Japanese website Netallica recently conducted a survey of foreigners, asking them to name services and jobs in Japan that leave them in a state of bewilderment.

Take a look at the top seven services that make foreigners in Japan pause and exclaim, “What the heck?!”

Human Traffic Sign

Even though there are plenty of flashing signs to warn drivers that late-night construction is taking place, there is always a worker directing traffic and doing the exact same job as the sign. It’s a completely pointless expense. (France/Female/Late-20s)

Elevator Lady

The department store elevator lady… even  if she wasn’t there, I can get to my desired floor without any problems. (China/Male/Late-20s)

Shopping Escorts

When shopping, it doesn’t matter what you bought, the cashier will walk you all the way to the front door. I’m not lost; there’s no need to take me to the exit. Even if I didn’t pay a lot of money, the cashiers will occasionally see me off. (USA/Female/Late-20s)


I think store employees say “Irasshaimase” (welcome) way too much. It often happens that employees aren’t even looking at the customers, but still “welcome” them to the store. I think “irasshaimase” is a word that should be said wholeheartedly or not at all. (Uzbekistan/Male/Late-20s)

Tissue Advertisements

The people whose job it is to stand outside train stations and hand out tissues with little flyers in them. I feel like I can never get away from advertisements… but I still take the tissues every time, lol. (Argentina/Male/Late-20s)


Residents of Japan are made to pay a fee to watch NHK (Japan’s national broadcasting station), but anyone can turn on the TV and watch NHK channels whether they’re paying the fees or not.  (Thailand/Female/Early 30s)

I’ve heard dozens of stories from people who have tried to get out of paying the NHK man (and there are plenty more online), but they’re always entertaining, so if you have one of your own by all means let us know in the comments section below. Is it right that representatives should go from door-to-door asking residents to pay for the national broadcasting station? Surely there’s a better way?

Ground Breaking Ceremony

***Jichinsai, or ground breaking ceremony, is “a Shinto ritual intended to calm the kami (god) of the earth whenever a new building or other construction begins.” More on jichinsai here.

I get that it’s religious, but it costs a lot of money and nothing really comes out of the ceremony… there’s no result. (UK/Male/Early 40s)

Amidst all the service-bashing, however, one woman emerged with an entirely different point of view:

I like all of the services available in Japan. There aren’t any services that don’t serve a purpose. (Sweden/Female/Early 40s)

A very bold statement! But what do you think? Can you think of any other services or jobs in Japan that seem a little superfluous? Let us know in the comments section below… and by all means don’t hold back. We want to know what you really think about services in Japan!

Source: Netallica