Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America


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To date, these accommodations have been run by the Hoshi family for 46 generations. As such, your jaw may drop open when you see the long lineups outside KFC restaurants any day of the year, but especially on December 24th. Since most Japanese do not consider Christmas to be a religious holiday, they are open to celebrating it in unconventional ways. While most of the etiquette is common sense, like not cutting in line or speaking too loudly in public, there are some that are unique to Japan. On the contrary, being late is a huge no-no in Japan.

Others read novels covered in brown paper, which keep looky-loos from identifying the titles and reading over their shoulders. Eating at the same time as walking is also frowned upon, so if you got an onigiri from the convenience store, munch it at the counter or outside before continuing your stroll. Fortunately, ice cream and food from festival stalls are the exceptions to the rule. You should also use the serving chopsticks to take food from shared plates, instead of using your own to pass items.

Instead, lay them back on the provided chopstick rest. Blowing your nose in public is considered a taboo, and sniffling is preferable to making a big honking noise. Dab at your nose with tissues Japan often passes out tissue packages as promotional items , or find a private area such as a restroom to blow your nose. Japan has almost no theft. Most of us have it hammered into us that we should never leave our belongings unattended, especially in public places.

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This makes it quite the shock to walk into a busy Japanese cafe, and see expensive bags and laptops lying on the tables, while their owners are away ordering food or visiting the restrooms. Then, in the subways, you might see people with their backpacks wide open, exposing their phones and wallets.


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And yet, nobody is afraid of pickpockets. One of the most interesting facts about Japan is that there is barely any crime there, especially theft. In , crime hit a record low with only , recorded cases in all of Japan. In particular, incidences of thievery continued to drop sharply each year. Japanese feel safest about their country, after Singaporeans.

There are a few factors that help explain this curious phenomenon. Punishments are relatively harsh for something like failing to turn in a wallet that you pick up, giving locals the incentive to do the right thing. Japanese culture also tends to favor the collective good and encourage respect for justice, which is why looting is rare here. Marvel at themed hats, rubber costumes, lollipops on a stick , etc.


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In the 17 th century, prostitutes began visiting the Shinto Kanayama Shrine to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Women also came here in the hopes of boosting their fertility. A local blacksmith created a steel phallus to help her out. When the demon chomped down on it, he broke all his teeth and lost his power. And so, the penis festival arose. Today, Kanamara Matsuri is a raucous celebration that raises awareness and funds for safe sex.

Watch as celebrants carry mikoshi, or portable Shinto shrines, decorated with giant penises. Pick up silly merchandise, snap photos of the wild costumes, and cheer on the peen parade. Bowing in Japan.

40+ Fun and interesting facts about Japan

Bowing is an integral part of Japanese culture. People bow to say hello and goodbye, as well as to show gratitude or deference. In Japan, men bow with their arms at their sides, while women place their hands and arms at the front. The degree of the bow also matters: a degree dip conveys far more appreciation than a little nod. The bow, or ojigi, originated in the Kamakura era — among the samurai class. In time, the warrior etiquette became widespread.

However, did you know that some Japanese even bow to trains and cars? The residents of Iwate Prefecture have taken politeness to the next level, and created a bizarre custom of bending their bodies to automobiles. When vehicles stop at a walkway, Iwate pedestrians will bow to them as they cross the street. This strange practice apparently encourages a sense of community, as pedestrians are thanking the drivers for driving safely and stopping for them.

In addition, all over Japan, you might notice train station workers bowing to the bullet trains.

Even if the cars are empty, the cleaning crew will genuflect reverently to the powerful bullet train, every time it enters and exits the station. Perhaps you too can join the tradition, and bow to the behemoth as it comes rushing down the tracks.


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You can book a bullet train package from Tokyo to Osaka or Kyoto here. Cute and creepy mascots in Japan. These mascots aim to be adorable, but sometimes, the designs unintentionally swing to the scary side. Nara is famous for its Buddhist temple and roaming deer, so their figurehead, Sento-kun , is a bizarre-looking bodhisattva with deer horns. In the process, the design sometimes morphs from charming to creepy. Every year, over a hundred yura-chara gather at the Gotouchi Character Festival in Sumida.

Visitors can take photos with every type of mascot imaginable.

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Hug a bird shaped like a bowling pin, or pose with a creature with green onions sticking out of his head. But if you see an otter with a turtle on his head , run: Chiitan is such a trouble-maker that the city of Susaki disowned him as their mascot! John Oliver even did a segment on the mischievous Chiitan on his show Last Week Tonight which you can watch here.

A night of debauchery in Japan. However, if you return to this district on a Friday or Saturday night, the scene is quite the opposite and veers towards chaos. The same businesspeople are now stumbling around the streets, ties loosened and hair askew. Some are crouched in the corner, vomiting. Others are flat drunk and snoring on the sidewalk, with their suitcase lying next to them but as you saw from the first fun fact about Japan, there are rarely any wrongdoings here, so nobody will harm them or take their belongings.

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The Twitter account ShibuyaMeltd0wn chronicles the craziness that descends after dark. Another shows someone in a suit sleeping in a fetal position, while people step over him. I chuckled at the one of a man bent over and snoring, on the conveyor belt of a moving walkway. Japan has some of the longest working hours in the world, and almost a quarter of companies require more than 80 hours of unpaid overtime a month. Some of these workers get smashed out of their minds because they want to let loose after a long, stressful day. Many are already fatigued and undernourished, so the alcohol hits them hard.

Other times, the businesspeople are intoxicated because they went to a work drinking party, where this behaviour is not only acceptable, but encouraged. Almost anything said and done during this event is ignored the next day at work, so one can scream heavy metal songs and speak freely without fear of repercussion, as Aggretsuko and her boss did in the anime. Bagelheads in Japan. A handful of onsen welcome people with ink, or you can cover a small one with a bandage to avoid detection.

However, for the most part, this remains an interesting fact about Japan that you should be aware of if you have any. Criminals were forcibly tattooed as punishment , and so that anyone could easily single them out. Hiroshima doled out a particularly embarrassing tattoo. Tattoos are also associated with the yakuza , or Japanese crime syndicate that arose in the Edo era Members of the gang became known for sporting full-body stick and poke tattoos, called irezumi, which showed off their tolerance for pain and warned citizens not to mess with them. After the Meiji restoration of the mid 19 th century, tattoos were completely banned.

To this day, tattooing remains a legal grey area, and its link to criminals remains strong. Even temporary tattoos are forbidden in a public pool, as the sight of one may scare away clients.

Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America
Samurai and Cotton: A Story of Two Life Journeys in Japan and America

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