Three Absurd Facts About Japan

Look, we all get it: other countries are super silly. Koreans consider live octopus a delicacy while Canadians are known to enjoy repurposed urine called “Molson.” Most men in Bali wear skirts and fittingly most women wear pants. No, just kidding, they wear skirts too. What do you think this is, anarchy? Even our closest blood relative, the British, call french fries “chips” and you don’t even wanna know what they call chips (“yumyumchompers”). And once you manage to order some fries the waiter will charge you for “catsup.” I know times are tough but come on, man, this isn’t even the real thing.

However, we have to be forgiving of our differences. Over the course of history, each country develops a culture unique to themselves through homogenization, societal drift, and whatever Urban Outfitters sells there. Any of these peculiarities should be taken in the context of a diverse global landscape. Even our own United States can probably seem a little funny at times. For example, we claim to be a bastion of freedom yet we have the largest prison population in the world. Also we park on driveways and drive on parkways!

Still, there is one country that truly stands out as the zaniest bunch of crazy birds on this bucket of carbon we call Earth. That country is Japan. We all know that Japan has some world class quirks like super crowded bullet trains, bizarre game shows, and a nearly 100% literacy rate. But beneath all of those eccentricities, there are real gems of elegant absurdity. The following are three completely true facts about the Land of the Rising Sun that will make you say, “Huh, well I don’t about all that but they sure make a heckuvah a sedan.”

1. Porn is illegal in Japan.

Some of us more prudish and SOPA-inclined might think that this is great news. But for anyone born with a boner after 1983 knows that this is the height of hypocrisy. The same country that gave the world:

also brings us:

In Japan it is illegal to create or release uncensored live action pornography because it has been deemed “injurious to public morals.” Until recently they even went as far as censoring pubic hair and genitals shown in dramatic films (re: all the good parts). However, this catch-all law doesn’t manage to include the seemingly endless amount of fantastically insane animated pornography produced and distributed in Japan every year. The cycling combinations of girl on guy on monster on tentacle on smoke deity on manbaby that is anime porn has received the clear to be produced and distributed. I’m not here to judge anyone who enjoys these sorts of online videos — that is what your IT guy at work is for. But it seems more than strange that regular pornos are deemed “injurious to public moral” while a pantheon of pairings that only Rick Santorum could imagine as reality are cranked out for crank outs.

2. The Japanese are obsessed with an invisible crime problem.

Anyone who has been to Japan knows that you can buy almost anything in a vending machine. Soda, beer, ties, umbrellas, lobsters, and even used school girls panties. As such, the streets in many cities are lit aglow with lines of these machines. Keep this in mind. Now another interesting fact about Japan is that it has one of the lowest crime rates in world. They have the second lowest homicide rate and other violent crimes are similarly rare. Nevertheless, Japanese women tend to be acutely or, arguably, irrationally afraid of crime. So much so in fact that they have developed a uniquely Japanese way of evading these hypothetical criminals.

For $800, you can purchase this beauty: a skirt cum soda machine. The idea being that as a woman is pursued on the streets by an invisible man she can easily slip around the corner, unfurl her skirt, and seamlessly blend into her surrounds thusly:

In the United States, many women carry pepper spray to protect themselves from attackers and/or Wall Street occupiers. However, in Japan this must have seemed overzealous, as they don’t have any real problems with crime and/or capitalism, so they went for a more elegant solution.

3. Japan has the highest adoption rate.

Japan and the United States have the highest rates of adoption in the world, but with one major difference. Only 2% of Japanese adoption is of children. The other 98% is of 25-30 year old male college graduates, a.k.a. the least disenfranchised people in the world. And therein lies the reason: franchises — or rather businesses. Japanese run businesses are some of the most successful in the world and some of the biggest — Toyota, Suzuki, and Kikkoman — have been family run for many generations. Their secret: perfect sons. But when a family doesn’t have a competent heir apparent, the family doesn’t just hand their company off to a corporate board. Instead, the CEO will basically crash an MBA graduation and legally adopt a graduate into their family to run their company.

Not only does this chosen carpetbagger completely disown his former family, he is often married off to one of the new family’s daughters in an omiai marriage, which I’m pretty sure is Japanese for “barely not incest.” There are a lot of winners in this formula; the family gets to keep their business and the adoptee gets to be in charge of a company/sisterwife. However, one of the hardest conversations any father has to have with his son is explaining that he is giving his inheritance to a stranger who he loves more and who will now be nailing his sister. TC mark


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  • allan struthers

    Hello there.
    I am british.
    What the fuck is catsup?

    • Anonymous

      I need to know what yumyumchompers are.

    • Nn

      Hello there.
      I am japanese.
      What the fuck is crime?

  • Keikowa

    omiai means an arranged marranged

  • Danjg

    Fries in Britain are the thin ones you get from McDonalds. Thicker ones are called chips (The real deal). Then we have crisps which are your “chips”. Pleasure to be of service.
    And what’s “catsup”? I think you mean Ketchup.

    • Tony Jiang

      YOU LIE! I’m sitting in Mayfair and stopped a random Oxford grad and asked him what he calls chips at McDonald’s. His reply “Bullshit, we call them chips.” Eat a dick! 

      • BBurg

        Nailed him, bro

    • Miss.N

      I call them fries from McDonalds and normal ones chips and I am a Brit. Also, forget catsup or ketchup, it is tomato sauce!

  • Jessica

    That fake soda machine is too funny. This article made me crack up (even if that wasn’t your intention)… 

  • itnavon aicirtap

    1. Bali is not a country, it’s an island belong to Indonesia.
    2. Men in Bali don’t wear skirt, they wear sarong.

  • Jamie ❤ 。◕

    This is awesome

  • Anonymous

    I really liked it, we should more of this kind on TC :P not a lot more tho’

  • Laura

    I have an irrational fear of Japan.

    • Tony Jiang

      thank the lord i’m not the only one

    • Richa Kashelkar

      Me too! And I thought it was just me. Modern day Japan is a bit weird…

  • Lu Han

    OMG MORE!!!!!!!!!

  • AK

    Hahaha the soda machine skirt killed me. Great read! 

  • Jean

    Near Mt.Fuji there’s a forest dedicated to suicide. My bro was walking back from Mt.Fuji at three in the morning, because he underestimated the time it would take him to do a round trip, and got lost. He found himself in that suicide forest where Japanese people go to commit suicide. Apparently there’s creepy looking statues. He was tripping out. 

    • Jean

      Aokigahara is the name of the forest. 

  • André Philippe Leblond

    Take if from me, we don’t like to drink Molson. It’s just that we tax booze so much that we sort of have to lower our standards if we want to drink a lot… which is why the states feel like a giant amusement park to us! 

  • Rei

    We might call what you call fries “chips”, but most people will still know what you mean if you ask for fries. And nobody calls it catsup. Honestly.

    (As a Brit living in Japan at the moment, though, the crime rate thing does ring true.)

  • Sama

    Americans are more silly. They call them french fries when they didn’t even come from France. 

  • Jeannie

    The vending machine skirt was one artist’s project. They’re not mass-produced, and they’re certainly not commonplace.

    White people will believe literally anything the Internet tells them about Japan.  

  • Haley

    Wow, are you pretending to be the biggest idiot I’ve seen in years or are you actually one?

    First of all, uncensored, live action Japanese porn is everywhere. Second, the skirt thing? Maybe you can spend $800 to buy a sense of humor instead. Third, “omiai” means a meeting between 2 single people, probably arranged by their parents. Then they’ll consider the possibility of marriage.

    I’m pretty sure the Japanese (and the rest of the world) are cracking up at how Americans seem to believe absolutely anything they’ve been told about other countries. This might be cute if you were in preschool, but considering that you can read and write, it’s not.


      I feel like the author has a sense of humor

  • Mike

    The only reason japan has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world is a scummy police force. If the police don’t think they’ll be able to solve a case quickly or easily, they classify it as a sucide, write it off as an accident, or claim the victims are lying, even if it is obviously a violent crime. I would say the women of Japan have plenty to fear.

    • Anonymous

      …and you are coming to this conclusion how? I’d say the reason the crime rate is so low in Japan is because most Japanese aren’t inclined to commit crimes against each other (theft, burglary, assault, etc.)

      just as a personal anecdote: I was sitting on the sidewalk outside a laundromat in Koenji (Tokyo) waiting for my laundry to dry. A Japanese woman in her 30’s rides up on her bicycle and hops off so she can poke around in a small clothes boutique. She leaves her bike sitting in the street, propped up on the kickstand, with her purse sitting in the handlebar basket. She didn’t even give it a second glance the entire time she was shopping, and people just carried on with their own business out in the street.

      Tell me that your girlfriend/wife/sister would feel comfortable doing that in *your* city.

      • trobs

        She’s obviously just forgetful, had no money and or is stupid. Why was she shopping without her purse/wallet?

      • trobs

        and way to negate his entire opinion based on the ONE thing you saw. Nice conclusion.

      • Anonymous

        yes, because what else would a personal anecdote be?
        I’m pretty sure I can speak with confidence about this topic, since I’m second-generation Japanese and have been at least a dozen times. Obviously you’ve never been to Japan, nor do you know much about their culture. 
        the woman I was watching clearly was from the neighborhood and she was window shopping; she deliberately left her purse with her bike in the street — most people don’t ride their BIKE around Tokyo when they have one of the most efficient metro systems on the planet. 
        I seriously hope you’re just playing devil’s advocate, because otherwise you’re pretty fucking ignorant.

  • Wittypseudonym

    Even our closest blood relative, the British, call french fries “chips” and you don’t even wanna know what they call chips (“yumyumchompers”). And once you manage to order some fries the waiter will charge you for “catsup.” I know times are tough but come on, man, this isn’t even the real thing.
    Some people really have no perspective. 

    What is humorous , odd or even noteworthy about a different nation, a different culture, using a different word for the same product? Your writing has undertones of racism. One of the most detestable openings to an article I’ve ever read. This is most likely as I will never purchase or view a publication that fails an initial analytic read. You have failed, dear “author”, and your sloppiness has put me off this website for good.

    I’ve only ever heard the term Catsup being used in America and Canada. In the U.K it is called tomato sauce, occasionally americanised to Ketchup. I suppose you think I’m insane for using an “s” instead of a “z” on americanised. I’m sorry, I should be more american, as your rhetoric implies that is the only way! 

    Skirts on impoverished men in the tropical Bali climate? Shock horror! Makes more sense than ski pants! Did you forget Indonesia is not a developed nation? Tailoring and manufacturing to western trends and standards are reserved for the elite, and I most certainly do not find this bizarre example of any relevance to your article.  

    By the way, I’ve never heard a Brit say yumyumchompers; they call them crisps. Chips and crisps. WOW. HOW ODD!

    I hope you’re not paid to write these self-indulgent articles. And I hope you sense that I am not a “grammar nazi”, I am not lonely, and I’m not senile.  I have a problem with patriotisim at the expense of others. I have morals, I am worldy. You, my friend, need a rounded education before you start cataloging your thoughts.

    • Edeson

       “Shock horror!”

      lol, classic Brit

    • feelin' fine

      I’m delighted to know that you yourself are worldy- what a relief! Now I can most certainly trust the content of your comment.

      • Wittypseudonym

        I didn’t realise you only absorb content expressed by backward people.  
        I lie, that assumption was an easy one to make.

    • Tell-A-Mundo

      Hang on, hang on, hang on! I think the foot in your mouth may have prevented you from seeing the tongue in the cheek of this article.

      • Richa Kashelkar

        ^ Hahahahaha!

  • Masuyo Aabye

    You’re an idiot. “super crowded bullet trains, bizarre game shows”

    The Shinkansen never gets super crowded. Bizzare game shows only air on late night obscure TV channels.
    Japan isn’t as strange as the internet makes it out to be. Sure, it’s different but only the extreme wierdness seems to grab peoples attention.
    As for used panty vending machines, rare would be the word. Have you even been to Japan or are you a weeaboo?

  • Michael Koh


  • Anonymous

    Aww man, thought the tentacle pic was Felicia.

  • Jemimamoon

    ….”Yumyumchompers”? Really? Is he actually being serious? Please, show me ONE British person who has ever called them that. I dare you.

    • helpimstuckinGB

       As an American living in England, they call ’em crisps. It’s odd.

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