Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner

The Internet is full of
different facts about Japan, so when it comes to their gadgets, architecture,
and fashion, it’s hard to surprise us. We all know about Japan’s accuracy, work
ethic, animal islands and square watermelons. But there are less obvious things
happening there that can bewilder even the biggest fans of Japanese culture.
For example, do you know what a “boredom room” is? Or that there’s a bookstore
that sells only one book? The answers to these and other questions are right
here in this article!
Bright Side has put together
14 unusual facts about Japan and Japanese culture that will change your view of
the Land of the Rising Sun.
Japan’s “evaporating people”

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner

There is nothing worse for a
Japanese person than losing social respect. A failed exam, a loss of a job, a
divorce, and debt are just some of the failures that cause people to banish
themselves and their families over their indignities. Some people commit
suicide while others disappear for good.
Somewhere between 80,000 to
100,000 thousand people disappear in Japan annually. Usually, neither police
nor families go looking for these lost people because they assume that they’ve
committed suicide. Speaking of these “evaporating people” is considered taboo,
so it’s something people don’t really talk about.
For those who decide to
disappear, there are 2 ways to do so. The first is to move to the city of Sanya
which isn’t located on any map. Technically, it doesn’t even exist. It’s a slum
within Tokyo whose name has been erased by authorities. It’s very hard to live
there because of bad conditions and hard labor. The second way is to stay at
home, change your job and steer clear of friends and relatives forever.
Otaku is another way to escape.

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
Another way of disappearing
that is popular among young people in Japan is living as an otaku. An Otaku is
a person who lives a double life as their favorite anime character.
Those who decide to become an
otaku disappear from time to time into alternate realities where, in costume,
they find themselves. They create this reality at home by using anime
attributes, wearing costumes of their favorite characters and leading a
reclusive life. Some other otakus prefer to spend time in the clubs of the
Akihabara area where different goods are sold specifically for them.
Friends and family for rent

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
Money may not be able to buy
love, but in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love. You can hire a
professional actor who becomes whatever a client asks them to be. You can even
rent a baby for a couple of days — there are agencies that will eagerly rent
them out. One of these agencies is called Family Romance which was established
by Ishii Yuichi 8 years ago.
The main objective of the agency
is to help people cope with loss or loneliness. But there are different kinds
of requests, for example, to play a role of a wife’s lover or to apologize for
a businessman who made a mistake. Once, the agency even had to perform an
entire wedding with the participation of 50 actors. The client had to pay $18
million for that!
This job has its downsides
though. The actors are often single and afraid to lose themselves in the roles
they have to play. Very few people know who they really are and they can’t talk
about their personal lives — that is why other people are attracted to their
fake personalities.
Towns behind walls

           Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
No, these aren’t stills from
the movie, Pacific Rim where walls were built to protect people from monsters
appearing from the bottom of the ocean. It is modern day Japan.
When a massive earthquake
struck Eastern Japan in 2011 triggering a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima
power plant, the government decided to build sea walls to protect coastal
towns. The walls are 41 feet high. But even if a tsunami was bigger than the
wall, the wall would delay flooding and guarantee more time for evacuation.
In the beginning, local people
supported the construction of the walls but their opinions changed later. Some
people feel uncomfortable, the walls are too high and block the sea view — some
citizens say they feel like they’re in a prison. Some people, however, say that
these walls are a guarantee that a disaster like that of 2011 will never happen
Apology agencies

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
It’s not easy to apologize,
and most people would like to avoid it entirely if possible. There are special
agencies in Japan that will do it for you. Besides, “apology experts” in these
agencies are good psychologists and can help you get out of very sticky
Prices of such services can
vary depending on the type of apology and the agency’s size. Personal apologies
cost $240 on average, and telephone or email apologies cost around $96. Some
agencies can charge hourly ($33 per hour on average).
Some agencies prefer not to
show their price lists on their websites and provide consultations by phone.
Apology options can be quite unusual, like those designed for sensitive or
quick-tempered people, for example.
The “boredom rooms” for workers

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
Employees whose positions have
been removed are usually fired. The layoff rules in Japan, however, are very
different from those we’re used to and usually, they are extremely
disadvantageous for employers. For example, early retirement packages at Sony
are equivalent to as much as 54 months of pay.
Not willing to pay such
amounts, companies came up with the solution of “chasing-out rooms” where employees
have to spend their working days doing literally nothing. They can read special
literature or watch videos online. At the end of the day, they have to file a
report on these activities.
Sony doesn’t think that these
“boredom rooms” are a bad thing. Critics say that the real point of the rooms
is to make employees feel forgotten and worthless — and eventually just make
them quit.
Cuddles for a fee

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
The problem of loneliness is
very prevalent in Japan. That is why Japanese people like to visit venues where
they can get rid of this feeling for at least a short period of time. For
example, there is a place called Soineya (literally, “sleep together shop”)
where one can sleep alongside a beautiful girl. No sex, just sleeping and
Usually, customers have to pay
an entrance fee (approximately $27) and all the other services are charged in
accordance with the price list. For example, 20 minutes of co-sleeping is
priced at $27, while an hour would be around $54. There are also optional
services that are charged separately. For example, services can include
sleeping in girl’s arms, petting a girl on the head, staring at each other,
sleeping on a girl’s lap, and so on — every act has its own price.
Night hostess clubs

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
One more way for Japanese men
to cope with loneliness is by going to a “kyabakura” club where a man can talk
and drink with pretty women for money, of course. Cheaper kyabakuras will be
around $27 for 40-60 minutes, while more expensive ones cost $45 — $137 for
45-90 minutes.
The girls who work in a
kyabakura are often called geishas, kyaba-jo, or hostesses. Their job is to
entertain customers with drinks and conversation. In traditional kyabakura,
girls don’t provide sexual services. In fact, customers can be kicked out of
the club if they try to simply hug a girl.
These clubs are very popular
among businessmen, and a visit to a kyabakura can be a bonus given to
successful employees. But, of course, the main customers going to a kyabakura
consist of lonely men who don’t get enough warmth and attention from their
Cafés with places for lonely customers

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
Moomin Bakery & Café is a
cozy place in Tokyo which has earned the nickname, “anti-loneliness”. For those
customers who come alone, personnel puts a giant stuffed Moomin on the next
chair to them to have a meal or coffee with.
The idea became incredibly
popular among the Japanese as well as numerous tourists who all wait in long
lines at the entrance to Moomin Bakery & Café to take their seat. Those who
don’t want to wait can always buy something in the café’s bakery.
Compact housing projects

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
Compact houses or kyosho
jutaku became very popular in Japan in the 1990s when accommodation prices
started growing rapidly. Unlike a housing complex, they don’t take a lot of
space and fit on tiny patches of land which are useless for anything else.
Sometimes, those patches are
no bigger than a parking space. Architects can even use asymmetric pieces of
land because they are cheaper and therefore, in great demand.
When looking at such tiny
patches of land it’s impossible to imagine that anything could possibly fit
there. However, architects and designers have proven that such compact houses
are much more comfortable to live in than apartments in regular complexes.
A sampler club

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
Sample Lab is a shop in Japan
where you can be the first to try and test samples of different products from
sauces and alcohol to beauty products and many other things.
To become a member, you need
to be older than 16 years old, know Japanese and pay an annual membership fee
of approximately $9. Every time you visit a shop you have to pay a bit less
than $3. It was made to exclude “free stuff hunters” and to make sure that the
members were actually interested in the specific product.
To get more free products,
consumers have to fill out thorough questionnaires and get points.
Vending machines for everything

Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
Vending machines are very
popular in Japan. With no sales assistants, small rental prices, low crime
levels and large cash flow, these vending machines are very popular. Besides,
there are no lines to use them, they work 24/7 and can be found almost
everywhere. It’s not surprising that you can buy everything there. Well, almost
These machines can sell just
about anything including eggs, toys, souvenirs, shoes, ties, and umbrellas. You
can even buy underwear in them, including soiled female underwear. So, “almost
everything” seems to be quite literal here.
A single book bookstore

A book is seen at the Morioka Shoten, a tiny bookstore of a Single Room with a Single Book, in the backstreets of Ginza in Tokyo, Japan on January 14, 2016. Morioka Shoten sells only one book; more precisely, multiple copies of one title that changes weekly, with a small book-inspired art exhibition on the walls. (Photo by David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Yoshiyuki Morioka, the owner
of a small (the size of a small room) bookstore Morioka Shoten, chooses only
one book and its copies to be sold in his store for a week.
Morioka Shoten’s visitors say
that this store arranges exhibitions of only one single book. The store’s
design changes in accordance with the chosen book. For example, when a book is
about flowers, the owner decorates his store with flowers that are described in
the book. That is why when you enter this bookstore it feels like you’re
entering the book itself!
Hugging chairs

           An employee of Japan's nursing care goods maker Unicare demonstrates an easy chair for congnitively empaired persons 'Yasuragi chair' at the annual International Home care and Rehabilitation exhibition in Tokyo on October 1, 2014.  The chair can hug the user with the long arms with valcro tape. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO        (Photo credit should read YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
One more option for lonely
people who want cuddle but are too shy to hug or cuddle with a stranger is the
hugging chair. It has a shape of a giant doll with very long arms which can be
wrapped around the person sitting on it.
This chair is a product of the
UniCare company and can be bought at an average price of $419. It is for those
who miss a human’s warmth, and the company’s employees say that you can even
talk to it. One of the chair’s functions is to play old Japanese music which is
adored by elderly people. It’s clear that this chair was designed with the
comfort of people in mind.
Which fact about Japan seemed
the most outlandish to you? Maybe you know some other unusual facts about the
country? Share them in the comments below.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.