Ohaguro is the process of dyeing the teeth black in Japan. Black dyed teeth are a symbol of status thought to compliment the white painted faces of women. The dyeing was also done to mask the yellow teeth and make the teeth stronger by preventing the growth of cavities. It was outlawed in 1870.
A Japanese hospital has an entrance test for aspiring medical students – they must perform 3 tasks in 15 minutes using surgical instruments – make miniature paper cranes, reassemble a dead bug from parts and make miniature sushi using a single rice grain. 40 students are selected.
When Japanese prime minister Keizō Obuchi was a young man and short on money, he travelled to thirty-eight countries, completely circumnavigating the globe and taking odd jobs as he went. These included being a dishwasher, an assistant aikido instructor and a TV camera crew assistant in Berlin.
In Japanese culture, shaving your head is a common form of public apology or an acknowledgement of failure.
In Japanese folklore, Ijuu is a strange beast that lives in the forests. If you are hiking and run into Ijuu, don’t be scared. Just offer to split your lunch with it and the beast will most likely repay you by carrying your heavy backpack.
The Kublai Khan invaded Japan in 1274 with 33,000 troops but failed due to weather. Kublai Khan again invaded Japan in 1279 with 140,000 troops & made it 15 km away from the city of Fukuoka but again failed due to a typhoon. It was here the term kamikaze (divine wind) was born.
The common fitness target of 10,000 steps/day came from a Japanese pedometer company who gave their product a name that means “the 10,000-step meter” because the Japanese character for “10,000” resembles a person walking: 万. There is no known science behind a goal of 10,000 steps.
Ancient Japan had female warriors called Onna-bugeisha, who would fight alongside Samurai in times of war. They started to lose their importance by the 17th century, when roaring ideals of fearless devotion and selflessness were gradually replaced by quiet, passive, civil obedience.
The Japanese repair broken pottery with gold lacquer to highlight imperfections. The process is called Kintsugi. The art of Kintsugi teaches that broken objects are not something to hide but to display with pride.
Japan’s rail workers use pointing-and-calling, a system of associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations to prevent errors. It is known to reduce workplace errors by up to 85 percent, according to one 1996 study.