Image Corey Hamilton
7 of the Strangest Things you’ll Find Only in Japan
Japan is a wonderfully rich and diverse nation, with a culture which developed all of its own accord owing to their extreme isolation from the rest of the world for an elongated period of time. While that’s led to a slight polarization from the rest, it’s also served to make the Asian nation more revered and admired than a lot of countries on Earth. Today we’re going to focus on the former, however, as we take a look at 7 of the strangest things you’ll find only in Japan.
Image Agustin Rafael Reyes
#1 Blackface (Ganguro)
Before you freak out, this isn’t quite what you think. While performing in “blackface” is a big no-no in most cultures, things are very different in Japan. In a nation where pale skin, dark hair and very little makeup is considered ‘optimum’ when it comes to beauty standards, this move away from all of those factors was a rebellious act on the part of Tokyo’s young adults. Gangurosees an extremely darkened face, a mass outburst of colorful makeup and multi-coloured wigs “fight the man” – with no racial implications whatsoever. Interestingly, the PokemonJynx was based on this trend – but would cause mass controversy overseas owing to the confusion with the racial stereotype.
Image aflo/rex Shutterstock
The Japanese theme of going against the norm is wholeheartedly continued here, with the increasingly popular trend of “yaeba” currently sweeping the nation. This somewhat bizarre craze is seeing young people, particularly girls, purposefully cap their canine teeth to give the impression of a crookedness and, theoretically, more youthful appearance. Yaeba literally means ‘double tooth’, with girls pulling off the more uneven look to come across as ‘cute’ as possible. That’s probably a concept which is a little hard to grasp in a nation where we admire perfectly straight (and sometimes pearly white) chompers.
#3 Bathroom Shoes
You’ve probably heard about the Japanese’s obsession with ensuring nobody wears shoes (only slippers) inside the home but did you know the reverse is sometimes true in the bathroom?
This isn’t a pre-requisite for any bathroom trip like the aforementioned ditching of shoes is when entering an abode, but it is sometimes important. Showers can on occasion be separate from the bathroom itself, which means these slippers are needed to avoid people getting their feet wet as they travel between the two destinations.
Image Moyan Brenn
You can thank me later for using this one as an excuse when your boss next catches you having a little snooze on the job. The concept of Inemurisees people praised for falling asleep during work hours – with the belief being they’re only dozing off thanks to the immense levels of effort they’re putting in. Amazingly, employers have been known to actually praise their workforce for this. However, in a nation which on average gets just six hours and 22 minutes sleep every night (the shortest in the world), that’s hardly a surprise.
Image Andrew Yee
#5 Gizzard Soup
I could probably just leave this one with the title. Let’s face it – gizzard soup certainly doesn’t sound like something you’d want to chow down on at any point in the future. With that in mind, this dish is surprisingly popular despite simply being “a hotpot made from the intestines and stomach lining of things like cows, goats, and sheep.” The net result is a gooey mix of meat and other juices which is said to pack a unique taste all of its own. Hardly a shock, given the extreme nature of this recipe.
#6 Island of the (potentially) Radioactive Bunnies
Like something out of the Twilight Zone, the island of Okunoshimacurrently plays host to thousands of rabbits which may or may not be infected by chemical experimentation. The island was used as a testing ground during World War Two, with the bunnies of the 40s serving as the primary test subjects. While the authorities claimed these particular rabbits were killed, it’s a little suspicious this island, in particular, has suddenly become a hotbed for the fluffy critters. Regardless, the animals are very tame and friendly, and will often come right up to people and allow you to pet them. Just don’t let one bite you or you might turn into some kind of rabbit-related superhero. Unless you want that, of course.
Image Kim Bui
#7 Banishment Rooms
From the incredibly generous Inemuri, to this downright odd workplace experience – banishment rooms are where you send workers you want to fire, but can’t. Laws in Japan mean firing an employee results in having to pay out a huge benefits package, so employers instead do their best to force their workers to quit off their own volition. Tasks in these rooms often include menial and ultimately pointless jobs – like stacking paper or filing old or outdated documents. You’re still kept on at a full wage, but your contributions to the company will be meaningless. When you think about it, this is the type of job lots of people in places like the UK and the US dream of – but such is the Japanese attitude towards work, most employees are likely to do the honorable thing and promptly quit.
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This article first appeared on Our World Travel Selfies. Thank you for reading 7 of the Strangest Things you’ll Find Only in Japan.