There are plenty of oddities to be discovered, but what are the weirdest things in Japan? Most things will seem pretty bizarre at first, but after a few days, you'll start to absolutely adore them. From high tech toilets, capsule hotels, bizarre festivals, weird foods and large amounts of kawaii, Japan will manage to provide you with the cultural shock of a lifetime. We spent 2 weeks in Japan trying to grasp its weirdest things in the country.
But all these weird Japanese stuff make for the best photos, memories and souvenirs. You'll be amazed and you'll love it.
Table of ContentsOpen
This is a brilliant invention for those who love cats but don't want the trouble of looking after them. Have your hot beverage and enjoy stroking cute furry kittens. This is a great way to distress after a long day at work. Wait, are you not a cat fan? Then go for hedgehogs and read about a visit to HARRY – Hedgehog Cafe in Tokyo. These may sound a little crazy, but they were so popular in Japan, many foreign countries decided to open pet cafes also.
You usually pay an entrance fee, then you get a drink included in the price, and around an hour surrounded by pets.
Creating space for real estate development in the centre of Tokyo can be a bit of a challenge. However, the Japanese cleverly found a way around it, by coming up with a great solution: the capsule hotel. These are an only in Japan type of thing and they may look very weird at first, but they are super comfortable.
Although initially created for businessmen, the capsules hotels have recently become more popular for low budget travellers and foreign tourists looking for a more daring experience.
Usually, a single capsule measures 1.2 meters wide, 2 meters long and 1 meter high and most people swear they are more comfortable than they look. Besides, you won't break the bank when you visit Japan, which is known to be quite an expensive country. Don't forget to check where to stay in Tokyo, as you may even discover some other accommodation options, like the crazy love hotels in Shinjuku.
When it comes to creativity, the Japanese are definitely light years away from the rest of the world. With so many distractions happening, it's becoming harder and harder to hang on to a relationship. This, however, doesn't mean you need to have brunch on your own.
Japan is going through a lonely epidemic, but luckily there are many establishments with great ideas to make that better for the Japanese. Weird? Maybe, but we think it's super creative and unique.
Moomin cafes may seem weird and crazy but they are the perfect anti-loneliness café with a plush toy as your partner. Always wanted to share some ice cream parfait with Moomin anyway...
In case you were wondering, this bizarre concept went so viral, that now many countries have Moomin cafes.
High Tech Toilets
High Tech toilets are the best thing I discovered in Japan. Self-cleaning, featuring warm seats and music for increased privacy, I'm surprised Japanese toilets haven't made it to the rest of the world. Some of the newest ones have a crazy amount of buttons and functions to cater for everyone's needs.
Why are they weird? Because never in my life have I needed to press so many buttons to utilise the loo. But once you understand how they work (they really are easy, to be honest) you get to enjoy an array of awesome features. While they existed only in Japan, Japanese hotels and some establishments abroad also features them.
Weirdest and most delicious food in the world, Takotamago is a small octopus served on a stick, with a cooked egg in its head. I found these in the markets in Kyoto and I fell in love with them.
These make for the perfect snack and sure are part of the best Japanese foods you will have to try in Japan. I suppose the weird part is how do they manage to add an egg in the head of the octopus?
Takotamago became very popular with tourists after being featured on several blogs and videos about how weird Japan can be.
The title of these boutique or fashion hotels is quite self-explanatory. Love hotels offer double rooms for short periods of time. You can choose between a rest (one-three hours) or a stay (whole night starting at 10 pm).
Most rooms are equipped with erotic programmes and also facilities to buy or rent costumes. Select your desired room from a board by pressing a button, then pay at the window where you won't be able to see the receptionist. Privacy is key here. These are definitely features of the adult guide for Tokyo. As appealing as they may seem, a word of caution here, as many hotels are run by the Japanese mafia. So unless you know your way around, have a proper recommendation for one of these hotels or know at least some Japanese, better to stay safe.
Penis Time at Kanamara Matsuri
Excuse me, but I don't think you can get more weird than a whole festival dedicated to the male reproductive system.
April is the time to be amazed in Japan (and one of the best times to visit the country). No, not because of the blooming sakura trees, but because of the craziest event on the planet: the Kanamara Matsuri. This is a Shinto fertility festival and probably not the time to spend a day out with your parents. You will be surrounded by a lot of penis-shaped things, including, of course, lollies.
I mean I can't imagine anything weirder than walking around surrounded by giant pink phalluses.
If you thought cute cats or maids cafés are out of ordinary, wait until you check this out. The Soine-ya cafés in Akihabara allow male customers to sleep right next to other women.
No funky business is permitted, although men are allowed to purchased extras such as stroking the girls' hair or looking deep into her eyes. Again, this shows that Japan is seriously going through a lonely epidemic and it really needs to be addressed.
The cuddle cafes are a way of releasing stress and anxiety by getting a warm hug at the end of the day. Since this became popular in Japan, services now include the possibility for women to co-sleep with a nice man also.
This is definitely a little out of ordinary, but it seems to be working in Japan.
Since we are on the topic of weird Japanese stuff, let's touch base on maid cafes.
Here you can enjoy cute pancakes, teddy shaped ice cream and all sort of colourful sundaes. All these will be served to you by innocent looking Japanese ladies dressed as maids. Akihabara is the best place for these types of cafés. There are always girls dressed in lolita outfits stopping men on the streets and taking them to the cafés.
You will find kids having birthday parties here but also these being booked by middle-ages Japanese men looking for some kawaii. Weird? Creepy? We asked a local about these and they said that they are fine for foreigners and tourists, but Japanese men should not go there as it can be considered really creepy and inapropriate.
The best thing about Japan is all the vending machines everywhere. You will find one in your hotel, at the subway station, next to the postal office, next to the restaurant, on the street, next to the bus stop ... EVERYWHERE. They are cheap and amazing. You can buy hot and cold beverages, bananas, milk, noodles, ramen and what not. If you don't have change, use your IC card.
Read about vending machines and IC cards here.
Do you know what else I find weird? How come that foreign countries didn't adopt this scheme? This is an only in Japan type of situation, as never have I found so many vending machines for everything. And they are so convenient and incredible! Simple but great idea!
Fish Market Tuna Auction
Most world's tuna comes from the mighty Fish Market in Tokyo. You might know it as Tsukiji Market but it has now been moved to a new area and it is called Toyosu Market.
You can access the tuna auction free of charge. There are a few ways you can check the tuna auction. Because it was always chaos for it, you can now apply only for a spot. The spot is picked at random, so think of it as a lottery if you will. Another option is to just causally arrive and see it from a different spot (Tuna Auction Observation Windows) or you can book a private tour with a guide.
Pachinko is an arcade game, a combination of slot machine and pinball. These places are bright, colourful, extremely loud and very smoky. We found several of them in Akihabara.
What's weird about them? Well, gambling is illegal in Japan so technically while these arcades are considered gambling places, they are not...really. You see the Japanese thought of a great way of by-passing the laws. They earn useless tokens which can be taken out of the pachinko without anyone breaking the law. Because the law states that you can gamble for money.
However, a few metres away from the parlours, there are cashiers who essentially "buy" these tokens for money. Again, that is not forbidden by law.
Harajuku is the perfect place if you like cute stuff. This is where you'll find crazy and colourful outfits and a tone of shops, full of super cute fluffy and tiny things. I love this place. Visiting Harajuku is one of the best 50 things to do in Tokyo.
But you see, everything in Japan is a bit kawaii crazy. Not just merchandise or specific stores, but even food or government posters. Everything has an unusual element of cute. Drawings telling us to not step in front of others, or to keep distance on the subway platforms, all were made to look cute.
When you look for Japanese manners and customs, you will also notice a lot of kawaii drawings.
The electronic district of Tokyo doesn't shock enough with its maid cafés, pachinko parlours and multi-story department stores, but it has yet another weird one up its sleeve. 18+ anime rentals. There are withdrawn areas where you can go in only if you are over the legal age and find the right erotic anime entertainment. Oh, Sailor Moon ...
But what's even more bizarre is that there are dedicated shops with floors where women can't even visit. They are strictly for men only.
And beyond Akihabara, you can also head to the adult district in Kabukicho which is known to be Asian's largest red district. And there, you can find even weirder things, beyond our innocent comprehension.
You love weird things, that's why you decided to visit Japan. But what if I tell you that even food can be a little strange? You can purchase rainbow cotton candy, colourful ice cream and even animal-shaped doughnuts. Cat, frog, dog and bear-shaped doughnuts are on the menu, only in Japan, of course.
The great thing about cute food is that you just want to try everything. They even created something called crazy pancakes which are literally a carb bomb that looks so appetising, it's unreal. You may even find cute food on menus at some restaurants. For example, some kids menus have rice with ketchup drawings in the shape of various bears or bunnies.
Whether you are an adult visiting alone or travelling to Japan with your family, you will definitely enjoy all the cute food in the country.
Nothing screams weirder than the idea of a public bath. Why? Because in Japan this is a perfect way to relax and socialise after a hard day at work...naked.
Public baths are separated by gender, and swimsuits are not to be worn. I guess this is what you call conversation without boundaries. These are perfectly normal in Japan, and foreigners can use them too. However, there might be some public baths which refuse entry if you wear a body tattoo.
Even the Melons are cute
How many times in this lifetime have you come across a melon with a bow? This is what I call added value. In fact, pretty much every delicious fruit in Japan comes with extra packaging, made to look like a present. These fruits are usually very expensive and wrapped like this to be given as a present.
I once saw a mango in Japan which costed the equivalent of £75 ($102). That's one expensive mango! There are also white strawberries which you can only find in Japan. They cost around £20 each and they are super sweet. Check it out in the photo below. (10,800 Japanese yen is about £75)
Now you know all the weird Japenese things I came across during my visit. What was the weirdest stuff you saw in Japan? Let me know in the comment section below!