15 of the weirdest and quirkiest things from Japan
Many of these things or phenomena would be completely ridiculous if they were in North America or Europe. We should also note that we find some of these things particularly interesting because they combine Japanese culture with Western marketing and consumerism, resulting in some truly interesting things.
1. Poop Museum.
That’s right, this museum includes exhibitions devoted to toilets, waste and everything related to it. If you are lucky enough to visit this museum in Tokyo, be prepared to discover new aspects of using the toilet and learn a lot about feces. If you like merry-go-rounds, this is definitely the place for you. Put on your poop cap (seriously, they’ll give you a cap that looks like a pile of feces) and climb down the toilet. From there you can look at the different types of toilets, as well as the different types of poop. Don’t worry, there’s also a rich collection of animal feces, so you definitely won’t be bored.
Still haven’t gotten into the spirit of general poop fun? No problem. In this museum you can make your own poop out of clay and show it to all your friends. If you don’t have any, you can show your creation to the museum’s mascot, who, you guessed it, is a poop. The exhibition concludes with a chorus of toilets. The museum is like a very strange Disney themed trip, during which you will see a lot of excrement.
2. Food from KFC for Christmas.
When most of us think of Christmas, we imagine Christmas themes, and Westerners imagine Santa Claus. As it turns out, the Japanese are no strangers to Santa either, only with a slight change. Instead of Santa, the holiday season of Christmas in Japan is represented by the Colonel. Everyone in Japan gathers at the nearest KFC at the end of December to stock up on a portion of fried chicken. According to the theory, even though Christianity is not common in Japan, foreigners started the fashion of looking for “KFC” when they were looking for turkey (or anything close to it) during the Christmas season. The company learned of this and launched a huge advertising campaign in the 1970s that made people associate the Christmas holidays with “KFC.” Apparently, food from KFC is so popular at Christmas that potential customers place their orders ahead of time for the Colonel to prepare their order.
3. toilet flip-flops
The Japanese are known to be extremely scrupulous about cleanliness and personal hygiene, so their living spaces are divided into clean and unclean areas. As a result, you will have to take off your shoes when you enter the clean area of the house. While germaphobes are now mulling over the prospect of moving to Japan, you might be interested to know that even going to the bathroom in Japan is more hygienic through the use of special flip-flops. They are exactly what you think they are. To use the bathroom and toilet in Japan you will need to buy a pair of flip-flops to prevent your bare feet from touching the floor. Toilet flip-flops are only appropriate in the bathroom, so you should take them off when you leave the bathroom and put them at the entrance of the bathroom. The main thing is not to use slippers brand “Hello Kitty” it would be a cliché.
4. Suicide Forest.
This forest would fit perfectly with the image of a fictional forest from children’s fairy tales in which witches who lived in houses made of ginger dough would kidnap small children and take them to the forest. Aokigahara is a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji. In Japanese mythology, this place is associated with demons and evil spirits. The atmosphere of this place is also not conducive to dispelling such notions. In fact, the trees grow so close together that there is almost no wind or noise and there is complete silence. It is the perfect place to come and enjoy the peace and quiet or, as many people do, to commit suicide. Today, this 35 square kilometer area is known as the Suicide Forest because dozens of people commit suicide here every year. Authorities have posted posters asking people not to commit suicide. In addition, body searches have been conducted here every year for the past forty years.
5. Pushing into trains
The subway in Japan and subway trains are great for getting around the city quickly. Sure, you’ll have to put up with loud or foul-smelling passengers, or even chewing gum stuck in the wrong place, but in most cases the subway is better than idling in traffic for hours while everyone tries to get home from work. In Japan, electric trains are an essential part of the way of life, especially in vast urbanized areas like the suburbs of Tokyo.
Of course, in a city of millions, rush hour can mean cramped conditions, with huge numbers of people trying to get on the train once the doors open. The Japanese have partly solved this problem by employing oshiya, or train pushers, who push people into the cars as tightly as possible to make sure absolutely all the people fit. Oshiyas don’t work everywhere and this profession is disappearing over time. However, you can still see them in older and smaller stations, especially during rush hours.
6. Foods with unusual flavors
If you compare the cultures of Japan and North America, you will find examples of a huge difference. In terms of food, the Japanese boast perhaps the strangest creations. Take ice cream, for example. If you want to try ice cream that is less traditional than any flavor of domestic, European or American ice cream, you need to go to Japan. After all, coffee ice cream, cookie-flavored ice cream and Rocky Road ice cream were once considered rather strange and unconventional flavors.
If you go to a regular convenience store in Japan, you can buy unusual purely Japanese ice cream with flavors like roast, horse meat, curry, eel, oyster, chicken, beer, cactus and crab. If you’re not tempted by any of these flavors, you might want to get yourself a regular Kit Kat. In Japan, you can buy a regular Kit Kat or opt for a Kit Kat with flavors like baked potato, wasabi, soy sauce, peach, green tea (Japanese green tea chocolate), pumpkin, apple, mango, lemon and dozens of other flavors.
7. Special pillows for men and women
Residents of Europe and North America often associate the Japanese with strange inventions. This product only reinforces that stereotype. For single men who either do not have a lady of the heart or she is at a distance for a long time, the Japanese have created a lap pillow called Hizamakura. This “pillow” looks like the bottom of a woman in a miniskirt. Ladies should not worry either, as the single lady pillow was also invented. The Japanese have invented a body pillow with a built-in “hugging you arm.” This pillow, known as the hug pillow or boyfriend pillow, has been around for years. All you have to do is hug it and it will hug you – perfect for everyone.
8. Vending machines for everything in the world.
Many people know how legendary Japanese vending machines are . After all, in Japan you can find just about anything you could want in a vending machine. In North America, vending machines offer the usual items – candy, chips, drinks, soups, and sandwiches. Those older people may even remember vending machines selling cigarettes. The Japanese have taken this idea to an entirely different level. In their vending machines, you can buy anything from salad, sake, and rice, to hot foods like calamari, fish, and chicken. You can even find vending machines selling fish bait, flowers, batteries, pornography, and meat sauce. So, what should you do if you find yourself in the rain? That’s not a problem, as you can purchase an umbrella from the vending machine that sells them. Not having enough time to wash your underwear isn’t a problem either, as you can just go down the street and buy clean underwear.
9. Bagel on your head
Body modification is nothing new and it is not limited to Japan. Piercings, hair extensions, enlargement of body parts, tattooing – there are all kinds of body modifications that people all over the world do to themselves. One of the strangest body modifications associated specifically with Japan is the “bagel on the head. This modification involves injecting a saline solution under the skin of a person’s forehead, causing a lump to form into a bagel or doughnut. The process actually first appeared in Canada, but since 2007, it has become incredibly popular in Japan, when it was adopted by the “underground” movement, which started holding parties for people with a bagel on their head. This modification may seem strange, but it is not permanent, as the body usually absorbs the solution by the next morning.
10. Capsule Hotels
For the most part, space is the greatest luxury in Japan. The population of this island nation is more than 126 million people and most of it is concentrated in ever-growing cities. Cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka have the highest concentrations of population, which means space has to be used more efficiently. The pod hotels that appeared in Osaka in 1979 were the best example of the efficient use of space. However, they are definitely not an appropriate place for people suffering from claustrophobia. Here, visitors are sent to a room measuring two meters by two meters, one meter high and one meter wide. Inside is a mattress, TV, air conditioning and wifi. “Rooms” are arranged in two rows and in addition to housing people in a tiny space, they are a great way out for people who don’t have huge amounts of money or for those who just need a break and don’t need a regular hotel room.
11. Mr. Kanso
Eating canned food with plastic spoons or forks is not what any of us would call fine dining. We usually resort to canned food when our significant other is away and we have to cook for ourselves and are too lazy to go to the store. In Japan, Mr. Kanso is a restaurant that specializes in serving canned food in a restaurant setting. Sounds like a recipe for a failing business, doesn’t it? Mr. Canso’s has been in business since 2002 and is currently open in 17 locations. Diners don’t have menus and the restaurants don’t have chefs to prepare the food. Instead, you can get any canned dish from around the world. Perhaps someday you will get to this restaurant and be able to try a canned potato salad and a canned omelet opened and placed on a plate by restaurant employees with mayonnaise added. Yummy!
If Jersey Shore and Anime had kids, they would look exactly like members of a Japanese subculture called Ganguro. Ganguro translates to “black face” and is a trend that Japanese girls follow by tanning themselves to an insane degree, after which they apply a thick layer of makeup. In essence, this subculture is something of a rebellion against traditional Japanese beauty stereotypes, but some believe that this subculture is also connected to the kabuki culture. In addition to tanning themselves to brown, girls usually put on black eyeliner and very light eye shadow and lipstick. The hair is usually dyed or bleached. The look is complemented by brightly colored garments that are screamingly colorful.
13. Creepy humanoid robots.
Have you ever watched the “Terminator” movies thinking “I wonder if robots will ever get to that state”? The answer can be found in Japan and everything points to a terrifying yes. Of course, we are still a long way from the T-1000 model, but one look at the humanoid robots being developed in Japan is enough to realize that they are both interesting and creepy. Most people think of Honda’s Asimo robot when they imagine evolved robots. Aside from its arms, legs, and ability to walk, it is not particularly frightening or strange.
However, Japan also has a CB2 robot . This robot looks like a newborn baby and behaves accordingly. Even creepier is the fact that it can turn its head, look around, memorize tasks and movements. He can sense and respond to touch. There’s also Pepper, a robot that will soon be mass-marketed. Pepper can analyze your facial expressions and the tone of your voice and determine your mood. The developers claim that Pepper’s goal is to make you happy. This sounds like the goals that the robots in the movie “I, Robot” had to accomplish before they overthrew humans.
14. Liberating Wrap.
The Freshness Burger restaurant chain noticed that women rarely buy one of the biggest burgers sold at the restaurant. After researching the issue, they found that women were embarrassed to eat this hamburger because it went against the ochobo, the desired quality of having a small and neat mouth. In short, a large and wide open mouth (necessary for eating such a hamburger) was considered unattractive and shameful.
To allow Japanese women to enjoy large slices of the popular hamburger, the company came up with the Liberating Wrap. This wrap covers your face, allowing you to take a proper bite of the hamburger, while the person sitting across from you sees only a wrap with a picture of the woman’s lower face. It’s unclear why the wrapper has a picture of a woman’s lower face printed on it, but this Liberation Wrap definitely falls under the category of weird things you only see in Japan.
15. Kanamara Matsuri
There is a Japanese legend that a demon named Vagina Dentate hid inside the bride’s vagina and bit off the groom’s penis on his wedding night – you can’t make that up. To solve this problem, a blacksmith forged an iron penis to break the demon’s teeth. This legend has now evolved into the Kanamara-matsuri or “Iron Penis Festival,” which is celebrated every first Sunday in April in Kawasaki City, Japan.
The celebration of the festival began in the 1970s, and it becomes more and more widespread every year. Unless you’re a frequent visitor to adult entertainment shows, you certainly haven’t seen this. At this festival, you’ll see impressive replicas of a penis. Penis costumes, penis flip-flops, penis candles, penis candy sticks and penis-shaped food can all be found here and more. Considering the number of photos that Japanese and foreign visitors to the festival post in piquant poses with phallic-shaped objects, you could say that this festival is a little strange, but it still shows similarities between Japanese and North American cultures.