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10 Quirky and Fun Facts About Japan That You Won't Find in Guidebooks

By Elena @elenatravelgram
Tokyo Fun Facts Today I’m having amazing Grace from Texan in Tokyo (whose blog been one of my favorite reads lately!) talking about some fun, weird and quirky facts that you learn while living in Japan. 
P.S. Grace is a cool comics artist too who's up to self-publishing "My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy: The Comic Book" via Kickastarter. Go check it! 
I love Japan. I love the people, I love the food, I love the culture of convenience, and I love being able to travel solo all throughout the country, without ever having to worry about my personal safety. Yes, there are things that bother me about the country - but that is going to happen regardless of where you live. I've lived in Japan for three years now, in three different cities, and I'm no longer the awe-stuck foreigner, trying desperately to open a bank account, get on the right train, or figure out what side of the escalator to stand on. For the most part, I've gotten over my "culture shock."  Fun Facts about Japan Which is why I think it's hilarious when friends from abroad visit me, who are completely overwhelmed by all the fun, awkward, and quintessentially "Japanese" things. I recently wrote a comic book, "My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy" about my life as the Texan wife of a Japanese businessman, living in Tokyo. The book is a wonderful collection of comics, anecdotes, and stories from my daily life in Japan.  These are my top 10 quirky and fun facts about Japan:
1. Mt Fuji is actually an active volcano I climbed Mt. Fuji last year, and about halfway up the mountain, my husband turned to me and was like "Did you know Mt. Fuji is an active volcano? No one knows when it will go 'BOOM,' but it will probably happen in the next five years. That's why we need to climb now, before it explodes!" Climbing Mt Fuji Comics Needless to say, I spent a lot of the rest of the hike wondering what it feels like to be climbing a volcano while it erupts (spoiler alert, it didn't erupt while we were climbing it). My husband was right, though, Mt. Fuji is an active volcano! 2. Trains do not run 24 hours  One of the worst things about living in Tokyo is trying to catch one of the "last trains" home after a late night at the office or an evening of partying. Trains typically stop running at around midnight and resume again at around 5AM.
Why? There are a couple reasons that trains don't run 24 hours in Japan, depending on who you talk to. Some people think it is so that companies have to limit how much "unpaid overtime" (ie, mandatory volunteer work) their employees have to do. You can't keep your employees past 11PM, because they have to catch the "last train" home (so they can shower, sleep a bit, and come in bright and early the next morning in a fresh suit). Clever, right?
Other people claim it is because the taxi drivers went on strike because they were losing too much money by having 24 hour trains. Now, when you miss the last train, you have to take a taxi home. Did I mention that taxis are really expensive in Japan? (though, to be fair, I've come to expect expensive taxis from any 1st world country)  3. Foreigners tend to fall into three camps, they love everything about Japan, hate everything about Japan, or are kind of apathetic about the whole love/hate dichotomy (hey, it's just a place) I probably fall into the third category. I love Japan, but if you want to hate on the country, I'm not going to stop you. In the end, it's just a place. I've lived on three continents and traveled to nearly 20 countries - each county has a little bit of "good" and a little bit of "bad." On my blog, I get a bit of hate from both sides. The "Japan is the most perfect and magical country in the world and I should have been born Japanese" camp hates it that I sometimes talk about more sensitive issues, like racism, train molesters (chikan), overworking, etc. The "Japan is a horrible hell-hole of racist and ignorant jerks" camp hates it that I talk about all the things I love about Japan, like convenience stores, comics, rabbit cafes, vegetable vending machines, and the fact that men can wear bright pink running shoes without being labeled"gay 4. Melon flavored things are incredibly popular
They have melon bread, melon soda, melon candies, and melon snacks. Why? I have no idea. 5. Pikachu (and other anime/manga) characters are often used to advertise products
6. Christmas is a "lovers holiday"
Christmas is like the ultimate "lovers holiday" in Japan. Couples do super-romantic date stuff all day - being single on Christmas is supposed to be very sad and lonely. Basically, it's celebrated the same way Americans celebrate Valentine's Day, with expensive gifts and unique date ideas. None of that sitting around the Christmas tree, opening presents with family business. 

10 Quirky and Fun Facts about Japan That You Won't Find in Guidebooks

(A romantic date in Disney on Christmas) 7. On Valentine's Day, women give men presents (but not vice versa) Because of a translation error, when Valentine's Day first came to Japan, an ad ran saying that "women give men chocolates and presents on Valentine's Day." The tradition continues, so that girls have to buy their boyfriends/husbands nice, expensive presents on February 14th. But don't worry ladies, you have your own day on March 14th, "White's Day." If you give a man a present on Valentine's Day, he has to give you something on "White's Day" of equal or greater value.
8. Japan is nearly 98% ethnically Japanese (ie, not a lot of immigration) Basically, I stick out like a sore thumb. But that's kind of expected. It's more surprising that there aren't a lot of ethnic minorities in Japan. 

10 Quirky and Fun Facts about Japan That You Won't Find in Guidebooks

9. Tokyo is the 2nd most expensive city in the world (to live in) Tokyo is considered to be the second most expensive city in the world to live in (though sometimes it ends up as #4 or #5, depending who you talk to). Just keep that in mind if you ever decide to visit/move to Tokyo! 10. You're not allowed to "dance" at most dance clubs For customers to be allowed to "dance" at a club, the club must own a government issued "Dance Permit." However, those permits are expensive, so most clubs don't have one.
As a result, if you spend too much time dancing on the floor, you can get kicked out (after staff members politely tell you several times to stop dancing).
You can also get kicked out for making out on the dance floor/hooking up against the walls, but that's a whole other story.
I hope you learned a bit about Japan today! 
10 Quirky and Fun Facts about Japan That You Won't Find in Guidebooks
Grace Buchele Mineta is a native Texan, founder of the hit blog "Texan in Tokyo," and author of the autobiographical comic book, "My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy." She lives in Tokyo with her husband, Ryosuke, where she blogs and draws comics about their daily life.
"My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy: The Comic Book" is the autobiographical misadventures of a native Texan freelancer and her Japanese "salaryman" husband: in comic book form. From earthquakes and crowded trains, to hilarious cultural faux pas, this comic explores the joys of living and working abroad, intercultural marriages, and trying to make a decent pot roast on Thanksgiving.
To check out the campaign and contribute, click here.
This book is autobiographical, full of true stories designed to entertain and educate the reader a little bit about Japanese culture. It shows a window into the life of a foreigner in Japan, of broke newlyweds navigating silly cultural misunderstandings as an interracial and intercultural couple, and of a Texan dealing with the loneliness and frustrations of being a freelancer in a foreign country.

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