Japan is like a mixed bag of wonders. Or oddities, depending on the way you view it. When you visit Japan, you will witness elements steeped in ancient history and tradition among those that scream the modern and futuristic, Japan will fascinate you and blow your mind with its amazing offerings, many of which border on the wacky and weird!
Find in Japan, what you can’t imagine seeing elsewhere on the planet! But for now, let’s just start with the basics — food, clothing, and shelter.
Think Japanese food, and Sushi comes to mind. But truth is, you’ll find myriad food flavours here for the gastronomically adventurous, bearing colours and tastes that you’ve never experienced before. Begin with chocolate. While the rest of the world receives traditional milk or dark Kit Kat chocolate, Japan offers Kit Kat in unique flavours of Hot Japanese Chilli, Sweet Potato, Soybean, Shinshu Apple, Matcha-Green Tea and Wasabi among others, in imagination-stretching colours ranging from purple to green to yellow.
Or perhaps you’d prefer some cheese or corn flavoured popsicles?
If you’re feeling particularly brave, you might try the Japanese delicacy fugu, or blowfish. Potentially more poisonous than cyanide, this fish is lethal unless prepared with utmost care. In fact, it takes over 10 years of training to become a fugu chef, and certification to prepare this fish at a restaurant requires the chef to eat the fish he’s prepared. Fugu anyone?
If eating from a can feels safer, visit Mr. Kanso in Tokyo, and derive the unique experience of eating cold food from cans, with plastic cutlery. Enjoy browsing amidst its well-stocked shelves because there are no menus either. Visit Japan for a surprising food experience!
Horsemeat, while eaten in parts of Mexico, Russia and Italy, is served sashimi style here, and popular especially in central Kyushu prefecture. Raw, and cut into thin slices, Basashi is a definite delicacy, and the raw liver is a must-try.
The traditional form of clothing is the kimono, although in recent times, most of Japan has adopted western wear as the more practical option. However, you’ll find a distinct deviation in fashion trends at the Harajuku District in Tokyo. Walk into this perpetually crowded shopping area to see unbelievably extreme fashions sported by Japan’s youth. Bordering on the bizarre, with creations originating from an unrestrained imagination, they make for some fascinating photographs! Strike a pose with the wildly attired youngsters and then see who’s the odd one out!
And fashion doesn’t stop with clothes! While the rest of the world pays to get its teeth straightened, the craze for elongated, prominent canines is sweeping across Japan. Known as Yaeba, it’s very popular among young girls who could probably give vampires a run for their money with their toothy smile! Perhaps this is a better trend than the radical one in ancient Japan called Ohaguro, where women dyed their teeth black because white ones were considered ugly. Another fashion trend from a few years back was Ganguro, where Japanese youth sported extremely tanned facial skin and brilliantly coloured hair.
If you are planning to visit Japan, then you’ve heard about the Ryokan, the traditional Japanese stay, but ever heard of capsule hotels? Providing inexpensive, basic overnight accommodations, the “rooms” are more like pods stacked in two-tiered rows, but equipped with televisions, radios and air-conditioning if needed. Definitely not for the claustrophobic!
For the ‘forever alone’ types, Japan has Cuddle Cafes, which allow patrons to sleep with female employees for a price. Shell out a little more to have her look at you, slap you (why?), pat your head (again, why?) or massage your foot. And no, sex is not on the menu. Love hotels are the answer for couples in need of personal space and private time, renting inexpensive, themed rooms by the hour.
Japan’s Henn-Na Hotel (“strange” for you in English) is manned almost completely by robots. Check in with the assistance of a grinning dinosaur, a female humanoid or a cute robot that looks like it walked out of the sets of a sci-fi film. Wacky, weird and completely fun, you’ll feel like you’ve walked into the future.
There are plenty more from where these came from — Japan of course! Watch this space for more.
If you are planning to visit Japan, do not hesitate to contact your luxury travel designer Mr Isao Numano