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Quirky, Funny And Weird Things In Japan

I received mixed responses when I told my family and friends that I would be traveling to Japan.

Varying from ‘I'd love to go there as well’ to ‘I am really looking forward to hearing about your experiences‘ and ‘Be prepared, Japan is crazy’.

Let me start by saying that Japanese people are the best. They are helpful, kind, and considerate, and one of the main reasons why I enjoyed my one-month Japan trip so much.

But I have to admit I came across some weird things in Japan!

Quirky and weird things in Japan

Mount Fuji Japan in autumn

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Funny things in Japan

1. Toilets

Let's start with Japanese toilets… I may have a slight obsession with public toilets. The thing is, I have the tiniest bladder which makes locating toilets while traveling a priority.

During our trip around Southeast Asia, I made it a habit not to drink at all on travel days. I know, not very healthy in a hot and humid climate.

But there is nothing worse than driving over a bumpy road in the back of an overcrowded van with a bladder that feels like an oversized water balloon ready to burst.

Lucky me, because Japan is a great place for people with small bladders. You see, in Japan, public toilets are everywhere.

And what’s more, pretty much all the toilets are sparkling clean. Also, Japanese toilets come with some very interesting options…

Of course, I had to try these out. I will not go into details but it may not have gone very well and I may not have used them since that particular incident.

Turns out I am not pro enough to handle Japanese toilets.

Japanese toilets and the buttons

Must. Try. Buttons.

Drones in Japanese toilet

In Japan, drones are not allowed in the toilet area. Shocking isn't it? But there were more interesting toilet things…

Japan toilet map funny

Like this map of the toilet building. Really!? A map of the toilet?! I mean, it was a 3 by 4-meter cubicle, you couldn’t get lost if you tried.

Japan toilet map

For this huge toilet building, however, a map is perfectly appropriate.

How to use the toilet in Japan

I laughed so hard when seeing this picture, it was a good thing I was already sitting on the toilet. Anyway, enough with the toilet humor. Because there were more quirky things in Japan…

2. Plastic food and vending machines

This list of Japanese weirdness wouldn’t be complete without some pictures of plastic food.

Plastic food in Japan

I personally think plastic sample dishes are an excellent idea, you know exactly what you are going to get.

But it’s slightly weird when you are looking at a plastic plate of food and actually start to feel hungry because it looks delicious.

Well, maybe I’m just a little weird myself;-). Or obsessed with Japanese cuisine. Possibly both. But not too much food:

Weird advertisement in Japan

Why would anyone want this? Assuming it's even possible for a single person to eat this much…

Strange drink in Japan

There are some strange drinks being sold in some of the convenience stores in Japan that don’t always look very appealing. Is it just me or do other people find this a disturbing-looking drink as well?

I thought I landed in Japan when stepping off the plane, but I actually landed in vending machine world! In Japan, you can buy anything from a vending machine. Absolutely anything you can think of.

Vending machine galore Japan

Because this industrial park indeed seems like the perfect place for, not one but, eight identical vending machines. Oddly there was nobody around to actually purchase something…

Ice cream robot Japan

I know it’s a terrible picture, but I had to capture this to prove it's real: a fully automatic ice cream robot!

Serving different flavors each day! Unfortunately, the flavor of the day I visited was mint, not my favorite to say the least…

3. Weird and funny signs

There were loads of hilarious signs in Japan. I didn’t take a picture of all the crazy signs I came across, however, I still managed to collect quite a few funny ones.

Dangerous deer in Nara funny sign

The illustrations alone were very enough to make me laugh out loud.

But what was even funnier is that a couple of Japanese girls were feeding the deer and then started screaming when the deer kept chasing them for food. Seriously, what did they expect?

No smartphone subway Tokyo Japan

Safety first! Keep right. And don't use anything…

Queuing is everything in Japan

Queuing is everything in Japan, maybe even more so than in the U.K. You'll find very clear instructions at train stations where to line up.

Unfortune English translation

I can't help but laugh each time I look at this picture. It's really too bad for all the English-speaking people in the world: apparently, there is no good fortune in English.

Serious cigarette in Japan

What kind of #$%^& cigarette is this?!

No dog poo on the grass Japan

That poor dog.

No fungus in Japan

I had some serious Pacman flashbacks when I spotted these angry aggressive anti-fungus figures.

4. All things Kawaii…

Kawaii means cute, cuddly, soft, and sweet. There is a whole Kawaii scene in Japan and you see aspects of it everywhere.

Kawaii road works Japan

Like these very Kawaii roadworks we came across in the streets of Tokyo.

Marimo Lake Akan Hokkaido Japan

Or these marimo balls. Marimo are green spheres of algae and are very kawaii (because fluffy). They are only found on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan.

How much of a thing is Kawaii in Japan? Let me quote the Lonely Planet: Marimo became endangered after being designated a national treasure. Suddenly everyone in Japan needed to have one.

Marimo souvenir Lake Akan Hokkaido Japan

Instead of buying a real, yet very endangered, Kawaii marimo it's better to buy a fake, yet also very Kawaii, fluffy furry soft green souvenir.

Kawaii wig Japan

Need a colorful wig anyone? To achieve a more kawaii look?

5. Japanese jingles

Pretty much everything in Japan has its own jingle. Like the garbage truck.

Each subway station also has its own jingle so never a boring moment when riding the tube in Tokyo.

And of course the mania and earsplitting noise in the Japanese gaming halls…

6. General Japanese quirkiness

I couldn't resist adding a few more quirky things to this list.

Gloves Japan bicycle

Because of course, you want to keep your hands warm when riding a bike! I desperately want this for my own bike in the Netherlands. I’m always freezing during the cold winter months.

Ugly Japanese car in Tokyo

I can’t help but laugh about some Japanese cars. So. Ugly.

Chain holder subway station Tokyo Japan

And how about this extremely considerate chain holder?

Did you know Japan is the country with the highest proportion of elderly citizens in the world? So it actually kind of makes sense chain holders are a thing in Japan.

Baby holder Japan

Tired of holding your baby? Good news: there's a solution for that as well in Japan.

Just place your adorable little tot in here for a while. Face forward, of course, the maker of this device felt it was necessary to add that to the instructions.

7. Japanese game centers

When I stepped into a gaming hall I didn't know where to look first. There was so much noise, so many screens and blinking lights.

There were video games, arcade games, old games, new games, crane games and so much more… Even if you're not into gaming it's worth taking a quick look inside a gesen (which translates into game center).

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The weirdest things Japan: in conclusion

We have come to the end of my collection of funny, quirky, and strange things in Japan, I hope it made you laugh. 

If you spend some time on Google you'll find plenty of other unusual things in Japan such as robot restaurants, claustrophobia-inducing capsule hotels, love hotels, Harajuku girls, Japanese game shows, maid cafes, and cuddle cafes.

However, the bottom line of this post is: visiting Japan is a unique experience! Japanese culture is very interesting and it's a beautiful country with so many amazing things to see and do.

From mysterious Shinto shrines, bullet trains (the famous shinkansen), sumo wrestlers, natural hot springs, and cherry blossoms, to wild animals such as black bears and the Yamaneko wildcat, Japan is an amazing country.

A trip to Japan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I highly recommend planning a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun. We've made two trips to Japan so far and I would love to return to explore more!

Also read these posts about Japan:

This post was updated in February 2023.

Miss A

Monday 2nd of December 2019

That map is actually in braille and for blind people. If you also notice the street with grids and bumps on the sidewalks, those are also for the blind. Japan is really considerate to those who are disabled. Even the buses, they would go lower for people who can't step to high, and for wheelchairs the buses would go even lower.


Tuesday 3rd of December 2019

I didn't know that but that's so considerate! Thank you for sharing this information:-)

Ryan Biddulph

Wednesday 7th of September 2016

Hi Lotte,

So much fun!

I've only seen the airport in Osaka - cleanest bathrooms I've ever seen - but my wife lived in Hiroshima for about a year. Legendary stuff she saw, from the orderliness but wacky, zany and strange things observed.

From our Western perspective this stuff makes us laugh and in truth, marvel too, when you realize the thought and planning that goes into the final product.


Thanks so much for sharing :)



Thursday 8th of September 2016

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment Ryan! Japan has a marvelous society indeed:-)


Saturday 20th of August 2016

I really enjoyed all the photographs here. I was surprised to see the basil seed drink photograph here. The Japanese like it? You know what, basil drink is very good for health!!!


Wednesday 24th of August 2016

Glad you like the pictures! I haven't tried the basil drink, maybe next time (now that I know it's good for my health I am a little more inclined to try it;-)


Monday 15th of August 2016

There are so many things to notice around, all the signs! Specially those of how to behave in public areas and how to use a toilet, after the increase of mass tourism (chinese) in recent years.


Monday 15th of August 2016

Signs everywhere and while they are absolutely useful, they can also be very funny;-)