- Vending Machines Are Everywhere
Japan is home to over 4 million vending machines! Most are stocked with a broad selection of sodas and canned coffee, while some of the more intriguing iterations are filled with action figures, umbrellas, soup, milk, natto, art, anime merchandise, beer, cigarettes, and more! For a deeper look, check out our list of 10 off-the-wall vending machines you can find in Japan.
- Smart Washlet Toilets
Japanese super toilets, known as “washlets,” come equipped with a smorgasbord of high-tech functions. With various backside sprays, water temperature controls, perfumes, and even noise-covering sounds, these toilets of the future put the others to shame. While overwhelming at first, they can be easily handled with a few basic tricks.
- Limited Edition Kit Kats
While kit kats themselves are entirely normal and enjoyed worldwide, Japan has ramped up the creativity with a whole bunch of exciting, one-of-a-kind flavors unseen anywhere else. While the popular matcha kit kat immediately springs to mind, it’s only scratching the surface! Some of the more unique highlights include yogurt, wasabi, adzuki beans, manju, cheesecake, apple, pudding, and even sake-flavored kit kats!
- Futuristic Capsule Hotels
Taking “compact” to the next level, capsule hotels are the accommodation of the future! Offering a cheap and cozy place to rest your head amongst the crowded cities of Japan, these sci-fi-esque pods offer a surprisingly comfy, no-frills stay for those just looking to crash. But don’t think you’ll be sacrificing luxury – Japanese capsule hotels are often furnished with shared baths, televisions, entertainment rooms, food service, books, and more! For more information, check out our round up of capsule hotels in Asakusa and Ueno!
- Lavish Love Hotels
If you ever spot a unique or mysterious hotel displaying prices per hour, you’ve encountered one of Japan’s infamous “love hotels.” Privacy is a rare commodity in Japan, with invasive parents, nosy neighbours, and tiny apartments making bringing someone back to your place a strenuous feat. Love hotels solve these issues, allowing a discreet escape for romantic escapades in the sanctity of absolute privacy. In addition to serving couples, love hotels can also be used as a place to sleep or even as your main accomodation in Japan! Here are our top picks for Tokyo’s best affordable love hotels.
- Free Tissues Handed Out on the Street
Wander the streets of Japan’s major transit hubs and you’ll likely be passed a set of free tissues. Usually displaying a company’s logo and information, this hospitable form of advertising means you’ll rarely want for tissues while touring Japan! Why can’t more companies abroad advertise like this!?
- Wet Towels Before Meals
While now spotted across the globe, the practice of cleaning one’s hands with a wet towel before a meal is a distinctly Japanese mannerism. Likely placed beside you on the table, “oshibori” wet towels allow one to wipe their hands and freshen up before starting on the main course. Often warmed or cooled to accommodate the season, they are a welcome sight appreciated by many. While it’s tempting to use it as a napkin too (and don’t be ashamed if you really need to), general Japanese etiquette dictates it for hand-use only.
- Adorable Randoseru Backpacks
ute yet smart “randoseru” backpacks can be spotted on the backs of Japanese elementary school children as they commute to and from school. Often costing a fortune, they are crafted from high-quality materials such as leather and built tough to survive all 6 years of elementary school. Despite the cutesy appearance, they originated as a European-inspired military backpack commonly seen during the Edo period (1603-1868). The word randoseru comes from the Dutch word “ransel,” meaning backpack.
- Kotatsu to Help You Survive the Winter
While Japanese homes largely lack central heating systems and insulated walls, they more than make up for it with the super cozy “kotatsu.” This electric-heated table and blanket combo provides a comfortable and energy-efficient way to survive the Japanese cold – although you’ll have endless trouble getting up!
- Blue Traffic Lights
Drivers in Japan stop on red and go on…blue? As the Japanese language traditionally made little distinction between the colors green and blue, the word “ao,” translating as “blue” in English, was and still often is used to describe both blue and green. While modern Japanese also uses the word “midori” to describe green, the remnants of this culture have remained, most notably in the traffic light system. According to the standards set by the International Commission on Illumination, the color of the Japanese traffic light is technically a shade of green that is extremely close to blue. Interestingly enough, the first traffic lights in Japan officially had “green (midori)” lights according to law, however, many publications and people at the time began to refer to them as blue (ao), leading to the official definition eventually being changed from green to blue to reflect common opinion.