Top 25 Things that Shock Foreigners in Japan

Published on April 10, 2018 by Chris

Japanese Culture can seem pretty weird to a first time visitor. In this video I discuss the top 25 things that shock foreigners in Japan including crowded subways, timeliness, tiny hotel rooms, face masks, and more! After you watch this video you’ll be prepared to embrace Japan’s culture, and not be as shocked by it!

1 – Face Masks
In Japan they rarely take sick days, so when they are sick they are expected to wear a mask. Many people also wear masks to not get sick from others. You’ll see people on the train, subway, sidewalk, pretty much everywhere wearing face masks.

2 – Sooo many people
Tokyo is crowded, particularly the train stations.

3 – Crazy work hours
You’ll see people in business suits around at all hours.. 7am to midnight. Because the Japanese seem to almost always be working, or at a work social. Death from too much work is so commonplace in Japan that there is a word for it — karoshi. There is a national karoshi hotline, a karoshi self-help book and a law that funnels money to the widow and children of a salaryman (it’s almost always a man) who works himself into an early karoshi for the good of his company. Among 2,207 work-related suicides in 2007, the most common reason (672 suicides) was overwork, according to government figures released in June.

4 – They sleep anywhere and everywhere

5 – Everybody is always dressed up
Men in business suits, women in high heels, all the time.

6 – Time is really important
There is no such thing as “fashionably late” in Japan. If trains are more than 30 seconds to a minute late they start apologizing for being late. If you are more than 5 minutes late for a dinner reservation you might as well forget you even had it. Want to check in to a hotel early? Hah! If the check-in time is 3pm, then 3pm exactly is when they will let you check-in.

7 – Public Transportation is Really on time
Even busses! And it’s not like 8:30 — it’s 8:34 and the busses will show up at that exact minute. The bus won’t leave until it’s the exact time to go. Even a shuttle bus to a hotel, if the departure time is 2pm, and all passengers are onboard at 1:45pm, the bus driver will sit there and watch the clock until it strikes exactly 2pm.

8 – And their stores close really early
Typical store closing time is 7 or 8pm… even when 100,000 people are walking by. And they close promptly. When Japan’s nightlife starts, their daytime stuff closes. No 24 hour supermarkets, they close at 8pm when the department stores close.

9 – And their ATMS close too
Seriously… why does the ATM close at 7pm? And when its closed, its really closed, like a with a door that rolls down.

10 – Crazy small hotel rooms
Japanese hotels are masters of efficient space use. It IS the home of the capsule hotel

11 – Pillows are hard
They aren’t full of feathers, they are full of Buckwheat Hulls. Kind of like the shells of sunflower seeds. They are the opposite of soft. But they are supposed to allow for more air circulation.

12 – You have to take off your shoes everywhere
Of course when you go to someones house, but there’s more!
Even at the dressing room of a store — and make sure they point the right way!
Some traditional hotels you take your shoes off right at the door
I was there for “work” once, and I had to take off my shoes to enter the office
So don’t wear your socks with holes
Oh and there are toilet slippers

13 – Swim caps for swimming pools

14 – Insane Prices

15 – Little Kids Walking to School by Themselves

16- Excessive Packaging

17 – Being naked in front of others

18 – Wet Hands

19 – There aren’t any trash cans

20 – Amount of bicycles

21 – Japanglish

22 – Karaoke

23 – Purses left to save seats. Story about train laptop.

24 – Lots of really human intensive jobs

25 – French maids on the street


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