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15 Interesting Facts About Japan – But Are They Really True?

I happened upon an interesting article written by a professional travel blogger known as Alex Waltner. Alex lists through 15 interesting facts about Japan – but are these facts actually correct? I thought I’d go through the list and add my own two cents!

1. THERE ARE MORE SENIORS THAN KIDS

Yes, this is true. Due to an aging population and a decreasing birthrate, Japan is becoming a country of the elderly. And yes, Japan does sell more adult diapers than children’s.

2. HAS ONE OF THE WORLD’S LOWEST CRIME RATES

Japan is considered to be an extremely safe country. People don’t worry about walking home alone, nor do they worry about leaving their valuables on display. However, the keyword here is ‘low’! While crime isn’t common, it still happens and you should always keep your wits about you in a foreign country.

3. MOST VENDING MACHINES IN THE WORLD

I’d never actually heard this said as a fact before, but I do believe it. Thanks to the low crime rate mentioned above, vending machines can be safely put on the streets even in extremely remote areas. They really are pretty much everywhere!

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4. JAPAN CONSISTS OF 6852 ISLANDS

You might not think it, but Japan is made up of a huge amount of islands – most of them are pretty tiny. 97% of the country’s landmass is made up of just four islands.

5. TO CLEAN IS A PART OF THE EDUCATION IN MANY SCHOOLS

This is true. As a student, I’ve cleaned classrooms many times in Japan. 2-3 students will clean the classroom after each day on rotation. Once or twice a year, the whole school will work together and clean pretty much the whole school.

6. JAPAN HAS A PENIS FESTIVAL

I’ve been to this festival since I used to live 10 minutes away from the area it takes place. Most of the festival-goers are foreign tourists and the actual festival doesn’t have too much of a history compared to traditional Japanese festivals. It’s more of a gimmick to draw in tourists.

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7. MORE THAN 1500 EARTHQUAKES A YEAR

This is certainly true, and I’m sure there are many more small earthquakes. Kagoshima, the prefecture I used to live in has the highest earthquake rate in Japan. The reason for this is the volcano, Mt. Sakurajima which is located off the coast of Kagoshima city. The volcano erupts on a daily basis, causing mini-earthquakes every day (they need a machine to be detected). The larger, more devasting earthquakes are far less common.

8. TO TAKE A POWER NAP AT WORK GETS MORE AND MORE COMMON

I’ve never seen this or heard about this, but I’m sure there are some companies in the country that encourage napping during breaks, I guess. However, it’s certainly NOT TRUE that sleeping during working hours is considered as “being committed” and “hardworking”.

9. FRUIT IS ONE OF THE BEST GIFTS

Yeah, I guess this is true (although pretty relative). Some fruit is very expensive and has been packaged with the intention of being given as a gift.

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10. MORE THAN 3000 MCDONALD’S RESTAURANTS

Japan loves fast food and fast food chains, so it comes as no surprise Japan is the number 2 McDonalds country besides America.

11. TO SLURP UP THE NOODLES IS CONSIDERED POLITE

This is NOT TRUE. While slurping noodles is fine and many Japanese people do it, it is NOT considered as ‘manners’. Slurping is simply done to cool the noodles while you eat them. It’s perfectly acceptable to do it, but don’t think for a second that you have to do it to be polite.

12. MANY JAPANESE EAT READY-MADE BREAKFAST OR DINNER FROM A SUPERMARKET

Japan is the country of the bento. Delicious ready-made meals sold at pretty every supermarket and convenience store in the country. They are delicious, cheap, and saves time – so why not?

13. THERE ARE CAFES WHERE YOU CAN PAY TO CUDDLE

While they certainly aren’t common, they do exist.

14. IT’S FORBIDDEN TO BATHE IN HOT SPRINGS AND ONSEN WITH TATTOOS

Due to Yakuza gang links, it is generally forbidden to enter hot springs with a tattoo. However, there are a number of onsens that permit them. Covering them up is also another option.

15. IN JAPAN, YOU BOW INSTEAD OF SHAKING HANDS

Japanese people do occasionally shake hands, but bowing is far more common. Bowing is much more versatile than shaking hands and is used when greeting, apologizing, when saying thank you, and much more. Bowing is so far ingrained into the Japanese people that they will even bow while talking on the phone. Check out the image below to understand the three levels of bowing.

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