Since 1853, when it first opened up to international trade, Japan has captivated visitors. Japan is one of the world’s top economic and technical hubs, despite its many traditions and cultural relics. There is always something new to experience on a visit, with ancient gods and traditional practices coexisting with cutting-edge technology and current pop culture. Here are some facts about Japan you probably didn’t know, ranging from Harajuku fashion to flawless vegetables, empty orchestras, and strange meal-time etiquette.
Slurping Your Noodles Is Considered Good Manners
When it comes to eating bowls of noodles, Japan places a high priority on good manners, yet there’s just one way to eat: loudly. Slurping is a gesture of pleasure that also helps to chill the noodles down as you eat. Lean over your bowl with one hand holding your chopsticks. Foreigners may be given bibs, but by the time you leave, you should be able to finish a bowl while wearing a white top and walk out immaculate.
KFC Is Traditional
Many Japanese people celebrate Christmas, but the food isn’t what you’d expect. On Christmas Eve, it’s customary in Japan to visit your local KFC. Hours of queuing and ordering weeks in advance are planned for the estimated 3.6 million Japanese who will partake in the KFC Christmas Dinner. According to some sources, turkey and chicken weren’t readily available for the Christmas-crazed Japanese, so Colonel Sanders stepped in to save the day…
Japan Is Mostly Mountains
It’s hardly a country you’d think of as a sparsely populated mountain wilderness, yet Japan’s big-name stars are its highly populated metropolis. Around 70% of Japan, however, is covered with forest and mountains, which are unsuitable for farming or habitation. There are around 100 active volcanoes in Japan, the largest of which being Mount Fuji, which stands at 3,776 feet.
Nearly 7,000 islands make up Japan. The odd, big-eared people of Okunoshima, a small island in the Inland Sea, is well-known. During World War II, the island was used to test chemical weapons, and the test subjects are claimed to have walked free after the war. In any case, the numbers grew in a predator-free environment (dogs and cats are prohibited), and Okunoshima is now a popular destination for cuddle-bunny tourists.
The Number Four Is Unlucky
In Japan, the number four (‘shi’) is generally avoided because it sounds too much like the Japanese word for death. Keep a look out for buildings without a fourth story, things sold in sets of three or five, and great care is taken to avoid meeting the number in everyday life in Japan.
A Naked Festival?
Japan is notorious for its never-ending celebrations, but Hadaka Matsuri has to be one of the oddest. Thousands of Japanese men strip naked in public in order to ensure a prosperous year, with the largest matsuri taking place in Okayama, with an estimated 9,000 men stripping down to their fundoshi.
The average train delay in Japan is 18 seconds. What is it about them that makes them so punctual? Many drivers don’t even need a speedometer to know how fast they’re going because they’re taught in ultra-realistic simulations and only drive one train line. Rail firms compete fiercely for customers, so falling behind isn’t an option – they’ll do whatever it takes to keep Japan’s massive train travelers (even if it means putting posh department stores in the stations…).
Eel flavored ice cream and Green Tea Kit Kats are just a few of the strange and beautiful flavors available in Japan. Kit Kats are the most popular candy (‘Kit Kat’ sounds like ‘kitto katsu,’ which is a Japanese phrase that means ‘good luck.’) Kit Kats with edamame, wasabi, and ginger ale flavors are also available.
Having Your Own Seal
People in Japan don’t have autographs; instead, they have their own seal. The seal, known as Hanko, is usually your name written in Kanji characters and is composed of silk or plant-based paste. Adults usually have three Hankos: one for signing off correspondence and personal concerns, one for banking, and one for identifying themselves. Tourists don’t need one, but foreigners residing in Japan can get one produced in small, local stores.
As a defense against ninjas, affluent Japanese lords built residences with purposefully squeaky flooring (known as Nightingale Floors) during the feudal period. The highly trained, legendary mercenaries of feudal Japan were thought to be capable of walking on water, turning invisible, and commanding natural elements, according to tradition. That has to be enough to make you want to lay down some new flooring.