We all know that cultures and society vary greatly based on geographic location—that's why we travel, right? However, some of the customs and norms in other countries can be absolutely baffling, and this is extremely true for many who travel from the Western world to Japan.
With a huge population in comparison to its geographical location and interesting technology, Japan has some of the coolest (and most bizarre) cultural norms.
This Is Not Burnt Toast
This bread is made with bamboo coal infused into it.
These aren't burnt slices of bread, but actually pieces from a freshly baked loaf that are soft to the touch.
Children Leave Schoolbags Unattended In Train Stations
While traveling around Japan, groups of school children using trains for school trips will leave their backpacks unattended in the train station while they go to eat or look around.
They don't have to worry about their things being stolen.
This Pedestrian Safety System
When the crosswalk lights change indicating for pedestrians to cross, a large 3-D holographic "blockade" is projected in front of the crosswalk.
This way, cars know not to drive, protecting the pedestrians even at nighttime.
Outdoor Heaters At Playgrounds
Near the playgrounds and open rest areas close to a local outlet mall, there are outdoor heaters.
This nifty idea helps parents stay warm while watching their kids run around and play.
A Handle That Helps When Carrying Large Items
Just about all of us have been here before — you get a box or other item that's too wide for you to properly hold the bag handles together.
Stores in Japan give out a handle that mitigates that issue for easy bag carrying.
This Green Line Marks A School Zone
In Japan, streets are marked with a green line to let pedestrians and drivers know that they are in a school zone.
Students tend to walk along this line on the way to and from school.
Fruit & Vegetable Vending Machines
There are vending machines that sell fruits and vegetables for people who need to pick one thing up instead of going to the store, or if someone wants a healthy snack.
Some even sell beer, but only during the day.
You Can Buy A Dress Shirt At 7/11 In Japan
Have you ever been on the way to a big work meeting, only to spill coffee on yourself?
Japanese 7/11's sell dress shirts so you can grab one in a pinch.
This Organized Waiting And Boarding System
In anticipation of an arriving train, passengers line up with these yellow markers that indicate where the doors will open.
Nobody pushes and everyone waits calmly. The NYC Subway could never.
A First Date Spot With Cats
Finally, a first date that I would be overwhelmingly excited to go on!
This is a place where you can go on a romantic date while playing with a cat and feeding it special, cat-safe ice cream.
A Bicycle For A Parent And Two Small Children
If a parent doesn't own a car, they instead travel like this.
The older child sits in the backset, whereas the younger child goes into the compartment at the front so at the parent can see them at all times.
This Is Adorable, But Couldn't Imagine It Elsewhere
Could you imagine trying to take the subway in a U.S. city and seeing a giant plushie mascot on the platform?
Proper New Yorkers would push that cute little thing out of the way to reach the doors immediately.
Construction Sites With Sound Monitors
You know how annoying it is to be woken up at 6 a.m. due to nearby construction?
In Japan, large construction sites have to declare sound emission levels at all times, and avoid loud work at certain hours.
This Adorable Airport Send-Off
All of the ground crew for Nippon Airways bow and wave to departing passenger jets in Japan.
Talk about a nice little goodbye as your place prepares to take off.
A Bin For Your Purse
Ask any woman who regularly carries a purse: dealing with a purse while at a restaurant is irritating.
I always end up struggling to figure out where to put it, but this restaurant in Japan offers bins to put personal belongings next to the table.
Store Maps On The Carts
Once per season, most stores will move around products or change their offerings based on what's in season.
They attach updated store maps to the shopping carts to help customers navigate the store.
This No-Scan Checkout
When you place your basket into the designated area, the checkout terminal automatically calculates your total using RFID tags on the products.
Just drop it in, pay, and be on your way.
Mountain Dew-Flavored Snacks
Mountain Dew is a pretty great drink, but in Japan, you can get Mountain Dew snacks that are supposed to capture the taste of the drink in a form similar to a Cheeto.
I don't know about this one, Japan.
Ticket Gates Aren't Monitored
Compared to pay-to-enter gates for train/subway stations in most countries, Japanese ticket booths function on an honor system.
They trust passengers to pay fares without needing security measures to ensure it.
This Washroom That Accommodates Parents
This washroom on a train in Japan has a seat built into the countertop so that parents can comfortably go to the washroom without leaving their young child unattended or having to hold them.
This is genius!
Air-Conditioned Jackets For Construction Workers
Manual labor is hard, but it's extra challenging in extreme heat conditions.
In Japan, construction workers have air-conditioned jackets that allow them to keep cool while still protecting their skin as they work.
This Is A Toilet In An Elevator
I just know that there is a very disgusting story behind why this building's manager decided that a toilet in the elevator was a necessity.
I just want to know: where does the waste go?
Outward-Facing Train Seats
For this scenic train route, the designers decided to install large windows and make the train seats face outwards rather than forwards/backward.
This way, passengers can enjoy the scenery during their ride.
People Just Sleep In Public Spaces With Their Phones Beside Them
Ignoring that it's poor form to take up multiple seats to sleep on a commuter train, people in Japan feel safe just leaving their phone—an expensive possession — out.
They know that no one will take it.
Sweet Potato KitKats
In the past years, KitKat has thoroughly expanded its flavor range, and they have flavors catered to local areas, but I never would have anticipated there being a sweet potato flavor.
I'm very curious about what it tastes like.
Women's Only Subway-Cars
Most women will agree that taking public transportation, especially alone at night, can be a very scary experience.
After citizens raised concerns about subway car harassment, "Women's Only" cars were designated to help women feel safer while commuting.
You Can Get A Hotdog From A Vending Machine
Hotdogs already seem like a questionable food when bought or made under regular conditions.
But you can get a hotdog made by a vending machine and, apparently, they taste pretty good.
White Seat Covers In The Taxis
If you enter a taxi whilst in Japan, you'll notice that all of the drivers have these white lace seat covers and head rest covers.
Apparently, cab drivers are extremely kind and will always open/close doors for passengers.
This Genius and Eco-Friendly Toilet
This Japanese toilet refills through a sink on top so you can wash your hands and reuse the water!
This makes perfect sense since the water that goes in the toilet just sits there anyway, so really this solves a lot of waste issues.
This Children's Toy
Yes, this is an actual children's toy, where a child can enjoy using a wooden knife to chop the two blocks that join together to make a lemon.
Not sure about the entertainment value, but the concept is original.
KFC Has Its Own Brand Of Bottled Water
I'm pretty used to finding water bottles just about everywhere, including fast-food chains, but I've never seen water specifically branded to that fast-food chain.
Is the water Kentucky Fried too?