Monday, April 25, 2022

Travel the World - Japan

I started a 50-week series in 2019 that I called Travel the World. Each week of the series I visited a randomly-selected country, sharing bits of information about that country. I then chose one tidbit of information about that week's country as inspiration for a card. As I explored those 50 countries in 2019, I knew I would continue on until I've visited every one of the 195 countries in the world. By the end of 2021, I'd virtually traveled to 145 countries and plan to complete my journey to all 195 countries by visiting the last 50 this year.

This week's country is...


Japan is an island country situated in the northwest Pacific Ocean. It is bordered on the west by the Sea of Japan, while extending from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north toward the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south.

It spans an archipelago of 6,852 islands covering 145,937 square miles.

Japan is slightly smaller than the state of California in terms of total area.

Sixty-nine percent of Japan is covered in forests.

Only 1.7% of Japan is pastures and grassland.

Japan has the 7th longest coastline in the world, just beating out Australia, the United States, and Antarctica in the top 10. In total, the coastline of Japan spans 18,486 miles and includes cliffs, hiking trails, sleepy coastal towns, and some of the largest international fishing ports in the world

Tokyo is the nation's capital and largest city. In fact, it is the largest city in the world by land area, population, and density.

There are 118 volcanoes in Japan. This number outnumbers volcanoes in any other country and makes 10% of the world’s total number of volcanoes.

Japan experiences approximately 1,500 earthquakes each year.

In Japan, farmers grow square watermelons which sell at insane prices ranging from $100 in the country to as high as $860 abroad. These watermelons are grown in boxes that force them to grow square-shaped. It is easier to transport, cut, and store these fruits. They are often used as expensive gifts in Japan.

With approximately one vending machine per every 23 people, Japan has the highest density of vending machines worldwide. 

Coffee is extremely popular in Japan and is imported in a large number from Jamaica.

Most Japanese people slurp their noodles. They do so for two main reasons. Weirdly enough, slurping actually enhances the flavor of the food by combining food and air in the mouth at the same time. Another reason for slurping is their desire to eat their noodles as quickly as possible to they won't soften in the soup.

People are hired to push passengers onto trains in Japan. These workers are tasked with ensuring every passenger has boarded and does not get caught in the doors. When pushers were first brought in at Tokyo's Shinjuku Station, they were called "passenger arrangement staff" and were largely made up of students working part-time. To distinguish themselves, they had a uniform and wore white gloves. Today, there are no dedicated "pushers". The station staff and part-time workers fill these rolls during rush hours.

Japanese trains are very punctual. If you train is running late, the train company will display it in the monitors on the platforms and an employee will apologize over the public announcement system.

On average, the delay of a train is only 18 seconds.

Japan's Bullet Train is the fastest train in the world.

Japan is the largest automobile producing nation in the world.

Bowing is very important in Japanese culture. It can be used for introductions, appreciation, apologies, or greetings. The specific intricacies of bowing are far more complex, with duration and depth of bow prescribed by every circumstance. Most Japanese companies provide training to their employees on the right execution of the act of bowing.

On average, Japan has just two gun-related homicides per year.

They say you could leave your wallet on the floor of the busiest metro station and come back an hour later to still find it there, untouched.

Origami has been practiced in Japan since the Edo period in the early 17th century.

A Genkan Step is often located inside a residential building, just in front of the door. Raised approximately 6 inches, it indicates where those entering are to take off their shoes. Clean slippers that can be worn in the home are found on the step. 

Eating while walking is considered rude in Japan.

Green Tea is the beverage of choice in Japan and is served hot or cold, depending on the season.

The basement of More’s Department Store in Kawasaki, Japan, has the world's shortest escalator. It is called the “Puchicalator.” This 5-step tall escalator moves downwards to cover a distance of only 2.7 ft. Although there is hardly any justification for the existence of this escalator, it has managed to make a proud entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Fleeing motorists in Japan are shot by police with paintballs. This technique helps them to identify the defaulters easily.

The literacy rate in Japan is 99% for the population over 15 years of age. This means almost all the people in Japan can read and write.

Baseball is Japan's most popular spectator sport.

Japan is a hiker's paradise.

Japan is home to several spectacular gorges that offer views of cliffs, forests, and nearby waterfalls.

The largest lake in Japan is Lake Biwa. A freshwater lake located in Shiga Prefecture and just to the northeast of Kyoto. The lake covers an area of 258.8 square miles which is huge when talking about Japan, but when you compare Lake Biwa to other large lakes in the world, it’s actually quite small.

Black cats are believed to bring good luck in Japan.

There are more pets than children in Japan.

The deepest underwater postbox is located in Susami, which is a famous fishing town in Wakayama Prefecture and was recorded by Guinness World Records in 2002. The postbox is located 30 feet underwater and since 1999 has collected more than 32,000 pieces of mail.

The Hanshin Expressway goes directly through the Gate Tower Building’s 5th, 6th, and 7th floors. In reality, the workers in the building don’t really notice as the walls and floors of the building are soundproof and the highway doesn’t actually touch the building.

Japan has a ‘crying sumo’ contest where wrestlers compete to see who can make a baby cry first.

More than 50,000 people in Japan are at least 100 years old.

Ninety percent of mobile phones used in Japan are water-proof.

Cleaning of classrooms and cafeteria is a shared responsibility among Japanese students and teachers.

There are ‘Maid Cafes’ in Japan where waitresses dressed in maid costumes act as servants, and treat customers as masters (and mistresses) in a private home, rather than as café patrons.

Ronald McDonald is called Donald McDonald in Japan due to a lack of a clear ‘R’ sound in Japanese.

Ovens are not nearly as commonplace as rice cookers in Japanese households.

The fortune cookie dates back to the 19th century and was first made in Kyoto, Japan.

Japanese have a tradition of visiting KFC on Christmas Eve.

The Japanese survivor of the Titanic was called a coward in his country for not dying with the other passengers.

Many hot springs and public bathhouses in Japan ban customers with tattoos from entering because they see it as a possible affiliation with gangs.

They use more paper for comics than for toilet paper in Japan.

Sleeping during work is normal and acceptable in Japan. If in other countries, that would get you fired, in Japan, it is seen as a good sign that shows dedication to the work and that the person worked themselves to exhaustion. The companies may see it as a good thing, but Japanese are the most sleep-deprived nation in the world. People take naps not only at work, but wherever they can. It’s so widespread that there is a word for this phenomena – inemuri.

The first capsule hotel was opened in 1979 in Osaka. It is a type of hotel that provides bed-small rooms. They are cheap, usually to stay just for the night, and most often used by Japanese businessmen. Capsule hotels are usually found not too far from the major train stations in large cities. Capsule hotels have washrooms, toilets, and showers, but these are shared among all the guests. Also, there are other services like restaurants, game rooms, or manga libraries.

Just like other countries in Asia, the number 4 is considered unlucky in Japan because the pronunciation is very similar to the word death. 

More and more Japanese are finding it harder to date as people focus on their careers first. Because of this, some entrepreneurs have found an in-demand market for cuddle cafes, where you can visit, lie down by a partner, and pay for being able to cuddle them. They are meant as a way to relax and reduce stress from the professional working life in the big cities of Japan. You pay for the amount of time you want to cuddle and can even pay extra for additional services like staring into each other’s eyes for a certain amount of time, being able to lay your head in the other’s lap, and pillow talk.

Japan has more than 3,000 McDonald’s, which is the highest concentration of the fast-food chain outside the US. Like in other countries McDonald’s also localizes the menu to Japan. Some of the top items include chocolate fries, mega muffins, shrimp fillets, and Teriyaki burgers to name a few.

Squid is the most popular pizza topping in Japan.

Japanese people are pretty noticeably attracted to cat cafes. The people are allowed to pet and play with cats in the café. Many people accept that the cat café gives them relaxation from stress and provides peace to their minds.

Researchers in Japan discovered an ingredient that helps ice cream to not melt as fast. The ice cream innovation is called Kanazawa Ice and the secret ingredient is strawberry polyphenols, which was discovered by accident. This type of ice cream is already being sold in some places and the dessert can maintain its shape up to several hours.

Japan’s islands cover a wide variety of habitats and climate zones. In fact, Japan’s southernmost islands, including Okinawa, have a hot, humid, subtropical climate, while the northernmost island of Hokkaido has long, cold winters and cool summers. This means that the country’s unique types of animals also varies greatly. There are large mammals such as bears, unique seagoing mammals like the dugong, and a few rare and amazing animals you may have never hear of – raccoon dogs, giant salamanders, cute snow monkeys, and island wildcats.

Out of the 723 bird species living in Japan, around 17 are endemic and 30 are introduced. 

Okunoshima Island is a small island in Hiroshima Prefecture that is an island full of rabbits. During WWII the island was a manufacturing site for poisonous gases and unfortunately they tested these gases on rabbits. After WWII ended, the rabbits escaped and the descendants of these test rabbits are the ones seen on the island now. It's estimated that about 1,000+ rabbits are currently living on the island.

The Tale of Genji is considered one of the greatest novels ever written in Japanese literature and it was also the world's first novel. It was written by a Japanese woman by the name of Murasaki Shikibu. It is said that some of the emotional inspiration behind the book was due to the loss of her husband, which impacted her greatly.

Historically, fruits in Japan were expensive due to their scarcity in the country. Thus, giving them as a gift is a great act of generosity. Today, despite fruits becoming relatively cheaper in Japan, the tradition of giving them to someone special lives on.

It is considered rude to say "no" to someone directly in Japan.

Tearing off a gift wrapping is considered impolite in Japan.

There is a competition for the "fastest shirt ironer" by Japanese men that takes place every year.

My inspiration for this week's card is based on this fact about Japan... Every year, the Japanese use almost 24 billion chopsticks.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Stamp Set: Sugar Pea Designs Rice Rice Baby stamped with Memento Tuxedo Black Ink and colored with Copic Markers

Paper: Accent Opaque 120# White, Recollections 110# Black, and SU Green Galore and Pumpkin Pie CS and DP from my scrap file

Dies: Impression Obsession Crazy Stitched Set, MFT Stitched Rectangles, and Pink & Main Stitched Arches

Embellishments: Enamel Dots from an unknown vendor

1 comment:

Lynn McAuley said...

This little guy is so darned cute, even if I an not into sushi! Such a fun card, Jeanette!