Language and Culture

7 things you probably didn’t know about Japan

Osaka castle

Uniqueness is what Japan is famous for and what makes it such a special place to visit. Over the past 10 months, I have met a lot of people who are very interested in Japanese culture, and what I found interesting is what we consider “normal” in Japan is totally different from Australia. Indeed, life in Australia made me realise that even though Japan is only a small island, it has a great deal of cultural differences from the rest of the world.

Today, I would like to share with you seven things worth knowing about Japan.

  1. Cat Cafe

There’s lots of good cafes in Australia, but there is no more purrfect café than cat cafes. As you can see in the below video, cat cafes are literally cafes that are occupied with cats, where you can play with these angels on earth. Though the idea of cat café is originally from Taiwan, it blossomed and became quite popular in Japan.

Unlike Australia, wherever you go in Japan, even in the city, you will stumble across wild cats and kittens, and we love these cute little creatures. In fact, as incredible as it may seem, at one train station in Japan, a cat is in charge of the stationmaster, and they live peacefully together close to the station. Her main job is to greet everyone who uses the station. It is so sweet.

  1. High-tech vending machines

Everywhere you go in Japan, there is a vending machine. As a matter of the fact, the total number of vending machines is 5 million, which means one vending machine for every 23 people. In addition to this, most of them have incredible traits to entertain people.

First of all, you can buy anything from a vending machine, from hot drinks to ice cream to cigarettes to alcohol. If you desperately need to buy something at night, you can find a vending machine in five minutes.

Secondly, some of the vending machines in Japan have a touch screen like iPhone and iPad. View the video above which shows these kind of amazing vending machines.

  1. Japanese Vegemite: Natto

Natto is eaten daily and known as breakfast staple. Similar to vegemite, foreign people tend to think it tastes awful. Natto is fermented soybeans, like yogurt, however it has a slimy and sticky texture and (I do not want to say this) looks like alien eggs. Vegemite, known as possibly the weirdest food in Australia, is still something you can eat – Natto is not – most people back away with a look of fear.

So why do Japanese people love Natto? The reason is, Natto has an incredible amount of nutrition, and has been a traditional health food for centuries in Japan. Natto is an excellent source of vitamin K and minerals, is high in protein and also has a whole host of beneficial bacteria. It is obvious that it is an ideal food for your health.

Why not give Natto a try and live on the edge? You might even end up loving it instantly as some people do.

  1. Nomihoudai

the picture of after a Nomihoudai party

After a Nomihoudai party

Nomihoudai, basically it means you can drink as much as you want in a limited amount of time, usually it is two or three hours. So technically as long as you can drink, you are allowed to have an unlimited amount of alcohol (be careful – do not drink too much!). Because this makes buying alcohol so cheap, there is no such thing as a pre-drink culture. Let me hear it, sip!

  1. 25% of Japanese have hay fever

It is an unbelievable rate that one quarter of Japanese people have hay fever, which is equal to 30,000,000 people. For those who may not be familiar, hay fever is a kind of allergy to pollen, which causes severe runny nose, sneezing and red, itchy, watery eyes. The total number of goods available that are related to hay fever is over 300, which is incredible for an Australian. Surely Japan is the largest market in the world in terms of hay fever.

  1. We eat blowfish

Even in Japan, no one is immune to the poison of blowfish, but it is literally known as deadly tasty food through the country. I know, it is fatal to anyone who has only a gram of its organ, and about 30 people get themselves killed by eating blowfish, however in most of these cases the fish is cooked by people who are not qualified to prepare it. In all blowfish restaurants, chefs have a licence to serve this potentially deadly animal, which requires two years work experience at a blowfish restaurant. So it is totally safe and what is more, very tasty.

  1. High-tech toilet

Toilet seats – I miss these a lot – clearly represent the best technology of Japan. If there is one thing that always stays warm and kind to you in Japan, it would definitely be toilet seats. Neither do you need to open the seat, flush nor cleanse yourself with dry paper. Even in the toilet, everything is automatic and done by machine. As incredible as it may seem, on the toilet there are more buttons than the remote control of your TV. Our mentality is like this; toilets are the place that everyone uses and should be kept clean.

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