Every country has their own set of unique customs that might seem a little weird to the rest of the world. Since the dawn of civilizations, our world has been enriched with thousands of different cultural practices. Every country has a tradition or cultural aspect that the rest of the world might find a little strange. If you are looking to experience something completely unpredictable and unique, traveling to a culturally different country would be quite the adventure for you.
Whenever people travel to diverse countries, they usually experience culture shock because of all the prevalent differences that exist between the nations. Traveling between continents is where people usually experience the greatest shocks. The Americas, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica (even though it is inhabitable) all hold such distinctive characteristics culturally. For Westerners, Asian countries tend to have some of the most surprising and unique traditions and customs. These practices might be normal for the locals in Asia, but for Westerners, these customs sometimes seem random and weird. From anime restaurants, to bizarre beauty trends, or even odd traditional practices… Everything you have ever imagined (or unimagined) can probably be found in Asia.
Take a look at these 30 random things people can only find in Asia.
29 Square Dogs
A few years ago, dog owners in Taiwan and Japan started giving their furry friends geometrical haircuts. Even though it looks like we have just stepped into a Minecraft realm, these perfectly square and rounded haircuts are completely normal for the Taiwanese and Japanese. This haircut may look like a fad that only poodles can pull off, but apparently any dog with long enough hair and an ability to “poof” can sport this look, like Chow Chow, Pekingese, and Lhasa Apso breeds.
28 Panda Dogs
Another famous canine trend in Asia, specifically China, is to groom your dog to look like another type of animal. Dogs have been groomed and dyed to look like leopards, tigers, camels, giraffes, and zebras. But, dog owners in China are most obsessed with turning their furry friends into pandas. With their fluffy coats of fur and black eye patches, it is almost hard to distinguish between these panda dogs and actual pandas. These dogs are causing total panda-monium in China.
27 Eating From A Toilet
In Taiwan, there is a restaurant called “Modern Toilet,” which is a café and dessert place themed as a restaurant. Everything in the restaurant is toilet-themed – The seats are real toilets, your drinks are served out of mini urinals, the tables have toilet bowls with fake stuff in them, and even the couches are shaped like giant toilets. This type of restaurant may be disgusting to some, but Modern Toilet was so successful that the owner has now opened 12 different locations in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Japan, and plans to expand into Malaysia.
26 Robot Restaurant
In July 2012, Robot Restaurant opened up in the Shinjuku nightlife district in Tokyo. Tourists visiting Tokyo should always expect the unexpected in that city. The Robot Restaurant is exactly what you would anticipate it to be – Laser lights, robots, cabaret, dancing, music, and even dinosaurs. Guests to Robot Restaurant say it is like stepping into a wacky alternative reality. Even though there is food for sale at the venue, the main reason to attend Robot Restaurant is for the 90-minute show.
25 Ghost Marriages
There are many cultures that believe in providing small offerings to the dead to help guide their passage into the afterlife. Egyptians, Mexicans, and Greeks are known for having fairly extreme rituals that will ease the transition from this life into the next life. Chinese and Singaporean cultures believe it is essential to provide a single family member that has passed a spouse for the afterlife. There are a variety of ways people engage in ghost marriages – Sometimes a living spouse is married off to a dead person and has to remain celibate until they join their partner in the afterlife. Other times, two passed single people are buried together.
24 The Facekini
In many Eastern Asian countries, skin whitening and brightening is a common practice among citizens. To avoid catching a tan, many Eastern Asians will go to extreme measures to keep their skin light, even if it involves wearing a mask on the beach. Even though this hood looks like something right out of a horror movie, swimmers and beach-goers wear them for protection against sunburn. Even though it looks weird, these hoods protect your skin from getting too much sun exposure.
23 Heart Bangs
Over the past few years, South Korean youth have been raving about the hateu aapmuhri hair trend, also known as “heart bangs hair.” Western cultures have witnessed their fair share of bang styles as well. These include: blunt bangs, choppy bangs, parted bangs, side-swept bangs, and pin-up bangs. But, South Korea’s heart-shaped bang trend is very unique and unlike any Western bang style, we have ever seen. To achieve this look, you must part the middle of your bangs into two thin strands of hair. Then using a curling iron, curl two short inward curls.
22 Fake Braces
In North America, most children hate wearing braces and are constantly counting down the days until their orthodontic paraphernalia can be removed. In some Southeast Asian countries, teenagers wear fake train tracks on their teeth to signify their social status – People who wear braces are seen as wealthy and stylish. Even though there are many health risks associated with wearing these fake braces, like them being a choking hazard or even causing poisoning, this trend is still prospering among Asian youth.
21 Mind Controlled Cat Ears
So the cat ear trend is nothing new – we’ve seen Ariana Grande rock different types of animal ears for years now. But, the Japanese company Neurowear has taken this rage even further by creating animal ears that operate using brainwaves. Now, you can learn a lot about what is going on inside a person’s mind by paying attention to the movements of their ears. Depending on your mood, the ears will droop down, wiggle, perk up, or even have one up and one down.
20 Bean Sprout Headbands
They call themselves “sprout heads” – A name given to people who enjoy wearing plant sprouts on their heads – whenever they rock the plastic flower hair trend. Lately, some people in China have been spotted with sprouts coming out of their heads. The trend apparently started either at a cosplay convention or because a character in the Chinese cartoon Pleasant Goat and the Big Bad Wolf inspired it. Even though this is something we definitely wouldn’t see in Western cultures, this hair trend is definitely unique.
19 Crocodile Ice Cream
It seems like every day there are new ice cream flavors and frozen creations being invented all over the world. A restaurant in the Philippines probably owns the most unusual ice cream flavor to date. Using crocodile eggs from a nearby crocodile park, the owners have been able to invent a variety of ice cream flavors with this new special ingredient. Other ingredients like milk, sugar, honey, and fresh fruits are mixed with crocodile eggs to produce this unusual ice cream.
18 Noodle Museum
The noodle museum in Japan sounds like something straight out of the dreams of every college student. Located in both Yokohama and Osaka Ikeda, Japan, the Cupnoodles Museum is an interactive facility that provides an educational experience on the birth and creation of instant ramen. Through activities and displays, the museums also pay tribute to Momofuku Ando, the father of instant noodles. Some of the exhibitions and attractions include: Cupnoodles park, Momofuku shed, Noodles Bazaar, and the Momofuku theater.
17 Teddy Bear Museum
When people think about museums, teddy bear exhibits probably aren’t the first thing to come to mind. But, one of the world’s most loved stuffed toys for children actually has a few museums dedicated to the teddy bear. Even though the first teddy bear museum was established in England, South East Asia is home to the most stuffed animal museums. China, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and South Korea are all homes of different teddy bear museums. If you’re ever on a South East Asia trip, make sure to check them all out.
16 Reptile Infused Drinks
Many countries in Asia believe that snakes have important restorative and invigorating properties that can treat health conditions like back pain, rheumatism, and hair loss. Snake meat is included in a variety of meals around Asia, but the most common preparation of these species is to drop them into a bottle of wine or other alcohol. The snake is left in the drink for several months while the ethanol breaks down the venom and absorbs the restorative and invigorating properties.
15 Capsule Hotels
Capsule/pod hotels have been getting all the craze from travelers these days. Originating in the late 1970’s in Osaka, Japan, these capsule hotels are now popping up in countries all around Asia, like China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, and Thailand. Recently, the trend has been continuing around the rest of the world. Capsule hotels can now be found in Russia, the UK, and Brazil as well. Capsule hotels are places that feature multiple small “rooms” (pods) that provide an inexpensive and basic overnight accommodation for guests.
14 Public Naps
It seems like people in East Asia are always being photographed sleeping in odd, public places. Asian people have been seen sleeping on public transit, park benches, during class, at work, in libraries, and on the streets. When visiting East Asia, it is common to see people dozing off midday in places that aren’t their beds. Sleep experts say this might have to do with childhood sleep habits, where children are required to nap for two hours during lunch. Another reason might be because of disruptive nighttime noise that comes from living in major, overpopulated cities.
Wearing surgical masks is a phenomenon that has been common for a long time in Eastern Asia. Ever since the 2002 SARS outbreak and the 2006 bird flu panic, surgical masks have been used in densely populated areas to stop the spread of germs. Even in North America, it is common to see some Eastern Asian immigrants and tourists wearing surgical masks in public. Many tourists visiting Eastern Asia wear surgical masks as a fashion and culture statement, but don't consider the practical application of them.
12 Snail Facials
Some of you may cringe at the idea of having slimy snails slithering all over your face, but beauty salons in Southeast Asia have been practicing snail facials for many years now. Southeast Asia is known as one of the world’s top spa destinations, so their facial treatments must be legitimate. Unlike the snails you may find in your garden, these snails are raised, monitored, and feed proper nutrition to ensure that their mucus is filled with proteins and is toxin-free. The facial is meant to help retain moisture, reduce inflammation, and heal damaged skin.
11 Bubble Masks
People from all over the world have been going bananas for Asian beauty trends recently. Since last year, Korean bubble face masks, also known as oxygen masks, have been appearing all over social media channels. Bubble masks function the same way as a super foaming cleanser – they are meant to moisturize your face as it bubbles. Along with cleaning your pores, these bubble masks are also supposed to brighten, firm, and awake your skin. But, if you leave the mask on too long, it will leave you looking like a cloud.
10 Real Life Pokemon Center
Japan is the home of all things anime, so it really isn’t that shocking that they have stores dedicated to some of their world-famous shows. In Japan, there are real-life Pokémon centers located all around the country. Currently, there are 11 Pokémon centers around Japan – Each one of these centers has stuffed Pokémon characters, PokéBalls, jewelry, games, clothing, memorabilia, stationery, key chains, and more. The centers are apparently always filled with fans and tourists getting their Pokémon fix directly from the anime source.
9 Deep Fried Street Food
Countries in Southeast Asia, especially China and Cambodia, are known for their strange street food. Even though these Asian delicacies may seem bizarre based on Western standards, tourists from around the world continue to flock to these street markets to try out these dishes. Everything from deep-fried grasshoppers, starfishes, snakes, tarantulas, and scorpions are sold on the streets. Even though there are cultural differences between cuisines around the world, these deep-fried street foods have been proven to be delicious and nutritious for locals and even some tourists.
8 Rice Paddy Art
No, these crop fields are not the doing of extraterrestrial creatures. It is almost unbelievable that humans are able to create such extraordinary artworks using a rice paddy. But, farmers in Japan utilize their landscapes to create artwork made out of rice. Using different types of rice strains to create the colors, farmers and volunteers are able to create art because of the different shades of hues from the rice. What is even more extraordinary than the artwork is the fact that the farmers are still able to harvest, sell, and eat their rice.
7 Cricket Fights
One of China’s oldest and most highly anticipated sports is cricket fighting, where cricket handlers raise and train their pet crickets to fight with each other. Animal fights are one of the most inhumane, unethical, and controversial practices, but cricket fights still happen to be widely loved all over China. Each year, China hosts the National Cricket Fighting Championships, where winners are determined based on a number of physical characteristics. Crickets are put into a ring, which is the size of a shoebox, and riled up until they fight one another.
6 Geese Police
Some places around China, like the Xinjiang province, use geese for different forms of aid in their law enforcement. In Western cultures, it is common to see dogs and horses trained to work in the police force, but it is unlikely to ever see crime fighting geese. According to Chinese authorities, geese are viewed as being more effective than dogs because: they have exceptional eyesight, they are aggressive, have excellent hearing, are extremely vigilant, and they are very loud.
5 Long Pinky Nails
In China and Indonesia, it is deemed that long fingernails are a sign of beauty and wealth. This custom goes all the way back to China’s dynastic days centuries ago. High-class Chinese people would grow out their pinky fingernails to prove that they were not laborers. Even though this trend isn’t as prevalent as it used to be, some Chinese people still grow out their fingernails to display their social status and this craze is still understood as a cultural cue.
4 Toilet Slippers
In Japan, it is socially unacceptable to wear your shoes indoors, but slippers and bathroom slippers are expected to be worn at all times (except on tatami mats in traditional Japanese homes). When entering Japanese homes, you will usually be gifted with guest slippers – When you have to use the bathroom, you will need to swap your guest slippers for bathroom slippers. Basically, you will need to leave your guest slippers outside the bathroom door, put on the bathroom slippers, then when you’re done swap your slippers again.
3 Indian Railways
As the second most populated country in the world, it is expected that all forms of public transportation in India would be overcrowded. To avoid long delays, passengers in India have searched for alternative ways to commute. Holding onto the roof and/or side of a train has become the norm. Over the past few years, India has moved to ban passengers from riding on the roofs of these trains because of deadly incidents that have occurred. Citizens of this overpopulated country are going to have to find other ways to commute.
2 Cute Construction Barriers
Nobody likes construction sites – They are messy, dusty, noisy, and extremely annoying (especially for drivers). Even though construction sites are necessary during infrastructure booms and maintenance, Japan has invented some ways to make these sites more appealing. Instead of placing orange and white pylons all over the construction sites, Japan now uses images of cute characters as barriers. Some of the cartoon-shaped characters include: Frogs, bears, Hello Kitty, rabbits, dolphins, and more. These characters are definitely a lot nicer to look at than the orange striped pylons.
1 Raccoon café
A raccoon café may seem dangerous to many people, but café owners in Seoul, Korea have proven that these wild animals can actually be super friendly. Many people in Western countries depict raccoons as being dirty, vicious, and disease carriers. Peanut and Cool, the two raccoons at Blind Alley Café, are apparently the cutest and friendliest creatures’ tourists have ever interacted with. Visitors to the café have pictures dining beside, petting, and even holding the furry creatures.
Sources: CNN, BBC, Daily Mail, Business Insider, Wired, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan