When visiting Japan, there’s no doubt you will encounter many things beyond your imagination. Besides the fascinating traditional culture and the incredible aesthetics, there are also modern inventions that will blow your mind.
Putting aside the astonishing, yet now somewhat banal robots, there are many other genius Japanese inventions you should look for when you’re in Japan. Some of them are not really ‘inventions’ per se, but common objects that you may not find in other countries around the world. While some of them are common in touristic areas, others are for local use, and many are even recommended to purchase for your home.
So here are a few genius Japanese inventions and attractions you will really want to know about
The perfect solution to cold winter nights! Kotatsu refers to a low table to sit around, underneath it there’s a heat source, and a blanket skirt maintains the heat under the table. With your legs nice and warm under the Kotatsu – it gives an amazing new interpretation to the word “cozy”.
The funniest thing about Kotasu is something I’ve heard many Japanese people say: “it’s a dangerous thing”! Once you get used to it, it’s so hard to leave your house on cold winter days.
Also known as ‘Ninja socks’, these are the best solution to wearing flip-flops in transition seasons. Tabi socks are traditionally worn with geta (Japanese wooden footwear) when wearing a kimono, but they can actually be worn all the time. In Japan, workers such as constructionists and gardeners often wear jika-tabi (split-toe shoes), so the socks are also useful for these professions.
I don’t have an explanation why, but tabi socks are surprisingly comfortable to wear. I guess you’d have to try them to see if you feel the same way!
As simple as that! A banana will forever be a tricky food to carry around without having it smashed in your bag. This is why I think a banana case is one of the most genius Japanese inventions! If you love to carry your bananas with you everywhere – I’d really recommend you buy a banana case. It’s very common in 100 yen shops.
You’ve all probably heard about the special Japanese toilets! They can do almost everything: wash, dry, warm the seat, and make discreet noises to cover up any embarrassing toilet sounds! Some of these toilets are even environmentally friendly and have a sink over the toilet supply tank.
So although it sounds odd, when in Japan, make sure to experience the toilets!
Turning train seats
In so many countries train seats face each other, so there will always be seats facing against the traffic. Since nobody I know likes to sit against the traffic, the Japanese found a solution: train seats that can turn!
When the journey to a destination is over, the seats can turn 180 degrees to the opposite side for the return. Isn’t that cool?
Baby seats in public toilets
It’s one of those things that are so common in Japanese that it makes you think: why is it not like this in the rest of the world? Well, it can be found in other countries too, but it seems to be most common in Japan.
I have to admit I don’t pay much attention to it, but a friend of mine (who is a mommy) told me that for her, it’s the most convenient thing about Japan.
So if you’re wondering if it will be hard to travel or live in Japan with a toddler – at least in the public toilet sense – you’ll probably be fine.
I’ll just say it: some of us can’t sing! That’s a given. However, when you and the people around you are drunk enough it can be pretty enjoyable to hold the microphone in your hand.
Karaoke (literally meaning ‘empty orchestra’) is great fun! Why save our voices for the shower when we can enjoy singing surrounded by friends?
In Japan, it is common to enjoy a Karaoke night in private rooms, so everyone can choose their favorite songs. Oh – and it’s also good to not embarrass yourself in front of complete strangers 😉.
One of Japan’s best adventures if you love driving around wearing funny costumes. You can drive around the city in a small kart whilst dressed up as Super Mario or another funny costume of your choice. Just like Karaoke, I can’t explain what’s so thrilling about it – but it is!
The reaction from people watching can be truly hilarious. It’s a really enjoyable thing to do with friends when in Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto.
Like anywhere else in Asia, Japan’s main carb is rice. Although I personally don’t eat rice every single day, I do eat it quite often, and most of my Japanese friends do eat it daily. That’s why the rice cooker is so convenient: you just add the rice and water and forget about it until it’s done.
Why can’t they make such appliances for all kinds of food?
Although I don’t smoke – I did find myself buying portable ashtrays for relatives of mine who smoke.
Why is it genius?
Firstly, it’s a great solution for when there’s no ashtray around. Whenever a person wants to smoke – there’s an appropriate place to throw away cigarette filters.
Secondly, and mysteriously – it doesn’t smell! I don’t know what technology they use but it works! Forget the days where you open your bag and it smells like an ashtray.
Thirdly, it automatically puts out the cigarette so it’s much safer.
A great invention for smokers.
Umbrella stands – with locks!
Japan is pretty safe in terms of crime. But when it comes to umbrellas – something goes wrong! It’s happened to me once or twice, my banal transparent umbrella wasn’t where I left it when it was raining. You see, in Japan it is common to leave your umbrella in the entrance of the building you’re entering. But nobody can promise you it will stay there…
That’s why, in more touristic places, there are umbrella ‘parking lots’. You simply lock your umbrella in the machine with a code or a key, and collect it with a smile when you leave. Very efficient!
There are so many other genius Japanese invention, but these are those that caught my eye. I promise to tell you more in my Instagram story when I see it.
Have you noticed any other Japanese inventions you just can’t get out of your head? Leave me a comment and tell us about it!