Did you know that...
1. For many Japanese couples Christmas is celebrated like Valentine's Day in the western world.
2. More than 70% of Japan consists of mountains, including more than 200 volcanoes.
3. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is an active volcano.
4. A nice musk melon, similar to a cantaloupe, may sell for over $300US.
5. There are four different writing systems in Japan, romaji, katakana, hiragana, and kanji.
6. Japan's literacy rate is almost 100%.
7. Sumo is Japan's national sport, although baseball is also very popular.
8. Sumo wrestlers eat a stew called Chankonabe to fatten up. Many restaurants in the Ryogoku district of Tokyo serve this nabe (Japanese word for stew).
9. When you use the restroom in some one's home, you may need to put on special bathroom slippers so as not to contaminate the rest of the home.
10. Noodles, especially soba (buckwheat), are slurped loudly when eaten. It is often said slurping symbolizes the food is delicious, but the slurping also serves to cool down the hot noodles for eating.
11. Japan is the world's largest consumer of Amazon rain forest timber.
12. When moving into an apartment it is often required to give the landlord a "gift" of money equal to two months' rent.
13. Average life expectancy in Japan is one of the highest in the world. Japanese people live an average of 4 years longer than Americans.
14. Japan is the largest automobile producer in the world.
15. The Japanese language has thousands of foreign loan words, known as gairaigo. These words are often truncated, e.g. personal computer = paso kon. The number of foreign loan words is steadily increasing.
16. Tsukiji market in Tokyo is the world's largest fish market.
17. The term karaoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese.
18. Raised floors help indicate when to take off shoes or slippers. At the entrance to a home in Japan, the floor will usually be raised about 6 inches indicating you should take off your shoes and put on slippers. If the house has a tatami mat room its floor may be rasied 1-2 inches indicating you should to take off your slippers.
19. Ramen noodles are a popular food in Japan and it is widely believed extensive training is required to make a delicious soup broth. This is the subject of the movies Tampopo (1985) and The Ramen Girl (2008).
20. On average, it takes about 7-10 years of intensive training to become a fugu (blowfish) chef. This training may not be needed in the future as some fish farms in Japan are producing non-poisonous fugu.
21. Some traditional Japanese companies conduct a morning exercise session for the workers to prepare them for the day's work.