Japan is one of the world’s most popular countries. Its stunning natural features, its high standard of living, and its unique traditions and architecture all combine to make this nation one that the entire world regards with esteem and admiration. But really, it’s the people themselves, and their wild inventiveness, that make Japan a truly special land. The following inventions and customs are so breathtakingly ingenious that I can only ask: Why on Earth don’t we have the same things in the West?
Have a look at these 16 things which you can only find in Japan!
1. Unusual Gas Stations
Just in case you can’t bring the pipe to your car’s gas tank, the Japanese have come up with the following solution: overhead pipes that hang down from above. Amazing, right? And that's just the tip of the iceberg!
2. Incredible Vending Machines
It seems that you can get anything from vending machines in Japan, as evidenced by the hot food offered on this pictured machine. The amazing thing is that the streets (residential as well as urban) are full of these handy coin-operated wonders. You can mainly buy a wide array of drinks – including alcohol - for a very reasonable price.
3. Compact Parking
Even though Japan is much smaller than countries like America, Canada, Russia, and China, it’s population is a whopping 127 million, and these are mostly concentrated in a few urban areas (since much of the country is uninhabitable mountains). What’s more, the country is a renowned automobile powerhouse. So, they’ve come up with multiple level parking to help them retain space.
4. Braille Drink Cans for the Blind
All the cans that are available in Japan, containing anything from soda, to juice, and alcohol, are impressed with a simple braille pattern near the opening, to helpfully notify any blind or hard-of-sight thirsty travelers, just what it is they are about to sip on. Well, imagine if you ordered Coca-Cola and you got kimchi soda instead!
5. Chairs That Hold Your Bag
It’s not just the ladies that walk around with bags in Japan. The businessmen that fill the cities every day usually carry around their papers, computers, and comics (!) in a bag. It’s probably for this reason that someone finally realized chairs could be custom made to hold your bag for you, lest it fall to the (not so) dusty ground.
6. Trains with Foot Spas!
Hot spas are part of the culture in Japan. And now that seemingly everyone is jetting around on turbo charged bullet trains with the stress of work aggravating their senses, someone has come up with a brain wave: to fit train carriages with tension reducing foot spas. It does look quite pleasant, does it not?
7. Free Hand-Out Tissues
Japan is certainly a curious place where things are not quite what you’d expect. Here local companies give away free paper tissues in the streets, with their business card attached. Most of the public toilets contain no tissues, and hand tissues can be difficult to find in city shops, so it’s just as well.
8. Super-complicated Toilets
Toilets are not so ordinary in Japan. In fact, they showcase a range of diverse functions that I still haven’t worked out. The most impressive thing about them is that they double up as bidets. And the first time you sit on a warm heated toilet seat, I predict you’ll be quite surprised indeed.
9. Stress Busting ‘Poppers’
They say that Japanese people are quite vulnerable to the stresses of working life, no thanks to the lengthy hours they are expected to work (and relative paucity of paid holiday). No wonder that these bubble wrap inspired key rings have come into fashion lately!
10. Automatic Taxi Doors
Taxi drivers don’t need to worry about how feebly or excessively you slam their car doors shut in Japan. That’s because they’ve created automatic doors for you. Most registered taxis have this feature. Another interesting thing about taxis is that the drivers are dressed in elegant black suits with a bow-tie.
11. Sleep Capsule Hotels
No matter what time of day it is in a city like Tokyo, you’re probably tired out. That’s why there are so many of these curious looking capsule hotels. They are said to be perfectly designed for an optimum sleep, limiting all extraneous noises from your tiny pod.
12. Musical Roads
If you drive down these roads marked with musical notation you will hear a merry little tune to guide you along. Like a conductor, you set the tempo, and the road-orchestra does the rest for you. Jolly good.
13. Cat Cafes
These cafes are really funny. You pay about $20 for an hour, simply for the pleasure of being entertained by the prettiest cats in the neighborhood. If you are one of those people who can’t help but stroke a cat that approaches you in the street, this café is just thing you need.
14. Heated Tables for Winter
A kotatsu is a heated table covered by a blanket futon that is the center point of every Japanese tatami living room. Everyone snuggles their legs under the blanket as dinner and drinks are enjoyed. It isn’t long before someone falls asleep, given how comfortable and familiar this experience is for everyday Japanese people.
15. A Nationwide Announcement System
Japan is covered by a vast communication system of loudspeakers that can be heard at regular intervals, proclaiming important warnings related to earthquakes and extreme weather events. They often play music for school children to exercise along too (since they are usually found at schools), and they also play a jaunty theme at the half past 5 in the evening curfew to remind children to leave the streets and go home for their suppers.
16. Sleeping at Work
The Japanese attitude to sleeping at work will seem quite upside down to you. There, it is considered a sign of good duty to be present while sleeping (inemuri), as opposed to arriving and leaving work at the hours your contract stipulates. In Japan, people do work longer hours than they are supposed to, but they are often found sleeping. The same applies at universities where students go to lectures to get attendance credit, but rarely pay attention and usually just fall sleep.