Plus a special announcement about the W.T.F. series!

Happy one year birthday, W.T.F. Japan! Wow, it seems like just yesterday we were counting down the top five unique Japanese toilet functions with our first installment. Time certainly does fly when there are so many Weird Top Five things to take a look at.

And over the past year, some articles in W.T.F. Japan have been more popular than others. So now, to celebrate this milestone, we’ll look back and see which five articles did the best and pulled in the most views.

That’s why today we’re counting down the top five W.T.F. Japan articles! Is your favorite on the list? Did you miss any of these classics? Well now’s the time to catch up!

So let’s get to it! Starting off with…

Honorable Mention: Top 5 strange things Japanese people do for Christmas

PAKUTASO, GAHAG (edited by SoraNews24)

Since it wouldn’t truly be a Weird Top Five without including an honorary sixth item on the list, coming in at sixth place in number of views is the top five strange things Japanese people do for Christmas.

This was a really fun article to write. Even though we’ve touched upon some of the topics it brings up in other SoraNews24 articles, it felt good to finally compile them all into one place.

It may have been the personal anecdotes (such as the “creeper parties”) or the number one mention (“going to work on Christmas”) that struck a chord with readers, but it could also have been the creepy-yet-Christmassy banner that caught everyone’s attention. An image of a Japanese girl in a Santa suit with a knife slung over her shoulder was a picture I’d been saving for quite a while, waiting for just the right time, and then the holiday season finally rolled around.

▼ How that picture felt in my bookmarks
when it heard I was writing this article.

#5. Top 5 most difficult kanji ever


As you can tell by the old logo without the sleek black outline, the top five most difficult kanji ever was one of the earlier W.T.F. articles, but it was also one of the most important.

Not only was this the first article where I went out and did research in a real library at a real university, but it was the first W.T.F. kanji article that spawned a ton more based around the same theme. In the comments for this article, many people requested other kanji articles, and I copy/pasted them all into a document that I still refer to, crossing them out as I do them.

Since then we’ve done the top five strangest kanji, kanji with the longest readings, kanji used to represent foreign countries, most insane kanji place names, and even the most ridiculous kanji handwriting shortcuts (which also made it into the top ten articles). And there’s still plenty more to come.

One criticism of the article was that while the kanji on the list indeed have lots of strokes, they weren’t necessarily that “difficult” since they just repeated the same parts/radicals. While we didn’t get to it this year, have no fear; there will be a “top five MORE difficult kanji” article at some point.

▼ Hopefully, then, we will have an answer to this eternal question.

#4. Top 5 strange Japanese office occurrences

GAHAG (edited by SoraNews24)

Sometimes I write a W.T.F. Japan and I have an inkling it will resonate with readers (like the previous two). But other times I write an article like the top five strange Japanese office occurrences and think it’ll just be a silly fun one, and it goes on to be one of the most viewed W.T.F. Japan articles of the year.

I’m not exactly sure why this one was so popular. I think it may be similar to the Christmas article in that it combined a lot of things we’ve written about before on SoraNews24 (such as “the work area” and “naptime”) that a general audience liked, but also included personal anecdotes (such as “the Yakult ladies” and “morning speeches/songs/exercise”) that might’ve been unfamiliar even for veteran readers.

Either way, similar to the first kanji article, this one inspired a whole host of other “cultural detail” W.T.F. articles. Those articles varied in popularity, some of them turning into top ten material (such as the top five hardest Japanese habits to break), to much more lukewarmly-received articles (such as the top five ridiculous details of Japanese office tea).

Either way, I’ll still take advantage of writing any article that lets me vent about working in a Japanese office.

▼ Unless it’s about that office where they let you work with cats.
That office is perfect.

#3. Top 5 crazy things about Japanese supermarkets

Flickr/Yuya Tamai (edited by SoraNews24)

Now we’re getting to the real heavy-hitters. The top three articles each have about double the number of views as the one before it, so the top five crazy things about Japanese supermarkets earned its spot by nearly doubling number four’s views.

This one is another that came out of the blue. I had no idea an article about supermarkets would be so popular!

But thinking about it after the fact, it makes sense. Seeing the details of smaller parts of people’s lives in another country (such as what shopping there is like) can be very interesting. Using real photos from my local grocery store might’ve made it feel more real too… especially when it came to those produce prices. I’m still feeling the wallet-pain from those.

In fact, looking back on it now, perhaps it would be fun to do more articles on other local stores. I could imagine a “top five crazy things about Japanese drug stores, secondhand shops, video game stores, pachinko parlors,” and more, all with real photos. Though I have a feeling some of those might go over better than others.

▼ “Uh, boss. I need 10,000 yen for an article.”
“Why? What are you going to do?”
“Mostly play a lot of pachinko.”


#2. Top 5 steps to immigrate to Japan

PAKUTASO (edited by SoraNews24)

And at the number two spot we have the top 5 steps to immigrate to Japan, which again has about double the number of views of the one before it.

People love visiting Japan, and it’s hard not to fall in love with the country, making Google searches for “how to immigrate to Japan” or “how to get permanent residence in Japan” not uncommon. Combined with Japan’s difficult immigration process compared to other countries, people are almost always looking for information and advice on the topic, making this a popular article.

What also probably contributed to it doing so well was that it was written in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek style in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I saw lots of posts online about people wanting to “leave the country,” so I figured why not write an article and show them how to do it?

One other piece of trivia is that this article came immediately after the least-popular W.T.F. article of last year: top 5 Japanese pet kabutomushi beetles. Those poor beetles, the Internet just isn’t quite ready to invite them into their hearts and homes.

Although the popularity of this article has me thinking… maybe I should write topical W.T.F. articles more often?

▼ Coming soon: W.T.F. Top 5 anime fidget spinners!
Eh? Eh? …anyone?

And the #1 WTF Japan article of last year is…











1. Top 5 most offensive Japanese swear words

GAHAG (edited by SoraNews24)

Oh yes, there was never any doubt that the top 5 most offensive Japanese swear words would be the most-viewed article of last year. As a Japanese teacher, whenever I work one-on-one with students, the first question that comes out of their mouth is almost always, “Yeah, that’s great and all, but teach me some Japanese swear words!”

While the concept of “swear words” is a little different between English and Japanese, the concept of “words that you shouldn’t say because they’re dirty/will cause others to get mad at you” is essentially universal. And we got to the dirtiest/most anger-inspiring words Japanese has to offer here.

The popularity of this article spawned several other top ten W.T.F. installments such as top 5 offensive Japanese insults and top 5 most hilarious Japanese euphemisms.

One last interesting tidbit about this article is that it received a steady amount of views for the eight months since its publishing, which hasn’t happened for any other W.T.F. article. I guess people really just love doing Google searches for swear words in foreign languages!

▼ Well, going by the other most popular “Japan” Google searches,
looks like I’ve got about 10 solid W.T.F. articles to start writing!

So there you have it, the top five W.T.F. Japan articles of last year!

Before we go though, an important announcement. While it’s been a lot of fun writing a W.T.F. article every week, it’s also been a lot of work. In order to be able to keep producing articles that I’m proud of, W.T.F. Japan will no longer be a weekly series, but a whenever-we-have-a-great-idea-we-think-you’ll-like series.

As always, we’re open to your suggestions so if there are any topics you want us to cover, let us know in the comments, and if you’re a kanji aficionado, be sure to check out last week’s top five kanji with ironic meanings.

Top image: PAKUTASO (edited by SoraNews24)

W.T.F. Japan will be back next Thursday. In the meantime, say hi on Twitter and let me know if there’s any topics you’d like to see covered. See you next week!