Last year about 5 million Chinese tourists visited Japan, and Chinese website NetEase was kind enough to compile a list of seven of Japan’s most unusual habits according to them.

These observations were listed in no particular order, and are just some examples of Chinese tourists’ individual experiences in Japan which may or may not reflect the way life is in all or any part of the country.

The annual tradition of hanami, when Japanese people take to cherry blossom-dense areas for fun and frivolity, is well known around the world, but some Chinese visitors were taken aback by how some of these alcohol-fueled get-togethers were done in close proximity to graveyards.

While this probably has happened in Japan, it is by no means a custom. And yet NetEase goes on to say “although a cemetery is a solemn place for Asian people, when spring comes Japanese people lay a blanket near a grave and start drinking and eating. They seem to feel happy enjoying the cherry blossoms together with their ancestors.”

▼ There might be some graves around there…tough to tell with so many people.

Image: YouTube/Tokyo Fashion

Maybe some visitors have confused other grave visiting occasions with a hanami. Often families will leave gifts of alcohol and food to the deceased while cleaning the grave. Certain common times like Obon exist for grave visits, but individual families may have their own time to do it which may coincide with the springtime hanami.

▼ A book on the art of proper grave maintenance

Image: Amazon

Yeah, they got Japan dead to rights on that one. Bikes do get parked all over the place with reckless abandon. This may just be an Osaka thing, but I’ve even seen entire cars parked square on top of sidewalks.

▼ That’s a “no-parking” notice there behind the tangled mess of parked bikes.

Photo: RocketNews24

However, in the case of bikes, rather than widespread civil disobedience I prefer to think of it as practical risk assessment. Bikes in Japan generally aren’t highly valued possessions, so the threat of getting it confiscated by the city is not a major concern.

Add to that the fact that a in some locations confiscation is only done after they attach a warning tag to your bike for 24 hours, there’s very little chance of actually losing your bike. Even if it does happen, you can either pay the 1,000 yen (US$8.42) or so release fee or just buy another bike for about 5,000 to 10,000 yen ($42-$84).

Meanwhile, if the municipal government is feeling like it needs some extra cash, it can also go on a bicycle harvest and collect the release fees or just sell them off. Since that’s not done very often, people don’t really raise a stink about it. It’s capitalism at its finest!

Busted again. Anyone who’s been to Japan has likely seen a middle-aged man out on the street or in a station dressed in a suit and sprawled out on the ground like a bit player in Reservoir Dogs. While for locals its an unfortunate but tolerated and common sight, for visitors to Japan it really does give the country a bad image.

An odd thing about the passed-out drunks is that they’re almost always salarymen. Rarely, if ever, do you see drunk college students, yakuza, construction workers, hostesses, so-called “yankees,” or otaku calling a trains station bench home for the evening. I’m sure that says a lot about society, but I’m not exactly sure what.

As someone from Canada, in a cute naive kind of way I’m occasionally asked if people there walk around wearing T-shirts in the winter, to which I reply “yes, sometimes” and explain that we call those people “lunatics.” And yet, while they assume that my nation’s people have some kind of super-human tolerance to cold, everywhere in Japan I see little kids dressed in very short shorts as part of their school uniform all through winter.

Also, as the Chinese visitors have pointed out, young women often forsake the warmth of thick fabric during winter for the fashion of miniskirts. Despite plunging temperatures, school girls’ skirts remain at an all-time high and the trend extends to women of all ages who – as ZZ Top put it – got legs and know how to use them.

▼ Even our writer Hatori Go, couldn’t help but get into the act

Photo: RocketNews24

After struggling with reasons why Japanese women engage in such irrational behavior, the NetEase article finally assumed that they secretly wear special “heat-producing” underwear to compensate. I’m not sure if that is a reference to Uniqlo’s popular high insulation Heattech underwear or not. Also they fail to mention the deceptive skin-colored tights that are often employed as well.

I’m guessing much of the world is in agreement with Chinese people, that dubbing actors in movies is kind of lame. While subtitles can be a pain requiring your constant attention on the screen, it is still a superior cinematic experience to hear the actor’s original emotion in their voice no matter what language it is.

In Japan, however, dubbing is often the preferred method of movie watching. In fact, the voice actors involved in dubbing Hollywood greats sometimes become celebrities in their own right such as Tessho Genda who (along with his vast anime and video game resume) has consistently been the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Segal, Lawrence Fishburne, Samuel L. Jackson and legendary action hero Dan Aykroyd.

This one was a little shocking at first, as, having dined at fast food establishments often, I never noticed anything unusual compared to other countries. Luckily NetEase provided an example of these unspoken rules.

“In Japan they don’t give you ketchup with your fries unless you ask for it.”

Huh…I never noticed that before, but they’re right. None of the McDonald’s restaurants that I’ve visited in Japan have ketchup dispensers or packets set out for the taking. And no one has ever offered me ketchup. That’s never been a problem since I don’t like the stuff, but I can easily see how that would upset a tourist struggling with the Japanese language and wanting of ketchup. Time to fire up the old McComplaint app!

NetEase cited the classic video we’ve all seen of conductors pushing a sea of commuters into train cars as if they were loading one of those novelty cans of snakes.

And indeed overcrowding happens in Japan’s busiest of areas.

But while these are far from an everyday sight in most of Japan, some commuters here certainly do engage in behavior that would cause one to lose a little faith in humanity.

Grown men can be seen cutting in front of elderly women as elderly women are seen knocking me to the ground. And all of this is just to claim a spot on a train pressed up against a bunch of sweaty strangers. It’s enough to make Max Mad look like brunch with the Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein.

And so those in seven nutshells are some of the odd things Chinese visitors see in Japan. While there seemed to have been occasional misunderstandings about Japanese customs, for the most part it highlighted some nuances of the culture that often go overlooked by those who lived here.

Source: Record China (Japanese)
Video: YouTube/Robin Louw