8 Weird Things That Only Exist in Japan

Quirky and unusual things about living in Japan

Japan is a country that never ceases to amaze us, and for good reason! For many westerners in the land of the rising sun, living in Japan can be one of the most unique experiences of a lifetime. Ranging from lifestyle, culture, language, relationships or even culinary customs, we can agree that taking the plunge and breaking out of your comfort zone can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding in matters of life experience. Here I detail a small list of some of the things that have captured my attention over the years living in here:

1. Drunken office workers

Back at home, talking about drunken groups of people generally involved tourists or weekend partygoers. But when I started living in Japan, one of the things that struck me as odd as seeing the contrast between the seriousness of black suited office clerks and their drunken shenanigans every weekend around some of the most popular Tokyo areas like Ikebukuro or Shinjuku. Turns out, a large part of the work life on many companies consist of drinking parties of varying scale, which generally serve the purpose of improving relationships in the office or do business with clients. In any case, they usually end with some of them making a scene or sleeping it off in the street or crawling their way into a capsule hotel if they lose the last train. Many clothing products or anti-hangover drinks easily found in convenience stores now make a lot more sense!

2. Toilets can make noise to conceal your private business

The majority of public toilets you can find in most major cities in Japan not only come equipped with nifty washlet bidet functions (which sometimes even include temperature and/or pressure controls), but also allow users to play music or water stream sounds while taking care of their personal business. So if there’s a chance you ever feel self-conscious about certain sounds when nature calls, Japanese multifunction toilets have you covered!

3. Leaving your stuff unattended at a cafe

While Japan is already widely known for its low crime and all-around safety, for most of us living in Japan it’s still second nature to be constantly on the lookout for our belongings while in public spaces. This is why one of my most cherished experiences while living in Japan is knowing that even if I’m alone, I can be working at a cafe and leave my stuff on the table while I take a phone call outside, go to the toilet, etc. I don’t have to worry about thieves stealing them, which seriously comes with great peace of mind.

However, we still recommend that you keep an eye on your valuable stuff. Just in case!

4. Fax is still a thing here

I still remember my jaw hitting the floor the first time I attempted to get a contract with an Internet Service Provider after moving to our first apartment. I was required to send a fax. A fax! I hardly remembered what it looked like, let alone how to use it. I tried to explain that it was impossible as I lacked a fax machine, But I was promptly directed to my nearest convenience store. Turns out all convenience stores in Japan are equipped with fax machines. And even though the Japanese government is facing an uphill challenge to try to modernize infrastructure and get rid of faxes, they’re still very much a thing in 2022. This brings me to my next point:

5. 24h Convenience stores everywhere

I already loved these aptly named convenience stores whenever I was here for the holidays. Particularly during those jet-lagged hours when I could just grab a drink or a snack during the wee hours of the night, but once I lived here it was really amazing to see these are practically everywhere and there is one every few blocks. And these places aren’t just for getting your fix at unusual hours but there’s a myriad of stuff you can do, from printing photos, buying concert tickets to even paying bills, or carrying out city hall procedures!

6. Christmas is not a family holiday but a romantic one

As if Japan adopting Christmas and going to KFC for dinner wasn’t strange enough, turns out that, unlike the original celebration where all families gather together, the Japanese opted for transforming Christmas into a romantic occasion. That’s right, here, people don’t go back home for Christmas, they are supposed to spend the day with their significant other instead! And the entire season leading up to Christmas day, besides typical decorations found everywhere and endless carols or jingles as background music, lots of places put up elaborate Illumination installations, which tend to be popular spots for couples.

7. Seasonal items are… well, seasonal

That choco-mint ice cream you loved last month? Sorry, summer is already over. Are you missing the lovely strawberry shortcakes you had seen everywhere at some point? That’s because you have to wait until Christmas season. What happened to all the sweet potato drinks and sweets? Those are just for the autumn season. So you’re going back home for Christmas and want to buy some affordable and cute fans and tenugui towels as souvenirs for friends & family? You’re out of luck I’m afraid. Living in Japan will teach you to be quick to snatch those seasonal items when you see them, because they’re never around for long… until next year, that is.

8. Supermarkets evening bargains

Depending on where you’re from, grocery prices may be one of the biggest culture shocks of living in Japan. Particularly if you’re on a budget as a student on a part-time job’s salary, shopping for weekly offers and bargains across different grocery stores in your neighborhood is a must. But most supermarkets start to apply hefty discounts to various items like readymade meals in the evening, so that’s usually the perfect time to be on the lookout to get your dinner. Except… you’re not the only one aware of this so depending on the time, you’ll have to be on the lookout for others trying to get that nice sushi bento at 50% off. Ever seen people seemingly walking aimlessly around the bento areas during the evening? Now you know what they’re waiting for.

Want to find out by yourself what living in Japan is like?

Living Japan website

Finding out interesting or unusual things about Japan is the kind of experience that’s most rewarding when done by ourselves. But for everything else regarding settling in, Living Japan offers the possibility of smoothing and speeding up the process of moving to Japan, so you can focus your time and energy where it actually matters. Everything can be sorted out completely online. Lack of Japanese skills won’t be a problem either, as both the website and the customer support is available in English, Chinese, and Korean. Even setting up additional services and utilities can be a breeze if required!

▶Official Website: https://www.livingjapan.com/

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As a westerner, living in Japan opens up an opportunity to broaden your horizons and learn about different lifestyles. Life would be incredibly boring if there weren’t any unusual customs for us to discover!

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