For the 50+ Traveler

Despite increasing globalization, eastern countries tend to have significantly different cultures than North America and Europe. Here's what we found most interesting about Japan!

1. They Live A Long Time

Everyone's looking for the fountain of youth, and whatever the Japanese are doing, they should keep it up because their lifespans are amongst some of the longest in the world.

The average American woman lives 88 years while men average out to about 81 years. The Japanese live, on average, four years longer than that making them the country with the third longest life expectancy in the world.

If you're in Japan, try to glean some of their age-defying techniques and share them with us!

old person

2. Heavy Fish Diets

Since diet is one of the biggest contributors to health and life expectancy and the Japanese eat more fish than any other country in the world, maybe we should start wolfing down some salmon and tilapia!

The Japanese eat roughly 17 million tons of fish every year, and they get a large percentage of their protein through fish products.

Naturally, they're also the largest fish importer, with shrimp being the most popular item. It makes sense that they were one of the early adopters of sushi after the Chinese invented it, and sushi along with sashimi are still very popular dishes in Japan.


3. They Love McDonald's

Despite a bottomless appetite for fish, Japan has fully embraced western civilization in the form of McDonald's.

Second, to the United States, Japan has the more McDonald's restaurants than any other country. That number is 3,000 individual restaurants and ever growing.

Besides having plenty of locations, they also have special menu items only found in Japan like the Cheese Tsukimi Burger, Mega Tomago, and Sesame Ebi Filet-O Sesame Buns complete with, you guessed it, shrimp cutlets.


4. The Secret To Kobe Beef

Kobe beef (or Wagyu beef as it's also called) is renowned worldwide for its exquisite taste (and price), and it makes sense when you find out the labor that goes into it.

To make Kobe beef, the Japanese give their cows daily massages and feed them beer and saké mash.

The authentic Kobe beef is only farmed at 262 farms in the Tajima area, and these farms only raise a handful of these cows at a time. That's part of the reason it's such a rare treat in other countries.

Kobe Beef

5. Lots Of Vending Machines

While vending machines seem to be fading away in North American culture, they're an enormous feature in day-to-day Japanese life. There's a vending machine on nearly every street corner, and roughly 5.5 million machines in service countrywide.

Even more interesting than the number of machines in operation is the wares that they sell. It wouldn't be uncommon to see hot and cold canned coffee, cigarettes, beer, wine, comic books, condoms, light bulbs, umbrellas, toilet paper, dirty magazines, hot dogs, fresh eggs, and most shocking, used women's underwear.

If you're in Japan and looking for just about anything, start by looking in the nearest vending machine.

Vending Machines

6. No Murders, Only Suicide

Citizens and travelers can rest easy knowing that Japan is second in the world for having the lowest homicide rate. While part of the explanation might be cultural or social, it's also extremely difficult for people to legally get weapons.

Despite being relatively safe from murders, Japan isn't without some skeletons in its closet. The Aokigahara forest at the base of Mt. Fuji is known as the "suicide forest," a place recently in the news due to popular YouTuber Logan Paul and his filming of a real suicide victim's body for his online audience.

Aokigahara is the site of the second-most suicides in the world next to San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.


7. Crooked Teeth Are A Turn-On

It's common for different cultures to have varying standards for physical attractiveness, and the Japanese have their own unique preferences.

Crooked teeth, or Yaeba as they're known in Japan, are actually an attractive feature in the local culture. Much like other physical alterations i.e. breast enhancements, nose reductions, etc. that are popular around the world, girls in Japan will actually undergo surgery to have their teeth unstraightened by a dentist.

If you've always been self-conscious of your smile, go to Japan and you'll feel like a model!

bad teeth

8. Bowing Instead Of Shaking Hands

Where shaking hands is a commonplace tradition around the world, the Japanese bow as a form of greeting.

The deeper the bow, the more a person is respected. Japanese bow at the waist, meaning your back should be straight when you bow, not curved.

There are different types of bows depending on the setting, with the most casual being a slightly exaggerated head nod and the most formal being a complete, head to the ground bow.