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From napping on the job because of 100 hour work weeks to slurping noodles to show that food is tasty, these are 15 of the weirdest Japanese traditions.
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Number 12: Vending Machines.
From hot mashed potatoes with gravy, draft beer, to panties almost anything can be found in a vending machine in Japan. Everything that you would sell in a convenience store the Japanese have tried to stuff in a vending machine to satisfy the 24 hour culture.
Number 11: Toilets of the future.
Some have heated seats, and will wash you. Some have LCD displays so you can watch business news while doing your business. The Japanese have some of the most advanced toilets in the world from bidets to toilets that wash themselves after each use.
Number 10: Napping on the job.
Falling asleep at work isn’t just acceptable it’s a sign that you are working hard. In Japan workers put in long hours, and catching a few winks at the workstation isn’t going to get you written up by a disappointed boss.
Number 9: Slurping noodles is polite!
Loud eating can be pretty annoying in the west, but when it comes to noodles in Japan it’s a sign of deliciousness. In fact the slurping is supposed to increase the sensation of flavors and texture of the noodles in the mouth sort of like the way a wine connoisseur slurps wine. And it also shows that you are enjoying the food.
Number 8: The Number 4 is taboo.
A superstition called tetraphobia is the avoiding of instances of numbers. The Japanese avoid the number 4, and just like with the number 13 they will go so far to misnumber elevators, parking spots, and more just to keep the number 4 away. In the United States some buildings will offer you a break on rent if you take a unit on the 13th floor I wonder if you can do the same in Tokyo? Suite 413 might be very inexpensive.
Number 7: Wearing surgical masks while in public.
The people of Japan wear masks in public because of airborne illnesses like hay fever, and the flu or when they want to avoid attention from strangers. It’s become such a popular trend and so many people are wearing masks that a few japanese companies are sell masks for a more fashionable wearer.
Number 6: Kentucky Fried Chicken for Christmas.
On Christmas Eve you run the risk of waiting in line up to six hours to purchase a bucket of chicken at a Japanese KFC, and it’s not even an official holiday. “Kentucky for Christmas” is a tradition that started in the 1970s and has gained popularity ever since. An estimated 3.6 million Japanese families celebrate Christmas this way with a bucket from the Colonels every year.
Number 5: Capsule hotels.
No they are not spaceship escape pods or luxury pet cages at the veterinarian. These are capsule hotels a popular trend in Tokyo for Japanese men who are too busy to go home after work, and don’t need the amenities of a hotel. Inexpensive, convenient, and equipped with a television and wifi. However it’s definitely for the claustrophobic.
Number 4: Falling asleep on someone on the train.
Another unusual tradition caused by the excessive hours worked by the Japanese. If you are sitting on a train it isn’t uncommon if the person next to you falls asleep, they lean, and their head lands on you. That person may have just worked a 17 hour workday out of their 100 hour workweek. And it’s tradition to tolerate it and just let them sleep.
Number 3: Adults are adopted in Japan.
A centuries old tradition. The Japanese adopt adults. Developed as a method to expand a family’s wealth, and historical reach without dealing with pesky things like bloodlines. It is still practiced, and in 2011 over 81,000 of these adoptions took place. Very popular with family run businesses who adopt future CEOs to keep a long lived company within the family.
Number 2: Quit your job banishment rooms.
Modern countries have labor laws, and Japan is no exception. Layoffs are taboo, and you just can’t send an unproductive employee packing like in some parts of the United States. So Japanese companies have invented the boredom room. Unwanted workers are assigned to tasks so menial and shameful, such as reading newspapers or browsing the web, that it will drive the worker to just quit.
Number 1: Ceremonial Disembowelment
Ceremonial disembowelment was practiced by the Samurai warrior who had failed his liege, and while it isn’t practiced anymore: Japan has a very high suicide rate. More than 25,000 Japanese commit suicide every year. Some blame it on the stress from finances and work stress. Other attribute it to the isolation many people experience. Whatever the cause we hope these numbers go down fast, because Japan is an amazing place.