You'll Be Amazed and Shocked by These 19 Facts About Japan

Posted Mar 28, by Greg Porter

The Imperial Family, officially known as the Imperial House of Japan, is the extended family of the reigning Emperor of Japan. They take on the official and public duties of the government. Other family members of the Emperor perform social and civil duties unrelated to the governmental affairs. The duties of the Emperor are passed down to his children and their children and so on. 

The Japanese monarchy is the oldest continuous hereditary monarchy in the world. The current Japanese monarchy began with the legendary Emperor Jimmu in 660 BC. Since then there have been 124 recognized monarchs, including the current reigning emperor. However, there isn’t any actual genealogical evidence of relationships or even the existence evident of the first 25 emperors.

The current emperor is Emperor Akihito who has reigned since 1989. The succeeding emperor is based on birth order of boys. Akihito was the eldest of 5 boys and succeeded his father, Hirohito.

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The Curse of the Colonel, as it’s called, is an urban legend that KFC founder Colonel Sanders placed a curse on the Japanese Kansai-based Hanshin Tigers baseball team. The curse was apparently placed on the team because the Colonel was angry that one of his storefront statues was mistreated.

The Hanshin Tigers are considered the permanent underdogs of Nippon Professional Baseball, but fans still always flock to the stadium. The Tigers have only won one championship, in 1985. That was the year the curse was cast. Apparently the team were so excited over their win that they tossed a statue of Colonel Sanders into a river. It’s been said that they would never win another championship until the statue was recovered.

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When Emperor Hirohito broadcast his surrender order to the Japanese people on August 14, 1945, almost no one could understand his dialect.

The “Jewel Voice Broadcast” was the radio broadcast during World War II in which Japanese Emperor Hirohito announced to the Japanese people that the government had decided to surrender. The announcement came following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the declaration of war against Japan by the Soviet Union.

The speech was notable for a few reasons, one being that it was the first time in history that an Emperor of Japan had spoken directly to the common people.

The problem was that almost none of them could understand it. The reason why is because he was speaking in a style of Classical Japanese that few ordinary people knew. In addition, he didn’t outright say “Japan has surrendered,” but that the government was accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.

This made many people unsure if Japan had surrendered or not. The poor audio quality also added to the confusion. In the end, someone had to translate for the emperor to make it clear.

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They get square watermelons by growing them inside of square glass cases. That way they can fit easily into an overcrowded refrigerator, and you can stack things on them.

Square watermelons are expensive though (10,000 yen or about $82). Compare that to regular round watermelons which cost about $15-20 in Japan.

The square boxes they're grown in are the exact dimensions of Japanese refrigerators, which means they fit perfectly. At $82 each, these square watermelons probably wouldn't be too popular in the United States. Our solution for a lack of refrigerator space? Smaller, seedless watermelons.

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Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, somewhere around 7th or 9th highest in the world in the last few years. It's widely considered a national issue, because it's the leading cause of death among men aged 20 to 44. 

It doesn't help that culturally, suicide is considered a morally responsible action in certain cases. The economy, depression and social pressure are some of the highest reasons for suicide. 71% of suicides were male in 2006.

Jumping in front of a train is a popular way to end your life in Japan. It's considered to be practical and nuisance free to the person's family. However, it isn't for the train companies. A person committing suicide can slow down traffic for a few hours. 

To dissuade people from doing this, train companies have begun implementing certain measures to lower the number of suicides. One is fining the decesed family members. They can be charged up to 1 million yen, or $12,000. They've also begun installing blue LEDs in stations, which can have a claming effect on jumpers. Another method they've begun testing is having station doors that contain people until the train arrives. 

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They call it Bagel Head, and it's exactly what it sounds like. A technician injects saline solution into your forehead, then presses his or her thumb in the middle to make the bump look like a bagel. The transformation is only temporary, as your body absorbs the saline solution. 

Check out a video of this below, and click the next button to see more examples of this bizarre trend!

Curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan today. Most commonly it is served in three main forms: curry rice, thick noodles, and kare-pan. Curry rice is typically what is called curry. Japanese curry utilizes many different vegetables and meats. The base curry vegetables are onions, carrots, and potatoes. 

The base meats most often used are beef, pork, and chicken. Curry was first introduced to Japan during the Meiji era, which lasted from 1868 to 1912. The British, who then had India under their administration, first brought the dish over. The dish became popular very quickly as a “western” food, and by the 1960s it became so popular that it was available for purchase in supermarkets and restaurants. 

Today, it has been so widely consumed that it is considered a national dish. It’s since spread to South Korea, which happened during the period of time that Korea was under Japanese rule in the early 20th century. Most Japanese restaurants in South Korea serve curry. So prevalent is Japanese curry today that if you have a local Asian supermarket, you can no doubt find some instant curry there. 

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A 1930 federal U.S. law was passed that prohibits importing goods made by prison labor. However, the reverse is not true. Oregon built a 47,000 square foot facility to begin making jeans and exporting them to other countries. The brand, Prison Blues, is made by prisoners in the Oregon penitentiary system. 

The prisoners have to fill out an application and go through an interview before they are hired. In 1997, Oregon made it a law that every prisoner had to have a job. At Prison Blues, prisoners are paid between six and eight dollars an hour. 

The program has been criticized, but ultimately it has grown into a strong business. Prisoners who get in trouble while at work or are fired aren’t punished beyond that within the prison. Much of the money they make goes toward room and board, as well as restitution. 

The jeans have grown into an entire apparel line. They’ve become quite popular in Japan and are sold in 250 stores in the U.S. They are also sold in Italy and Germany. 

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Pizza is a favorite food for people all over the globe, but each country has their own way of making their pizza a little snazzier. While people from the United States prefer pepperoni or sausage, people from different countries don’t shy away from making very different topping choices. 

One of the most interesting and specified topping choices is from Japan. In Japan, they love to add eels to their pizza, and another seafood: squid! You might also find a little Mayo Jaga on their pizza, which is a mix of mayonnaise, potatoes, and bacon. Here are some other interesting topping choices from other countries: 

  • If you want a pizza that tastes like a barbecue try the Outback. In Australia, a favorite pizza choice is shrimp, pineapple, and barbecue sauce. It would make for a very sweet and salty pizza! 
  • Another really interesting topping choice comes from Pakistan where curry is often added to pizza. For a unique flavor and break from monotony, curry would make a nice, and possibly spicy, addition to a pizza. 
  • And, finally, if you’re looking to be healthy, look no further than Brazil. In Brazil, rather than heavy meats or greasy bacon, they add green peas. Picture: 

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Called Hayabusa (meaning Peregrine Falcon), the unmanned Japanese spacecraft was launched on 9 May 2003. Developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), its goal was to return a sample from a small asteroid called 25143 Itokawa near Earth. It only took two years for Hayabusa to reach Itokawa.

When it arrived in mid September 2005, it studied the asteroid’s shape, spin, topography, color, composition, density, and history. It was two months before it actually landed on the asteroid and gathered samples, though. It took five years for it to return to Earth, though. It didn’t reenter until 13 June 2010.

Hayabusa wasn’t the first successful visit to an asteroid, but it was the first to return to Earth with samples. Galileo and NEAR Shoemaker (both by NASA) had visited asteroids before. Hayabusa was also the first spacecraft designed to land on an asteroid and take off again. Though it was intended to only be a brief landing, Hayabusa sat on the surface of the asteroid for 30 minutes.

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