chopsticks to me, a stupid Western! The most of restaurants really just give you chopsticks (at least, this happened to me), only once we happened to ask for fork and they gave us one. But anyway, you should learn how to use chopsticks if you are planning to visit an Asian country because it is funnier to eat with them and it is also nice to blend into the culture. Now I’m perfectly fine with chopsticks (no, I still suck but I give my best).
Food Ordering Machine
This one I really hate, I really cannot bring myself to like. The first time I came across this hellish machine was in Tokyo and my father and I were desperately searching for a restaurant where to eat. I entered this restaurant that looked nice from the outside but once inside, I had to face this machine! I was like: eh what the duck is this?! I could barely read the names (of course written with Japanese alphabet) of the food as the fonts were small and my father, who is an impatient person, dragged me away making our food-searching journey start again. Later, from my boyfriend, I got to know it is quite popular in Japan and people eat in these kinds of restaurants when they are in a hurry so that they can order food faster but, as italian, I do not like fast food and then, I really had no idea of what it was written there (even if they sometimes have the pictures of the food you are odering, but too small to understand ahaha). So, if you do not know much about japanese food or if you just prefer normal waiters, just try to avoid this like I did or if you like challenges, feel free to go and face these hellish machines 😉
Not Eating While Walking
In Japan you see nobody eating around while they are walking on the streets and I guess this is the main reason why, despite the fact Japanese cities are crazily big, the streets are cleaner than the floor in my house ahaha When you are in Japan, always avoid walking while eating, I do not think locals would come and scold you because they understand you are Western and you are not very accustomed to Japanese society but now that you know from me, try to follow this rule so that Japanese would appreciate you more 😉 I tell you a secret anyway: although I knew the existence of this habit, I once walked while eating because I was starving to death (and then I was just eating pocky aka. Mikado).
Perfect Public Transportation
I love public transportation in Japan, simply pure love! It is crazy how every kind of places from malls to temples far away from civilization can be reached without much effort. In big cities there are not just the public metro and the urban buses to bring the inhabitants around but also private railways or buses that can bring you to a certain place, even closer than their public counterpart. For example, when we wanted to visit Fushimi Inari Taisha, we used a private line and we just needed to walk for 5 minutes from the station to the shrine. The buses in Kyoto, then, are really picturesque, they are so cutely small but have every comforts like the voice telling you the names of the stops. For the tickets, you just need to buy them on board: there are machines where you insert the right amount of coins and they spit the ticket out. You do not even need to bother searching for a shop selling the tickets!
I like calling them Toy Cars because they are so smallll! I could not believe that the size was so small and they do not even make noise so it happened several times that, while walking on Tokyo street, a car behind me was waiting for me to move aside, they do not even beep to you. I got to know from my father that the most of the cars in Japan are electric, apparently this is the reason behind all of this: the size and the lack of noise. So, always pay attention around you even if you do not sense any cars coming and admire the cuteness of these small cars :3
Kimono is widely used all around Japan; even in a big city like Tokyo, I had many chances to come across girls and boys wearing the traditional clothes. I mainly found them near the Otera aka Buddhist Temples or Jinja aka Shinto Temple, going around with these colorful kimono and geta. The name 着物 KI MONO means “thing to wear” so literally “dress”. It resembles the clothes used during the Tang Dynasty in China, it may be plausible that Japanese got this style from the Chinese as China was the only country Japan had cultural ties with at that time. It is a very tight tunic wrapped around the body thanks to the belt tied up from behind called Obi, which is also the most expensive part of Kimono. It is charachterised by a V-neck whose left strip must overlap the right one otherwise it means that you are dead (please, bear this in mind, it is quite creepy to pretend to be dead). When the sleeves of the Kimono are very long, between 75 and 105 cms, it is called Furisode; this version should be worn after a girl turns 18 years old because it is a sign that the woman is unmarried and searches for a partner.
I do not their real name so I just made up one myself: jiji is an informal way to call an Oji San, which means old man. If you have ever been to Japan, it is sure that you came across this jiji policemen; they carry out different tasks like giving information to tourists, preventing people from entering sites in construction, controlling the traffic, etc etc Although they are rather old, they still help the society carring out simple tasks like this 😀
I call them children statues but the real name is 水子供養 Mizuko Kuyou meaning Fetus Memorial Service. Mizu Ko literally means Water Child, which is an ancient Japanese term to refer to children that died before the birth. These Mizuko Kuyou are ceremonies held for those women that had miscarriage, abortion or stillbirth in order to comfort the souls of their dead babies or to prevent their revenge. They are literally everywhere in Japan, I found them in Zojoji Temple in Tokyo and in Kyoto’s temples too. It was my father that made me notice these small statues and kept questioning me about it, even though I did not even know the existence of this practice. I got to know it later through a Japanese friend of mine.
What do you think about these weird 10 facts I wrote about? Do you know any others? Did you have my same experience? Let me know in the comments below 😀