Or even closer — this second part of that article about Japanese trends. Check out the quirky cafes, surprising festivals, and odd food scenes you can’t find anywhere else.
The Shibuya Crossing
The Shibuya crossing is one of japan's (or Tokyo's) most iconic symbols. At times, it can become overwhelming and just too much to handle.
It is always crowded, always busy, and the lights are always blinding. This would probably never work in such perfection in any other country in the world.
Mayonaise was introduced to Japan in 1925, almost one hundred years ago. The Japanese believed that by introducing a Western spread to the East, they would eventually grow as tall as Western people are.
Mayo became an obsession. With the small local adjustments, mayonnaise is served with almost everything at any time of the day. It can be found in small personal containers for convenient use.
Have you ever heard of a district in any town, with an age limit access? Well, apparently there are areas that you must be over the legal age to enter. These districts have erotic entertainment themes with anime characters, that seem to do the world for the average Japanese man.
And that's not it. There are some specific areas that even women are not allowed in, no matter how old they are. Those placed are preserved for men only.
Gambling is illegal in Japan, however, these video game arcades are not. And they are all over the place. It's a Japanese spectacle site to witness. The Japanese play for tokens and not for money so everything is played according to law.
The tokens are then taken to a cashier, who is usually located not far from the arcades, who then cashes the token into cash. According to the Japanese regulation, this is all legit.
Many markets around the world sell tuna fish, however, the famous Tsukiji Market in Japan is a phenomenon. It is the main tuna exporter in the world.
There are no prices and each king of the sea is sold by auction. This place is so exceptional, that they are tour guides to escort you around and even Auction Observation Windows.
Out of all the weird and outrageous cafes in Japan, here's another one to add to the list. Regular dishes and regular coffee are served by a cute little waitress dressed in maid clothing.
We are not sure what story lies behind this tradition, however, the Japanese people seem to like it, as this custom has been going on for years.
Kanamara Matsuri is an annual festival celebrated in Japan during the Spring. It celebrates spring, and it celebrates...penises. This probably can't get any weirder than this.
We wouldn't recommend visiting this festival with your parents, for example, as it celebrated the male organ in many ways, including decorated lollypops.
The Takotamago is one of the most popular snacks in the country. It's basically an octopus with an egg in its head. Yes, an octopus with an egg.
We have learned a long time ago not to try and understand other cultural dishes, so we are not going to ask. There's just one thing we must comprehend — how do they get the egg into the octopus's head?
You'll never have to dine alone. To us, this may seem weird but for the Japanese nation, communicating with a dummy has become a norm.
Moomin Cafes are all over the place and provide the solo guest with comforting entertainment that doesn't talk too much.
Japanese people just love their branding, and when it comes to themes, they didn't even skip their trains. Have a look at the Genbi Shinkansen.
The Genbi Shinkansen is decorated with multicolored patterns of a favorite artist. These phenomena can be spotted on many trains throughout the country, spicing up the dull and boring journeys.
In every major city in Japan, you can find themed coffee shops dedicated to Pokemon, Hello Kitty, and Doremon. It's almost a religion. For those who adore the characters, these cafes are Disneyland.
Cakes, drinks, pancakes, and more are all decorated and designed in the colors of the theme. Some are seasonal and not open every day so make sure to check the opening hours before going on your next Pokemon hunt.
In Japan, like in the rest of the world, Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14th. As a rule (in Japan), on this day women will give men a box of chocolates. So far so good.
One month later, on what is called "White Day", a larger box of chocolates is returned to the woman. In workplaces, more modest chocolate boxes are given to the workers, a tradition known as "Giri Choco".
You know that feeling when you order a dish in a restaurant and then receive the exact opposite of what you expected? Well, as Japanese restaurateurs want to give their guests the best experience they can, they have come up with something to avoid this.
They display artificial models of the dishes, so the customers can see exactly what they are about to receive. It saves time for those who find it hard to decide and it's great for language barrier issues.
Could you imagine taking a foot bath break in the middle of the day? Well, if you were living in Japan, the Asi-Yu ceremony would become part of your daily ritual.
The Ashi-Yu are scattered around Japan and provide foot bathing services. Anyone can just take a break whenever they feel the urge to unwind, get their feet pampered, and continue their day uninterrupted. Yes, please.
You thought the trains in Japan travel fast? Wait until you see how fast they can be cleaned. And we are talking about the entire length of the train here.
Within ten minutes, the train is cleaned, sanitized, and sorted for the next journey. While in most western countries such execution is unheard of, in Japan, Shinkansen bullet trains receive first-class treatment.
Facial masks have been worn by the Japanese people forever. This is not something that started in 2020. People wear masks on public transportation, whenever they don't feel good, or just trying to avoid the pollen season.
Over the years, mask etiquette has become part of the Japanese culture, and these days, it would be difficult to find anyone without one on their face.
Energy Drink Culture
As the Japanese are known for their never-ending working hours, the energy drink industry has become huge there. They can be found everywhere in any shade, color, or form.
They can be found even in drugstores and presented in medication bottles as if a tired worker is treated almost as a diseased person.
Just a little bit of extra customer service can change the whole experience both for the driver and the passenger.
If you're traveling in Japan for the first time it might hit you as a surprise, but almost all taxis have a button that opens the doors, allowing the passenger to keep their hands free to hold their Zara bags.
Slippers...for the Toilet
We actually think we might like to adopt this Japanese custom. These slippers are there to protect you from the unpleasant surprises that can confront you on the toilet floor, especially when having little boys around.
Now seriously, these can be found in most entertainment places in japan and are there to use when visiting the toilets. We love it.
Like many other gadgets only found in Japan, yet again, they have managed to take something simple, like a photo booth, and give it a spectacular upgrade.
Why settle for a standard photo with your friends when you can become whoever you want and turn into your favorite icon in the blink of an eye?
Bottomless Alcohol (Nomi-Hodai)
The Nomi-Hodai was created for those who are concerned about the check when dining out. It's basically a fixed price the guest pays, and then they are free to consume as much alcohol as they want (or can).
When dining solo, Noami-Hodai is not an option as you must be part of a big group to enjoy this bottomless bonus.
Rice Paddy Art
Travel the magnificent landscapes of Japan and be amazed by the astonishing rice field illustrations. This is definitely unique for the land of the rising sun. Displayed between June and October, these works of art are a must.
It all started almost three decades ago as a marketing campaign for a rice brand and turned into another form of art for the Japanese nation.
One of the most iconic sights in the streets of Japan is the Yuru-Kyara. These are the over-the-top mascots used to promote businesses and events.
The most iconic Yuru-Kyara's are Kumamon from Kumamoto Prefecture and NHK’s mascot Domo-Kun. Before you underestimate these mascots, they are the reason behind the significant increase in Kumamon turnover in the past few years.
In Japanese restaurants, there are first dishes, main courses, desserts, and Otoshi. They are the cute small dishes that nobody ordered.
The Otoshi is a complimentary appetizer served immediately after placing your order, and in some places, they are served just as you are seated. The Otoshi usually includes edamame and spicy octopus.
Central heating is not a very popular thing in Japan, however cold winters are. This is where the super warm and cozy Kotatzu comes in.
It's a combination of an electric table and blanket that guarantees a warm ambiance. The only thing we are concerned about is how are you supposed to get up?
School kids in Japan are given a backpack when they start school at the age of six, and it lasts for the entire six years of elementary school. Only the Japanese Randoseru can hold it together for so many years.
This Japanese custom of leather-made top-quality items is almost a religion. You find here any Nicky school bags or unicorn-designed backpacks on any of the children on their way to school.
In every respected restaurant, Oshibori is a well-established custom. Oshibori are the wet wipes given usually between each course, to help freshen up.
We are only familiar with them after cracking crabs or eating other food with our hands, but in Japan, whatever you eat will be accompanied by Oshibori.
Free Tissues Anyone?
You will never regret leaving your hotel room with no tissue when touring Japan. One of the best ways big brands advertise themselves is on tissues.
They are handed out on the street of major cities, bringing awareness to their brand and saving the day of many people with runny noses.
The Japanese Love Hotels
Like many places around the world, Japan has hotels that rent rooms by the hour, however, in Japan, their purpose is a bit different than what we know in the west. The Japanese households and rooms are very small leaving not much privacy (if any).
These Love Hotels, displaying their by-the-hour fees provide services for married couples, people who are going steady, and even single people who are looking for a bit of peace and quiet.
You thought the last hotel room you stayed in was small? Take a look at the Japanese capsule hotels. This is the future! They are more comfortable than they seem and offer a perfect solution for those with a tight budget.
These capsules have a shared bathroom and provide all that a five-star hotel would have on offer and even more. There is a flat-screen TV, books, coffee machines, and entertainment rooms.
Many islands surrounding Japan are wild and left to the animals to roam free, but on one particular island, a strange occurrence attracts thousands of tourists every year. This is where Bunny Island comes in.
Better known as Okunoshima, it's probably one of the cutest phenomena in the natural world. The island is inhabited by hundreds of wild rabbits that scatter the island's many pathways and forests.
No Name Street
In many Japanese neighborhoods, streets simply don’t have names. The system used in Japan is quite complex and peculiar, with postal addresses starting with the local authority, then listing the name city or municipality, and with each line narrowing down to the exact block.
The blocks connecting streets are given numbers according to when they were built, which results in most Japanese streets remaining nameless.
Don't Tip in Japan
In most countries, it remains customary to tip, while in Japan, it's considered rude if you do leave a tip.
The general consensus is that if you’re already paying for good service, why should you pay extra? This Japanese convention relies heavily on their standards of work and if you dare leave a tip while touring Japan, it will be adamantly refused.
In each and every country there are a few people who consider themselves to be totally unsociable and prefer to live out their lives as a recluse.
In Japan, this has become less of an exception and somewhat common, with more than half a million of Japan's citizens withdrawing completely from all social activities, while shutting themselves away in their rooms and spending their days away from society.
In a culture revered for its efficiency, Japan does not tolerate delays very well. Japanese railway companies publicly announce official apologies when they send a train earlier than expected, with 20 seconds earlier deemed unacceptable.
The "severe inconvenience" of 20 seconds may seem completely absurd to many of us around the world, who often have to deal with much worse when it comes to traffic delays.
Kids Clean After Themselves
In Japan, cleaning one's own classroom is as much a part of the school curriculum as algebra and history.
Even first graders need to do their part and routinely clean and maintain their classrooms. They even serve lunch to their fellow classmates. This practice goes beyond their classroom as they are taught to clean up the surrounding areas outside of their school, and the practice is said to teach students respect for their environment.
Big in Japan
Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood has a population of about 20,000 people per square kilometer and in 2015 it granted citizenship to its biggest resident yet, who we all know as Godzilla (pictured here over the middle building.)
Along with his citizenship came a job offer: Tokyo's tourism ambassador, in charge of promoting while watching over the citizens of Japan.
While Christmas isn't a holiday that's typically celebrated in Japan, it's become a tradition to celebrate it by dining at a KFC.
Hoping for a good substitute for foreigners, the fast-food joint has now even become popular among the locals, with many ordering their KFC meal weeks in advance to make sure they can eat it on Christmas eve.
Any Flavor Kit-Kats
From matcha to grilled corn, in Japan, you can get any kind of Kit-Kat you want, and when we say any, we mean it!
With more than 300 different flavors to choose from, you can try wasabi, miso, and even sweet potato. Kit-Kat's popularity might be due to its name, which often translates to "you will win" in Japanese, which makes it as good a gift as a good-luck card.
Japan has long been known for its age-old tradition of bathhouses, but what would a trend be if it didn't have a unique Japanese twist?
Bathhouses in Japan have recently branched out and created niche experiences, with green tea baths and sake baths for the more adventurous.
Cult-like Party Kei
This trend's main theme is curated around looks that use both ‘80s-‘90s characters combined with angelic-like influences.
The style dabbles in white with varying shades and tones– coupled with laces, textured fabrics, and light pastel for that angelic look, while still relevant for the street.
Inspired by Russia
We all know by now that Tokyo's fashion trends are all the rage and devoted followers are always on the lookout for the next trend.
Something new that's popped up in recent years is Japan's obsession with Eastern European fashion, with the public parading Cyrillic-lettered clothing and loving it.
"Kegadoru" is a Japanese trend that can be seen in the Harajuku precincts, and it literally translates to "injured idols."
The main component of this fashion trend is bandages and eye patches. The appeal of this style is to look vulnerable and injured while being obvious and even showing it off.
A truly weird trend that sprung up on Instagram, with questionable merits. A saline solution is used to swell up the forehead and with a slight push in the middle, a bagel shape appears. Like in the image below, except with a little donut instead of tiny horns.
The look lasts merely a few hours, but what's more surprising is that this trend first started in Canada, but it's now become big in Japan.
Yankii can be seen as Japan's take on trashy America, with the Yankii community embracing the "bad boy" aesthetic and rebelling against the respectable Japanese ideals of politeness.
Yankiis typically wear customized tracksuits which they couple with an extravagant attitude and a willingness to fight.
“Sukeban” translates to “boss girl,” and this aesthetic can be seen not only worn as a trendy look but as a way of life.
The trend was mostly adopted by women, sporting an edgy-looking demeanor, alternative clothing customizations, and a whole lot of sass. You don't want to mess with a Sukeban girl!
Sleepy Time Chic
With casual chic becoming more of a thing all over the world, it makes sense that this trend originated in Japan.
With many people wearing their PJs all day, Japan started this streetwear trend as another offshoot of Japanese culture, with oversized pajama bottoms and old tees incorporated for that bedtime look.
Ganguro is a fashion trend among young fashionistas that started as a backlash to the traditional ideal of pale skin, this look is distinct for its liberal use of makeup accompanied by a dark tan.
Ganguro followers also bleach their hair and match it with unusually colorful makeup for an even more contrasting effect.
Omiyarini is one of the more unheard of traditions found in Japan, wherein Japanese parents encourage their babies to cry. For one day every year, the Naki Zumo festival takes place, and this century-old tradition is meant to bring babies "good health".
Babies are brought by their parents to sumo wrestlers where they make funny faces and taunt the babies, egging them on to cry, and this is said to ward off evil spirits.
Shironuri is the art of wearing heavy white and powdery makeup, coupled with vintage and decorative outfits.
The makeup trend dates all the way back to the 9th century, it was used as a symbol of status by affluent women to show their wealth in society. Nowadays, though, it's a part of the visual kei subculture, which is not to be confused with the Harajuku community.
Blue Means Go
In most countries, green means go and red means stop and this is something many of us learn years before we’re old enough to drive. But in Japan, blue also means go, which makes as much a part of a traffic light as yellow and red.
This can get confusing for many travelers visiting Japan, but all you need to know is blue also means go!
Traditional Tabi Socks
Spoiler alert: Tabi socks might just be the next trend you'll see in stores.
Tabi socks were actually worn by Japan's high society in traditional settings such as tea ceremonies, but for the sake of comfort, they have become more common. The split toe was intentional to accommodate traditional Japanese footwear.
Decora is one of the most notable Japanese fashion statements, and has become the epitome of Harajuku style all over the globe.
Decora followers garner as many eye-catching accessories such as colorful hair clips, bulky bracelets, necklaces, and vivid layers of clothing to curate their outfits.
Cosplay has become in demand all over the world, from South Korea, China, and even America. However, no one quite does it like the Japanese, where cosplay isn't just a look – it's part and parcel of an entire culture.
Cosplay is actually a performance art to represent characters from anime shows, video games, TV, and film, with its participants dressing up in full costumes and make-up.
While the Kigurumi trend has been around since the mid-1990s, it's become so popular that it even hit North American shores back in the mid-2000s.
With cute, fleecy onesies coming in all shapes and styles, it can be seen as the ultimate Instagrammable outfit, with many, not surprisingly, opting to even wear their onesie outside on the street, mostly because Kigurumi are just so, well, comfortable.
It’s not unlikely you’ll see a grown woman dressed as a schoolgirl casually strolling the streets of Tokyo, this is because of the Kogal fashion trend.
This aesthetic style has spread far and wide in Asia. With many familiar with the trend, its adherents can be seen sporting oversized cardigans, pleated skirts, and loose, rolled-up socks.
Gyaruo is by its very nature, considered a subculture for guys. It's become super trendy in Japan for guys to dress up in a flamboyant, yet boyish way with large, spiky hairdos and multiple textures ranging from fluffy scarfs to knitted cardigans.
This trend has gained so much traction for allowing men to express themselves and embrace their creative side, while still fitting in.
The Me No Shita Chiiku Trend
Typically eye makeup is done on the upper eyelids, but in Japan, they like to do things a little differently.
Let's look at the Me No Shita Chiiku, also known as the Byojaku trend that's become viral on Japanese social media. This trend has people wearing blush under their eyes, giving them a tired or sickly look.
The Reki-jo women are Japanese female history buffs who whole-heartedly cling to vestiges of culture from pre-industrial traditional Japan.
Now, this might not seem that special, but when taking into consideration the fact that economic activity surrounding this trend generates US$725 million per year, it's quite a booming business.
Japan's version of a nerd or geek, with its followers being considered obsesses with a particular interest. What's more interesting about this obscure subculture is that it's now a thriving movement permeating outside of Japan's borders.
As with many things that were deemed unfashionable or geeky in the past, Otaku has embraced that brand and become the new ‘cool’ chic.
Visual Kei can be expressed in two words: bold and flamboyant. Becoming really popular with Japanese musicians, this style's distinctive features include heavy makeup, elaborate hairstyle, and glam-rock costumes.
It's been popular since the 80s and is showing no signs of losing its luster.
Your odds of meeting a mystical fairy in the Japanese forest are rare, but you might encounter the Mori Kei while walking the streets of Tokyo.
This trend embraces the forest vibe. Not unlike the cottage-core trend, you'll find earthy palettes, with flowing dresses and hiking boots.
This is a trend where you use your creativity to accessorize your outfits, with all sorts of embellishments and trimmings for a DIY look.
Japanese people cut up big squares, add big fabric patches, draw their favorite anime characters, write some poetry, and whatnot – it’s all up to you, but the most important thing is, it’s edgy, and it’s all under your own terms.
Mystical Dolly Kei
Dolly Kei is a bit of an antique doll style, with mystical undertones that are meant to contrast the concrete jungles of Tokyo.
The clothes resemble European summer frocks that look similar to outfits worn by antique dolls, and these are paired with patterned tights or printed pantyhose, a kind of homage to historical aesthetics.
This trend was originally kicked off by a single dance group. The term "Takenokozoku" refers to both a fashion statement as well as a type of dance.
As a popular fashion, it uses bright blue and purple clothes, worn in baggy and loose shapes by dancers that frequent the streets of Harajuku.
This trend is for every heart still beating for the 80s. With its neon blazers, tie-dyed patterns, and washed-out denim, Spank is set apart for its grungy and eclectic take on 80's nostalgia.
Its most ardent followers layer up on any accessory they can get their hands on to make the ultimate fashion statement.
Tokyo is New York City on steroids. This metropolis of 9 million still manages to come up with the craziest of trends. The hamburger straw trend is one without much explanation.
With its origins as a meme that took over social media in Japan, this fab began with people sticking a straw right through their hamburger and leaving it sitting on their cups for an unusual photo opportunity.
Japan is infamous for its expectations when it comes to the workplace, with some of the most overworked employees in the world. Many staff members are expected to work 12-hour shifts, take minimal breaks and still take every detail of their job seriously.
Working women who hire men with the sole purpose of relieving stress are called Ikemesos. These work as a type of therapists that come to their office and encourage the women to share their feelings and cry, as he then wipes her tears away.
Japan knows how to take popular things and somehow make them even better. With Cat Cafes already spreading around the US, they aren't that much of a trend in Japan anymore. This is where Bunny Cafes come in.
Bunny Rabbit Cafes are the newest fad in Tokyo and for a unique visit to this niche cafe, you can expect to pay about $70 per hour, now that's a pretty penny!
This Japanese trend called "yaeba" is not quite something we'd expect, but by now, we don't know what is! It all started men became more intrigued by women for their unusual smiles and this soon blossomed into a trend for crooked teeth.
The trend has become so popular in recent years that it's even moved over to Australia.
From puppies to Pikachu, anyone with two eyes and a heart will appreciate a cute thing when they see it and Japan is no exception.
In fact, Japan celebrates cuteness like no other, building entire an culture around all things cute! That's what Kawaii culture is all about — over-the-top cuteness. If you think Hello Kitty, cartoon-covered jeans, or a pan that makes heart-shaped pancakes sound like fun, you might have just discovered a new obsession.
Doggy Dress Up
In Japan, there seems to be such a surplus of offbeat and eccentric styles that they spilled over to other species. This is where our canine companions come in.
From kimonos to Lolita-style, the people of Japan have begun outfitting their furry friends, which results in these adorable ensembles!
Japanese Wooden Sandals
The Japanese geta sandals harken centuries back to a time of traditional tea ceremonies and to this day. This wooden shoe has stood the test of time, remaining trendy even today.
These shoes are a type of elevated wooden sandal with wooden appendages on the bottom, to stay elevated and keep one's clothes from dragging on the ground. They also proved particularly advantageous in the rain and snow.
Square watermelons were originally grown to fit more compactly in small spaces and were also thought to be easier to cut, but since they’ve entered the market, they've boomed in demand and are now considered decorative pieces that can set you back as much as $200!
Their shapes don't stop at squares though, Japanese farmers use special containers to grow triangular or heart-shaped watermelons.
Strange and Confusing Game Shows
To the rest of the world, Japanese game shows are certainly a far cry from programs like "Jeopardy" and "Pyramid." Known for being a technicolored whirlwind of blind soccer and dinosaur pranks, any reasonable person would doubt their incredibly weird take on game shows.
One game show called "Candy or No Candy" has contestants who have to guess which ordinary items are edible. The only way they can find out is by biting into each individual object.
The Japanese know how to enjoy not only unique coffee shop experiences but also a proper bathroom break.
Japan is so tidy that its toilets are notorious for being the most sophisticated in the world. Japanese toilets are wonders of technological innovation, combining hi-tech toilets with all kinds of features for a unique experience every time you need to go.
The Rent-A-Cuddle Cafe
Cuddle cafes became a booming business in Tokyo. The concept is simple, paying customers can snuggle with a "cuddler" for a fee.
With admission to the cafe costing at least $25, lonely hearts can settle for a 20-minute cuddle buddy at $40. A heftier fee of $400 will allow you 10 hours worth of cuddling time.
Vending machines are found all over the world as the perfect device for serving snack foods and commercial drinks, but Japan has taken it one step further, stirring up a brave new platter of automated excitement that goes well beyond chips and soda.
From buying underpants to a ready-made bowl of Ramen, Japan's vending machines quite literally take the convenience aspect of vending machines to a whole other tier.
One of the better-known trends in Japan's style culture is that of Lolita, which is all about over-the-top dresses, with pastel tones, ruffled sleeves, and frilly skirts. Think "Alice in Wonderland" meets Hello Kitty.
This trend has become so popular that it's even grown into several sub-styles, like punk Lolita or nerdy Lolita.