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12+1 Cool Things About Japan: get ready to be wowed

Discover cool things about Japan that will help you enjoy its customs, prepare to be surprised by this fascinating country!

Have you ever wondered what makes Japan such a unique and captivating country? From its rich culture and history to its highly advanced technology, the Land of the Rising Sun offers many interesting facts that will surprise even the most avid travelers. From its traditional art forms to some lesser known, but equally fascinating secrets, let’s take a look at some of the fun and interesting cool things about Japan that might even inspire your next adventure to this country.

Cool things about Japan that you should know

As it happens in many countries, when returning from a trip, it is customary to bring back souvenirs for family and friends. These gifts are called omiyage (お土産) in Japan and beyond the classic souvenirs such as magnets, postcards, charms, etc.

Something that you see a huge variety of, in the big train stations, are edible gifts.

The most common souvenirs to give away are boxes, usually pretty, with sweets, cookies, mochi, very popular souvenirs to bring the flavor of the place visited to your loved ones.

Are you traveling to Japan?
Don't forget to get your Japan Rail Pass!


Music in the toilet

In the bathroom, privacy is taken to levels that are simply not seen in other countries. And let’s be honest: who has never felt the need to flush the toilet or give little kicks that hide other sounds that our body emits?

Well, one of those curious facts, and that at first can get out of hand, is that in Japan, it is not necessary to do anything to hide your sounds. At least not in most public restrooms because in addition to being pristine, they have a little button which, when pressed, makes a sound similar to that of falling water. This sound is intended to “hide” any noise that we do not want to share with others.

In fact, there are some bathrooms where it is not even necessary to press the button, as soon as you enter the cabin the sound starts, it will be up to you to turn it off.

Hello Kitty is a perfect travel souvenir

As I already mentioned, in the previous point, one of the souvenirs available that you will see in stores are charms, something that is not seen so much in America or Europe. Well, the charms can now be of whatever, of the character you can imagine. Of course, it is almost always referring to the place you visited.

As you can already imagine, this type of souvenir, being small and in different shapes, has a high collectible potential. But this potential is increased much more with the series called Gotochi Kitty, which is a series of charms of the famous Hello Kitty kitten, referring to the city or region visited. Whether they are local festivals, sports teams, traditional dresses, the sky is the limit.

Hello Kitty Asakusa
What a beautiful souvenir!

Wet wipes

When going to a cafeteria or a restaurant, many times there will be no napkins or handkerchiefs, as you are probably used to.

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What they will give you are some wet wipes called oshibori (おしぼり), and with them, you will clean your hands, and how do I clean my mouth? You will ask yourself, in case there is nothing else in sight, don’t worry, you can use that wet tissue to wipe your mouth while you eat.

Of course, what you cannot use oshibori for is to cool your neck or blow your nose.


Tips, better not!

This is a big difference regarding other countries, the tip, which can become a subject of discussion whether it is the client’s obligation or whether it is the 10, 15 or 20% that must be left, or whether the waiter is being nice to us just because he expects the tip. Anyway. All that in Japan disappears.

This is one of those cool things about Japan, what am I saying, curious… Really curious! And it turns out that the tip, or rather the fact of leaving it, can both be seen as rude, or the employee may think that you have forgotten your money and runs after you to give it to you.

So, enjoy that excellent service that you can only see in Japan, they do it because that’s how they do their job and not because they’re waiting for your tip.

100 yen

Flip flops to go to the toilet

In many places, it may happen that when you go to the bathroom, you will see flip-flops that you have to use only to go to the bathroom. This will happen mostly in the case that you are visiting a place where you have to remove your shoes, if you go to the bathroom, they provide you with shoes to use there, so you do not have to step on the bathroom floor without shoes.

Another example is in the Ryokan, which are traditional accommodations, in the room shoes are not to be used because the floor is tatami.

If you stay in a ryokan that has a toilet, to enter the small room you will have flip-flops which you must put on to do your thing and take them off to return to the room, that is, flip-flops for the toilet, it’s rare, but you get used to it quickly.

As a note, this is one of those curious facts that you have to consider if you get invited to a house in Japan.

Toilet shoes

Public bath and tattoos, bad combo!

Or at least this is what the Japanese think, and it is that something that characterizes Japan is its famous public baths, whether they are the onsen (温泉), with hot springs, or the sento (銭湯), similar to the onsen, but the waters are not hot springs.

This is one of those cool things about Japan that it is better to know in advance, since it turns out that if you have tattoos you cannot enter these baths, and since to enter these places, you have to do it without any clothing, it is difficult to hide them.

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This prohibition is due, to a large extent, to the notoriety of mafias (such as the Yakuza) that are associated with having tattoos all over the body. It’s true that not everyone who wears tattoos is a gangster, that much goes without saying, but the “No Tattoos” rule can be seen in many of the public restrooms. There are certain accommodations that offer special hours so that guests who have tattoos can use it.

So if you have to stay in a place with a public bathroom, do not hesitate and ask, maybe you can use it even if you have a tattoo.


The vending machines are on another level!

In Japan, vending machines are taken to another level. They are colorful, cheerful and full of options. In general, they have soft drinks, but in some cases you can see things as unexpected as spices! (yes, we saw that one in Okayama and I couldn’t believe it).

In addition, they are everywhere, you can even find vending machines of characters like Pikachu.

Another curiosity about the wonderful vending machines in Japan is that they can sell items that normally, due to regulations, would be impossible to find in Europe or America, such as alcoholic beverages!

Have you seen a vending machine for alcoholic beverages in another country?

vending machine en Japón
Even the bottles are kawaii

Making noise while eating ramen

When it comes to eating ramen, or any other hot Japanese food like udon, you might notice that locals make noise while eating. A thunderous noise when sucking.

Yes, noise. And you will remember your childhood days, when you were probably scolded once for making noise while eating soup.

Well, it turns out that in Japan it is not frowned upon to slurp when ingesting these hot broths, and it is even something that is expected. The fact of slurping helps to be able to ingest such a hot broth and, let’s face it, it tastes much tastier!

So now you know, in Japan, go slurping shamelessly!

Eating ramen
Eating ramen

You can use a business bathroom, even if you don’t buy anything!

This is something that we discovered when visiting Fukuoka, although not because of the city itself, but because we were walking hand in hand with a dear Japanese friend.

And that’s how, while we were visiting the city to which Juan Luis Guerra dedicated a song, suddenly one of us said he wanted to go to the bathroom.

In general, wanting to go to the bathroom in many countries means having to go into a cafeteria, and consume, to be able to use the restroom.

Well, in Japan, not necessarily.

With our friend, we entered the first convenience store we saw, and she, seeming to know the way, went straight to the bathroom. Total we used the bathroom. I thought that either they were going to scold us, or we would have to buy something. And neither one nor the other.

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It turns out that our friend told us that in Japan it is normal to use the toilets in stores, even if you don’t buy anything, and that they allow this because they think that if they give you a good service. In this case, help you in an emergency like peeing, you will want to go back there later if you are going to buy something.

Service attitude, champion level!

(oh and it goes without saying that the bathroom was clean, clean)

Donki Toilets
Toilets in the don Quijote store

Designated outdoor smoking areas

This is one of the cool things about Japan, that will be mostly cool for the people, like me, that don’t like cigarette smoke.

Although there are still restaurants where you can smoke in Japan, you can’t take your cigarette anywhere on the street. No. There are designated areas for smoking.

On the street you will either see some signs that will tell you that you cannot smoke there, or on the contrary, you will realize that in that area you can do it, since you will see other people smoking.

No smoking sign in Tokio
The street is NO SMOKING

Rice even at breakfast

In Japan, rice is like for us Mexicans what the tortilla is. That is, we eat it at all times, and it is present in almost every meal.

Once we understand this, it will not be a surprise to see that rice is included in breakfast, with which you can eat some eggs with bacon, for example, but if you eat them with rice, then don’t include bread.

The truth is that in my case, it was in these breakfasts that I discovered how rich the combination of rice with egg yolk is. Delicious!

yoshinoya breakfast

Sit down for the shower!

In many hotels, you will see a shower for bathing that is similar to what we know in America, that is: standing. However, it may be that in some accommodation in Japan you will find a bathroom that takes a shower, a basin and a mirror, which will be almost at ground level and to use them you will have to sit down.

And it is that in Japan, the traditional shower is like this: sitting.

In that shower, you will see a small bench on which you will sit, once you do it, you will be able to see yourself in the mirror, you will be able to bathe, either with the shower or by pouring buckets of water on yourself (there is a faucet to fill the bucket).

Japanese shower

In conclusion, Japan is a country full of cool things that will surprise you! From its unique and ancient customs to its state-of-the-art technology, it is a place that never leaves you indifferent. Its fascinating array of cultural and natural wonders will delight those looking to discover something new and exciting.

Whether you’re a fan of its animated characters or traditional legends, Japan has something for everyone.

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Olga Grijalva Alvarez

Olga is a traveler and travel content creator with 17 years of experience. Her goal is to share useful information to help you plan your adventures. She has visited more than 40 countries and is excited to share her experience with you.

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