Welcome to Japan, the land of overly complicated toilets, wine baths, and McDonald's weddings. Here are some of the most bizarre and, let's be honest, absolutely awesome things that you can only try out in Japan.
Astro Boy Traffic Light
Where else but Japan would you see a traffic light which depicts a popular anime character? Astro Boy, one of the earliest Japanese animation stars, can be seen here helping pedestrians to know when to cross the road (without using rocket boots, of course).
Buddhist Amulet Vending Machine
Do you need some spiritual protection or guidance but don't want the hassle of talking to a human being? If so, this vending machine, which dispenses Buddhist amulets, will be perfect for you! If only all matters of spirituality could be solved by inserting coins into metal slots.
The genius of the hands-free umbrella is that you get to stay dry without needing to take your hand out of your pocket. Sure, you end up looking a little strange, but isn't that worth it for the convenience of never once having to let go of your phone?
Slipper culture is incredibly important (and incredibly complex) in Japan. Wearing shoes in people's homes, in hotels, or in public baths would be very rude. These slippers are designed to make sure you don't take anything gross or dirty from the bathroom floor to the rest of the building, which is understandable, because bad stuff happens in the bathroom.
You want personal space? That might be a nice luxury where you come from, but in busy Japanese cities, it's far more affordable to simply rent a pod in a capsule hotel. You get somewhere to lay down, and ultimately, isn't that all you need in life? Try not to think about how much this looks like a fancy morgue.
Do you like clothes shopping, but hate the hassle of carrying large bags home? If so, then this compressed T-shirt is perfect for you! There's a good chance it'll need ironing once you free it from its plastic prison, though.
Emergency BBQ Bench
This may look like an ordinary bench, but it's actually a grill in disguise. During emergencies (such as an earthquake, typhoon, or other natural disaster) the seat can be removed, and the structure can be converted into a makeshift oven for cooking food, which is pretty genius.
Steamy showers are no match for this hotel mirror, which features a special heated section that cannot get fogged up. Perfect if you're leaving in a hurry and you don't want to wait for your mirror to clean up before applying lip gloss.
Scenic Train Seats
Here's an absolutely genius idea: why angle train seats so you have to turn to enjoy the view? This train has passengers looking in the right direction, providing an amazing spectacle for them to enjoy as they travel.
Rain Warning Elevator
This elevator comes equipped with a rain warning light. It lets passengers know that they're going to get wet before they've even make it to the lobby, giving them ample time to get their umbrellas ready.
KFC is hugely popular in Japan, which may go some way towards explaining why Colonel Sanders is dressed like a samurai. He's also wearing a face mask, because to go without a mask in public during a pandemic would be exceptionally rude in Japan.
Chewing Gum Post-Its
Some brands of gum in Japan come with a stack of little papers to encourage chewers to carefully spit their gum out and dispose of it in a hygienic fashion. Trash cans aren't always easy to find in Japan, so you might be holding onto your chewed gum for a while.
Look at that taco. Now look at that cheese. It's shaped like stars. Taco Bell in Japan has star-shaped cheese. Move over sliced bread; this is now the greatest thing humanity has ever produced up until this point.
This absolutely phenomenal dolly makes it relatively easy to lift heavy boxes up and down stairs. The tank-like wheel tracks appear to be coping with the steps with relative ease. The only question is, why aren't these more common outside of Japan?!
Women-Only Train Cars
Women-only train cars are a solution to a problem of commuter safety that plagues Japan. Unfortunately, it does little to curb the poor behavior from some male commuters which make a safe space like this such a necessity.
Okay, forget the star cheese. These socks are the new greatest achievement in the history of humanity. Even if the toe gap does look a little uncomfortable.
Japan is known for its impressively oddball fruit and vegetables. Case in point, this carrot, which is far longer than any carrot ever needs to be, but at the same time, no carrot has ever looked more desirable. Sure, they all taste the same when chopped up in a stew, but anywhere other than Japan, this thing would be considered a modern miracle.
Beautiful Manhole Covers
In most countries, entry points for the sewer system are ugly eyesores, spoiling otherwise perfectly fine sidewalks and paved roads. Not so in Japan, where it's not uncommon to see manhole covers so beautiful that they look like works of art in their own right. All to hide a sewer pipe.
This hotel room lamp can be lit on only one side, providing less light, and making sure that only one half of the room is lit up. This is a pretty neat idea, even if two small lights would probably have achieved the same effect.
Alcoholic Juice Boxes
You'd better be careful not to give any of these juice boxes to kids; they're full of booze. Alcohol is a big part of Japanese culture, so it's not too surprising that anyone looking for a drink can find one, even in a carton.
Salt Water Sprinklers
This is a fantastic idea. These road sprinklers spray out salt water to stop the roads from icing over. It's a much better strategy than having to shovel or lay ice manually, making the roads safer for everyone in freezing temperatures.
These stairs tell you how many calories you've burned by avoiding the elevator. It's a cute way to get people moving more; and it helps take some of the strain off the elevators so people don't have to wait as long for their turn to travel higher in the building.
This jacket has air conditioning. It's designed to keep construction workers cool even in the summer, and it's such an incredible invention. Given how hot it can get in parts of Japan in the summer, this is no doubt a very welcome jacket, in spite of its extra bulk.
Yes, electric chopsticks exist. They're designed to give the user a mild electric shock while they're eating. Why would anyone want that? Because it makes food taste slightly saltier without the need to actually add salt. That's actually pretty smart.
The Night Bus
Anyone who's ever taken a night bus will be used to the discomfort of trying to sleep on crowded public transport. This offering in Japan, though, provides a level of comfort and style for night time travel that would be unthinkable in the West.
In a move of fantastic lateral thinking, many toilets in Japan come with the sink built into the top of the cistern. Water from washing your hands fills up the tank so that it can flush the toilet. Not only does this save space, (you don't need a separate sink) it also saves a huge amount of water because you're making use of the sink water that would otherwise go down the drain.
Butter Cube Cutter
Somewhat more specialized than many of the items on this list, this butter cube cutter makes sure that every chunk of butter is nice and square. A useful tool for people who need their butter to be perfect, even if it's not quite as life-changing as a toilet sink.
Unlike noodle baths, this Cup Noodle branded mop thankfully isn't actually sloshing beef water all over the floor. This is a promotional mop, made as part of Nissin Foods' sponsorship of the National Basketball Championship.
Hot Tub Cable Car
Want to go over a mountain in style? This admittedly very dated picture of a hot tub within a cable car shows that Japan has long been the innovator in stylish modes of transportation. Just don't look down!
Fun'Iki glasses contain little LEDs which light up when you get a notification on your phone. Different types of notifications glow in different colors, so you can tell who is trying to contact you. It seems like a great idea in theory, until you remember that it means you would never have an excuse for ignoring someone's texts.
Of course there's a flying umbrella in Japan. Of course there is. This innovating creation probably needs a little more work before it's going to be genuinely useful, primarily because the drone that's keeping the umbrella in the air is remote controlled, and that looks like an utter pain. Who knows, though, maybe this is the future of hands-free umbrella technology?
Silent Kareoke Mic
This microphone is perfect for fans of kareoke who are not fans of letting other people hear them sing. If you just want to belt out some Rihanna without upsetting your neighbors, then this funnel is designed to catch those errant soundwaves and keep you nice and quiet.
Hello Kitty Melons
This amazing Hello Kitty melon is one of many impressive designer fruits that can be bought in Japan – for the right price. These are not cheap, but in fairness, they do look fantastic.
Robot Dinosaur Serving Ice Cream
Why settle for ice cream served by a boring old human when you could get ice cream that's lovingly prepared by a robot dinosaur? The same company also offers a robot teddy bear if that's more your speed, but either way, it's clear that Japan is way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to robot food preparation.
Super Saiyan Fries
There's no denying that these Dragon Ball Z fries look absolutely awesome. You wouldn't get something like this anywhere but in Japan. Just Saiyan!
This traditional restaurant is clearly situated in a more rural part of Japan, as human patrons have to contend with local wildlife who also want something to eat. The look on the restaurant owner's face says it all: he's exasperated, but you just know he's going to cave in soon and give his best customers some free food.
Winnie the Pooh Candy
Winnie the Pooh candy is always welcome, but Japan got a special variety of gummies which appear to depict Pooh Bear having a hernia? It's a variation on a scene from the original Winnie the Pooh animated short where Pooh's stuffing bursts out of his seam, but with a heart shape for added kawaii.
Fish Girl Statue
This is a statue of a fish girl wearing a skirt, bra, and comfy shoes. Why? Because Japan, that's why. You're welcome.
This brand of Japanese cola comes with an infusion of garlic flavor. It's certainly an unusual pairing, but one which no doubt helps to keep the local vampire population in check.
Realistic Human Face Masks
Ever wanted to stroll down Uncanny Valley? These ultra realistic face masks, made from 3D scans of actual human beings, first went on sale in 2020, at a time of great mask innovation throughout the world. They're not cheap, costing the American equivalent of a thousand dollars, but they're worth it if you really want to freak people out.
Ramen Face Mask
On the subject of face masks, this adorable ramen bowl mask is actually designed to fog up the wearer's glasses. While most people hate glasses fogging due to mask wearing, the goal here is to embrace this quirk of modern life, making the ramen look particularly delicious and steamy hot.
This may look like a row of drink bottles containing dead fish, but they're actually bottles of fish stock, ready to be added to a fishy soup. They're not supposed to be drunk in their current form, which is a relief, because that would be disgusting.
How To Use the Toilet
Squat toilets are common throughout Asia, which is why these signs on how to use seat toilets are necessary. While Westerners baulk at the idea of squatting to use the bathroom, it's actually a far easier position for encouraging bowel movements.
Black Burger Bun
This Burger King burger isn't burnt. It's meant to look like this – the bun has been dyed black using squid ink. It might not look particularly appetizing, but apparently it doesn't lead to a bad taste.
Fish Tank Phone Booth
The question of what to do with old and unwanted phone booths is common in many parts of the world. This particular retired phone booth has been transformed into a gigantic fish bowl, and it's hard to argue with this new use, as it looks fabulous.
Who needs a puny human waiter when a superior, totally adorable robot can do the job instead? This Japanese restaurant has embraced the future, and the future looks like a lot of fun.
At Yunessun Spa Resort, you can take a bath in a giant cup of noodles, because, of course you can. To be clear, this isn't a novelty hot tub with regular water: the water is actually flavored with beef broth. If that doesn't suit you, the spa also has a green tea and a wine flavored bath.
Everything going well, you only get one wedding day, so why not make sure that everyone is Lovin' it? McDonald's offers an official wedding package in Japan, but before you rush to judge those who'd want a fast food ceremony too harshly, remember that both American cuisine and the concept of a wedding have very different meanings in different cultures around the world.
Literally translating to "double tooth," yaeba is the term for teeth overlapping within the mouth. This is actually considered very attractive in Japan, especially when it creates protruding fang-like incisors. It's so fashionable, in fact, that some young women have been known to have dental procedures to give them crooked teeth.