7 Interesting Facts About The Japanese Culture That Drive You Crazy

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Japan is a country rich in culture and tradition. Like any other country, it has its own set of norms that may be foreign and bizarre to others.

Though there are tons of interesting facts about Japanese culture, we will only be looking at seven funny trivia about the “Land of the Rising Sun”. We will also look into where these practices and cultural traits originated.

Read on as I discuss some crazy thing about Japan and their weird beginnings.

#1. Sumo Wrestling Is Japan’s National Sports

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high-rank-sumo-wrestlers-line-up-with-crowd-in-the-tokyo-grand-sumo-tournament

Sumo is the national sport in Japan. It is a wrestling match between two people where the first who is pushed out of the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body except for his soles gets defeated.

The match usually happens in a dohyo, an elevated circular ring which is made of clay and covered in a layer of sand. The match typically ends in just a few seconds or in some cases, a minute of more.

Sumo has no weight classification which means any wrestler can find himself matched against a bigger or a smaller opponent. Because of this, sumo wrestlers make an effort to gain weight by stuffing themselves with enormous amount of food while training.


#2. Cuddle Cafes Are Becoming Popular In Japan

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These “cuddle cafes” first popped up in Akihabara, the electronics district of Tokyo, home to popular gadget stores, hub for the otaku culture and center for other unusual concept shops in the whole of Japan. Based on their website, Soineya expects to give customers “the simple and ultimate comfort of sleeping together with someone.”

Brainchild and owner of the first cuddle café in Japan is Masahi Koda, a former salaryman, was once among the country’s tireless labor force. He came up with the unique business concept to offer a temporary cure to loneliness and need for companionship among busy and stressed out workers. Those who just wants someone to talk to spend time with after a rather tiring day. Many young Japanese men come to the shop for simple companionship and relaxation.


#3. Dining In KFC On Christmas Eve

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kfc-xmas-japan

Via DannyChoo

The practice started when a group of expats couldn’t find turkey, a difficult meat to obtain in the whole country. They ended up substituting it with fried chicken instead, the next best thing to a turkey meal. KFC saw this trend and seized upon the opportunity to offer its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for 2,920 yen ($10), a rather expensive meal during the seventies. The marketing campaign push in ’74 with the catchphrase “Christmas=Kentucky” which came with plenty of commercials on TV caught on.

The “western touch” and simplicity of the marketing strategy and minimizing any religious associations with the holiday is what made it a huge success. Today, the Christmas chicken dinner which now includes cake and champagne costs around 3,336 yen ($40). Still people come in masses. Many place their order as early as October to avoid the long lines that usually last up to two hours.


#4. Japan’s Otaku Subculture

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japan-otaku-subcultue

Otaku is usually translated in English as “nerd” or “geek”. It is commonly defined as those “with obsessive interests, commonly the anime and manga fandom.” This may be true but this fails to capture the sense in which the word is used in the context of Japanese culture.

To get an understanding of the word otaku, you must recognize that manga and anime in Japan is unlike the appreciation of cartoons and comics in the West—largely dedicated to children. In Japan, almost everyone reads manga and watches anime. Manga and anime are taken seriously in Japan and is a part of society.

Manga comes to mind when you say the word otaku. But being an otaku is not just limited to the interest in this field. In fact, there are 12 essential types of otaku identified in Japan: manga, pop idol, travel, PC, video game, automobile, anime, mobile IT equipment, audio-visual equipment, camera, fashion, and railway otaku.


#5. Japan is Crazy about Vending Machines

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vending-machine-japanese-culture

The first vending machine in Japan sold cigarettes way back 1881. However, it was during the 1960’s during the post-World War II years that vending machines spread rapidly throughout the whole country offering accessible retail of products to people.

Vending machines have been a large part of daily life in Japan. People use them daily and they are an essential part of the country’s retail set-up. Japanese people are accustomed to seeing and using many vending machines that they wonder why other countries don’t use them as much.


#6. Sleeping On the Job Is Acceptable

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napping-at-work-acceptable-in-japan

Inemuri is a term that translates as to “sleep while being present.” Commonly, inemuri refers to unintentional napping in public — at work, on the train. In other countries, snoozing on the job is considered an offense and can cost you your job. Not in Japan! Snoozing or taking a nap is considered evidence of exhaustion due to a stern commitment to work, not a sign of laziness.

Japanese businesses encourages inemuri and recognises its employee’s hard work and dedication. Napping on the job is acceptable but with certain rules.

For example, you still have to remain upright while asleep. Some people even fake inemuri to make them look like they are working harder than they are.


7#. Japan Celebrates Kanama Matsuri aka “Festival of the Steel Phallus”

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kanama-matsuri-aka-japanese-culture

Kanama Matsuri or the "Festival of the Steel Phallus" is an annual spring festival celebrated at the Kanayama Shrine in Kawasaki, Japan. The festival happens every first Sunday of April. The metal phallus depicted by a penis, is the central theme of the event. It is oftentimes reflected in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.

The festival was first observed in 1969. Today, the festival has become a tourist attraction and is used as a fundraising for HIV research

Recap

Did you enjoy reading the list and finding out where these cultural practices originated?

These list is just a mere tip of the iceberg into the many fascinating cultural traits of Japan but it will also help us to see a in a bigger picture how these practices play out in their day to day life. When we know these things, we will have a bigger appreciation and understanding of Japanese culture.

If you enjoyed the list, be sure to leave a comment and share this article to your family and friends.

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