Our fun and interesting facts about Japan

Japan is a pretty awesome country. They've nailed it. Everything is so advanced and perfect, whether it's the food, customer service, blow-mind-temples, sexy fast Shinkansen trains, you name it.

Japan also has a unique and quirky side to it, which will make you fall in love with it even more.

Here's a round up of our 8 fun and quirky interesting facts about Japan.

Seb with quirky Tokyo mascot one of 8 interesting facts about Japan
Sebastien with his new quirky Japanese friend

#1 SUPER EXPENSIVE FRUIT

Our first of our interesting facts about Japan was how expensive the fruit is!

In London you would just pop down to your local Sainsburys or green grocer for fruit. There, you would buy, let's say a banana for 20p or an apple for around 40p or a bunch of grapes for around £1:50-£2.

Not in Japan. Fruit is BIG business.

Fruit here is not just fruit, they are super fruit, grown in such intricate and controlled conditions, to be given as a gift. The Japanese love giving gifts and these super fruit make a great gift for someone to truly show them your appreciation.

Expensive fruit one of 10 interesting facts about Japan
Sebastien holding up a 14,000 yen (£90/$130) melon at a local supermarket in Tokyo

#2 MAKE AN X SIGN TO GET THE BILL

Back home we're used pretending to scribble something on a notepad with our hands as the gesture to the waiter for the bill. In Japan you do this X sign with your fingers and voila!

X sign for the bill in Japanese restaurant interesting facts about Japan
Sebastien thinking he is Professor Xavier from the X Men in a Tokyo restaurant

#3 VENDING MACHINES EVERYWHERE!

There are 5.6 million vending machines in Japan to meet the needs of over 127 million people. That's 1 for every 23 people!

If you're stuck anywhere in the country with nothing to eat or drink, fear not! There is bound to be a vending machine somewhere around the corner.

Vending machines fun quirky and interesting facts about Japan
A funky vending machine from the streets of Tokyo

#4 LOUD IN YOUR FACE ADVERTISING! 

The advertisement in Japan is usually loud, camp, and extremely colourful. More often than not, it features young, excitable school girls.

The advertising around public transport is no exception. Your commute in the busy Tokyo metro will be made more entertaining with ads like these:

Loud quirky adverts in Tokyo interesting facts about Japan
One of many loud, bright and very camp adverts in the Tokyo metro

#5 COMMERCIAL AND POLITICAL SATIRICAL CARTOONS

The Japanese like to use these cute satirical cartoons to popularise their politicians and even to mock commercial brands.

For example, these were the official election mascots of Shinzo Abe and Shigeru Ishiba, used in 2013 to promote the Liberal Democrat Party and give it a softer image.

Cute political cartoons interesting facts about Japan
How cool would it be if we had equivalents for Prime Minister David Cameron or Obama, Trump and Clinton?

But this can also go horribly wrong as Fukushima Industries found out in 2013 when in the aftermath of the then tsunami disaster, the following cute mascot was unfortunately created to promote their refrigerator business(!):

Cute commercial Japanese cartoons interesting facts about Japan
When a cute PR campaign goes horribly wrong!!

#6 FUTURISTIC TOILETS

The toilets in Japan are like something from the future.

Want to just flush and leave? Think again. You are faced with the option to have numerous different power sprays amongst other delights. Some of them even play music to hide any (ahem!) sounds.

We're still on the look out for one that plays Adele to you. If you come across one, let us know!

Japanese advanced toilets one of our favourite observations about Japan
We wonder if this one can play some Adele?

#7 FACE MASK MANIA

Face masks are another one of our favourite facts about Japan, which you'll quickly notice as soon as you first set foot in the country.

Are they trying to avoid spreading a cold? Or is it some sort of serious pollution thing? Or just a fashion statement? It all began in 2009 after the Swine Flu epidemic broke out. Since Swine Flu passed, face mask trend lives on and seen as a norm.

At first we felt a bit awkward asking the ticket attendant at Tokyo Station for directions to our hotel as she explained it to us with her face mask on. But after a while in the big city, we started to get used to it.

Face masks one of 8 interesting facts about Japan
Face masks are very common across Japan

Pollution and avoiding the spread of germs are the two obvious reasons. But interestingly, they’ve turned into a fashion statement more then anything. In slang Japanese it’s referred to as dahte masuku syoukougun or the face mask syndrome.

The face mask will bring more attention to the eyes, hide facial expressions or just make you seem more mysterious, like our ticket attendant at the train station.

The singer Katy Perry embraced the idea when she visited Tokyo in April 2015, wearing a variety of interesting face masks.

Well if it’s good enough for Katy Perry, then it’s good enough for the rest of us!

Face mask Stefan one of 8 interesting facts about Japan
Face mask girls Tokyo metro

#8 JAPANESE COINS HAVE HOLES IN THEM!

One for currency collectors…our final of our 8 interesting facts about Japan is the 5 and 50 yen coins. They've got holes in them!

Historically, coins had holes to make them cheaper to produce, easier to identify or to hang as a necklace around your neck. We no longer see this in the 21st century, so love the fact that Japan still retains this historic tradition.

Japanese coins have holes one of 8 interesting facts about Japan
The Japanese 5 and 10 yen coins have holes in them

Travel recommendations to Japan

Train saving tips: Depending on how many trains you plan to take in Japan, it may be worth investing in a 7 days JR Pass ($250), which allows you unlimited travel throughout the country for 7 consecutive days. But you must buy it from an agent before you go.

We personally used Japan Rail Pass. They offered the best prices and would definitely recommend them.

Tour operator: We travelled independently to Japan but we're often asked if we can recommend a good tour company. We've partnered up with Out Asia travel who offer luxury private tours and tailored itineraries to Japan. These guys are locals, passionate travellers and have a real insight of Japanese culture. They are offering our readers an exclusive 5% discount for bookings of 7 days or more when you quote NOMADIC5 in your enquiry.

FILL OUT THIS FORM TO ENJOY A 5% DISCOUNT FOR YOUR HOLIDAY TO JAPAN

Travel insurance: Whether you go diving, hiking or just lay on the beach all day long, you need travel insurance. We use World Nomads because they offer considerable coverage especially for adventurous travellers. They also make it easy to make a claim as it's all done online.

Flights: To fly to Japan and within, we recommend Skyscanner. Their website is very easy to use and they always offer the best prices. You can even search for the cheapest flights for any given month.

Hotels: Japan has a huge diversity of accommodation options. It is not the cheapest country to travel in but we found that quality is consistent with the price you pay. When we plan a holiday, we use Tripadvisor to research about the best places to stay and activities to do. We also use Booking.com to find the best deals and to book accommodation online.

OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS

⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

This article contains affiliate links. If you click on them, we may receive compensation which keeps our website alive and helps us bring you to more destinations.

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Nomadic Boys 8 fun quirky and interesting facts about Japan

About the author

Hi there! We are Stefan and Sebastien, Greek/French couple behind the travel blog Nomadic Boys. Since we met in 2009, we have been travelling all around the world together, visiting over 100 countries.

Our mission is to inspire you, the gay traveller, and show you that you can visit more places in the world than you thought possible, by providing a first-hand account of our travel adventures, to help you plan a fun and safe trip.

To find out more about us

16 thoughts on “Our fun and interesting facts about Japan”

  1. Hi guys – love your posts. My husband and I just returned from two weeks in Japan and really loved our time there. Yes, Tokyo was crazy but we expected that as a part of Japan. You’re right – you could spend 2 weeks in Tokyo and not see enough of the city. We also spent time in Kanazawa which is a beautiful city, a bit smaller than Kyoto but just as nice with several geisha districts. Our ryokan was in Hakone and what an experience. I have never felt so clean from a bath! Loved our trip and fully expect to return in a springtime .
    Thanks for your posts and come to MIami!!

  2. You boys make some really great observations – no specs needed!
    My take on the high price of fresh fruit is rather different to yours – and I don’t think that it is a conscious decision to eat less of it because the rest of Japanese cuisine is healthy (by the way, have you seen what goes into those processed foods you can buy in Seven-Eleven convenience stores and the greater number of plump kids?). Japanese farmers are some of the most highly protected in the world so there is much less competition from cheaper foreign imports. As a result higher Japanese food prices allows otherwise strugging fruit farmers to put all that loving care into beautiful packaging and presentation of fruit, which gets lots of individual attention in orchards (each apple, pear and bunch of grapes is encased in a brown paper bag to keep it as perfect as possible and free of nasty predatory insects, helped by a fair dose of pesticides). Competition isn’t on price, but on value added. By the way, those Driscoll’s stawberries are sold in France for about €2.50,; about 1/3 of the price in Japan (Y840).

  3. Great comments and discoveries! Love The all. About the automatic toilet ring: I became obsessed after trying it out at the Okura. After quite some heavy investigations, I fond them for sale in Germany. Bought and installled (had to order electrician (cute) and plumber (not so cute)
    And hoooray – my ass adores it and thank me every single Day. And as (s) a bonus: A perfectly clean ass, no more soreness after quitting the paperwork. Drawback: it’s very very addictive!

  4. I love this post ! I must say really good observations and the bill thing is something I never heard before. I usually do the same hand scribbling in the air gesture and it works everywhere. I really want to visit Japan and this post just makes me want to go even more.

  5. I’m so glad you had such a great time here in Japan! Just so you know, the advert featuring Bananaman’s HIMURA Yuuki is actually for “homes” – a real estate website to search for houses, condos and apartments. He’s holding a phone to emphasize that you can access the site from your mobile phone. People wear masks for one of three reasons usually. Since you were here in February(?) this is the start of the hayfever season and people wear masks to reduce the amount of cedar tree pollen they breathe in and also because they sneeze a lot. Another is when people catch a cold they wear a mask so they don’t spread germs to other people as they cough and sneeze. The third is in the winter to keep the face warm and the breath moist to avoid drying out the throat, which would make it more susceptible to infection by germs. I always wear one riding my bicycle in the winter – too cold without!! Oh, and the holes in the coins were originally so they could be threaded together on strings for convenience and ease of counting.
    I hope you visit again – love your blog!!

    • Wow thanks for this Taji! Japan is one of our favourite places ever so hell yeah we will return. We were there in October time.

  6. Great observations, Japan looks pretty interesting. I love the vending machines but can’t believe how expensive the fruit is, I’m used to very cheap fruit from markets in South East Asia so it’ll be a shock when we do finally make it to Japan one day 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment. I think it’s probably a hangover from the whole bird flu fear a few years ago. At the time London was also “hit” quite strongly by it and most tourists on the tube would also wear these face masks and we’d laugh at them 🙂

      With the Japanese I think they are more obsessed with personal hygiene as well and it comes down to this.

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