17 Fun Facts About Japan To Read Before Your Journey

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Known for its rich culture, beautiful vistas and bustling cities, Japan has become one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. Every part of Japan offers something totally unique and inspiring, so let’s take a look at some interesting facts about Japan to get you ready for your journey.

1. Japan Has The World’s Highest Life Expectancy

Tied with Hong Kong with an average lifespan of 85 years, Japan has the greatest life expectancy out of any country in the world.

Japan has far fewer deaths caused by fatal diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Japan also has a very low rate of obesity likely thanks to their limited consumption of red meats and high consumption of veggies and fish.

2. The Oldest Company In The World Is In Japan

Located in Osaka, Kongo Gumi is known for being the oldest company in the world. First established in 578 AD, Kongo Gumi is a construction company that began constructing Buddhist temples throughout Japan. They’ve worked on some of Japan’s most famous structures, such as Osaka Castle.

3. Japanese Anime Accounts For 60% Of The World’s Animated Shows and Films

Japanese Animation, commonly referred to as anime, has grown incredibly popular throughout the world and is one of the biggest media genres in Japan.

Japanese billboards with Anime

Anime was first popularized in Western culture in the early 1990s, with the film Akira being considered the first pioneer in Western markets.

4. ← The Number 4 is Considered Incredibly Unlucky

The Japanese word for four sounds like shi (死) which means death, so it is commonly avoided due to superstition. It is likely that you will see buildings in Japan that don’t have a fourth floor, similar to how Americans sometimes exclude the thirteenth floor.

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5. Japan Has The Third Largest Economy In The World

Behind the United States and China, Japan has the third greatest gross domestic product measurement in the world. Japan is best known for its industry and their greatest exports are in manufacturing and technology. 

6. There Are Over 6,000 Islands In Japan

According to the Japan Statistical Yearbook, the archipelago of Japan consists of 6,852 islands. The 5 mainland islands are Hokkaido, Shikoku, Honshu, Okinawa and Kyushu. Of the other 6,847 remote islands, only about 400 of them are actually inhabited.

7. The World’s Most Sought After Melons

Many Japanese fruits are grown as luxurious gifts and are sold at remarkable prices. One of the most popular fruits is the Crown melon, which usually has a price tag of around $200 per melon. One of the most expensive melons ever sold was a Yubari King melon which sold for $45,000 at an auction in 2019.

8. Japan Has More Pets Than Children 

Japan has been experiencing a serious decline in their population, largely due to their rising senior population and decreased desire for young adults to have children.

Almost 30% of their total population are aged 65 or over, and their birth rates continue to shrink. Because of these two factors, there’s actually a larger population of registered dogs and cats, about 20 million, than children, around 15 million.

9. Mountains Make Up About 80% Of Japan’s Land Mass

The geography of Japan is incredibly diverse. Most of Japan’s land is covered in mountains and forests, with most of the population being located in the coastal plains and valleys.

Green Japanese Mountains

Three mountain chains converge in the mainland to form what are known as the Japanese alps. Mount Fuji is the highest point in the country, rising 3,776 meters above sea level.

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10. The Tokyo Metropolitan Area Is The Most Populous Area In The World

Tokyo’s metropolitan area is home to over 37 million people, with about 14 million residing within the city proper. The population density of Tokyo is about 6,200 people per square kilometer, which is 18 times higher than Japan’s average population density.

11. You Can Hire Someone To Cuddle You In Tokyo

Tokyo has many cuddle cafes where you can pay someone to cuddle you for an hourly rate. The idea is that having direct human contact reduces the body’s cortisol levels which eases symptoms of stress, insomnia, physical pain, and other conditions.

12. Japan Is One Of The Safest Countries In The World

2022’s Global Peace Index has ranked Japan in the top 10 most peaceful countries in the world.

This study accounts for many factors including any ongoing conflicts, general security for the country’s people, incarceration rates, and international relations. Street crime in Japan is incredibly rare, and gun violence is almost unheard of due to Japan’s strict gun laws.

13. Kawasaki Hosts An Infamous Fertility Festival

Kanamara Matsuri, which directly translates to Festival of the Steel Phallus, is a Shinto festival held every April which primarily focuses on phallic imagery.

People at the Festival of the Seel Phallus

Decorations, food, candy, pictures, and the majority of other aspects of the festival are all penis-shaped. Attendees of the festival often come to pray for fertility and easy childbirth, and all proceeds generated from the festival go to HIV research.

14. More Than 1,500 Earthquakes Occur In Japan Each Year

Earthquakes are nearly a daily occurrence in Japan. This is because Japan is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone in the Pacific Ocean where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

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While many of these earthquakes are incredibly small and are barely felt, some of them can cause serious destruction. In 2022, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 struck in Fukishima which damaged several buildings and injured hundreds of people.

15. Japan Has Bizarre and Creepy Vending Machines

Japan is known for having some of the most incredible vending machines. Some of them offer tasty street food like ramen and monjayaki, while others offer fun souvenirs and capsule prizes. However, there are also some pretty strange vending offerings.

In Akihabara, a part of Tokyo known for being an otaku paradise, has a notorious vending machine corner that has machines that sell insects for snacks, dashi soup stock, mystery boxes, and other oddly branded items.

16. KFC Is Eaten…For Christmas

It has become a nationally recognized tradition in Japan to eat KFC chicken for Christmas dinner.

Santa outside KFC during Christmas

KFC’s popularity in Japan first started in the 70s when Japan’s fast food industry was on the rise. Every year it is common to see lines of people out the door at KFC during the holidays, and they usually sell 5-10 times more chicken on Christmas Eve compared to the rest of the year!

17. One Of The Largest Fish Markets In The World Is In Tokyo

Toyosu Market in Tokyo is the largest wholesale fish market on the planet. At 408,000 square meters, it is nearly twice the size of the famous Tsukiji Market which it replaced in 2018.

At Japan’s annual New Year’s tuna auction in 2022, a bluefin tuna sold for over $3 million, making it the most expensive fish ever sold at auction.


Leland grew up traveling across the United States with his family, visiting the country’s many national parks. These trips helped him find a passion for camping, hiking, and traveling the globe. From Helsinki to Saint Petersburg, Leland has traveled to several cities abroad and hopes to continue exploring and experiencing the many countries of the world. He is currently planning his honeymoon trip to Scotland, where he plans to enjoy seeing the many lochs, castles, and distilleries.

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