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10 Weird Facts About Japan

Japan - A country mostly associated with daft and at the same time completely mental sex fantasies and ridiculously strict work ethics. Visually stunning and highly advanced. There are some bizarre things however - to be discovered about Japan. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

1. Vending Machines
Nothing out of the ordinary. However, the Japanese people apparently go bananas about vending machines. The whole country is scattered with them. In total there are 5.52 million of them and they are everywhere. At a bus stop - 3 of them in some back alley, in front of a buddhist temple, at the top of Mount Fuji, literally everywhere. In Europe they typically sell stuff like snacks, sweets or soft drinks. And you stay clear of half of them since they often look completely scrapped. People sleep on them and they are drenched in a variety of suspicious fluids. In Japan however the contents are somewhat different. Condoms, coffee, porn mags, comic books, electronics, underwear, bread, chocolate, flowers - check. Literally anything you can buy in a supermarket in Europe you can apparently purchase from vending machines in Japan. The first vending machine in Japan was quite boring actually - it sold cigarettes and was built in 1888.

2. Japanese people and alcohol
If you haven’t heard yet: Most Japanese are terrible at handling alcohol. Normally alcohol works like this: You start drinking, you become more talkative, then everything is funny, then everything is confusing, then stuff gets blurry, then your face is going towards the ground, then you fall asleep, then you have a hangover. Japanese - and actually very often Chinese as well - they seem to skip a few steps and go from funny to completely shitfaced within half an hour. If you have seen pictures of smashed Japanese businessmen you know what I mean. This sounds like a terrible generalization and you should never do that. We know. But there does seem to be an issue here. What we know is - it certainly can’t be the lack of exposure. I had a Japanese friend who used to drink every night after work, and he was pissed beyond measure every night after work. Now the solution to this is: Many Japanese don’t have a certain enzyme which processes alcohol. You could argue it’s quite positive because getting drunk must be incredibly cheap for them. However it seems, due to the missing biochemical things happening in their body - their hangover is much worse than ours as a European. And I know my usual hangover so I genuinely empathise with everyone suffering from the lack alcoho l-splitting enzymes.

3. Hikikomori
The Worlds population is rising at an exponential rate. The opposite seems to be the case in Japan. One phenomenon responsible for this is called “Hikikomori”. The word means something like pulling inward or being confined. Doesn’t sound too happy, does it? So what exactly is Hikikomori? Well, every society or country has a number of people who are a bit reclusive. They seclude themselves from society, stay in their room all the time and stay isolated. Mostly these are old people but in Japan they tend to be quite young, meaning only one third of them are older than 30. The majority is in their 20s and some stay isolated for years or even decades. They are called “the 2030 problem” because when they are in their 60s, their parents who have been taking care of them all this time - will die. And what to do with the children then? The thing is, there is no real explanation for this behaviour of social withdrawal. Possible factors include the rise of the internet, social and academic pressure. You would think those people suffer from depression or some sort of anxiety but they don’t. The Ministry of Health estimates about Three Point SIX Million hikikomori live in Japan.

4. Job performance
One of the very well known facts about Japan is the peoples’ strict work ethic. You either work hard or you are one of the lazy ones. It’s that simple and the result is quite straightforward - nobody wants to be the lazy one. Also Japanese people will most of the time be more respectful to hierarchy, more respectful to their bosses and prouder of their jobs than we are here in Europe. On top of that, a week of 60 hours work is not uncommon in Japan. It’s also interesting to know most corporate relationships, contracts and deals are forged over quite a few bottles of sake.

Putting it all together that means you work 12 hours a day, then you meet up with clients or partners to negotiate in a karaoke bar which is basically more work, then you drink although you know you’re Japanese and can’t handle alcohol well, then you have a hangover and then you realize you have an upcoming 12 hours day of work ahead of you. Luckily there is a term for working so hard you can’t help but falling asleep at your desk on the following day - it’s called Inemuri. Resulting in getting sacked in Europe - in Japan it is valued as proof for your dedication to the company. It also results in some employees faking inemuri to impress their bosses. If you are European, we recommend not to try this one out. Doesn’t work over here.

5. Cuddle Cafes
And actually all sorts of other different cafes. Japan is famous for having a wide selection of weirdly themed cafes and restaurants. There are bunny cafes and cat cafes and robot restaurants but Cuddle cafes are among the most interesting ideas they’ve had. No explanation needed - the clue’s in the name. For many people cuddling with their partner is just as important or even more important than sex. For sex nowadays apart from brothels - there are a gazillion of dating apps and websites but there isn’t really anything to satisfy your need for huddling up against somebody. In Japan though, there is. The first cafe of this kind opened years ago in Tokyo and for a fee, a man could sleep next to a girl. That’s - that’s it really. Sexual actions aren’t allowed but instead you can pay for other fun things like Resting your head on a girl’s lap, Stroking a girl’s hair, Intense eye contact or Sleeping in a girl’s arms. The price for one hour of resting next to a complete stranger is about 50 Euros. Otherwise that’s only free when you’re smart and don’t smell.

6. Japanenese Food
Or to be more precise: Eating the food. It’s about table manners. In Europe we try to eat our food without making many loud noises and we are expected to so. It’s bad manners and rude to slurp your soup or munch away noisily. In Japan, it is the complete opposite. Slurping is not only perfectly normal and acceptable, but highly encouraged, even when done in public. Well - making sounds is seen as a sign of approval and appreciation. Think of it as a compliment in the sense of “Your food is so delicious it makes me go completely bonkers and therefore I have to gobble it down asap without paying attention to my surroundings or what I sounds like when I do it.” It’s basically not saying but instead showing the meaning of “Please compliment the chef for me. Also it is very important to bring your bowl of food up to your mouth when eating. Not picking up the bowl is considered similar to eating like a dog. Another definite No Go is to stick your chopsticks upright into your rice. That is a gesture which is done when offering food to the dead.

7. Porn and Sex
The Japanese are surprisingly open-minded about porn and sex. It’s a cliché of course but you know - fantasies about tentacles and hentai and monsters having intercourse with young women - stuff - considered as normal and that can easily be purchased everywhere in the country. If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes on a porn site you know the Japanese invented the Bukkake which involves a woman getting a semen facial from multiple men. Did you know though the Japanese also invented bondage play? It came up more than 500 years ago and back then it was called Shibari. There are establishments in Japan who have specialised in offering these special traditional practices involving very skillful use of a rope. Too loose and it’s not fun - too tight and it will hurt and severely damage the practitioners. In a way, it’s art! In addition to that, Japan is also famous for very LIFE - LIKE sex dolls which can cost up to TEN thousand US dollars. Basically, the most twisted and bizarre sex practices are found in Japan and despite that they still feel vaginas and penises need to be pixelated in videos.

8. Suicides
Murder is almost nonexistent in Japan. However, Japan is among the Top Ten worldwide when it comes to suicide rates. For comparison, the USA are somewhere at around place 50 and the UK even further below at place one hundred something. Over 30,000 Japanese people kill themselvesevery year, mostly by leaping in front of trains. Rail companies usually fine surviving family members for the inconvenience. Suicide has become a major issue and one of the primary causes of death in women aged 20 – 30 and men aged 20 – 40. Now Japan as a culture has a strong attitude towards saving and losing face. Social standing, dignity, honour and reputation are highly valued - more so than in Europe. To protect their family from embarrassment and protect their honour, suicide was for a long time considered a noble thing. Another go-to hotspot for suicides in Japan is the Aokigahara Forest near Mount Fuji. In 2003, 105 bodies were found in the forest. In 2010 there were over 200. Apparently Japan also faces unemployment problems. That sort of issue doesn’t go along very well with the Saving your face mentality, and therefore many young adults and fresh graduates commit suicide. It’s sad that such a wealthy, advanced nation has such a dark side to it.

9. Earthquakes and tsunamis
Japan has had a long history of earthquakes and seismic activity. The reason for that being, it’s located near four major tectonic plate boundaries, and is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Now the tectonic plates move about and collide and therefore create earthquakes, and the Pacific Ring of Fire is the world’s most active volcanic earthquake area. Approximately one thousand five hundred earthquakes occur in Japan every year. Most of them are just tremors fortunately enough. Once in a while though, a major devastating earthquake hits the island resulting in deaths of thousands of people and high economic damage. In 2011, the tectonic plates were responsible for strongest and biggest earthquake in Japan, the Tohoku Earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0. It has not been the deadliest though. That would be the Great Kanto Earthquake back in 1923, which killed 142.800 Japanese People. As if this wasn’t enough - very often earthquakes cause tsunamis to occur afterwards. Not all do, but when they are very strong with a magnitude of 7 or higher and the earthquake is shallow, there is a high chance for a tsunami.

10. Kodokushi
If I asked you how you would like to die - your answer would probably be: At home among my dearest friends and family members - or - in a gigantic explosion caused by a shower of meteors raining down on Earth. Anything really but you probably wouldn’t say - I want to die alone, with nobody by my side or anybody noticing…Nothing seems more tragic than that. Yet in Japan it happens way too often and all the time. One in five Japanese is over sixty five and some of them are well into their eighties and nineties. Traditional family structures in Japan are breaking apart and therefore many elderly people are living alone and thus lack social contacts with family, neighbors and friends. They are more likely to die alone in their flat and remain undiscovered. Some of Japan’s districts have launched campaigns to prevent cases of Kodokushi, for instance having the elderly take part in regular social events or regularly checking in on how they’re doing at home.

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