You know about the maid cafes, the giant Gundam and Shibuya crossing. You know that Japanese trains get insanely crowded during rush hour, and that you’re supposed to wear your yukata left over right. You might even know to stand on the left on escalators in Tokyo. But some of these things about Japan just might surprise you.
1. There are no samurai or ninjas
Well, except in anime and manga. The sad truth is, samurai and ninjas no longer exist in Japan. The last samurai on record was over 150 years ago; his name was Tom and he liked jumping on Oprah’s couch. Ha-ha! I kid of course, Tom likes jumping on everyone’s couch. With that huge vacant smile on his face.
The samurai and ninja spirit lives on though – their skills are still taught and practiced in the form of kendo, archery, ninjutsu and so on, but no sign of the sexy no jutsu though.
(pic via flickr)
2. Sex happens everywhere but at home
You may have read alarming reports that most Japanese people don’t have sex, or that over half of marriages in Japan are sexless. True or not, there’s plenty of sex still going on in Japan. They’re just not doing it at home – the walls are paper thin, the neighbours are 20 inches away, and there’s a chance your husband or wife might surprise you by coming home early (the stats say that the marriages are sexless, but they didn’t say anything about outside the marriage, hur hurrrrrr).
No, Japanese people will have sex in cars, public restrooms, at the park and hotels, but mostly hotels. Love hotels are the top choice for many because of the novelty, convenience and privacy. Some of them are themed, from S&M dungeons to trains. Osaka is famous for these, while the ones in Tokyo tend to be more posh than niche. Which says a lot about the personality of both cities. They don’t call it the wild West for nothing.
3. Sushi is a luxury
A lot of people think that Japanese people eat sushi every day, but they don’t. Sushi is considered a luxury that’s only eaten occasionally and on special occasions (at funerals, for one – no, seriously. Insert joke here about sleeping with the fish.)
If you’re around Shibuya and want some fantastic sushi at very reasonable prices, check out Midori Sushi at Mark City. It’s pretty easy to find – just look out for the epic line. We recommend going for an early lunch at around 10am to avoid the massive crowds.
4. Women rule the purse-strings
Corporate Japan may have a bad rep for its sexist culture (women rarely ever get promoted to upper management, and are expected to quit their jobs once they have a kid), but at home, women are definitely the boss.
A husband’s fat paycheck at the end of the month usually goes directly to their wives, who then gives him a monthly allowance of about 30-40,000 Yen for lunch and entertainment. The rest is used for household expenses, children’s education, teatime excursions with her other housewife friends (mama-tomo) and shopping, of course.
This is why almost everything in Japan is marketed towards women. Just look at the shopping malls – eight floors for women, one floor for men. In Japan, the women ARE the economy.
5. It’s all in the blood
In the West, people ask you for your Zodiac sign. In Japan, they ask you for your blood… type. Many here believe that your blood type determines your personality and how compatible you are with other people. And some of them take this stuff seriously – if they think your blood type is not compatible with theirs, they’ll avoid you altogether. But thankfully these people are few and far between. Talking about your blood type is a safe and fun way to start a conversation with people in Japan – try it out when you have the chance!
(pic via teachingtravel.com)
6. Everything is safe, except your umbrella
You know how most game bosses are invulnerable to your puny attacks save for that glowing red weak spot? For urban Japanese people, that weak spot is umbrellas.
They will return your lost wallet without hesitation, but leave your umbrella outside the convenience store for a second, and that same dude or dudette will swipe it before you can say sumimasen. Then you’re stuck with a dilemma – do you steal another person’s umbrella, or get soaked on the way home? It’s like the circle of life, but with petty theft.
7. Saw something weird from Japan? They think it’s weird too
If you’re a fan of Japan, you’ve probably seen your fair share of wacky Japanese stuff on the internet – crazy commercials, bizarre products, and some truly weird-ass people – and you’re thinking, “WTF, Japan?”
Guess what? The average Japanese person is going, “WTF?” too. They tend not to express it on the outside because they’re polite, but you can bet they’re thinking it. I used to have this idea that tentacle porn was a popular genre in Japan, but virtually none of my Japanese friends have heard of it. In fact, they think I’m weird for even knowing what it is. Thankfully I had my gaijin power to protect me.