5 Hard-to-Believe Facts About Japan

Japan is undoubtedly a dream destination for many travelers. People around the world know Japan for its manga, anime, advanced technology, rich cultures, endless cute things, and also delicious foods. But not everyone knows if Japan also has many surprising aspects that you might not know unless you have lived here for a while. Each person will discover their own "findings" about living in Japan, and here are 5 hard-to-believe facts that I found during my stay in Japan.

1. Cash only

Before I came into Japan, I always imagine Japan as the most advanced country, at least in Asia. With so many new vehicles, appliances, and even robots are being developed in Japan, I could never believe that most of restaurants and stores in Japan still accept cash-only payment system. Big department store or high class restaurants might accept credit card but no debit card. Some banks do offer debit card (or more like cash card), but Japanese doesn't really use that in daily life. Most people here usually carry big amount of money in their wallet everyday. I rarely see someone with less than ¥20,000 ($200) in their pocket. Something I never did in my home country as it would be dangerous. Lucky Japan has low crime rates, so carrying that much money won't be a problem as long as you don't bluntly show it off. But sometimes it feels so inconvenient, to me anyway.

2. Queue Lover

Every time there is something new in town, you will see a really long queue that makes you wondering what are they doing.

Everyone lines up for new gadget launch? Okay that happens around the globe.

Midnight countdown for Microsoft's new OS launch? That's a bit weird.

Stand for 3 hours just to get a cup of coffee from a new American franchise coffee shop? Can't they just come back when it's no longer crowded ?

Sleep over night in the sleeping bag just to get a good spot for watching sakura or fireworks? Now that's something I just can't process on my head, yet so amusing to see.

3. Noisy Camera Shutter



The first time I got my smartphone in Japan, I couldn't wait to try the camera quality. I was still in the store when the camera shutter made the biggest click sound ever and turned everyone's head into me. I thought it must be the factory default setting and could be changed later. But what did I find out? Yes, it is factory setting, but no, it can not be changed. Camera shutter in Japan could never be silenced unless you download third-party application. I was like... WHY?

Then someone told me the reason; to prevent unwanted picture taken by sneaky people. There were a lot of cases where dirty men took pictures of ladies' underskirt inside the train, or stalkers took picture of someone they were stalking. This actually isn't really a problem... It's just I can't take screenshots without making anyone stare at me anymore.

4. Out of Date Foreign Movie

I love watching movies. In my home country, I was literally watching new Blockbuster movies every week in the theater. Indonesia is really fast in terms of foreign movie release, even sometimes faster than other countries. But I have to let it all go when I moved to Japan. Not to mention infamous movie titles, even the big titles are coming to Japanese theater really late behind. Take an example of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was released on May 2015, but people in Japan need to wait until July 2015 to be able to watch it on the theater. That's considered fast, as some other movies could take 6 months or more. But then again, few movies were released about the same day it was released in U.S, like Fifty Shades of Grey. Anyone tell me why?

5. Extreme Sashimi

As we all might know, Japanese are fond of eating raw food. Mostly made from freshly caught fish, Japanese sushi and sashimi are widely known for its delicacy. You can find it everywhere in Japan, from the cheap sushi-bar franchise to fine-dining Japanese traditional restaurant. But do you know there are another kind of sashimi served in Japan other than fish? If you are an adventurous person, you might want to try Basashi. Instead of raw fish you will be served raw horse meat for this dish. Yes, horse. And if you think horse sashimi is not weird already, you can even try frog sashimi which will be prepared right in front of the customers' eyes. Do you think your stomach is strong enough to eat raw frog meat after you see the "cooking show"?


Of course Japan has lot more surprising elements than what I have listed above. Although some of them are inconvenient for everyday's life, but it will make your living experience become more extraordinary and challenging. What about you? What is the most unbelievable thing you need to encounter when you live in Japan?


I'm an Indonesian whom married a Japanese and have been living in Tokyo ever since. I love traveling so much, and I love all aspects of traveling, from choosing travel destination, hunting cheap tickets, planning itineraries, and even the packing routine itself.