Japan is one of the most fascinating countries in the world and it boasts of an array of diverse subcultures.
Ranging from anime pop-culture to virtual dating games, sword culture to life size prefecture-oriented mascots; Japan offers every generation something to look out for. From bone-chilling urban legends to beat the summer heat or the quirkiest of Harajuku street fashion fads, there’s something for everyone.
If you live in Japan you’d consider yourself lucky for no other country in the world can boast of such contrasting lifestyles which seem scandalous at first but in reality are quite brilliant innovations. Here, I present a list of seven of the most peculiar lifestyle trends that I find to be popular in Japan.
7. House Slippers and Toilet Slippers
It is customary in Japan to take off one’s shoes before entering a house and instead get into house slippers. Moreover, it is highly shameful to wear the same to the toilet. There is specifically a type of slippers called toilet slippers, which are kept in front of the restroom. Wearing the toilet slippers around the house is also considered highly shameful according to convention.
6. Slurping Noodles
Japan is a country which emphasizes highly on table manners. Eat with a fork at the dining table and you’ll be given the scariest of glares. However, while having Ramen all the table manners take a backseat.
It’s crucial to “slurrrrp” when you eat Ramen! While eating Ramen from the bowl both the chopsticks and spoons are utilized and the back is stooped so that with each helping you are able to dig out the maximum portions which must include both the soup and the noodles. What a sophisticated practice! Isn’t it?
5. Capsule Hotels
Low on cash and need to spend the night on the streets of Japan? No worries! Capsule hotels are here to your rescue.
Originating in Japan, capsule hotels have become one of the trendiest accommodations available in Japan. Why book a hotel suite for a night when you get all the services you want from a capsule hotel at a much affordable cost?
Contrary to popular belief that capsule hotels are tiny, the “capsules” are in fact about 4feet wide and 6 to 7 feet in length and contain built-in television sets, clocks, internet services, telephone services, and much more depending upon the hotel you choose and the sum you shell out from your pockets.
The capsules are stacked side by side with one unit on top of another to maximize space. The hotel provides food, bathrooms, sauna facilities, and essentials like toothbrushes, soaps, shampoos, night suits, pajamas, and clean underwear!
Moreover, there are capsule rooms available exclusively for females as well, which occupy separate floors of the same hotel.
4. Maid Cafés
Maid cafés are a subcategory of cosplay restaurants found predominantly in Japan in which waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants, and treat customers as masters (and mistresses) in a private home, rather than as café patrons.
Maid cafés, initially founded in 2001 in Akihabara, have gathered immense popularity in modern Japan, all thanks to the exposure they get through manga and anime (Kaichou wa Maid-sama, anyone?).
After all, who wouldn’t want a young dolled-up kawaii girl cosplaying as a maid to come and cater to their need? However, it isn’t just young boys who visit such cafés: a lot of tourists, couples, and young ladies visit such cafés too. Moreover, different cafés provide different menus at different prices.
Nowadays butler cafés have also sprung up which target mainly the young female populace. Cross dressers, or boys dressed up as girls or girls dressed up as boys, are also hired by the maid and butler cafés respectively.
Maid café culture is so popular now that it has spread to countries like United States, Canada, Mexico, France, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, and China, etc.
3. One Food, Infinite Flavors
When we hear about the different flavors of the same food, the first thing that pops to mind is Kit Kat! While the rest of the world knows Kit Kat as milk chocolate coated wafers, Japan is the only country to have about more than fifty variants of Kit Kat!
Only in Japan will you find bizarre flavors such as Blueberry Fromage, Green Tea, Kinako, and Ume, Pumpkin, Banana, Kiwi, Yubari Melon, Cherry Blossom, Brandy & Orange, Kinako (Soy Bean Powder), Mikan (Mandarin Orange), Pudding, French Rock Salt, Strawberry Cheesecake, Blueberry Cheesecake, Miso, Soy Sauce, and on and on.
And not just Kit Kat, even restaurants and fast food joints have started to keep up with the trend of offering the conventional cuisines with a rather unconventional twist.
2. Vending Machines
You name it and Japan will have a vending machine for it! Ranging from canned drinks to clean underwear and anything in between, Japan has tons of vending machines to serve you anything and everything you want 24 x 7.
It’s one of the first things which strikes you when you go to Japan and it’s one of the best lifestyle trends which not only saves us from cranky shopkeepers but lets us be fussy and take however long we want to buy whatever we want, provided you don’t have a queue behind your back waiting to run you over for taking too much time!
1. Bento Lunch Boxes
Bento is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. While a traditional Bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container, containers can range from disposable mass produced to hand crafted lacquer ware.
There are many people who would like to open up their lunch boxes to find Hello Kitty’s or Teddy Bear’s peeking out of a mountain made of rice, however, considering the busy lives of today’s generation nobody will be willing to put so much time and effort into such a ridiculous thing.
Most convenience and departmental stores offer ready-made bento boxes which are immensely popular among the working class. Some super-moms use utterly cute bento boxes to feed sufficient vegetables to their picky kids. This trend is also popular among people who want to gift personalized bento boxes to their loved ones. After all who wouldn’t want a cute looking lunch box with a Pikachu made of cheese sitting on a rice ball mountain!
Overall, this trend is quite famous among foreigners who shell out lots of cash to buy special edition bento boxes or even take up bento-making classes! But honestly, who’d want to put such an effort into make a kawaii bento every day!