japanese sumo tournaments

Japan is sort of its own special planet. Nowhere is this clean, people are never this nice, and nothing is quiet this perfect. Maybe it’s the lack of land-based neighbors or the 200+ years cut off from the outside world, but they definitely have their own way of doing things. From style, culture, cuisine, humor, and humility, you know you’re in Japan when…

– A three-hundred pound man with a high ponytail, who goes to work in a thong, can score a supermodel girlfriend.

– You can be the cleanest country in the world….with the fewest trash cans.

japanese dining for kids

 – A “high” chair is only eight inches off the ground.

japanese parks signs

 – Even someone who only knows one word of English, they still try to help.

Japanese toilet remote control

 – Your toilet’s remote control has more buttons than your TV’s. (Yes, we
said “remote control”, with seat warmers, music, multi-directional bidets, bum dryers, “powerful deodorant spray,” and auto seat lifter…to name a few that we could figure out.)

tokyos biggest fish market

 – You consume more fish in one month than you’ve had in the last 10 years.

vegetables for breakfast

 – Breakfast cereal, scrambled eggs and bagels are replaced with a of buffet of daikon, pickled radishes, leeks and miso soup.

geisha dinner session

 – You find yourself throwing back your 12th shot of sake in the company of geisha.

anime accessories

– Cartoons aren’t just for kids (FYI that is a mouse-pad to help prevent carpal tunnel)

dead bodies prohibited
Body bag luggage

– We don’t even know what to say about this “dead body” luggage restriction but we looked at our four-foot long duffle bags and laughed for a solid minute.

japanese quirks

 – Love for Pokemon is ever-present, even in the lunch-meat aisle.

ordering food by vending machine

 – The cashiers have been replaced with vending machines that take your order and your money.

changing shoes in Japan

– To get across the house, you’ll change shoes more times than Imelda Marcos. (Okay, not quite, but you will change from street-shoes to house-shoes to bathroom-shoes to house-shoes in a matter of minutes.)

traditional japanese dress

– A kimono and wooden shoes aren’t just kabuki costumes, they’re normal attire in the city subways.

Japanese trains run on time

– Trains run on such precision that you’ll never miss a connection, even with a three-minute layover.

japanese dining quirks

– One dish on the menu comes with 17 plates of accoutrements.

crosswalk signs around the world

– A teenage boy, on a bike, at 10pm in the evening…without a single car on the road in either direction, will not cross against the “Don’t Walk” traffic signal.

you know you're in japan when

-And by special request (Rashaad, this one is for you) . . . there are more vending machines per capita than anywhere in the world!

Similar Posts


  1. Rashaad Jorden says:

    I’m suprised there are no mentions of vending machines in Japan. It seems like there are vending machines everywhere in that country – not surprising considering I read that Japan has the most vending machines per capita in the world.

    Some other observations:

    – The toilet remote controls were… befuddling. I never knew how to operate them most of the time.

    – I would always order at my favorite Indian restauant in Tokyo from a vending machine. But usually I did order using a handheld menu.

    – During a sumo tournament, I would rush home from school to excitedly watch as many matches as I could. On a couple of occasions, I have watched sumo in person in Ryogoku.

    Also, when I think of Japan, I think of convenience stores. I don’t know if you spent a lot of time in Japanese convenience stores, but they are amazing. I would order bus and concert tickets, pay bills and buy delicious foods – well, if you consider junk food delicious (Very difficult to get good vegetarian foods at convenience stores).

    1. Rashaad, you know your Japanese. Convenience stores had a strong role in our daily routine, we could barely pass one without getting a onigiri triangle rice snack. Re: Toliets. You must of at least pushed the musical note button. The one with the waterfall noise to mask sound in communal restrooms? Amazing. And lastly, you are so right on vending machines that we had to go back and add a caption just for you : ) Check it out.

  2. Turtlestravel says:

    All of these are so very true. Japan is such a unique and wonderful country. We can’t wait for a return visit.

      1. Turtlestravel says:

        Sure! Tamara actually lived in Japan for her last year of high school and has been back a number of times. She speaks Japanese and still has lots of friends and pseudo-family there, so it’s a place we’ll always return. We really want to find a way to spend some extended time next time.

  3. I kinda like Japan now!
    Thanks 🙂

  4. Love the video of the Art of Travel. Gave me a feel for the Japanese culture. As a long time armchair follower of the blog I continue to be amazed at Mike’s photos and Anne’s professional charming presentation and ease in acting as our guide. Where are we going next guys?

    1. You are very kind, especially since we did that video in one take! Where are we going next….which do you think would be better in August, Scotland or Iceland?

    2. thanks @valcope:disqus for the love. *blushes* on photo and writing love. glad you liked Art of Travel as much as we did! Next up on the blog is Thailand….so excited to share that one with you all.

  5. carol laager says:

    Loved the interesting things you have to say. Have a great feel of how a country is like from your descriptions. You could even write a cookbook now. Do u have a favorite new cuisine ? How was your trip back home

    1. These one-liners are obviously all with a grain of salt since it’s a mix of chance encounters and a month of observations but when you see it all together, I’m glad it gives you a sense AND that you enjoyed it! Cuisine….hmmm Japan might be tied with Thailand for most amazing food.

  6. Debbie Gersten says:

    Awesome post. Makes me sad I only had 2 days in tokyo. Can’t wait to return to explore further!

    1. Thanks, Deb! So great you could at least sneak a couple days in Tokyo and you’ll be back, for how much you travel : )

  7. David Carillet says:

    No pictures of panty vending machines? Guess the family-friendly line had to be drawn after the oppai mouse pad.

    1. we saw a TON of vending machines, but never the panty ones. lmao. where did you see those? Tokyo i am guessing. And yeah the mouse pad was about as far as we could push that one. gotta keep the blog PG13 ya know 😉

      1. David Carillet says:

        Yep, you guessed it. And they aren’t sold in new condition…

        Supposedly there are far fewer of them now, but they probably wouldn’t even top the list of the most bizarre things you’ll find in Tokyo. No lack of culture shocks there.

  8. Cam Wears says:

    Ah, I love Japan! It’s such a fun country to visit.

    1. tell me about it @cam_wears:disqus, we had such an amazing month in Japan, from Tokyo to WOOFFING in the mountains of the north, to Kyoto, to the islands of Okinawa to learning Japanese arts in Kanazawa….just an awesome place with great people!

  9. Deb Thompson says:

    You guys, your blog posts absolutely ROCK! Absolutely love your work, your photographs, your observations and above all, your great humour. You made me laugh out loud on this one! Look like you’re having F U N!

    1. @deb_thompson:disqus those are some of the nicest compliments we have ever gotten on our blog….and coming from an expert travel blogger like you, it means even more. and you are right…we are having a blast!!!!

      1. Deb Thompson says:

        Aww, shucks….:) Thanks Mike! Back at you!

  10. Everything looks so AWESOME! I wish I had something deep and profound to say but I don’t. I just think everything in Japan looks so awesome.

  11. Jaryd Krause says:

    I can’t wait to be there in January, mmmm fish!

    1. oh awesome @jarydkrause:disqus, how long are you going to stay, and what cities with you visit?

      1. Jaryd Krause says:

        I am going to live in Sapporo, Hokkaido for 2 months just snowboarding and then spend a month to travel to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka before China. I have herd nothing but great things about Japan, their culture and the genuineness of the people, very exciting.

  12. Mytanfeet says:

    hahha my mom just came back from Japan and all she raved about was the toilets!! lolll and the soba. I can’t wait to visit japan and eat all the amazing sushi! And drink some sake with a geisha 🙂

  13. Loved this post! I’m having fun reading about the idiosyncrasies (cultural differences), but realizing that I kind of envy how dedicated and organized the Japanese people are. If I was 1/10th organized, like them, I could accomplish so much! Anyway – I’d be happy with my 18th shot of sake & BTW – I’m totally in with the changing of shoes. I do that at home and on our boat (to a lesser extent). I’ll keep reading these posts, since I’ll be in Japan & China soon! Cheers, G.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.