“Never Change, Japan!”: 40 Interesting And Wholesome Things About Japan That Prove It’s Unlike Anywhere Else In The World Interview
With its deeply rooted culture of politeness and quirky sense of humor recalling the funniest moments of our favorite anime, it's not surprising to learn why so many people are enchanted by Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun.
From ubiquitous vending machines and bizarre game shows to maid cafes, to us westerners, Japan is like a distant parallel universe with its own set of rules and customs. So to celebrate this culture, which has been showering us with its meme-like charm unlike any other, Bored Panda has compiled some of its weirdest cultural practices to show why the internet can't get enough of it.
Japan, with its wholesome and occasionally bewildering traditions (like the centuries-old ‘crying baby sumo’ festival where toddlers win by bawling their hearts out), has been at the heart of the internet for, well, as long as we remember. Sometimes comical, other times borderline crazy or simply quirky - it's not hard to see why.
One of the things the Land of the Rising Sun is quite famous for is its vending machines. While there's nothing new about the concept itself (although, the idea that one of them could origami itself into a real-life Transformer is pretty tempting!), the fact that catches almost every tourist by surprise is: they are everywhere.
That's right. According to the most recent data, there are almost 4 million vending machines sprawling all around Japan, which means there's roughly 1 machine for every 30 people living in the country. What's even more impressive, some of them sell things like soup, shrimp broth, or even live rhinoceros beetles.
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If some of you have been wondering where Studio Ghibli, the beloved animation studio responsible for such classics as "My Neighbor Totoro", gets its inspiration from, part of the truth lies in Japan's deep-rooted traditions that can leave most us westerners amusingly baffled.
Take, for example, Namahage. Occasionally called 'Japanese Krampus', this century-old custom takes place in the northern region of Japan called Akita and is all about demonically-dressed men visiting homes to scare the bejeezus out of children.
While it sounds like something most people would call the police for, it's actually a beloved tradition with parents preparing special meals and waiting until evil spirits are warded off from their homes. Weirdly enough, even children are usually excited about this New Year tradition.
Mr. And Mrs. Kuroki Of Japan
This Is 95 Hirane From Japan. I Accidently Entered His Shop To Ask For Directions. So How We Got Talking And Became Good Friends. And Now He Dedicates 2 Hours Everyday To Teaching Me Japanese
And so it explains why more than thousands of people flock to r/neverchangejapan every week to share and enjoy the peculiarities the Land of the Rising Sun has to offer. Ranging from seriously impressive synchronized walking competitions to wacky commercials and Kit-Kat flavors you couldn't make in your wildest dreams, people gather here to appreciate Japan "for all of its funny, weird, stupid, creative and amazing moments!"
Cafe In Japan Gives An Oportunity To Paralyzed People To Feel Fulfilled
After Their Shocking Win Against Germany, Japan Fans Stayed After The Match To Clean Up The Stadium. Respect
To understand what makes this online community, which just recently celebrated its 50k users milestone, so entertaining, Bored Panda reached out to u/VanillaLoaf, who's been moderating r/neverchangejapan for 2 years and counting, with u/MaxwellIsSmall, the subreddit's founder, helping out as well.
"It's a fairly quiet sub due to the niche nature of the content," u/VanillaLoaf told us. "The vast majority of members are respectful of each other and play by the rules, so there isn't too much conflict to deal with." The only issues this subreddit, which just recently celebrated its 50k users milestone, run into, then, are pretty mild. Besides mistaking Korean/Chinese content with Japanese ones, breaching the third rule of the subreddit ("posts MUST be entirely associated with Japan," it reads), occasionally someone tries to throw some anti-Japanese sentiments ("that's very rare") that get instantly taken down by u/VanillaLoaf.
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"I'm not entirely sure why I'm personally drawn to Japanese life/culture", u/VanillaLoaf told us. While he's not a hardcore anime/manga or Japanese music fan, as one might suspect; this moderator is an avid gamer with a special place in his heart for Japan's beloved video game mascot Mario, who just happened to look for Japanese content on the platform at the time.
The things that u/VanillaLoaf appreciates about this one-of-a-kind culture, however, is Japan's clockwork functionality. "My time in Japan changed me as a person and made me appreciate the simple things in life that Japan does particularly well - cleanliness, politeness, things actually working, etc.," he explained, joking that his home country could learn a thing or two from it. Although, he suspects that most people are drawn to Japan because "it's a little bit mad when viewed through westerners' eyes (and people enjoy odd/crazy content)."
A Tree In Japan Being Removed (With Roots Being Painstakingly Protected) And Being Saved And Moved (Instead Of Being Cleared For Road Widening)
When Pope Francis Visted Japan Last Year, He Was Gifted A Custom Anime Robe, Which He Wore
While sharing the same sentiment about Japan's clockwork efficiency, Andres Zuleta, the founder of Boutique Japan, a travel company that personalizes travelers' trips to the Land of the Rising Sun, says it was the feeling of security that surprised him the most. "I'd moved from New York City, and honestly I'd never thought of NYC as dangerous, but I was used to always being hyper-aware of my surroundings," Zuleta told Bored Panda via email. "Yet, after a few weeks of living in Tokyo, I realized one day that I'd stopped the default habit of looking over my shoulder, as I just didn't feel a sense of danger anywhere I went."
Being recognized as a top travel specialist for Japan by Condé Nast Traveler magazine since 2020, Andres' fascination with this country, like most things in life, started almost accidentally. "I actually didn't know much about Japan before college, but based on a friend's recommendations, I ended up in courses on Japanese literature and the Japanese language," said Zuleta. Not only did this become a lifelong passion, but it also inspired Andres to move to the other side of the world, to Tokyo, where he got to experience the culture firsthand.
Im Crying Over This Old Man In Japan Who Patiently Walks His Giant Tortoise Everyday
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Having had the privilege of creating many custom tours for his clients (based on his exploration of the country, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and people's requests), Andres says the harmony between the hyper-modern and deeply traditional cultural elements never fails to leave a lasting impression on visitors.
"In some ways, Japan is far more modern (and functional!) than places like the US or Europe, but traditional culture runs incredibly deep and is very much alive in contemporary Japan," he explained. So whether you're a fan of anime or ancient tea ceremonies, there's something for everyone in this incredible country that's truly the best of both worlds.