Japan Facts

There are two kinds of toilets in Japan: the Japanese style toilet and the Western style toilet.

The image below shows the Japanese style toilet. In order to use it, one has to squat down and keep the balance which may be a little bit difficult for some foreigners. The Japanese toilet is essentially more hygienic since the user does not get in direct contact with it.

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese style toilets can be found on most public washrooms. Toilet paper is not always provided there, and it is recommended to always carry a small package of tissues with you.

Western style toilets can be found increasingly in public washrooms especially in tourist areas. Sometimes the two toilet styles exist side by side. Most toilets in newly built private houses are western style toilets. Many of them are equipped with luxury gadgets such as heated seats or small built-in showers.

When entering the washroom in a private house, you are supposed to change into special toilet slippers. Don’t forget to change back into your house slippers when leaving the washroom.

  • In Japan there are certain things one does not do because they are thought to cause bad luck. A few examples are:
  1. The number four:
    The number four is considered inauspicious because it is pronounced the same as the word for death (shi). Therefore, one should not make presents that consist of four pieces, etc. In some hotels and hospitals the room number four is skipped.
  2. Stick chopsticks into the rice:
    Do not stick your chopsticks into your food generally, but especially not into rice, because only at funerals, chopsticks are stuck into the rice which is put onto the altar.
  3. Give food from chopstick to chopstick:
    This is only done with the bones of the cremated body at funerals.
  4. Sleeping towards the North:
    Do not sleep towards the North because bodies are laid down like that.
  5. Funeral Car:
    If a funeral car passes you should hide your thumb.
  6. Cut nails at night:
    If you cut your nails at night, you will not be with your parents when they die.
  7. Lie down after eating:
    If you lie down immediately after eating, you will become a cow.
  8. Whistle in the night:
    If you whistle in the night, a snake will come to you.
  9. Black cat:
    There are also some imported superstitions such as the belief that black cats crossing the street in front of you cause bad luck.
  • The Japanese economy is one of the strongest in the world. Only the USA has a higher GNP. The Japanese currency is the Yen.

Exports: Japan’s main export goods are cars, electronic devices and computers. Most important single trade partner is the USA which imports more than one quarter of all Japanese exports. Other major export countries are Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, China and Singapore.

Imports: Japan has a large surplus in its export/import balance. The most important import goods are raw materials such as oil, foodstuffs, and wood. Major suppliers are the USA, China, Indonesia, South Korea, and Australia.

Industries: Manufacturing, construction, distribution, real estate, services, and communication are Japan’s major industries today. Agriculture makes up only about 2% of the GNP. Most important agricultural product is rice. Resources of raw materials are very limited and the mining industry rather small.

  • Manga are Japanese comics. In Japan, there are comics covering every possible topic from recipes to travel guides and from science fiction to history. Consequently, there are manga for children, adults and almost every age and interest group. For example, it is not uncommon to see business men reading thick comics books in commuter trains.

Anime are Japanese cartoons. Japanese manga and anime (e.g. Sailor Moon and Pokemon) have become popular around the world.

  • The following are Japanese national holidays and some of the most important other annual nationwide events. In addition, there are countless local annual festivals.
  1. January 1-3
    New Year (shogatsu):
    This is the most important national holiday in Japan. A special page is available for more information.
  2. Second Monday of January
    Coming of Age (seiji no hi):
    The coming of age of 20 year old men and women is celebrated. More information on the special information page.
  3. February 3
    Beginning of spring (setsubun):
    Setsubun is not a national holiday. Please visit the special Setsubun page for more information.
  4. February 11
    National Foundation Day (kenkoku kinenbi):
    According to the earliest Japanese history books, on this day in the year 660 BC the first Japanese emperor was crowned.
  5. February 14
    Valentine’s Day:
    In Japan, women give chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day. It is not a national holiday. Please visit this page for a survey and more information about Valentine’s Day.
  6. March 3
    Doll’s Festival (hina matsuri):
    Also called girl’s festival. Please read the special page.
  7. March 14
    White Day:
    The opposite of Valentine’s Day: Men give cakes or chocolates to women. It is not a national holiday. Please visit this page for a survey about White Day.
  8. March 21
    Spring Equinox Day (shunbun no hi):
    Graves are visited during the week (ohigan) of the Equinox Day. The day itself is a national holiday.
  9. April 29
    Green Day (midori no hi):
    Emperor Showa’s birthday. Read more on the Golden Week page.
  10. May 3
    Constitution Day (kenpo kinenbi):
    National holiday remembering the new constitution that was put into effect after the war. Read more on the Golden Week page.
  11. May 4
    “Between Day” (kokumin no kyujitsu):
    Recently created national holiday to make the Golden Week a continuous holiday.
  12. May 5
    Children’s Day (kodomo no hi):
    Also called boy’s festival. Read more on the Golden Week page.
  13. July 7
    Star Festival (tanabata):
    Read more on the special page. Tanabata is not a national holiday.
  14. July 20
    Ocean Day (umi no hi):
    A recently introduced national holiday to celebrate the ocean. The day marks the return of Emperor Meiji from a boat trip to Hokkaido in 1876.
  15. July/August
    Obon:
    Obon is a festival to commemorate the deceased ancestors. Please visit the special Obon page for more information.
  16. September 15
    Respect for the Aged Day (keiro no hi):
    Respect for the elderly and long life is celebrated on this national holiday.
  17. September 23
    Autumn Equinox Day (shubun no hi):
    Graves are visited during the week (ohigan) of the Equinox Day. The day itself is a national holiday.
  18. Second Monday of October
    Health and Sports Day (taiiku no hi):
    On that day 1964, the Olympic games of Tokyo were opened.
  19. November 3
    Culture Day (bunka no hi):
    A day for promotion of culture and the love for freedom and peace. On the culture day, schools and the government award certain persons for their special, cultural activities.
  20. November 15
    Seven-Five-Three (shichigosan):
    A festival for children, it is not a national holiday. Please read more on the special information page.
  21. November 23
    Labor Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi):
    A national holiday for honoring labor.
  22. December 23
    Emperor’s Birthday (tenno no tanjobi):
    The birthday of the current emperor is always a national holiday. If the emperor changes, the national holiday changes to the birthday date of the new emperor.
  23. December 24-25
    Christmas:
    Christmas is not a national holiday, but it is celebrated by an increasing number of Japanese. Please visit this page for a survey and more information about Christmas in Japan.

If a national holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday will be free as well.

Info from: http://www.japan-guide.com/