Japan: Surprising Cultural Practices


Ah, the typical imagery of the Land of the Rising Sun: cherry blossoms, sushi, cute cartoon characters, fancy kimonos, run-wild robots and so forth…

Here are some cultural practices that often take tourists by surprise.

  • As it turns out, the Japanese still use fax machines due to their obsession for physical documents. Further, they don’t stream everything, big DVD stores still exists in Japan.
  • Many bars and restaurants collect a sitting fee so don’t be alarmed if it’s added to your bill: just keep calm and charge the credit card. Yes, sometimes they include actual ceramic dish when you order take out. It’s okay, you don’t have to wash and return.
  • An overwhelming percentage of the population doesn’t drive, that you already know, but when they do, almost everyone backs into their parking space. Clearly, efficiency is firmly instilled in their way of life.
  • When checking in at a hotel, guests are charged per person and not per room. Budget that into your traveling financials.
  • There are more pets than children in Japan: many couple don’t believe in sex or reproduction anymore (and to think they are so open about sexuality!). Unofficial retail statistics claim more adult diapers are consumed than children diapers.
  • It is a very crowded country, so expect lines and crowds everywhere you go. More than 20% of their population are elders – older than 100 year old.
  • If a Japanese asks for your blood type, don’t freak out: it’s the equivalent of Westerners asking for your Zodiac sign.
  • It’s a pretty safe country, with an average of only 2 gun homicides per year.

Until you save up enough money to make that actual trip, explore Japan vicariously from an unusual vantage point through these photographs, taken by photographer Van Nguyen from Montreal.

“If a Japanese asks for your blood type, don’t freak out.”