Japan is known as the "Land of the Rising Sun." The island country boasts a reputation as one of the most highly-educated countries in the world, its population enjoys the highest life expectancy in the world, and it's renowned for its outstanding contributions to science and modern-day technology, among other things, such as their rich cuisine.
Japan also has a reputation for being the birthplace for weird and wacky inventions or even just simple stuff you won't really see elsewhere unless you're in Japan. The same country that's behind human-like androids, office-assistant robots, and 3-D holograms (Hatsune Miku) is behind some other pretty wacky stuff that didn't make the list. However, you're more than welcome to scope the Internet for numerous lists for weird and wacky stuff from Japan. Here are 25 weird things you can only find in Japan.
23 Silent Karaoke
The point of karaoke is to be heard, but not with silent karaoke. The silent karaoke microphone was invented as a way for people to practise their singing without disturbing anyone nearby. It's also perfect for tone-deaf people whose voices people find grating. The device works along with an app that allows one to change certain settings to fit their needs. The invention's creator said,
“I wanted to create a system that will let you sing out loud in your bedroom or living room. Since your voice is muted, you can practise karaoke without the fear of being overheard.”
They should probably pass these around at shows like The X Factor.
22 Bizarre Kit Kat Flavors
Kit Kats are extremely popular in Japan, reigning as the most-favored confectionary treat among the Japanese. And Nestle took advantage of the rage by coming up with some pretty outlandish Kit Kat flavors.
Japanese-made Kit Kats come in a variety of flavors including baked potato, soy sauce, fruit parfait, soybean, blueberry cheesecake, apricot seed, chocolate-banana, green tea, pumpkin, apple, mango, strawberry milk, lemon, red bean paste,
chocolate and grilled potato, apple vinegar, sports drink, pineapple, kiwi, cappuccino, pudding, jasmine tea, and many more.
21 Island Of Bunnies
Ōkunoshima is a small island just off the East Sea of Japan that has been dubbed the "Rabbit Island." Why?
Because it's full of hundreds of fluffy, feral European rabbits.
The island, which is just two and a half miles around and can be walked in just an hour and a half, is just a quick ferry trip from Japan for tourists who come to the island just for the chance to watch and feed the rabbits.
20 Easy Ear Explorer
If you've ever needed help cleaning out earwax, perhaps you should invest in an easy ear explorer. The easy ear explorer allows you to see inside your own ear thanks to a camera, which makes cleaning out those lumps of earwax a breeze. Or maybe you've just really been curious to know what the inside of your ear looks like. In any case, the easy ear explorer would be perfect for you.
19 Pillow Girlfriends
There's a subculture in Japan that consists of men developing romantic relationships with pillow girlfriends. Yes, you read that right. These pillow girlfriends come in the shape of pillowcases displaying anime depictions of girls. Some men sleep with several pillow girlfriends; one man confessed he had 150 pillow girlfriends at home. And then, there are some who treat their pillow girlfriend as a real girlfriend, taking the pillow out on dates and dinner.
18 Pillow Boyfriends
Since Japanese men can get significant others in the form of pillows, it's only fair that Japanese women get the same treatment. The Boyfriend's Arm Pillow is shaped like a man's torso with one single arm, perfect for cuddling late at night. It comes in three different colors — blue, pink, and green. "It makes me relaxed," said one user of the pillow by the name of Junko Suzuki. "I can hold the arm and feel something warm at my side." Some of us would rather opt for a dog, but to each their own.
17 Full-Body Umbrellas
No umbrella can keep you completely dry, especially when the rain falls down at an angle which defeats the purpose of carrying an umbrella — but not the full-body umbrella. You can find two types of them in Japan. The first consists of a regular umbrella that is attached to a large plastic cylinder, enclosing you inside your very own portable compartment. The second type is shaped like five umbrellas stitched together with some extra material to fill in the gaps and is held up by a handle in the center.
16 Sleeping On The Job
In most countries, sleeping on the job, especially if it happens often, is grounds for getting fired. In Japan, it's a sign of diligence. Napping in the office is quite common and is culturally accepted because it's believed that if you're sleeping in the office, that means you're tired from working so hard.
The word for it is "inemuri," which roughly translates to "sleeping on duty."
It's more common among senior-level employees working white-collar jobs than younger employees who tend to be more energetic and full of energy.
15 KFC For Christmas
KFC would probably be your last place to get food from on Christmas, but in Japan, it's a Christmas tradition for millions of Japanese people. The KFC Christmas dinner special must be ordered weeks in advance because demand is so high during the holiday that people will queue in long lines stretching outside the store just to get their meals. Some KFC stores see 10 times their usual sales in December than in any other month.
14 Mayonnaise On Everything
Japanese people put mayonnaise on nearly everything. But the mayonnaise Japanese consume is a lot different from the mayonnaise we Westerners consume. Most American mayo is made with whole eggs, distilled vinegar, salt, and sugar; Japanese mayo is made with egg yolks and apple or rice vinegar. This gives the Japanese mayo a thicker consistency than its Western counterpart and makes it taste rich and slightly sweet.
Japanese people will use mayonnaise to coat cooked vegetables, as a spaghetti sauce, and as a topping for toast, noodles, and even pancakes.
This isn't just your average condiment.
13 The World's Shortest Escalator
The world's shortest escalator can be found in the basement of the More's Department store located in the city of Kawasaki, which is located directly between Tokyo and Yokohama. It's only 2.7-feet tall and is positioned directly next to a staircase that only has five steps. The escalator is situated far away from the high-traffic areas of the department store so it doesn't get used a lot by patrons. One trip on the escalator takes approximately five seconds.
12 Underground Bike Vaults
Roughly 14% of commuting traffic in Japan is done on the bike, but you won't see a lot of bicycles around. That's because the city of Tokyo keeps thousands of bicycles in underground bike vaults in an effort to keep sidewalks clean and free up space on Tokyo's congested streets. Cyclists can store their bikes at an Eco Cycle station in eight seconds and for $25 a month, and know that their bike will be kept safe from rain and theft.
11 Vending Machines That Sell Everything
Most vending machines sell things like chips, candy, and soda — basically anything you can eat — but not in Japan. Japanese vending machines look just like any other vending machine, but what they sell is quite different. While most Japanese vending machines sell drinks, there are other vending machines that sell things like batteries, umbrellas, underwear, manga, bread in a can, fresh eggs, crepes, noodles, fishing bait, flowers, books, sliced apples, rice, chewing gum (only chewing gum), and much, much more.
10 Subway Chinrest
If you've had trouble trying to not fall asleep while riding the subway and have problems falling over onto the shoulders of your fellow commuters, perhaps you should invest in a subway chinrest. This cushioned U-shaped chinrest positioned on an extendable steel stand supports one's chin while they're standing up and allows them to doze off if they wish to. It's a great investment if you can't find anywhere to sit on the subway and if you don't mind people staring at you while using this invention.
9 Umbrella Tie
If you're not sure if it's going to rain it or not but you want to have an umbrella on hand in case it does, Japan has invented an umbrella tie just for that. You just fasten the umbrella to your collar, and voila! Your very own umbrella tie, which may or may not put a strain on your neck, but hey, at least you'll be prepared if it starts raining on your parade.
8 Bathroom Slippers are a must
Wearing shoes inside the house is a huge faux pas in Japan. Upon entering the house, or anyone's house for that matter, you're supposed to take off your shoes and slide on a pair of slippers.
You're also expected to slip on bathroom slippers when you use the bathroom.
A separate pair of slippers are worn for when using the bathroom in an effort to keep the bathroom mess inside the bathroom. Most traditional restaurants, community centers, and schools will provide little plastic shoes for people to put on when they use the bathroom.
7 Umbrella Chair
The umbrella chair is an invention from a Japanese company called Thanko, who invented other novelty items such as a vacuum gun that can safely capture bugs. Here is how the umbrella chair is advertised on their website: “Have you ever thought, ‘Geez, I’d really like to rest, but there’s nowhere to sit!’ Well now you can with your chair-umbrella! Just fold open the handle and you can change it into a chair. Sit down, take a load off, and relax anytime you want with your very own transforming chair-umbrella.”
6 Strange Ice Cream Flavors
There are a lot of weird ice cream flavors out there, but none could be weirder than the flavors one would find in Japan. There's squid ink (which started out as a novelty but is becoming more and more popular), miso, seaweed, soy sauce (which hasn't really taken off yet), purple sweet potato (purple sweet potato is a popular ingredient from the Okinawan Islands), wasabi, buckwheat tea, Goya bitter melon (bitter melon is another ingredient from the Okinawan Islands), red bean paste, and more.
5 Elevator Girls
In America, elevator girls are nowhere to be seen, but you will be able to find some in the Land of the Rising Sun.
In Japanese department stores, particularly the really big ones, Japanese women work as elevator girls, pressing a button to get you to whatever floor you need to go to.
They wear special uniforms with white gloves and speak in high, melodic voices because in Japan, like other countries, a high voice signifies femininity. The Takashimaya Nihombashi department store in Tokyo no longer employs elevator girls on duty but does have fashion shows from time to time of elevator-girl uniforms from the past.
4 Cute Construction Barriers
Nearly everything in Japan is cute, so it's no wonder that even their construction signs are cute. Many Japanese constructions signs feature little anime-style characters bowing and asking drivers to please excuse the construction being done on the road. Other construction signs come in the form of traditional Japanese-style lanterns, little construction workers, or the shapes of Japanese prefectures.
It's believed the cute signs make roadwork areas more fun and prevent road rage on congested roads.
I wouldn't mind seeing some fun signs while stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
3 Blue Traffic Lights
In modern Japanese, ao refers to blue while midori refers to green, but in Old Japanese, the word ao was used for both colors. And while traffic lights used to feature a distinctly green light, traffic lights nowadays feature a bluish-green light instead with some areas of the country having distinctly blue traffic lights. When people take the vision exam as part of their driver's test, they have to distinguish between red, yellow, and blue — not green.
2 Eternal Bubble Wrap
There's nothing more satisfying than receiving a package in the mail and getting to pop the bubble wrap that comes in the box. If you're like me and you could literally spend hours upon hours popping bubble wrap, then you should totally invest in never-ending bubble wrap. "Eternal Poppety-Pop" is a toy that constantly fills and re-fills bubbles in a sheet of bubble wrap and only costs $8. Can we please get that over here?
1 Fruit can be worth thousands
Fruits are considered a luxury in Japan and are considered a status symbol in Japan's elaborate gift-giving culture, so they can be quite pricey. Depending on the store, apples can cost $2 apiece, pears $19 apiece, strawberries $5 apiece, and melons $125 apiece. Luckily for customers, only the most beautiful and tasty fruits make it onto the shelves. And the best of the best can sell for tens of thousands of dollars at auctions; a pair of premium Hokkaido cantaloupe sold for a record $27, 240 at such an auction.
References: list25.com, popogi.com, concreteplayground.com, designtaxi.com, savageminds.com, nytimes.com, lifestyle.allwomenstalk.com, famousscientists.org, kotaku.com, gurunavi.com, kotaku.com, techcrunch.com, en.japantravel.com, cbsnews.com, cltampa.com, news.bbc.co.uk, cnn.com, engadget.com, happyjappy.com, kotaku.com, mentalfloss.com, atlasobscura.com, cnn.com, rd.com, bbc.com, themetropolist.com, soranews24.com, news.nationalgeographic.com, weburbanist.com