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Strange Things About Japan

Last update May 5, 2021

Why Japanese Love Cherry Blossoms?

Year after year, there are two things Japanese just can’t do without. Cherry blossoms and red maple leaves viewing. Indeed, they are musts to duly welcome spring and bid farewell to autumn. So obsessed that failing to do so makes them feel “guilty”. Imagine... it’s like you’ve missed a reunion with your dear long-time-no-see friends who could stay only for a short time.

So every year when spring comes closer, TV weather programs start giving “cherry blooming forecasts", and people began chatting like "How are they doing?”, “A bit late this year and still in buds” or “Now it’s the time!”. Compared with the autumnal counterpart, the cherry blossom is like gold versus silver. Thus a jumble of people - young and old, men and women, retired or non-retired - are back again under cherry trees for Hanami (flower viewing)!

But why people adore this flower so much?

Why Raccoon Dogs Everywhere?

Just look at these adorable things! This is a tanuki village named “Shigaraki”, and wherever you go here, you’ll see many many potteries of this animal. Read more...

Why Fish Banners in the Sky?

What are these things? What’s happening in the sky? This phenomenon is becoming popular in suburban areas in Japan. Not in the countryside where there are plenty of lands for accommodating every Taro’s (equivalent of English Jack) fishes. Those banners are called Koi Nobori (lit. a carp climber) and traditionally raised in the sky by each family with male children to wish for their health and success, on the fifth of May (previously the festival day dedicated to boys).

But why carps?

Why Fresh Tatami Mats Stink?

One day, my upstairs neighbour, an Australian who had just moved in, complained, “I cannot stand those tatami mats. They are so stinky! What’s wrong with them?” I instantly knew he was referring to that bracing smell (I mean for the Japanese) of freshly prepared tatami mats. Apartment owners in Japan usually renew tatami mats for new tenants, and it was apparent he had got spick-and-span ones.

“Why do they stink?” he demanded.