Thursday, 16 October 2014

An expat guide to the quirkier side of Japan

Japan is known for its vibrant cultural heritage; traditional scenes include beautiful temples, the tea ceremony, cherry blossoms and the incredible mount Fiji. With culture and adventures galore, there’s no doubting that expat life here is particularly exciting. Once you have seen the traditional, it may be time to experience something a little… different. Japan offers some unique experiences you won’t forget anytime soon, here are a few things you might want to put on your to-do list!

Grab a coffee with a cat
If you’re craving some furry friend love but don’t want to commit to a long term pet, the cat café is the place to go. Tokyo is estimated to have around 40 of these quirky cafes, with the popularity put down to it being difficult for people to keep their own pets in what is a very urban location. If cats aren’t your thing, don’t worry - there has also been a rise in popularity of bunny cafes.

Image Source Flickr/sprklg

Dinner with a difference
Ever dreamed of dinner in prison? Or having your food served by a masked ninja? No, probably not, but Japan’s themed restaurants still shouldn’t be missed! From making magical stories come true, to distinctive and unforgettable experiences, a themed restaurant is worth checking out.  If you feel like eating in, you can always count on being able to find something: Japan is known for being able to offer almost every kind of food in a can, with canned bread being one of the strangest and also tastiest offerings.

Shake things up
The Earthquake simulator truly is a distinctive experience, allowing you to experience a 7.9 magnitude earthquake for 30-40 seconds then make an escape attempt as the world shakes around you. While providing an interesting experience this is far from merely being a tourist fad: the earthquake simulator provides essential education and safety awareness in a country which is prone to severe earthquakes.

The national sport of Japan involves two wrestlers (rikishi) trying to force each other out of a ring on the floor (dohyō). With Japan being the only country where the sport is practised professionally, it is something you have to witness while you live there. The outfits the wrestlers wear aren’t exactly big so be warned that you should expect to see a lot of them!

Image Source: Wikipedia/ Utagawa Kunisada
Time for a sleep
After all of your exploring, a rest is well deserved. Cheap and basic, the capsule hotel is one of the quirkiest places to stay in Japan. Whether you’ve had a night on the town, or just fancy the experience, this hotel is like none you will have ever seen before, with each capsule providing just enough space for you to get some sleep. If a capsule isn’t your idea of a relaxing sleep, try an overnight stay in a Buddhist temple.  Don’t expect a lie in though; morning prayers begin around 6am!

What do our expats say…?

If you go with an open mind, you’re bound to find that there is much more to Japan’s culture than meets the eye - so get out of your capsule, grab your tinned bread and have an adventure!

Share your insights into Japan with us in the comments section or on Twitter (@expatexplorer).

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