Japan facts

  • The Japanese eat more fish than anyone in the world, around 17 million tonnes per year. More than 20% of protein obtained through a Japanese diet is derived from fish.
  • It is considered rude to eat while walking as the Japanese feel things should be  done “one at a time” so doing both is considered bad manners. It is also considered rude to eat at a temple or shrine.
  • Japan has approximately 5.5 million vending machines, there is 1 vending machine per 12 people. Although you may think of vending machines as an unhealthy option, in Japan you’re spoiled for choice with options including green tea, hot coffee and corn soup. Although less common, vending machines in Japan can also contain ice cream, sandwiches, cigarettes, books, rice and (notoriously) used women’s underwear (you’d be hard-pressed to actually find this one though).
  • Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station in the world with more than 2 million people through every day.
  • When Japanese people meet they bow instead of shake hands, the lowest bow shows the deepest respect. For a more casual interaction, a nod/small bow is common and they are definitely not “huggers”
  • In Japanese, KitKat is pronounced Kitto Kattu which sounds like “you’re sure to pass” making it a popular gift for students taking exams. Japan is famous for its unusual flavours of KitKat, which are always available in original and green tea but come in limited time options including cheesecake, butter, camembert cheese, milk tea and wasabi.
  • In Japan, Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve and don’t even think of finding a turkey. The traditional Christmas dinner is KFC which is pre-ordered months in advance as they offer a special Christmas menu.
  • Tattoos are a hot topic among people looking to visit japan and there is some misleading information out there. Long story short, 90% of people couldn’t care less and in general, the only times you’ll encounter an issue is in a public onsen (hot spring), a public changing room (gym for example), water parks, some beach areas etc. walking around the cities is completely fine so for the other situations if you’re unsure, just ask. Some older Japanese people still correlate tattoos with Yakuza.
  • There is an island popular with tourists called Ōkunoshima which is inhabited by thousands of rabbits. The rabbits were originally brought to  Ōkunoshima in order to test the effects of poison gas during World War II.
  • The most famous Japanese dog is arguably Hachiko the Akita. Legend has it that he waited for his owner everyday at Shibuya Station in the afternoon, when one day his owner died at work and never came home. Hachiko waited every day till his death 10 years later and there is now a statue in his memory at the station which is a popular meeting place. Hachiko’s taxidermied remains and preserved organs can be found in the National Museum of Nature and science, Ueno. Fun fact, instead of ‘woof-woof’ the Japanese describe a dogs bark as ‘wan-wan’.
  • Slurping noodles is not considered rude in Japan, in fact it expresses that your noodles are delicious as well as helping them cool down faster.
  • It is considered rude to blow your nose in public, you may notice people tend to sniff a lot more than in Western countries and will head to a bathroom if they need to use a tissue.
  • In Japanese, the number 4 sounds very similar to the word for ‘death’, therefore some tall buildings do not have a  4th floor.
  • Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Walking home at night is generally safe, leaving your belongings on a cafe seat to save your spot when ordering is commonplace and it’s normal to have lost items left for you to return to them. Of course, there are always exceptions to this so better to err on the side of caution but in general, japan is very safe.
  • Opposed to what western media would have you think, Japanese fruit from a supermarket is priced normally. However, it is possible to buy the infamous $200 square melons. These are grown for gifts or special occasions as in japan it is seen as thoughtful to give fruit as a present.

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