Japan has been captivating travellers since it first opened up to international trade in 1853. While its many traditions and cultural landmarks persist, Japan is also one of the leading economic and technological centres of the world. Ancient gods and traditional customs sit side by side with cutting edge technologies and trendy pop culture, and there is always something new to experience on a visit. From the fashion in Harajuku to perfect produce, to empty orchestras and bizarre meal-time etiquette, here are the top 15 facts about Japan you probably never knew.
Kongo Gumi is the oldest operating business in the world, established in 578. It specialises in the construction of temples and shrines.
An estimated 126 million people live in Japan. Since 2011, Japan’s population has been noticeably declining mostly due to low birth rates- some say it is due to expensive childcare and the difficulty of finding well-paying jobs.
Second only to Hong Kong, the life expectancy in Japan is 84, which is 3 years higher than in the United Kingdom.
With 5 million vending machines- Japan has the highest density in the world. Batteries, ramen, sake, umbrellas. flowers- you name it and the vending machines probably stock it.
If you check your zipper, chances are, it will say YKK on it, which stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha. Founded in Tokyo in 1934, it is estimated that 7 billion zippers are produced by this manufacturer each year.
Why are melons in Japan so expensive? These precious fruits play a large role in the country’s gift-giving culture- samurai would offer tangerines or melons to their shogun as a token of appreciation. Nowadays, farmers meticulously tend to these fruits by hand, which adds to the allure. Crown melons are one of the most renowned varieties and can cost over $200 each.
The coffee known as Blue Mountain, grown in Jamaica’s namesake region is highly sought after. Only grown on small family-run plantations, at elevations of over 7000 feet this gourmet coffee boasts mild flavours and lacks the bitterness found in most coffees.
Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo was the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, famous for its tuna auctions. In 2018 a portion of it moved to a new site in Toyosu where it reopened as Toyosu Market.
Basashi is a popular regional Japanese dish, consisting of raw horsemeat slices with ginger and onions.
Entranceways of Japanese houses called genkan signal where you should take off your shoes with the help of its raised floors. The lower area indicates where you should remove your shoes and the raised upper area, often in a different type of flooring, is considered indoor living space.
Referred to as taikomochi and sometimes known as houkan- male geishas were jesters of sorts. It wasn’t until 25 years after their glory days that women- then known as geiko- “arts child”, outnumbered the working taikomochi. Geiko then transformed into geisha "person of the arts" as we know it today. Peek into the world of geishas in Gion, the centuries-old entertainment district of Kyoto
Quite the opposite- slurping loudly in Japan is considered evidence of enjoying your meal. It is also said to add flavour to the noodles. Slurp away on this Get Your Guide Ramen tour in Tokyo that takes you to where the original Tsukemen was invented.
Hailed as the solo dining capital of the world- Japan’s shrinking population combined with an increase of single-person households has meant requesting a table for one quite the norm. Prefer to share some scrumptious food with good company? Our trusted partner Get Your Guide offers a yummy street food tour through the back alleys of Tokyo’s Shibuya neighbourhood.
This hilly terrain includes over 100 active volcanoes making up roughly 10% of all active volcanoes in the world- the landscape makes for excellent skiing and wandering. For trekking up Mt. Fuji, K's House Hostels is super friendly while Fuji Lake Hotel is a stylish lakeside accommodation that dates back to the 1930s.
The frequency of the earthquakes is caused by the location of the country across three tectonic plates called the “Pacific Ring of Fire”.
These 15 Japan facts give you a glimpse of the country’s unique lifestyle. Have you already booked your plane ticket?
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