1. Japan is likely the most homogeneous nation on earth. Close to 99% of the people are ethnically Japanese, almost all of the remainder are Koreans born in Japan. Nearly 100% of the people speak Japanese, with a 99% plus literacy rate. Everyone in the country has access to Japan’s pseudo-governmental TV and radio stations, known as NHK. Absent some private schools, every school in Japan teaches the same centralized curriculum.
2. One reason Japan is so crowded is that 70% of the nation is mountain. Most people are crammed into limited coastal plains, mostly along the Pacific Coast. Overall, only about 11% of the land is flat enough to build or grow food on. The stretch running miles and miles from Yokohama, through Kawasaki, and past Tokyo, is essentially fully occupied, and was dubbed the world’s first mega-city.
Image Source: Big Think
3. Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital and the only major city not destroyed by American bombs during World War II, has so many temples and shrines that if visited one a day, it would take you over four years to see them all (assuming no weekends off!)
4. Japan has too many elderly people and not enough children. The average age of Japan’s population is close to the retirement age, and many drug stores now sell as many adult diapers as child diapers. Today, Japan has over 50k people 100 years or older; when the government started counting in 1963 when there were just 153 people over 100.
Image Source: The Economist
5. Japan even has more pets than children. Fewer women these days are interested in raising a family, as most are forced to quit their jobs when pregnant. Also, apartments are small and day care in short supply. Single mothers are shunned, and many Japanese women are reluctant to be pinned down in the traditional marriages that still predominate in Japan.
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6. Many young Japanese women are obsessed with their weight, leading to Japan having the world’s highest rate of anorexia. Some don’t want to get pregnant, because of the weight gain.
7. Some of the most popular manga among Japanese women are those featuring Shojo boys and Shonen girls, characters of ambiguous gender and sexuality. Often the boys are drawn to look so feminine that it is unclear what gender is kissing what other gender. Women say they find this depiction less threatening, and “softer.”
8. Japan is manga crazy. Some commentators estimate the Japanese use more paper for comics than for toilet paper.
9. In part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, Japan has about only two gun-related homicides a year. Sadly, Japan is the only country in the world that has had atomic weapons used against it.
10. Most Japanese schools don’t have janitors. Students are required to clean their schools, including scrubbing the floors and toilets. The practice is thought to make students more responsible and humble.
11. The Japanese love fresh fish, and exotic tuna ranks high on anyone’s list. In fact, the world’s most expensive single fish, a four hundred pound blue fin tuna, was sold in Japan for $1.8 million.
12. There are vending machines in Japan that sell beer and whiskey in addition to the usual soft drinks. In fact, Japan has more vending machines for its size than any other country on earth, currently about 5.52 million machines nationwide. And someone apparently counts them all.
13. The number 13 is not an unlikely number in Japan. The number 4, which when pronounced sounds like the word for death, is considered unlucky.