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5 myths & misconceptions about Japan

09 October 2018 by Jojo

Have you never visited Japan? Years of watching anime, online research, travel guides.. you probably think you are prepared and know what to expect for your first trip but some things might surprise you! In this blog post you can read about 5 common myths about Japan that will surprise you!

Expectation

Reality

Myth 1. All Japanese food is healthy

People who visit Japan for the first time think that they will return from their trip 5kg lighter because Japanese food is healthy...right? However, you might be surprised at the amount of fried food, food covered in mayonnaise and extremely high-carb food. Of course, Japanese people also eat healthy meals including fish, miso soup, and vegetables but these meals are usually cooked at home. When Japanese people go out you should expect karaage fried chicken, rich pork broth ramen, fried pork in thick curry sauce... and this in combination with beer or a sweet cocktail, it's not exactly good for your figure!

Expectation

Reality

Myth 2. Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries

Japan is a country of many contradictions. On the one hand the country is famous for technology; robots, vending machines and automatic toilet seats, it all seems so futuristic! On the other hand Japanese people have a hard time giving up old traditions and LOVE paper work. Cash money is preferred over debit cards and the fax is still a thing. Need to change your address? while in Europe you can do it online in 5 minutes, in Japan you HAVE to go to the city hall, making an appointment online or by phone is not even possible so be prepared to wait for several hours.

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Myth 3: All Japanese people love anime!

All young anime & manga lovers have one dream: visiting Japan, the mecca of manga and anime! If you grew up watching Sailor Moon, Naruto and Pokemon you probably noticed that many people around you didn't share those interests and might find it kind of geeky. But if you visit Japan no one will judge you for it right? It is true that there are more shops for merchandise, cute anime characters can be found on posters in the station and maid cafes exist but not all Japanese people, actually MOST Japanese people are not anime and manga fans! You might have heard the word otaku that has also been used outside Japan to refer to an anime and manga fan however in Japan the word otaku has a negative meaning! A Japanese otaku is characterized as an older man who dedicates his life to something in an obsessive manner and therefore spends most of his time in his room. Obsessive anime fans are otaku but also train geeks are! Be prepared to encounter all different kinds of people in Japan, anime fans, neutral people and haters!

Expectation

Reality

Myth 4: You will never be disappointed at Japanese customer service

Japanese customer service has the reputation of being one of the best in the world. In many ways it is true. In shops the staff are extremely polite (as you might have read in this blog post). However there are also things that I can't get used to and that is mostly the lack of flexibility in their services. If you don't go to a vegetarian restaurant they might not want to listen to your request and use meat anyway, also don't expect a discount for a pair of shoes that are slightly damaged, you buy them at full price or you don't buy them. Another example is having to wait for hours for a cafe or restaurant and in the end being refused because you turned up 5 minutes late. Japanese staff often try to make up for their inflexibility by apologizing with a deep bow.

Expectation

Reality

Myth 5: Japan is expensive!

Many people think Japan is an expensive country to visit but in fact it's quite the opposite! Of course, it's not as cheap as visiting Thailand, Cambodia or Indonesia but also not as expensive as Switzerland, Norway or the UK! In the past I've only paid between $15 and $40 euros for a hotel, apartment or air b&b in central Tokyo which is a lot cheaper than a hotel in Amsterdam! When it comes to food, of course you can decide to get those square melons, fugu pufferfish and wagyu beef but you can get affordable delicious dishes at a traditional Japanese restaurants, family restaurants or even at the convenience store! Affordable delicious meals ranging from $3 to $10, for these prices you can only dine at MC Donald's in most European countries! All in all, Japan is very affordable, it can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be!

What do you think about these 5 myths, are you surprised? Any other assumptions about Japan that you don't agree with? Let us know in the comments below!

Don't forget to check our newest blog posts with all the foodie news! What about our blog post on taiyaki or about these 10 super weird Japanese foods!

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