40 Fun Facts About Japan

In this article, I want to share with you some interesting facts about the Japanese and facts about Japan.

Japan, with a population of roughly 126 million, is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean with high-rise-filled cities, imperial palaces, mountainous national parks and thousands of shrines and temples.

Tokyo, the crowded capital, is known for its neon skyscrapers and pop culture. In contrast, Kyoto offers Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, gardens, and cherry blossoms. Sushi, the national dish, is served everywhere from casual pubs to gourmet restaurants.

I recently visited Japan, a fascinating country.

At first glance, you might see Japan as just a modern, Westernized country with large, crowded cities and an awful lot of people in business suits… But this country gets a lot stranger than that!

Also Read: 8 Things Not to Miss For Food Lovers Traveling to Japan

Check out these fun, sometimes useful and often really surprising facts about Japan and the Japanese.

40 Facts About Japan

40 fun facts about Japan
facts about Japan and facts about the Japanese

1. Japan consists of over 6,800 islands.

2. Japan has a ‘suicide forest’. Called ‘the perfect place to die’, the Aokigahara forest has the unfortunate distinction of the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life. (The first is the Golden Gate Bridge)

3. Animated Japanese films and television shows (i.e.: Anime) account for 60% of the world’s animation-based entertainment. So successful is animation in Japan, that there are almost 130 voice-acting schools in the country.

4. 21% of the Japanese population is elderly, the highest proportion in the world. Japan has more than 50,000 people who are over 100 years old.

5. Raised floors help indicate when to take off slippers or shoes.

At the entrance to a home in Japan, the floor will usually be raised about 6 inches (15.24 cm) indicating you should take off your shoes and put on slippers. If the house has a tatami mat room, its floor may be raised 1-2 inches (2.54-5.08 cm.) indicating you should take off your slippers.

6. Japan has just 2 gun-related homicides per year on average. Japan feels very safe in general. They say you could leave your wallet on the floor of the busiest metro station and come back an hour later to still find it there, untouched. I didn’t test that though…

7. Japanese trains are among the world’s most punctual: their average delay is just 18 seconds!

8. Square watermelons are grown by Japanese farmers for easier stack and store.

Japan square watermelons - fun facts about Japan

9. In Japan there are more pets than children.

10. Japan’s birth rate is so low that adult diapers are sold more than baby diapers.

Facts About Japan & Facts About the Japanese

11. The Japanese survivor of the Titanic was called a coward in his country for not dying with the other passengers.

12. In Japan there are ‘Maid Cafes’ where waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants, and treat customers as masters (and mistresses) in a private home, rather than as café patrons.

Japan fun facts: maid cafes
Japan fun facts: maid cafes

13. Around 24 billion pairs of chopsticks are used in Japan each year.

14. 685 kids were rushed to hospitals in Japan in 1997 after an intense pokemon episode that caused dizziness, vomiting, and seizures.

15. Japan has 5.52 million vending machines offering anything from soda to sex toys and live crabs.

fun facts in Japan: vending machines in Japan

16. Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald in Japan due to a lack of a clear ‘R’ sound in Japanese.

17. Many hot springs and public bathhouses in Japan ban customers with tattoos from entering because they see it as possible affiliation with gangs.

Also Read: Things to Know About Life in Japan

18. They use more paper for comics than for toilet paper in Japan.

19. Sometimes the trains in Japan are so crowded railway staff are employed to cram passengers inside.

20. If you commit suicide in Japan by jumping in front of a train, the family of the deceased will be charged a disruption fee.

Amazing Facts About Japan

21. In Japan there is a train that “floats” above the tracks by magnetism, reaching 550km/h (311 mph).

22. Norway introduced salmon sushi to the Japanese in the ’80s.

23. In Japan, there is a ‘crying sumo’ contest where wrestlers compete to see who can make a baby cry first.

fun fact about Japan

24. Coffee is so popular in Japan that Japan imports approximately 85% of Jamaica’s annual coffee production.

25. Most toilets in Japan have a built-in bidet system for spraying your backside. These are known as washlets and are now the norm in homes and nicer restrooms.

However, in some train stations and other public restrooms you may still find the traditional Japanese “floor toilet”.

26. When you use the restroom in someone’s home you may need to put on designated bathroom slippers so as not to contaminate the rest of the home.

27. Noodles, especially soba (buckwheat), are slurped somewhat loudly when eaten. It has been said slurping indicates the food is delicious. The slurping also serves to cool down the hot noodles for eating.

28. In a Sumo training “stable” the junior rikishi Sumo wrestlers must wash and bathe their senior sumo wrestlers and make sure their hard to reach places are clean.

29. Ovens are not nearly as commonplace as rice cookers in Japanese households.

30. Geisha means “person of the arts” and the first geisha were actually men.

Geisha in Japan - fun facts about Japan

10 Final Facts About Japan

31. In Japan non-smoking areas were, and often still are, difficult to find in restaurants, including family restaurants.

Many of Japan’s politicians have an interest in the tobacco industry.

In April 2020 however, Tokyo was the first city in Japan to, finally, implement a smoking ban.

32. There is almost no immigration in Japan. The population is 98% ethnic Japanese.

33. Japan is the world’s largest consumer of Amazon rain forest timber.

34. The greater Tokyo area is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 35 million people.

Fun facts about Japan

35. Tokyo is the second most expensive city in the world to live in.

36. Sushi used to be eaten as street food.

37. The world’s most expensive tuna was sold in Japan for $735,000 USD.

38. It’s considered inappropriate to blow your nose in public.

39. Japanese sake is made from fermented rice.

40. The fortune cookie dates back to the 19th century and was first made in Kyoto, Japan.

Inspired? Put Japan on Your List of ‘Must-Visit Countries’, It’s Worth It!

I hope you enjoyed these facts about Japan and that it has inspired you to visit this unique country someday!

Japan is truly unique and if you want to experience something different I’d recommend spending at least three to four weeks traveling through Japan, talking to local people as much as you can (the Japanese are very friendly and often speak good English) and really experience the Japanese culture to its fullest.

And, unlike what many people believe, Japan doesn’t have to be an extremely expensive country to visit. Use Airbnb or VRBO40 Fun Facts About Japan to find great places to rent directly from the owner. And use HotelsCombined40 Fun Facts About Japan for good deals on hotels and hostels.

Ask the locals for good but cheap restaurants and I assure you you will have an amazing experience and a fairly affordable trip to Japan and can check some of these facts about the Japanese for yourself!

Read 8 Things Not to Miss For Food Lovers Traveling to Japan for more travel inspiration.

And if you are thinking about visiting or even moving to Tokyo, check out this Interview With an Expat About Life in Tokyo and this article about Things to Know About Life in Japan.

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40 Interesting, unique and surprising facts about #Japan. #funfacts

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Sanne Wesselman

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.

12 thoughts on “40 Fun Facts About Japan”

  1. About the fact that it is hard to find non-smoking areas in Japan – absolutely not true!
    Have been to Japan 5 times, never have I seen a smoking restaurant!

    Reply
  2. I am surprised about several of the things Japan has. I didn’t even know they pretty much can sell anything in a vending machine like, when you want something to eat you say “Why wait in line when I can get noodles at a vending machine?”. I am truly amazed really and Japan is on my bucket list. I do have a question though. If you don’t know Japanese, is it really difficult to get around?

    Reply
    • Hi Alexandra,
      In Tokyo and other major cities it’s not difficult to get around without speaking Japanese.
      But, once you get to rural Japan it’s much harder to find people who speak English. If that makes you feel uncomfortable then organized tours (either day tours or multi-day) from the bigger cities are a good option.
      Or, plan things well beforehand, check which train to take, how to get to places, etc. And use Google translate or another translation app and it will work out. The Japanese are very friendly!

      Reply
  3. Yes I am working with Japanese People & they are so polite. Technology they have developed is wonderful. In stationery as well we can find lots of unique thing like pen with eraser known as fiction pen. They call any person or thing by mentioning “SAN” while calling or indicating. Like Sanne San.

    Yes, i liked your inputs Sanne San & it added value in my knowledge about Japan.

    Reply
    • Haha that’s so funny! When I was younger a friend, whose parents had lived in Japan, always called me Sanne San! Thanks for sharing and bringing back that memory 🙂 Japan is definitely a unique country!

      Reply
  4. There’s been great strides in the non-smoking world. Used to, you could sit in the “Non-smoking sections” in a Japanese restaurant and the table crammed up next to yours could have been in the smoking section. Now, most places are smoke-free.

    Reply
  5. Hi, great article. One of my friends said it’s an insult to wear sunglasses in Japan. Is this correct? I can’t find anything that confirms this. I’m about to go next month. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Tash, it’s true that you will hardly ever find a Japanese person wearing sunglasses. The Japanese people I spoke to just said it doesn’t suit them or they don’t like them. So it doesn’t seem to be an insult to wear sunglasses in Japan, it is just something they don’t do so it will make you stand out. The Japanese in general are extremely polite though so if it’s a very sunny day and you feel uncomfortable without them, just wear them! You might just want to take them off when you are talking to someone.

      Reply

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