The 12 Most Interesting Facts about Japan

facts about japan

I believe that Japan should feature on every traveler’s bucket list. After all, there are not many countries in the world where you can eat at a robot cafe, soak in a natural hot spring, which is surrounded by snow and eat a poisonous blowfish. If you’re looking to visit a destination that offers incredibly friendly locals, rich culture and history and a futuristic capital city, it’s well worth exploring Japan. Especially if you’re looking for something extraordinary.

If you’re just as fascinated by Japan as I am, simply continue reading to discover 12 interesting facts about Japan. As examples, you’ll learn about some of the strange items which you’ll be able to purchase from Japan’s vending machines and how you can dine at an elaborate, ninja-themed restaurant. You’ll even learn about why the number four is considered unlucky and why most Japanese buildings don’t have a fourth floor.

What are the Most Interesting Facts about Japan?

  1. Japan Is One Of The Most Underrated Skiing Destinations In The World
  2. You Can Try Out A Dish Which Is More Poisonous Than Cyanide
  3. You Can Buy Almost Any Item Imaginable From A Vending Machine
  4. Japan Is Known For Its Quirky Cafes And Restaurants
  5. Japan Blends High Tech Living With A Respect For The Past
  6. Tokyo, Japan’s Capital City Is The Biggest City In The World
  7. Japan’s Rail Transportation Is Incredibly Fast And Extremely Reliable
  8. Japan Boasts Some Of The Kindest, Most Polite People In The World
  9. You Can Purchase A Square Watermelon In Japan
  10. Japan Boasts Stunning Natural Hot Pools Which Are Called Onsens
  11. Japan Was The First Country In The World To Offer Capsule Hotels
  12. In Japan, The Number 4 Is Considered Extremely Unlucky

General Facts about Japan

  • Population: 126.611.744
  • Capital: Tokyo 
  • Official Language: Japanese.
  • Currency: Japanese Yen. 
  • Islands: 6,852
  • Highest Mountain: Mount Fuji. 3776 meters above sea level
  • Country Area:  377.915 km2
  • Religion: Shinto and Buddhism
  • Official
  • Country Number: +81
  • Time Zone: UTC +9
  • Country Code: JP

1. Japan is one of the Most Underrated Skiing Destinations in the World

facts about japan

Forget the Swiss Alps and the Canadian Rockies! If you’re a keen skier or snowboarder you’ll fall in love with Japan’s world-class powder skiing. While most tourists flock to Mt Fuji, due to its proximity to Tokyo, I highly recommend exploring Niseko United’s four world-class ski resorts. As Mt. Niseko-Annupuri is known for its consistent, extremely heavy snowfall, which produces light, dry powder, that is an absolute dream to ski or snowboard.

If you’re keen, the four ski resorts are HANAZONO Ski Resort, Niseko Grand Hirafu Ski Resort, Niseko Village Ski Resort, and Niseko Annupuri Ski Area.

2. You can try out a Dish which is more Poisonous than Cyanide

If you’re willing to play “Russian roulette” at a Japanese restaurant, consider ordering fugu. A blowfish which is so poisonous, that if it isn’t prepared properly, it can kill you. On average there are around 50 reported cases of Fugu poisoning each year and up to six fugu related deaths.

Why is fugu such a dangerous delicacy? The blowfish which are used in Japanese restaurants to create fugu contain tetrodotoxin, which can cause numbness and paralysis. In extreme cases, tetrodotoxin can spread throughout an individual’s body which can cause respiratory failure.

However, as only highly trained chefs are allowed to serve fugu, you should live to tell the tale. I did.

3. You can Buy almost any Item Imaginable from a Vending Machine

vending machines

In Japan, you’ll be able to visit a cafeteria or a cafe, which is full of vending machines. Even the streets are full of vending machines. However, while most countries offer vending machines that sell basic snacks, you’ll be able to purchase full-sized, fresh meals from a vending machine. Yes, you’ll be able to purchase hot ramen and fresh rice, from a vending machine. I even managed to buy sake (rise vine) from a vending machine.

Japan’s love of vending machines isn’t only restricted to food and drinks. You can also purchase underwear, ties, umbrellas, t-shirts, flowers, costumes, toys and lucky fortunes from a vending machine. I still have more interesting facts about japan below, so keep reading.

4. Japan is Known for its Quirky Cafes and Restaurants

Japan boasts robot cafes and cat cafes as well as a ramen restaurant, where you’ll be able to eat alone, in a private cubicle. If you’re a fan of anime and manga, Japan also offers a Sailor Moon themed cabaret restaurant, which features a live-action show and Sailor Moon themed food and drinks.

A pretty fun restaurant in Japan is Ninja Akasaka. Although it was tricky to find as the front entrance, it is cleverly disguised. To get to your seat, you’ll be led through a dimly lit maze by your own ninja waiter. Who’ll pop out of a concealed wall, in order to greet you. As an added bonus, the food at Ninja Akasaka was second to none.

5. Japan Blends High Tech Living with a Respect for the Past

During a single day in Tokyo, you’ll be able to participate in a traditional tea ceremony, explore an ancient temple and order a meal from a robot waiter. I found the Japanese people’s respect for their history, culture and traditions and excitement about the future of Japan, fascinating.

In fact, Japan is such a futuristic country that the vast majority of toilets offer more features than a smartphone. As examples, don’t be surprised if your hotel room’s toilet boasts a heated seat and a built-in bidet (for cleaning your butt). As a bonus, you may even find a heated system in your hotel room’s shower, which is capable of drying your freshly washed clothes.

6. Tokyo, Japan’s Capital City is the Biggest City in the World

You may be surprised to read that Tokyo is the biggest city in the world. Not London, New York or Shanghai. In fact, Tokyo offers 14 distinct hubs and over 1,000 different neighborhoods.

If you don’t know where to get started, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. If you’re into anime or electronics, head to Akihabara. While if you’re interested in Japanese culture, make your way to Asakusa, where you’ll be able to explore Tokyo’s old town as well as the beautiful Sensoji Temple and the Edo-Shitamachi Traditional Crafts Hall. Many tourists and locals enjoy renting kimonos to take photos around Asakusa.

Shinjuku and Shibuya are the most popular districts in Tokyo. Both offer a lot of shopping and nightlife.

7. Japan’s Rail Transportation is Incredibly Fast and Extremely Reliable

Shinkansen train

Japan is known for its reliable, quick and efficient train system. Whether you’d like to get around Tokyo or would like to travel throughout Japan, it’s well worth using Japan’s extensive train network. During my trip to Japan, I was amazed at how punctual the trains were and how each train turned up exactly when it was scheduled. In general Japan’s trains are never over 36 seconds late.

During your trip, it’s well worth taking a high speed, bullet train ride on the Shinkansen train. The fastest Shinkansen train is capable of traveling 199 miles per hour. However, in 2030 a new version of the Shinkansen train the ALFA-X will be released and will be able to travel up to 224 miles per hour. Which will make it the fastest train in the world.

8. Japan Boasts some of the Kindest, Most Polite People in the World

Polite in japan

As a traveler in Japan, you’ll never have to worry about feeling lost. Even if you plan on traveling solo. As in my experience, any time that I asked a local for directions, they’d go out of their way to help me. In some cases, kind locals would walk hundreds of meters with me, to ensure that I was headed in the right direction. In one instance a young kind individual walked 1 km with me, to my intended destination.

While in Japan it’s also well worth learning about some of Japan’s customs. As an example, instead of shaking hands, the Japanese bow to each other with respect. Just be sure not to stand to close to an individual before you start to bow, as you don’t want to bump heads.

9. You can Purchase a Square Watermelon in Japan

For a unique experience, it’s well worth exploring a local market, where you may be able to find a square-shaped watermelon. Why are Japanese watermelons square-shaped? As Japan as a country is obsessed with efficiency and practicality, Japanese farmers decided to grow square watermelons as they are easier to stack and store.

So if you’re looking for a novel experience, which you can only try out in Japan, it’s well worth purchasing your first square watermelon. Which you’ll be able to photograph to share with your friends and family members back home.

10. Japan Boasts Stunning Natural Hot Pools which are Called Onsens

Onsen in japan

The best time to visit a traditional, outdoor Japanese onsen is in winter. As it’s definitely a magical experience, bathing in hot, relaxing spring water in a pool that is surrounded by fresh snowfall, and in some places surrounded by monkeys.

Just be warned that most onsens does not allow individuals to enter their pools with uncovered tattoos. As in Japanese culture, tattoos are often associated with members of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. However, if you have tattoos, some onsens will allow you to enter their pools, if you cover up your tattoos with waterproof bandages.

11. Japan was the First Country in the World to Offer Capsule Hotels

Capsule hotel

If you don’t suffer from a fear of small spaces or are traveling on a tight budget, it’s well worth staying in an expensive capsule hotel for a night. When you’re ready to enter your small bed-sized capsule, you’ll be given a traditional yukata and slippers to wear and the hotel staff will store your possessions for the night.

Once you’re lying in your private capsule, you’ll be amazed at how much room you actually have. As a bonus, most capsules boast a small TV, personal air-conditioning, power sockets, and a game console.

12. In Japan, the Number 4 is Considered Extremely Unlucky

number 4

The Japanese number for 4, shi, sounds like the Japanese word for death. As a result, the Japanese consider the number 4 extremely unlucky. In fact, most buildings in Japan do not have a fourth floor and tea and sake sets are always sold in sets of five.

Final Thoughts

So if you’ve always been fascinated by Japan’s unique culture and novel experiences, hopefully after reading all the 12 interesting facts about Japan that are listed above, you’re even more tempted to book a trip to Japan. As you’ll never forget the once in a lifetime experiences that you’ll have in Japan. Such as sleeping in a capsule hotel or purchasing from the many vending machines or even buying a square-shaped watermelon from a local market. 

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