20 Things Exclusively can only be seen in Japan | Healthy Mind - Think Big

Really, I can't count how many times I've heard that Japan is a unique country, different from the rest of the world. It got me wondering, and one day I just couldn’t take it - I started my own research, and - spoiler alert! - It was earth-shattering. Kind a like Godzilla. Wanna have Pringles soup when in Japan? Here you go. In the mood for dinner with a huge plush Moomin in a Japanese cafe? Not a problem at all. And let me tell you - that's just the beginning!

1. Most people know that a sure sign they CAN cross the road is the little, lit-up green man, right? Well, not in Japan! There, you should wait for a green rabbit called Miffy. This bunny is a creation of Dick Bruna, a Dutch author of children's books. How did this rabbit make it to Japan? The answer is simple - it looks very much like the "Hello Kitty" the Japanese are in love with!

2. Ever tried those amazing head massagers that are said to reduce stress and rid you of headaches? Cool, huh? But in Japan, you can get a "lazy" (and much more creative) alternative to this device. It's electric and looks like a big multicolored octopus! Wow, gimme two! 

3. You're probably used to sitting on a chair when visiting a bar or a cafe, right? You might ask me, "What are you talking about? What else am I supposed to sit on?" Well, in Japanese cafes, chairs look more like low, comfortable armchairs, and if you try hard enough, you can even lie on one of them! Such pieces of furniture are called Izakaya, which is also the name of the informal Japanese pubs where you can find them. 

4. In Japan, they grow square watermelons. Nope, it's not a slip of the tongue. (That would have been “ssssqqaare watermelons”.) In Kagawa prefecture, they produce a couple hundred square watermelons a year. These watermelons aren't genetically modified or anything like that. It's just that such a shape makes it easier to deliver the fruit to retailers. Unfortunately, most square watermelons get harvested before they’re ripe, and therefore, they’re not meant for eating right away. But if you decide to get one, its cost will be impressive, about $15 to $20. 

5. Pringles have been incredibly popular allover the world for decades. However, when you buy Pringles in Japan, you don't get a tube of potato chips; you get noodles! Yep, Pringles is a noodle brand, and the Japanese eat this ramen very often. 

6. Usually, a coffee machine is a simple thing: several buttons for choosing a drink to your liking and standard paper cups. In Japan, however, a coffee machine is so much more! First, there’s a service that lets you order your coffee in a special app and pick it up in the most conveniently located store at a particular time. But on top of that, you get your drink not in a plastic or paper cup, but in a bottle that can be customized with the help of multicolored tags. Really. 

7. What would be more natural for us westerners than to visit the nearest cafe, order a coffee and a sandwich, and enjoy our lunch break, sitting alone at the table? But in Japan, if you come to a cafe alone, you get a massive plush Moomin as your lunch companion so that you don't feel sad! I’m not sad really, I just want to be left alone. 

8. Animal-shaped cookies are always fun to eat, aren't they? Oh, that feeling of anticipation when you put your hand in the bag and try to guess which critter you're going to eat next! You carnivore! In Japan, you can play the same guessing game, but there, your "catch" will be Pokemon-shaped cookies. 

9. Every single time I eat sushi, rice falls off the pieces of fish as soon as I pick them up with my chopsticks. In Japan, though, people don't have this problem: they mix the rice with a special sauce that consists of salt, sugar, and rice vinegar. This sauce keeps the rice together and allows you to bring sushi up to your mouth in one piece! Sign me up. 

10. A Holiday meal means tons of tasty food and, of course, a big roast turkey! But if you ever celebrate the Holidays while in Japan, don't get surprised to be treated with KFC instead of more traditional food. The thing is that in this country, eating food from KFC for the Holidays is a widely practiced tradition. 

11. In the Ginza district of Tokyo, there’s an unusual stationery store which rises 12 floors! The store sells high-quality stationery, and each of its levels has a different concept. For example, on the second floor, you'll find the SHARE space where there are things necessary for sending your thoughts to other people, like envelopes, letter paper, and postcards. You can write a letter right then and there and send it immediately from where you are! And on the fourth floor in the MEETING space, you can create an original notebook with the cover and paper of your choice and your name engraved on it! 

12. There are more than 50 million vending machines in Japan, and that means they’re literally everywhere! Besides, they’re incredibly diverse: you can buy almost anything there, from hot dishes, ice cream, and candies, to books, umbrellas, and newspapers. Rumor has it, these vending machines make around $50 billion a year! 

13. If you're in Japan and wondering what souvenirs you can get for your family and friends, try Japan-limited Kit-Kats! They come in loads of different interesting kinds, like green tea, for example. So it might turn into an exciting quest to collect them all! 

14. It's a common thing in Japan to see people handing out free tissues on the streets. What's the catch? It's simple: companies put their advertisements on or inside tissue packages, and people who take them learn about their services or products. It must be working, since more than 4 billion free tissue packages get distributed in Japan every year! That’s a lot of runny noses… 

15. Suffering from the cold in the winter? How about some tissues for that runny nose? No wait that was #14! Just get yourself one of these one-use pocket-heaters that are so popular in Japan! It's called KAIRO, and nowadays, you just need to open it for the chemical reaction to begin. Besides warming your hands, you can also stick these warmers insides your clothes! What a gem of an idea for a freezing winter! 

16. Photo booths are nothing new to anyone these days. But in Japan, these machines, called PURIKURA, are a whole different level. See for yourself: there, you can not only take your photo, but also add a design or writing, adjust the size of your facial features, or even send the received photos to your mobile device! However, there's some bad news for men. They aren't allowed to enter most Purikura establishments on their own! They must have an escort! 

17. Do you love unusual forms of art? Then how about rice paddy art? It was born in the village of  INAKADATE in the Aomori prefecture in 1993, to attract attention to the place. Apparently, the attempt was a success, because now, rice paddy fields have already appeared in more than 100 other locations. So, what exactly is rice paddy art? People plant rice of different colors and types to create breathtaking images in paddy fields. Looking at these fields from above, you can see your favorite anime characters or legendary beings. 

18. Imagine returning home after a long and crazy day at work. The only thing you can think of is lying down on your bed and closing your eyes... but you still have a long and tiresome subway commute! Well, the Japanese have found a solution for this problem - and that's a subway chin rest! It may look bizarre at first sight, but this way, even if you nod off while standing shoulder to shoulder with other passengers, you won't tip over. You might even have a good pre-dinner nap! 

19. So, you arrive in Japan, order a taxi, and here it is. Nothing new. But then you almost jump out of your skin when the car's door opens automatically right under your nose! These doors were first introduced by large taxi companies in 1964, for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The Japanese believed that such hospitality would allow passengers to have an even more enjoyable ride. 

20. Unlike other Japanese railway lines, the Yamagata Shinkansen, which is the name of a high-speed train in Japan, is a mini-shinkansen route. That means that the trains' speed on this route doesn't reach more than 80 miles per hour. But that's not the most curious thing about this line. Connecting Fukushima and Shinjo, trains on this route have sightseeing cars with... footbaths! They’re positioned in such a way that you can watch breathtaking views pass by while soaking your feet. On top of that, some cars are furnished with tatami flooring for tourists to enjoy every single minute of their ride. Oh yeah…. 

What about you? Do you know any other unusual and exciting things about Japan? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned something new today, then give this post a like and share it with a friend. But – hey! – don't go all “Sushi Sally” on me just yet! (Hey even I don’t know what that means.) But I’m here to tell you that we have over 40 cool posts for you to check out. All you have to do is pick the up or down posts, click on it, and enjoy! Simple huh? Hey -- stay on the Healthy Mind - Think Big of life! 

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