1. Male Adult Adoption Is Common in Japan
Typically, couples from Western countries adopt babies or young children for a variety of reasons such as infertility and companionship. However, in Japan, it’s quite different. It’s common for many Japanese families, especially the wealthy ones, to adopt fully grown men. Why is this so? There are two reasons why male adult adoption is normal and quite popular in Japan. First, adult men are adopted for the sake of carrying on the family’s name. Japan, like many countries around the world, is a patriarchal society, and family names or surnames are passed through male children. Couples who only have female children are likely to consider adopting adult males just so their family names don’t disappear. Second, adult men are adopted for the sake of a family’s business. This reason is quite common in many wealthy Japanese families who own large companies. Fully grown men are adopted so that they can inherit the family’s business and run it. Even if a certain family has male candidates for inheritance, if the father sees that his inheritors are unsuitable for running his business, then he might consider taking in one of his highly competent executives.
2. Families in Japan Use the Same Water for Bathing
For the Japanese, taking a bath is not only about cleansing the body. It’s also an effective way to relax the mind, the body, and the spirit. This is the reason why most Japanese take hot baths during the evening and go to hot springs or onsens regularly. Unlike in the Western world, Japanese families use the same water for bathing, and no they don’t take baths simultaneously. The father goes first, followed by the mother, and then the children. Almost all Japanese homes have bathtubs. However, they only use them for soaking and not for cleansing. In general, the Japanese clean, scrub, and soap their bodies outside the bathtubs with the use of a wash bowl. After they have cleaned and rinsed themselves thoroughly, they’ll then enter the tub, soak their bodies, and enjoy the relaxation that the hot bath water brings. Since the cleansing is done outside the bathtubs, the hot water remains clean and clear, fit to be used by other family members. One interesting aspect of Japan’s unique way of bathing is that house guests are given the honor of using the hot bath water first.
3. Many Streets in Japan Don’t Have Names
Yes, you read that right. Many streets in Japan don’t have names. So how do the Japanese locate certain areas if their streets are nameless? Well, they use a peculiar kind of addressing system that uses block numbers instead of street names. Blocks in Japan are given unique numbers, and these numbers serve as the address. The spaces between these blocks, the streets, are left unnamed. So typically, people in Japan say, “I live in Block 2” or “I work in Block 13” instead of saying “I’m on Crocodile St.” or “My house is at Banana Ave.” Many people from Western countries might find this addressing system quite inefficient and confusing but actually it’s not. In fact, it’s very easy to use and helps people locate certain areas very quickly. For instance, if the restaurant you’re looking for in Tokyo City is located at Block 20, then all you need to do is get a map and look for the area that has the number 20 on it and voila, you just found your destination. Also, block numbers are easier to remember and spot on a map compared to street names.
4. Slurping When Eating Soups or Noodles Is Perfectly Normal in Japan
In the Western world, people are expected to eat their food without making any unnecessary noises. Creating sounds like slurping when eating soups or noodles is considered inappropriate and rude. However, in Japanese society, it is the complete opposite. Slurping is perfectly normal and acceptable, even when done in public. In fact, slurping is highly encouraged. So, why do the Japanese make pig-like sounds when eating hot soups and noodles? In Japan, slurping is considered as a sign of appreciation and approval. It means that you find the soup or noodles you’re eating so delectable, you want to get it in your mouth as quickly as possible, and by any means necessary. In other words, slurping is a highly accepted way of complimenting the cook for doing a great job.
5. Eating Raw Horse Meat Is Perfectly Normal in Japan
Many of us would cringe at the thought of eating horse meat, especially if it’s raw and cold. But in Japan, raw horse meat, also called basashi, is considered a delicacy and is served in many restaurants. Eating raw horse meat is not a recent fad popularized by a celebrity or an innovative chef, though — it’s been practiced by the Japanese for many decades now. Before you dismiss the idea of trying basashi, know that it’s much healthier than pork and beef, and is less prone to E. coli contamination. It is very high in protein yet low in calories, and is rich in Linoleic Acid. Aside from that, eating horse meat may possibly prolong your life. A demographic statistics published in 2013 showed that the residents of the Nagano prefecture had the highest life expectancy in Japan: 80.88 years for men and 87.18 for women. Their secret: eating horse meat.
6. 1,500 Earthquakes Hit Japan Every Year
Though Japan is a very beautiful country, it is also quite deadly, not because of its crime rate (it’s actually one of the safest countries in the world), but primarily because it’s one of the world’s most earthquake-prone areas. It experiences 1,500 earthquakes every year. Thankfully, most of these quakes are just tremors. Japan is no stranger to devastating earthquakes. It has experienced several catastrophic quakes in the past that has led to the destruction of billions of dollars worth of properties and the death of thousands of people. Japan’s geographical location is the primary factor as to why it’s prone to earthquakes. It is situated on top of four massive tectonic plates. When these plates move, earthquakes are produced. In 2011, these tectonic plates had a massive movement that resulted into a catastrophic event. Considered as the strongest and biggest earthquake in Japan, the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011 had a magnitude of 9.0. Though it was the strongest and the biggest, the Tohoku Earthquake was not the deadliest in Japan’s history. It only killed around 29,000 people. Surprisingly, Japan’s deadliest earthquake, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, only had a magnitude of 7.9, and yet it killed 142,800 Japanese residents.
7. Japan Is Home to the World’s Craziest Vending Machines
The Japanese people love vending machines. In fact, there are around 5.52 million of them scattered throughout the country. Over the years, these machines have greatly evolved from being practically convenient to extremely bizarre. In most countries, vending machines typically sell snacks like chips, gums, candies, sodas, and chocolates. However, the Japanese seemed to have combined the practicality of vending machines with their love for innovation and bizarre everything. In Japan, it’s perfectly normal for vending machines to sell fresh eggs, bags of rice, and even fresh bouquets of flowers. If these aren’t enough to amuse you, they also sell toilet paper, condoms, umbrellas, fish baits, and even porn magazines. Crazy, yet oddly convenient.