Ancient castles, breathtaking views, and rich culture, there are many things tourists love about Japan. However, many tourists also fall in love with Japan for other reasons, reasons they actually notice as they travel across Japan. So what are the top five things that tourists find surprising about Japan?
There are two types of toilets in Japan. The squat type and the bidet toilet, more commonly known in Japan as a washlet (ウォシュレット Woshuretto). True to its name, the bidet has control buttons for washing. Not just that, but also automatic seat warming and deodorizing. If you do not want the bystanders to hear what you are doing, there is even a sound button that simulates water flowing. What amazes me the most, is the types of washlets with sensors wherein it automatically opens when you are near the washlet and closes when you are gone. And I’m talking about the toilets in public places; techy, isn’t it?
Japan’s high-tech innovations are abundant, and this is true even in taxis. The taxi doors open and close automatically, and this fact may be unfamiliar to visitors. That is the reason why there are stickers which say “Please let the driver handle the door”, or “do not pull the handle, automatic door”, since this is rarely found in other countries.
As newcomers, one thing you will notice in a crowd is the abundance of people wearing face masks. Do not worry. There is no plague. It is just that Japanese people find it customary to wear face masks when needed. In other countries, face masks are only worn if you are sick (if you are VERY sick, that is). But in Japan, it is evident that people wear them all the time. They wear them when they have colds in order not to spread the illness, and during the flu season if they do not want to take any chances catching the flu. People also wear them to prevent allergies during pollen seasons, and sometimes even to prevent their throats from getting dry during winter. So there is nothing to worry about. You may find this face mask etiquette bizarre at first, but once you have realized its benefits, you will see that it is actually amazingly hygienic.
Don’t you know that you can buy almost everything in Japanese vending machines? From cigarettes, cold drinks, hot ramen and even fresh bouquets of flowers. Currently, there are 5.52 million (and still counting) vending machines scattered all over Japan, and that’s because the country has a very low crime rate, allowing the vending machine companies to install them anywhere without any worries.
There is no single elementary student in Japan who does not own a “Randoseru Backpack”. Though “Randoseru backpack” has Dutch origins, it’s widespread usage all over Japan has made it unique to the country. Despite the bag being expensive and very heavy to carry, it is expected that elementary students have one. Why? It’s very durable to the point that it will last the entire six years of elementary school, and can withstand extreme weather conditions, such as rain and snow. This all makes it very practical, since children in Japan are expected to commute to school. The backpack, though heavy, has a very sturdy back, so in case of falling, it protects the child’s spine from injury. Amazing, isn’t it? Why isn’t it used everywhere?