Here's a list of 16 things that will blow your mind when visiting Japan.
HERE'S 16 THINGS THAT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND WHEN VISITING JAPAN:
1. Football (Soccer) Fields Are On Top Of Buildings
2. There Is Seafood That Looks Like It Came Straight Outta Jurassic World
Waking up in the middle of the night so that you can be at the Tokyo Fish Market before dusk is something you will never regret doing.
This is a show not to miss when visiting Japan. You will probably see fish and seafood that you've never seen before, like the giant mussels below.
Calling them "gigantic" though, it's an understatement!
And tuna steaks are sliced with Samurai swards.
3. Everything Is Art In Japan, Especially Store Signs And Ads
In Asakusa, you'll find lots of crafts markets and amazing sushi bars with conveyor belts carrying around sushi and other delicacies.
Matcha green tea is a staple and there is a tap of hot water every 2 people to help you make a cup of hot brew. Look out for restaurants with red lanterns outside as it indicates the prices are low at that particular venue.
4. Fake Food Samparu
One of the first worries people have when they are about to visit Japan is the language. How will you know where to go and most importantly, if you don't speak Japanese, how will you order food? Knowing how to order a dish would be nice since you need food to live well, don't worry because the kind Japanese culture has thought of creating replicas of each dish and displaying it in their windows.
These food displays are called, "sampuru " a word that originated from the English word sample.
Food dishes are hand made and custom-tailored to the restaurants and even common items such as ramen are modified to match each establishment's menu. This craft has become a real form of art, and it's so appreciated that regular competitions are held in creating fake food dishes.
The replicas are so mouthwatering and gorgeous that you will probably feel hungry every time you'll take a walk someplace, even if you just ate!
5. Osaka's Dotonbori
Dotonbori, Osaka's most famous street is a never ending treat of delicacies ranging from Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki to Kushikatsu and Teppanyaki houses. A whirlwind of flavors and textures that will leave you hooked!
Seen that we got talking about food, the next logical thing to mention is Osaka, because Osaka is Japan's food capital.
Eclectic, decadent, saucy are adjectives that barely describe the food culture in this dense city.
Food is so much part of the culture here that there is an expression for it: "kuidaore" ("eat until you are bankrupt")
When you see the word "Katsu" in a menu, it means that the food (meat, fish or vegetable) has been breaded and fried.
You probably are asking: "what's so special about that?" Every nation has a dish that's some how breaded then deep fried, right? Right, however, the Japanese do it differently and this little difference makes the WHOLE difference. Katsu food is breaded in crispy panko breadcrumbs. Unlike the crumbs we are used to, these are made with large white bread flakes. The result is a lighter and airier texture.
In addition, in Japan, you are almost always served sesame seeds that you crush (or not) and mix with soy sauce (or not) and sprinkle over your cabbage salad.
Cabbage, by the way, is served breakfast, lunch and dinner!! Never been a cabbage fan, but by the time I left Japan I had become one and in Japan is also seasoned beautifully tasting much better than any other time I had it before which is a major bonus because cabbage is actually a super-food!
Next, something else that will almost never miss, (and if it's missing please ask for it) it's the one and only Kewpie mayonnaise, AKA: the best mayonnaise in the world. I'm not kidding!
Your Katsu meal will come with white rice, miso soup and pickled ginger (white or pink) to cleanse the palate.
If then you love curry, you can order [meat-seafood- vegetable] Katsu curry for dish filled with spiced flavors.
7. A Traditional Tea Ceremony
If you made it all the way to Japan, and you don't take part in a traditional Tea Ceremony at least once, let me tell you openly that you made a huge mistake!
Tea Ceremonies are the essence of Japanese culture in...a tea cup!
The one we participated in was at the Cultural Art Center in Kyoto. During the ceremony, you will learn how each item and how you are handling it needs correct positioning because nothing in Japan is placed or used without a meaning, remember that!
You will learn as a the host of the ceremony how to honor your guests in the most elegant way whilst learning more about Japanese culture.
Below is a trailer from Cammelia, one of the places where you can attend a Japanese Tea Ceremony in Kyoto.
8. The mayonnaise museum
Remember that legendary Kewpie mayonnaise we mentioned at number six? Well, Kewpie has its very own museum!
Yes, this brand is so loved, that they decided to create a museum that educate you about the brand, takes you through all the stages of its creation as well as hosting a family friendly place to eat and hang out.
Read more the Kewpie Mayonnaise Museum here.
9. Mochi Sweets
Mochi is a Japanese cake made out of "mochigome", a short-grain glutinous rice.
Producing it, it's a highly labor intensive preparation, but the result is amazing!
Mochi is then shaped separated in small bites that can be eaten as they are or with a multitude of fillings, from red bean curd to ice cream. Simply divine!
And naturally Japan being the celebratory country that it is, it has a mochi ceremony called mochitsuki.
10. Wood Is Everywhere
In Nara for example, you'll find the Tōdai-ji or Eastern Temple, the biggest wooden structure in the world. As a hint of its majestic size look how small visitors look on the picture below. You almost cannot see them. This temple also includes the biggest bronze statue of Buddha in the world which is 15 meters high and weighs 500 tonnes.
11. Cherry Blossom Is Not Big: It's HUGE!
We cannot blame them, though; the whole country becomes an interrupted garden where shades of whites and pinks dominate. It's a happy time, a time of rebirth and one of celebration and this is manifested not only in the specific Sakura Cherry blossoms Festivals but also in many others festivals, there are in fact 15 different ones across the country between March and June.
12. Clothing And Fashion
The Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association estimated there is:
1 machine per 23 people.
And they do not sell exclusively drinks or chocolate bars, they sell everything. Everything? Yes! Everything! You'll find food, condoms, clothing, toiletries, groceries, sex toys, electronics, books, medicines to name but a few. What's even more incredible is that they always work and on the rare occasion that they don't someone will come to fix it almost instantly. During the time we spent in Japan, we never encountered a vending machine that wasn't working, how amazing is that? The irony is that for Japanese, these are such a staple that having them working is nothing special.
14. Snakes Drinks
Habushu is an Awamori based alcoholic indigenous drink unique to Okinawa.
Habushu is more commonly known as Habu Sake or Okinawan Snake Wine.
The name, as you have probably guessed takes after the fact that they put a Habu snake inside the bottle. Both methods used is quite cruel to the animal that either dies by drowning or by human hand.
Superstitions lead to believe that drinking Habushu brings positive effects such as energy and positively affect male libido as Habu snakes mate for up to 26 hours.
15. Coffee And Themed Cafes
Whilst the coffee culture may still be young in Japan, there is certainly no shortage of themed cafes. Whether you are into Harry Potter, or maids and butlers, or cats, dogs and bunnies (and much more), you are sure to find a cafe that will satisfy your quirks.