Size Does Matter
Tourists tend to be pretty idealistic about how much they can see of a country while on a short vacation. While there are destinations that can be covered in just a few days (we’re looking at you, Luxembourg), Australia is most definitely not one of them.
Americans tend to be more understanding of this, as they’re accustomed to driving a whole day and barely leaving the state but Europeans are often thrown off by the sheer size of other countries.
The Biggest Tourist Scam
Overpriced taxis are pretty much the oldest tourist scam in the book. Taxi drivers can charge pretty much whatever they want based on the assumption that the tourists won’t know any better.
Even if the passenger insists on using the meter to determine the price, the driver can just take a long way around the city — when the tourist’s destination is right around the corner. Anyway, there’s no better way to learn a culture than taking public transportation!
Well, That’s Ambitious
Road tripping is a huge part of touring the US but it’s important to be realistic in one’s expectations of how much ground a person can cover in one trip.
The US is massive and different areas have vastly different cultures and points of interest. Therefore, it’s best to either take a very long trip to see the whole US or just focus on one cluster of states and really see everything that they have to offer.
Hotels Are for Fools
Sure, one can pay a ton of money to stay in a fancy hotel that will be just like any accommodation they can find in their home country — or they can stay in a riad and truly experience Morocco.
Given Moroccans’ stress on superb hospitality and the pricing of riads, tourists get a lot more bang for their buck with this option. Plus, it’s a great way to fully immerse yourself in the Moroccan culture.
Not All Fries Need Ketchup
A dead giveaway that a person’s a tourist, and has an extremely strange taste, is if they eat poutine with ketchup while in Canada.
Canadians take their poutine very seriously and, while they’re known for being incredibly nice, we wouldn’t want to see what would happen if a person were to insult poutine in front of a local. Our advice? Leave the ketchup for regular fries back home, where it belongs.
When in Rome…
This is a common tourist mistake in pretty much every popular vacation spot — people just stick to the famous cities and attractions, which results in them missing out on some serious gems. In order to really learn about a culture, one has to venture outside the main cities that are probably filled with other tourists anyway.
A good rule of thumb is to try to stay away from areas where everyone speaks English if one really wants to immerse themselves in the country they’re visiting.
It’s Not K-Pop Land
Tourists go to Korea expecting it to be like the K-Pop version of Disneyland, where everyone’s dressed up in character and looks ready to burst into song at any moment.
We hate to disappoint but life is not a music video and the average person doesn’t really dress like that for a day in the office. We recommend that tourists leave their extravagant costumes at home and just pack some stylish clothes for their trip to Korea.
Not So Much…
Not only is Hong Kong significantly more expensive than other Asian countries but it was actually named the world’s most expensive city for ex-pats. Of course, it all depends on which country a tourist is coming from and what they compare it to — but it’s certainly far more expensive than Thailand.
An average trip to Hong Kong is around $1,500 per person for one week. While that’s certainly not the most expensive, it’s definitely not Thailand, where a tourist could spend a week with just a few hundred dollars.
Tired Old Stereotypes
This is pretty much the equivalent of thinking that Texas is full of people wearing cowboy hats and boots, riding their horses to work each day. While Scotland has its fair share of redheads, they’re still the minority as far as hair colors go.
Kilts are only worn for tourist attractions or, sometimes, at weddings. Not every Scottish person knows how to play the bagpipes, either — just like not every American knows how to play football.
Can’t Handle the Heat
Different cultures have different definitions of what’s spicy, so it’s always best to err on the side of caution. If one is in a popular tourist destination, then the locals are probably used to having to water down their food a bit.
A good trick is to let the waiter know where you’re visiting from so the cook can assess the level of spice that you’re able to handle. Or one could be adventurous, like this guy was, and spend half their trip in the bathroom.
We’ve Arrived at the Destination
Oxford University’s official website says the following: “Oxford is not a campus university, the University and College buildings can be found throughout the city center.”
If tourists are hoping for a photo opp in front of a specific building that’ll tell their social media followers where they are, Oxford University may not be the destination for them. That being said, it’s still definitely worth a visit, even if it’s not the UK’s most Instagram-worthy location.
One Big Tourist Attraction
Assuming that Amsterdam represents the Netherlands is the same as thinking that New York City is a representation of the entire US. While a lovely city, Amsterdam is really its own entity that isn’t a perfect example of the Netherlands as a whole.
Believe it or not, there are even parts of the Netherlands in which sobriety is highly valued. Now, that’s not what most tourists expect when booking a trip to Amsterdam!
It’s Not the Same Thing
Spanish and Portuguese are similar but by no means are they the same language! People like to compare them to American English and British English, where just a few words and the accent are different but that’s simply not the case.
Portuguese and Spanish are completely different languages that have certain words in common. Basically, if a person doesn’t know the correct language of the country they’re in, it’s best to play the ignorant tourist and stick to English.
Going for the Wet Look
Unless a person is going for the wet/hair slicked-back look, they may want to keep in mind that Singapore is extremely humid. Despite the random rain that one might experience there, it’s still very hot.
The public transportation in Singapore is incredibly safe and reliable, so that may be a tourist’s best bet. Keep in mind, though, that eating or drinking on a bus or train is illegal in order to preserve the country’s cleanliness.
Become a Night Owl
While some countries have a very “go, go, go” mentality in the mornings, Australians are a bit more laid-back and like to start their days slowly. The real treat in Melbourne, specifically, is its nightlife as it’s known to be the country’s party capital.
For those looking to really experience Australia, it’s probably best to sleep in just a bit and save up energy for after the sunsets. Mornings are for tourists but the night is Australia’s real time to shine.
Rain, Rain, Go Away
When people think about Florida, they tend to think about beaches, flamingos, retirement, and Florida Man news stories. One thing that tourists always seem to forget about, though, is the consistent rain. Pack the beach clothes, pool noodles, and golf shirts — but don’t forget about proper rain gear too.
Even when it’s not raining, it’s super humid, so get ready to be soaked either way. On that note, get ready for some terrible hair. Remember that episode of Friends when Monica’s hair was super frizzy? Yeah, like that.
Gotta Pay Those Bills
While some European countries do tip, others do not, but tipping is absolutely essential in the US. Wait staff’s base salary is shockingly low so tips are really where they make their money.
Even if someone received poor service, they should still leave some form of a tip as that’s a person’s livelihood at stake. Tourists should bear in mind that not tipping in the US makes a serious statement as to what they think about their server… and it’s not a flattering one.
Ask and You Shall Receive
In the US, when asked how you are, the only socially acceptable answers are “fine” or “good,” which begs the question — why are we meant to ask in the first place?
There are many countries that don’t do those sorts of pleasantries when starting a conversation, so if one asks a person how they’re doing, they will answer… honestly. Unless a person is ready to hear all about a stranger’s personal problems, it’s probably best not to ask at all.
Not All Taxis Are Real
Jamaica is a beautiful country with wonderful people, making it a great travel destination! That being said, it’s important to be safe anytime one travels and Jamaica is no different. While taking taxis is a popular way for tourists to get around, there are fake taxis that can be dangerous if confused with real ones.
Real taxis in Jamaica have red and white license plates with the letters PP on them. It’s also recommended for tourists to book cabs through their hotel concierge.
That’s Not Red Paint…
Everyone rides bikes in the Netherlands and we do mean everyone… cycling is even how the Prime Minister there gets to work! With a population of 17 million people, the Netherlands boasts a whopping 22 million bikes.
Therefore, we strongly suggest taking a good look around before walking outside. Sure, it’s important to look right and left for cars but what tourists really need to watch out for are the bikes so they don’t end up adding to the red bike lanes.
Got it, Mate!
People from the US can compare Australia’s “mate” to the South’s “bless your heart” — meaning it can be very good, or very bad, depending on a lot of factors. In general, it’s best for tourists to avoid local slang unless they’re incredibly sure of how to use it properly.
The last thing anyone needs is to get into a fight in a foreign country because they thought they were calling someone a friend but insulted them instead.
Don’t Be a Show-off
While being a show-off is poor form in general, there are specific countries where one has to be extra careful not to flex their perceived wealth. Many locals choose to buy phone cases with rings on the back, so they can loop their finger to their phones, in order to avoid someone just grabbing it and running off.
Another safety tip is to wear jewelry turned out so that any precious gems aren’t visible. It’s also best not to handle cash in public in countries with higher crime rates.
“Don’t Go to Oslo”
While it’s possible to see the northern lights in Oslo, it’s not at all a reliable place to ensure seeing the lights. The northern lights are best seen from Bodo, Tromso, or Alta — which are all 16 to 19 hours away from Oslo.
It’s also important to note that whether or not one can see the northern lights will depend on the weather, so it’s best not to hinge the entire trip on that one experience.
Stand Out From the Crowd
If the sole purpose of one’s trip is to have the experience of visiting a particular destination, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, if a person really wants to see an entire city, it’s usually not worth it to wait in line all day for a specific restaurant.
Usually, those places are overhyped anyway and there are other locations that are just as special. Perhaps check out the places that the locals go to? They’re certainly not waiting in line all day, every day for their meal!
As Fake as Reality TV
Many locations have people selling fake tickets to shows they have no connection to, but Times Square in Manhattan has some of the worst of them.
Tourists should bear in mind that literally anyone can just stand there, sell stubs of paper, and claim that they’re legitimate tickets. Our advice is to always buy from the source, it may be a bit pricier, but at least it’ll get you into the show.
The Locals Know Best
It’s always best to listen to the locals, as a general rule of thumb. They clearly know what they’re talking about, after all. People are often surprised by how strong the sun is in New Zealand, especially if they’re coming from countries that are more commonly thought of as being warm.
However, the ozone layer in New Zealand is particularly thin and the UV levels are high, making people in the country more susceptible to sunburns.
No PDA Here
Indians take a lot of pride in their integrity and part of that is refraining from “obscene acts” — a.k.a. public displays of affection (PDA). While people can hold hands with their friends of the same gender, it’s considered offensive to hug or kiss one’s romantic partner in public.
In fact, PDA could earn a couple up to three months in prison, a fine, or both. Well, that’s one way to learn about a culture… through the prison system.
Who Does That Anyway?
We’re not really sure why anyone would go walking around touching people’s heads in any country but, apparently, it’s an even bigger no-no in Thailand.
It’s worth noting that a person shouldn’t prop their feet up while in public in Thailand, even at the beach, as it’s considered disrespectful. While sitting in a temple, one should sit with their feet to the side or tucked under their body so that their feet won’t face a Buddha statue.
Which Bridge Is Which?
Imagine that awkward moment when someone celebrates finally reaching London Bridge on their travels only to find out that it’s actually Tower Bridge. Apparently, that happens a lot as those are two of the most commonly confused tourist landmarks in the world.
While both bridges are certainly worth a visit, it’s probably best to know which one is which before posting a captioned photo on social media, revealing one’s lack of bridge-naming game.
It Was Really Good Pasta
This is actually a pretty adorable mistake and we’re really glad that those guys didn’t correct their mistake. If it makes the waiter feel good about the food he served, then why not?
We have to admit that we’ve had food good enough that it made us want to kiss the cook, regardless of gender, so we can absolutely relate! Good food is good food and deserves all the love for it.
Don’t Gift Bad Luck
This is extremely useful information for those who may want to get a ‘thank you’ gift for their host or hostess. Interestingly, many European countries have the opposite tradition, with an odd number of flowers being reserved for funerals. The idea is that one flower is “missing” its pair.
In Romania, the thought process is — an even number represents the fact that the person has closed the circle of their life and fulfilled what they needed to.
“Can’t Touch This”
Different cultures have widely varying needs in terms of personal space and it appears that Swedes need a lot of space to themselves. In fact, tourists shouldn’t get offended if a Swede takes a few steps back from them.
Of course, this doesn’t go for any and all conversations, it depends on how well the people know each other and what the context is. Excessive hand gestures aren’t too common in Sweden, either. However, eye contact is an important invitation to start a conversation.
It’s Not Like the Movies
Despite what Hollywood may tell us, there are actually a lot of rules in the Netherlands. Yes, the country is a lot freer than other parts of the world but there’s still law and order.
We imagine that a lot of tourists believe what they see about the Netherlands in the media and make the mistake of enjoying the country’s freedoms in the wrong places. It’s important to note that Amsterdam’s main attraction isn’t legal but rather decriminalized — there’s a difference.
Come Hungry or Don’t Come
Food is an extremely big deal in Middle Eastern cultures and if a tourist leaves the Middle East the same weight as when they came in, something has gone horribly wrong.
Pretty much everything in the Middle East is signified by food — either celebrating through eating a meal or refraining from eating during solemn times. A general rule of thumb when visiting the Middle East is either come hungry or don’t come at all!
Always Say ”Hello”
In many cultures, it’s perfectly acceptable to greet a roomful of people all at once, from afar. However, there are other cultures in which each person expects an individual greeting and one should go around the room in order to say “hello” to everyone.
Furthermore, greetings are exchanged before any form of transaction or conversation in Senegal. This includes if there’s only one person in the room the individual needs to speak to, they still need to greet everyone.
”Life Is a Highway”
A very common misconception about Germany is that there’s absolutely no speed limit on the autobahn. Tourists are often disappointed when they arrive, excited to live their childhood dreams of being racecar drivers, only to find out that there are restrictions.
Some parts of the autobahn indeed don’t have a speed limit, but freeways in Germany aren’t a free-for-all. A driver who sees a round sign with three black lines on a white background is free to do as they please, but do drive safely.
”One Country, Two Systems”
There are a lot of differences between Hong Kong and Mainland China, as tourists quickly learn. Hong Kong’s citizens speak Traditional Chinese, Cantonese, and English. On Mainland China, one can hear Mandarin and Simplified Chinese.
Hong Kongers tend to be more culturally influenced by Western countries and are arguably more in tune with international trends. Meshing Hong Kong and Mainland China in our minds is an even bigger faux pas than pretending that New York and California are exactly the same.
The Flags Serve a Purpose
It’s always frustrating when people are a little too confident, to the point where they’re blatantly ignoring rules that are put into place for a reason. That being said, it’s particularly embarrassing when it’s a tourist, causing the locals to go out and rescue them because they’re representing an entire country.
Let’s all put our egos aside and simply follow the guidelines in place, at least out of respect, if for nothing else.
Who Hikes in Flip-Flops?
Clearly, some tourists are dramatically underestimating the intensity of these hikes. Either that or they’ve literally never been hiking before. Although, there’s really no excuse if there are literally signs warning tourists of this very issue.
The worst part is when people have to go and rescue them, essentially making them pay for someone else’s lack of listening to the volunteers trying to help them. We doubt that’s the impression any tourist wants to leave on a country!
We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Although Canada and the US may seem to be the same, to someone who’s never been to either one (or watched the news), they’re actually completely separate countries. So, why would anyone expect US currency to be accepted in Canada?
On another note, we have to admit that it’s pretty clever for gift shops to sell a basic supermarket staple at five times the price. How have we, as tourists, never thought to just go to the grocery store?!
It’s Just a Suggestion
In many cultures, plopping some food down onto a table without saying a word would imply that it’s complimentary. That being said, there are also cultures in which unordered food at the table is simply a suggestion. A suggestion that the diners will be charged for.
Therefore, it’s always best to clarify with the wait staff before eating the food in question. Unless one is willing to pay the price, of course, in which case — dig in!
Don’t Be ‘That’ Tourist
Many touristy locations tend to rip off travelers who come to their countries, it’s simply a hazard of being a foreigner. The assumption is that tourists don’t know the general prices of things, so they end up paying way more than they need to.
This is easily resolved with some basic research before traveling, to familiarize oneself with the prices in the country of question. It’s like that old Geico commercial — “15 minutes could save you 15% or more…”
V Is For…
While many hand gestures may feel universal, they often are not. Usually, the repercussions will be simply that no one understands what a person is trying to say, which isn’t too bad. Occasionally, though, a tourist can accidentally be truly offensive.
Interestingly, even in countries with the same language (such as the US and UK), the same hand gesture can have wildly different meanings. That, folks, is why we must always do our research before traveling.
It’s Bigger Than It Looks
Never underestimate the sheer size of good ol’ Canada. The general recommendation is to spend a couple of months traveling Canada in order to really see everything the country has to offer.
Of course, there will always be those ambitious tourists who try to cram everything into a quick trip. Much like any time we try to cram large things in, rather than giving them the TLC they deserve, tourists will be left disappointed.
Don’t Mess With Them
Repeat after us — Never, EVER, mess with the Queen’s men. There are videos all across social media in which disrespectful tourists learned the hard way that the Royal Guard isn’t playing around.
Either way, why bother those people who are just trying to do their jobs? Imagine if some tourist tried to come to your place of work and mock you? Let’s all try to do better and represent our countries with dignity by not starting fights we’ll surely lose.
There are many amazing Japanese items that to us were so foreign, but are completely normal to the people there – and they’re pretty genius.
Compressed and Comfortable Cotton T-Shirts
One amazing thing about this product is its ability to maximize the use of space in such an ingenious way. This compressed t-shirt makes clothes shopping as easy as just picking up a cube from a bin. It’s not like these are scratchy, or low-quality shirts either, one such unique shirt can sell for as much as nearly $20.
Packs of Single Coffee Filters
Most coffee snobs out there tend to agree that the best way to enjoy this caffeinated beverage is by making it with something called the pour-over method. The pour-over method essentially involves having a filter, taking a kettle of boiling hot water, and slowly pouring it over the top of the ground coffee beans. This helps the coffee release its natural flavors, but it can be a pain to do. Thankfully, the Japanese have a solution here.
Tiny and Private Hotel Capsules
When it comes to convenience and space, no other country in the world is able to do it like the Japanese. Whereas here in the United States we’re used to having lots of open space, and big hotel rooms to stay the night, the Japanese had to get a little creative. So, they invented the private pod capsule, which comes complete with television and Wi-Fi for all stays. The best part is, it’s incredibly cheap, something travelers on a budget will enjoy.
Drivers Who Care About Passengers
The Japanese have a deep culture of respect and service which they extend to both locals and visitors alike. As can be seen here, this driver made sure to step out of the bus and open his umbrella so that passengers wouldn’t get wet while they left the bus and opened their umbrellas. Meanwhile, in most places throughout the world, many bus drivers will just yell at you for not getting off fast enough or leave you in the cold.
Toilet Paper to Clean Smartphones
It’s only called toilet paper because it comes in rolls similar to the toilet paper that we see in the bathroom, only this one has a much different use. This toilet paper was specifically designed to clean cell phones, so you don’t have to worry about smudges and other bits of dirt on your screen while you’re scrolling the web or texting your friends. The best part is that it even offers instructions on how to connect to local Wi-Fi.
Customize Your Perfect Pillow
Whereas in most hotels there’s a big “you get what you get” mentality, in Japan it’s anything but. There, they offer you a wide selection of pillows that you can select based on your personal preferences. That means something as important as how tall, dense, bouncy, or filled your pillow is all the way down to what color you want it to be. Like we said, the Japanese are big into customer service, so you know you’re getting a good night’s sleep.
Noodles That Taste Like Pringles
One delicious dietary item that’s big in Japan is noodles. There’s no doubt that no matter where you are in this massive country that you’re likely not going to find a cafe or restaurant that doesn’t offer you a bowl of delicious noodles. This particular item is great because it’s almost like Japan and the US meet in the middle. Pringles, an American company, decided to partner up with a local Japanese company to give us delicious Pringles flavored noodles.
Comparing Bridge Heights to Godzilla
When Godzilla first came out, it was a big hit in both Japan and the United States. People lined up outside of movie theaters to watch this giant monster emerge from the depths and tear down some of Japan’s most beloved landmarks. Even though the original movie is almost 60 years old, people in Japan still love it, and here we can see a bridge height that is being referenced by the height of this iconic national movie monster.
Glasses For Anyone Needing Them
Anyone who wears glasses can attest that it’s a huge problem to realize that you’ve left the house without them. Thankfully, there is a solution in Japan – leaving out extra pairs to help people cope with their all too common mistake. This is such a small and easy gesture that the Japanese are probably completely used to but would completely blow most Americans out of the water. That mentality of helping one another is definitely something we should all adopt.
Bread With Crusts Already Cut
It’s hard to say how many people would prefer their sandwiches with the crust vs without. That might be an interesting poll to do to see where exactly people’s preferences lie. In Japan, it looks like they felt that there were enough people who would rather be eating their sandwiches without the crust. Rather than the Japanese shrugging and saying “too bad” to those people who like their sandwiches sans crust, the Japanese decided to sell them for their convenience.
Beautiful Manhole Covers
There are many people who would say that attention to detail is a very important quality. In Japan, rather than have just an ordinary manhole cover on the ground that doesn’t look particularly appealing, the Japanese would prefer to carve into them a beautiful design for people to enjoy. If you think that this is impressive, you should see how the cities themselves look. Immaculate and clean, it’s sometimes hard to remember that you’re walking through a regular busy city.
Strollers For Anyone to Use
There are many times that parents are walking around with their children when they suddenly run into a problem – they still have a few errands to run, but their kids are absolutely exhausted. Rather than make everybody uncomfortable by dragging their exhausted children from store to store while they’re crying and begging to go home, Japanese malls have strollers that people walking throughout the mall can use. That means that there must be a lot less crying babies over there.
Little Surprises for Their Customers
This is a cool little service that companies do for their beloved clients. Sometimes, during orders, companies will include a small, yet thoughtful, gift to make the person feel like they truly matter. When looking at this photo it’s clear that this is a great idea and one that probably accomplishes what it sets out to do. This lovely origami shirt was gifted to someone who ordered something as small and simple as a small box of cheap plastic pens.
Dry Ice for Cold Foods
This is such a simple and genius idea that we can’t believe that this hasn’t been brought back to not only the United States, but to the rest of the world. There have been too many times in our lives when we’ve purchased some cold products only to get home and see that they’ve already melted. Well, in Japan, you can always go to the dry ice dispenser and get a few dry ice balls to make sure everything stays cold and nothing melts.
Airline Employees Bow to Passengers
It can’t be overstated the amount of respect that the people in Japan have towards their customers. We may think that “the customer is always right” in the States, but in Japan, that mentality is taken to a whole different level. Here, the crew of an airplane got out of their chairs and bowed to their customers as a way of apology for a flight that got delayed. The most remarkable part – the late plane probably wasn’t even their fault.
Carts to Move Heavy Objects
Imagine seeing something like this in the United States. It would probably take four or five people to move all these boxes up those flights of stairs. By the end of that difficult task, they would likely all be sweaty and tired. Well, if there’s one thing Japan is known for, it’s their love for technology and innovation. In this case, they have a pretty ingenious cart that can help just one person carry heavy objects up flights of stairs.
Flights Show What the Pilot Sees
By now we’re probably used to screens that show us where we are as we fly over the globe. But have you ever wondered what it must look like from the pilot’s perspective to be able to have that incredible view as they fly a plane? Well, on this Japanese airline you can actually share in their experience as you watch them soar over the Earth. Those incredible scenes almost make us wish that we had gone to flight school.
Not Your Normal Train Lunch
If there’s one thing that many people tend to agree on when visiting Japan it’s that the food is varied and delicious. Much of it can be summed up in this picture, it’s bright and colorful and is given to you in very appealing boxes. The best part about the food there – this is the cheapest that you can buy. Literally, this is food that you would get at a train station, so imagine food at a five-star restaurant.
Single-Use Strawberry Lip Balm
One of the worst things about lip balm is how the more you use it, the dirtier it gets. There are lots of other things to complain about with the classic lip balm that we use as well – it is slowly whittled down to a nub the longer it’s kept in use and sharing it with your friends is like playing a game of germ roulette. Thankfully, the Japanese invented a much more convenient replacement for that: packets of single-use balm.
Learn While You Eat
This lunch isn’t only just delicious and actually quite healthy, it’s also educational as well. The map on the box in front of the food actually shows where in Japan all the food in your tray came from. This probably helps people to appreciate what they’re eating, knowing that all their food came from different areas all over the country only to end up in a tray for them to enjoy. It also reminds us to be more mindful, too.
That’s One Very Advanced Toilet
This toilet has quite a few features that we would like to go in on, but the one thing we’d like to focus on is the fact that you can actually have music playing while sitting there. For us in America, that sounds quite bizarre that there would be a toilet that plays music on demand, but if we stop and think about it there’s actually some sense to it. After all, how many bathrooms in restaurants play us music?
A Child Sized Toilet
This is both adorable and ingenious. Rather than make parents have to deal with their child struggling to use a public bathroom that was made for adults, the Japanese made sure to install toilets that children can use as well. This probably keeps the bathroom from getting too messy as children would likely have trouble using a normal sized toilet. It’s also adorable to look at and we think the picture is completed by the duck feet on the ground.
Actual Liquid Toilet Seat Cleaner
There’s no doubt that most bathrooms could use some serious improvements when it comes to cleanliness and hygiene. The Japanese decided to take a step in the right direction by installing a toilet seat soap that, combined with a little toilet paper, makes using a public bathroom a much less gross experience. This consideration for other people is one of the hallmarks of Japanese culture, and something that we would be very grateful if the rest of the world adopted.
Tiny Fire Trucks in Hokkaido
These conveniently small fire trucks ensure that water is being delivered to wherever it needs to go at breakneck speeds. A problem with many fire trucks in most of the world is that they’re quite big and heavy. This means they travel slowly while heading down roads and highways, and lose precious minutes when it comes to fighting a blaze. These small fire trucks, while not carrying as much water, are able to get on the scene much more quickly.
The High Tech Parking Structures
Ever forgotten where you parked your car in the parking structure and been forced to wander around for awhile until you happen to stumble across it? Well, if you lived in Japan you wouldn’t have had to live in fear of that scenario happening to you. In Japan, they use a high tech parking structure system that actually puts your car on a conveyor belt and parks it and brings it back for you so you can shop without stress.
Beauty and Appreciation for Nature
Imagine if outside every apartment building we had our own beautiful plant that was provided to us by the city. It might make us feel closer to the place where we live, knowing that not only are we caring for a plant, but for the beauty of our city as well. Unlike big grassy lawns that you might see in suburban areas, these plants don’t require nearly as much water or upkeep, making them much more environmentally friendly as well.
Keep Track of Your Fitness
Ever debated between using the stairs and using the elevator? Well, in Japan they try to encourage their citizens to do the small things that can help someone burn a few calories here and there. As a result, on stairs, they actually paint how many calories you’re burning per stair! While it’s not a lot per step, around 0.1 calories per step, if you do that every day you will have burned quite a few calories just from that.
Super High Tech Restaurants
This restaurant has used a lot of technology to make ordering food as easy and convenient as possible. Rather than have to flip through menus offering vague descriptions of dishes, you can now choose simply and easily on a touch screen that will not only describe to you the food, but show you pictures as well. After you’ve decided, the food will come out of the door on the left and slide along the conveyor belt right up to you.
Priority Seating That’s Made Obvious
It’s well known that some people need a seat more than others. Pregnant women, people who have young children with them, disabled people, those who have sustained some sort of injury, or our beloved senior citizens could probably use a seat a bit more than someone who is young and healthy. In order to make this point more obvious, Japan has pictures on their train seats showing who gets the priority seating. Talk about making a good and conscious effort!
Family Name Plates on Houses
People in Japan seem to be proud of their environment, and that extends to their houses as well. One thing that has become commonplace in Japan is families putting nameplates on the front of their houses. This tradition is believed to have begun after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923. After many people sadly lost their homes, they had to rebuild. Since it took cities a long time to mark homes with numbers, people put nameplates instead.
Kiddy Seat While Parents Have to Go
Going to a public restroom with your child can be awkward, to say the very least. Where do you put your kid when you have to do your business? You can’t leave them outside for obvious reasons. But can you just expect them to stand still while you “go”? In Japan, many bathrooms have specific seats that you can put your kids in to ensure that they sit still. Talk about being a control freak!
Rain Warning Light in Elevator
For most people in the world, there is enough time to prepare to open up your umbrella in order to shelter yourself from the rain after exiting an elevator. For some strange reason though, there are elevators in Japan that specifically have light indicators that prepare users for this eventuality. If it’s raining outside, a light will flash of an umbrella, warning people to get their umbrellas ready at the helm. We guess this is useful.
Small Pads of Paper in Gum Box
At first, the following “surprise” simply looks like a bunch of post-it notes, which would seem like such a random thing to show up inside a tub of chewing gum. However, there is a really practical reason why some chewing gum brands in Japan include this. The reason is as follows: each piece of paper in the pad can be used to put the finished piece of chewing gum into and to dispose of easily.
Taxi Slow Down Button
Wherever we are in the world, there are bound to be annoying taxi drivers who drive a little too quickly for our liking or make us feel on edge. Thankfully, the people of Japan have responded to this concern in a pretty constructive way. In some taxis, there is actually a button that allows passengers to press if they feel like the driver is going too fast. In theory, though, you could just ask the driver to slow down.
Bathroom Stall Digital Maps
It can be really annoying walking around a bathroom and trying to work out which stalls are vacant and which are occupied. You don’t want to have to knock on the door, look at the gap below, or ask a stranger. That’s where the following digital map comes in handy. Outside the bathroom, potential users can see exactly which stalls are free before they even enter. No more awkward searching, you can just get straight to the point.
Color Coordinated Luggage Lines
Don’t you just hate it when you have to stand at the conveyor belt at the airport for what seems like hours and wait for ages until your luggage arrives? Moreover, it’s so annoying when 90% of the luggage is the exact same color. At the very least, there might be a handful of bags that are the same color as yours. In Japan though, airlines will line up the luggage in order of what color they are so they can be picked out quicker by passengers.
Steamless Bathroom Mirrors
Steamed-up mirrors are a real problem for people all over the world. Unless you have the window open or some kind of vent, you’re going to struggle to see your reflection. However, it turns out that in Japan, many people can still look into the mirror clearly without having to crack a window open. This is because certain mirrors have a heated facility in its center than won’t steam up after one has had a shower. That’s genius!
Toilet “Privacy” Buttons
While we have already established that toilets in Japan are generally pretty high tech in comparison to other toilets around the world, we couldn’t help but shed some light on the following facility. In some public restrooms, there is a specific button that plays either random noise or some music. This is to drown out any awkward sounds you might be making while doing your business. While it’s hilarious when you think about it, it’s actually a pretty useful facility.
Umbrellas Show Patterns When Wet
For some strange reason, some umbrellas in Japan show funky patterns when they are wet enough. These include silhouettes of cats and flowers, amongst other things. We don’t know how essential this feature is or if people in other parts of the world need it, but for aesthetic purposes, it’s kind of cool. Maybe it is important to know if your umbrella is wet at any given time. We haven’t put too much thought into it, to be honest.
Cheesecake Claw Machines
We are used to seeing claw machines at arcades that allow kids to search for toys and games. You know, kid stuff. However, it seems like the people of Japan are very much in touch with their inner child and will happily use claw machines for all sorts of things. Take this machine, for example, which allows users to try and collect cheesecakes. While a vending machine would be a much more simple alternative, we can imagine this being kind of fun!
Keep the Feet Dry
This is a great invention that is quite popular in Japan – it is a tiny umbrella for your shoes when it is raining. This tiny umbrella for your shoes will help keep your feet dry while you are walking in the rain. It easily attaches to the shoes, and you can easily remove it when the rain stops and you do not need them anymore. Sometimes, a little innovation will help your dry feet travel quite a distance.
A Completely Dry Journey
We all know that the umbrella was one of the great inventions in the history of mankind. But what if the wind picks up? This umbrella, with the added plastic curtain to keep you dry all around, is an even better invention. This is great to use while in an open space if the wind throws the rain against you. Plus, you do not need to take up a lot of space around you to stay dry all the time.
Slip on the Dust Brush
With this invention, you can easily use the brush and dustpan slippers to pick up those annoying pieces of dirt. This is especially great for people with back problems who can’t bend to sweep up the dust from the floor. When you are done, you simply put on your normal slippers or shoes and merrily go on your way. These shoes should be brought to the West so that we can also enjoy a new way of cleaning the floor.
The Handbag’s Groove
With a groove cut into the back of the chair, you can easily hang your handbag on the back to keep it from sliding down. This is great if you are in a hurry and need to quickly put your handbag out of the way. However, it is not always good to put it on a table or on the chair seat where somebody can accidentally sit on your handbag. Just hook it in the groove and worry no more! This also makes it more difficult for someone to try and grab it while you’re sitting back!
For Perfect Lip Painting
This little piece of gear will help you put on lipstick without messing up too much. It will also help prevent smudging when putting the lipstick on while you are in a moving vehicle. The little mask can be fitted easily around your mouth, and you can apply the lipstick without worry. With this mouth mask in your purse or handbag, there will be no more awkward lipstick smudges for you.
Water On the Go
If you do not trust the water in the area you are commuting or just walking around in, this is a way to bring your own water. It can even be done on a rainy day without costing you anything for a cool drink. This upside-down umbrella will catch the water in the bottle and keep you dry while you are walking in the rain. It would have been great if the water bottle was strapped on your back for better convenience and comfort, though.
If you are one of those people who just cannot put eye drops in your eyes, this device will help you get it done. It will drop those drops exactly where you want them without any mess at all. The great thing about these glasses with the little funnels is that it will feel as if someone else is doing it for you. You just need to drop the eye drops in the funnels, and the rest will be done quickly and easily.
Wear Your Umbrella
This is another invention to keep you prepared when you most need it to stay dry on an unexpected, wet, rainy day. Just use the umbrella as a tie when there is no rain in sight… And then quickly remove it when the rain comes! Many commuters will be envious of you when you are the only one not getting wet in a sudden downfall. You can also be the knight who saves the damsel in distress when your wife or girlfriend forgets their umbrella.
If You Could Use a Hand
This is especially the case when you are preparing food and need to make those delicate cuts without cutting the fingers. Why worry if you can just use a fake hand to hold the food and cut without the stress of cutting yourself. With this hand in the way, you will be able to cut your food like a professional chef without drawing blood with that overly sharp knife.
Keep on Wiping Your Hands
How many times have you been caught without a way to wipe your hands after washing your hands? What do you do then? You simply wipe them on the back of your pants the teenage way. With this invention, you can go ahead and keep on wiping them on your backside. But maybe it would be better if you had some velcro. Then, you can just tear them off and put the towels in your pocket when you are done!
Tissues Are Handed Out Freely
When walking down the street in Japan, it’s not so uncommon to see people handing out tissues to passersby for free. While this may seem odd, it actually makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons. The first is having a tissue is always handy, wiping away the sweat on a hot day or covering your nose when you sneeze are just a couple uses for them. Another is that many companies actually advertise their products on these free and handy tissues.
A Single-Use Pocket Warmer
In Japan they call it a kairo, but what it really is is a chemical compound that is put inside of these plastic packets. What you do is, if you’re feeling cold, you are able to activate the chemicals inside by shaking the bag. After that, you just put it in your pocket or hold the packet in your hand and it will warm you up. After you’re done, just feel free to throw out this quite useful pocket warmer.
Unbelievable Art in Rice Paddies
Rice paddy art isn’t just painting the tops of your rice while a helicopter flies overhead and tells you where to go, it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. The Japanese have learned to farm many different types of rice, and many of them have different colors as part of their features. So, as a way of bringing pride to farms and entertaining the masses, farmers will take different types of rice and plant them into these lovely images.
Dekotora, or Decorated Trucks
Dekotora is the cultural practice of decorating trucks, something that many truck drivers in Japan are quite fond of doing. This stems from a movie in the 1970s which, when translated into English, is called Truck Yarou. In that film, the trucks were covered in paintings, lights, decorations, bright colors, and all sorts of other accessories to make them really stand out. That movie then led to other truck drivers decorating their vehicles, a practice continuing up to today.
Taxis Have Automatic Doors
One of the most surprising things that people see when they come to Japan is the automatic doors that nearly all taxis have. While this seems like such a technological advancement to us, it has actually been in place in Japan since 1964, when Japan hosted the Tokyo Olympics. Think about that! For almost 60 years, the Japanese have had doors that open automatically. It’s another one of those simple things that shows how much the Japanese care about service.