Every time one travels to an unknown place, there will surely be something considered “strange” but totally normal to the people who live there. Japan is no exception. There are definitely some fun experiences that you must try in Japan when you are there. Either you would find it comical, or confounding or downright unbelievable, you can at least say you have visited Japan if you tried these few strange things.
Check out a gaming arcade
Whether in the huge cities like Tokyo or Osaka or small remote places like Yakushima island, you will invariably find an arcade. My first experience was stepping unknowingly into a mega arcade in Tokyo, attracted like a moth to lights, I was astounded not by the array of twinkling lights and ringing bells but by the variety of people here who are truly in their game. You will find young kids out in groups or young couples playing some easy game to old men in suits and ties completed with briefcases. They are all here for the game, and they are obsessed. One just had to witness it to believe that arcades are still alive and even thriving, even at these modern times of Internet and home computers
Queue up for some special food
Queue up in some supposedly famous store for supposedly the best of insert-famous-food-name-here. This is part of the culture in Japan, you queue up for a long time for some good food and somehow the food will end up tasting good after the wait. This seems like a recipe for success to me! I braved the queue at Harajuku street for a bite of the famous crepe and I must say (after the long wait), it is a very good crepe, though not life-changing. At least I enjoyed the wait with people watching, as we all know the popular displays of trendy kitschy costumes here on Harajuku street.
Buy something, anything from a vending machine
Buy something, anything or everything from a vending machine. The choices you can get from the vending machines in Japan is out of this world, and I am not exaggerating. Need coffee? You have it. Need a toy? You have it. Need some noodles now? You have it. Need a keychain, souvenir, umbrella and condom? You know where to find them (until you find the specific vending machine first of course). You would not believe what strange things you can find in Japanese vending machines, but I personally have not seen them.
Eat Ramen and slurp
like mad. You may join in the symphony of slurping with the rest of the Japanese while enjoying this really tasty bowl of noodles. One warning though is that you will feel like you are in some sort of competition too on who can slurp the loudest. Still, a good tasting Ramen is all worth it. You also get to observe how the people (mostly men) line up their chopsticks neatly with noodles (and patiently!) before slurping it all up in lightning speed. This is simply part of the whole Ramen experience.
Go into a sex shop
If you are in Tokyo, go to Akihabara. Head there as soon as you can. Look up for huge neon signs that look kinky and probably sexy (depending on your taste). Go into the multi-level sex shop and be amazed by the things women and men can amuse themselves with. One gripe though if you are a woman, there is a no go level which is only for men. I wonder what they do they do there. Probably something not safe to write about here but what’s up next relating to sex is totally normal and culturally accepted here in Japan.
Treat yourself to at least one night at a LOVE HOTEL
Kinky as it sounds, it is actually one of the common activity of the locals. For the tourists, I found that in the end, it is the elusiveness of it that truly attracts. It took us a really long time to find a love hotel because due to its nature, they do not exactly display or advertise themselves. We have once walked around an area in Kanagawa, tipped by the locals that it is packed with love hotel, but end up not finding any. We even stopped to ask a guard standing outside a sex cinema and he was like “oh, just go down that road and you will find it”….NOT. In the end, our love hotel experience turns out unexpectedly when we did a booking for a “luxury hotel” online that had a promotion which was almost too good to be true. When we walked into our room, after sharing the lift with a couple that is obviously trying to avoid us (the lady had a huge brimmed hat late at night), and was greeted by neon lights, a jukebox in the middle of the room and sex toys vending machine, the reality hit home. We found us a Love Hotel!!
So there you have it, the strangest things in Japan that you must experience. It ranges from innocent ones like slurping ramen or queueing for food to borderline dodgy ones like the arcades and vending machines (all depending on what you do with them!) and definitely not family friendly ones like sex shop and love hotels. Here I would conclude that Japan offers all sorts of experiences if you are game to try it. Do let us know what other strange things you have experienced in Japan.