5 Unexpected Sights That Will Shock Foreign Tourists in Japan

Tourism in Japan has grown exponentially in recent year especially in popular destinations such as Kyoto where you can see more foreigners than local tourists. With this huge tourism escalation, you will often hear locals are telling stories of amused foreigners who go through culture shocks on their visit to Japan.


The Japanese government has been promoting tourism and is looking forward to hosting a target of 60 million visitors by 2030. Seeing that Japan is going to become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the coming decade, it’ll be a good idea to give you a heads-up about the interesting sights that you are likely to see in Japan. Be prepared because some of these are unexpected sights that will shock foreign tourists in Japan.


1: Vending Machines Everywhere

Be it a market, residential area or a desolate highway, vending machines are everywhere in Japan! This is one of the things that foreigners find very strange here.


This overwhelming abundance of vending machines can come in very handy as you don’t have to carry food or mark restaurants and cafes on maps during your visit. These vending machines provide all types of items like juice, alcohol and tobacco on every block and street.


So if you ever feel hungry or thirsty on a road trip through Japan, no worries! Chances are that you will find vending machines within a few miles of the drive, even in the most remote areas. Cool, isn’t it!


2: Dozing off while Commuting

A Japanese dozing off at the public area is frowned upon by a foreigner. That’s because in countries like Europe and the United States, parents teach their children not to sleep in the public for fear of theft. Another reason that foreigners usually don’t sleep while commuting is because it may be annoying and it isn’t good manners.


However in Japan, people falling asleep while commuting is prevalent. It’s all part of the lifestyle and usually a result of the long working hours. On your visit, you will notice that it is perfectly fine to lean against the shoulder of another person. Surprising as it may sound, it’s common Japanese behaviour.


3: Japanese Taste is truly unique

You either love or hate Japanese food. Everyone knows sashimi and sushi, but there’s a whole lot more to Japanese food than these enticing cuisines. Ever heard of Japanese fusion food? It’s quite popular among foreigners and is available in a variety of places ranging from the convenience stores to fancy restaurants.


Even fast food chains like Mcdonald’s and KFC have different menu items only found in Japan. You will find Kitkat chocolate fused with the most unexpected flavours like Matcha, Strawberry and Mango.

Don’t be startled if you see red beans in the desert you ordered. Sweeten red beans are part of many Japanese dessert. It takes a little getting used to but it is indeed delicious.


4: The Affordable and Modern Capsule Hotels

Japan is an expensive country to travel. Normal accommodation is not cheap in Japan but guess what, there are the amazing capsule hotels. Cheaper accommodation generally comes with cheaper facilities but don’t let that dampen your spirits. As a foreigner, you will be surprised by the facilities that these Japanese capsule hotels provide (lighting, TV, radio, pajamas). Not to mention, they emanate a very modern vibe considering the prices.


In case you are worried about your safety as a women, there are female-only capsule hotels that provide a secure environment and comfortable stay.


5: The surgical mask is a necessity

The number of people you see in Japan walking around wearing surgical masks is pretty surprising. Designer masks with various colours and styles are also a Japanese thing and you’ll see a lot of these in a Japanese pharmacy. Foreigners find this very weird. Why would everyone wear masks when they aren’t seriously ill? Some foreigners also started questioning if the Japanese air is contaminated.


In the West, people don’t purchase masks and 99% of the people never worn masks. Masks are only worn by nurses and doctors in hospitals. In Japan, however, masks have just become a fashion symbol for some. Whereas, some people wear them to protect themselves from dust allergies and germs.


Here we are with the 5 bizarre habits of Japanese from a foreigner’s perspective. The differences between cultures are really intriguing and it can be fun to soak in and experience the culture change while visiting Japan. If you have experienced something unexpected on your visit to this amazing country, share it with us in the comments.

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