“Have you seen Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe” or “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”? If you have, you may have thought “Wow! Japanese people are so cool! They drive sports cars like crazy!!”.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble but none of these movies are real. Most of them are just the imagination of the movie directors.
I remember a time when I met an Australian girl who thought Japanese men were so cool because of the Tokyo Drift. She actually thought the Japanese would drive as Han did in the movie. She actually had a crush on one of my Japanese friends and they went on a date a few times but it didn’t work. She told me why she stopped seeing him. She literally said, “he was boring and nothing like Han in Tokyo Drift”. I mean, of course, we are not like them! But those cool images you may be picturing right now make us look boring… Which by the way, this guy who got dumped is not me. He is one of my friends.
So, today I will teach you 7 cool things you see in movies that are actually not real.
You Will Not See Samurai and Ninja in Japan
Yes, I am sorry if you like Roronoa Zoro from One Piece or Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto but they are just animated characters. Usually, in Hollywood movies, they portray Ninja and Samurai as superheroes who could be running on water or hiding underwater for hours.
Although Samurai and Ninja did exist a long time ago, they looked nothing like what you see in those movies and anime. There still are one or two Ninjas that exist somewhere in Japan for entertaining purposes, but you will never see them walking on the streets or hiding in the ceiling.
Although Samurai actually did look more like the ones portrayed in the movies today, they disappeared due to Katana (Japanese swords) being banned in 1876. Especially, after the Swords and Firearms Possession Control Law was passed, none of the Japanese citizens is allowed to own Katana unless they are licensed. That is why you cannot see Samurai today for legal reasons.
We Drive Safe and We Love “Toyota”
Even though the Tokyo Drift was really authentic in many car drifting scenes and many of them were actually filmed in Tokyo, most of those cool drifting scenes were made in Hollywood using the streets in Los Angeles. Therefore, even though what you see in the movie is real and authentic, the reality is totally different.
We do not drive like Sean in Tokyo Drift. If you did, you would be arrested for Dangerous Driving.
I have friends who used to do car drifting but they would do it in the mountains at midnight where no one would come. So the last scene from Tokyo Drift was kind of true. But no one ever drifts in public or the underground of the car park.
In addition, the cars that appear in the movie were almost Mazda and Nissan. However, almost 30% of Japanese who own a car have chosen Toyota. Suzuki and Honda follow after Toyota at 13.5%.
We Do Not Eat Sushi Every Day
Do you eat Sushi every day?
You have no idea how many times I have been asked this question. Yes, the Japanese love Sushi and eat them quite often but not as much as you would think.
Now if you’re a big fan of Tokyo Drift, you may remember the scene at the school cafeteria where the main character enjoys Sushi and other appetizing foods. I don’t want to say that is not true but there is no way regular schools like the one in Tokyo Drift would provide that high-quality food just for lunch.
Japanese People is Not so Very Polite
“Japanese people are so nice and polite!” is something that I’ve been told a lot along with “Do you eat Sushi every day?”. Especially, travelers who have visited Japan and encountered our beautiful culture and kind people.
Well, I believe most Japanese are, in fact, polite as you may know of because of the very strict education system in school. We were taught to learn Omotenashi which can be translated as Japanese Hospitality. This Omotenashi is all about taking care of your guests, attention to detail, and always going above and beyond. That is why the travelers find our service exceptional.
However, those exceptional experiences you had were just because you were the guests. If you were Japanese and lived in Japan, your perspective would have been somewhat different.
First of all, the language barrier makes us seem polite. Either if you made Japanese friends in Japan or overseas, Japanese try to be polite and nice to you. Because we’re not confident in our English. We were educated to be the best we could be and be ashamed of our flaws. That is why we are afraid of making mistakes and that makes us less offensive to other people.
Secondly, Japanese people are not customed to talking to strangers unless you visited Osaka. People from Osaka are very friendly so they would talk to you even if you are a total stranger to them. But it wouldn’t usually happen in the other parts of Japan.
This really surprised me when I first arrived in Australia and a few strangers on the street casually asked me how I was doing. It took me a while to acknowledge this fact. But if you plan to move to Japan and live for a while, it would not happen.
You Will Not Meet Yakuza
Yakuza appears in many movies and they actually exist in Japan. But just because you are walking around Japan it doesn’t mean you will meet them.
I am being honest with you that it is extremely rare for you to encounter one of those people. As a matter of fact, I have only seen them once even though I was working in Tokyo for over 5 years. They were our customers (I was a removalist). I may have seen more but maybe just didn’t realize.
Despite their image and reputation in the movies, they were very nice to all of us during the work.
There are almost zero chances that you would get involved with them when you come to Japan. So it is up to you to decide if it’s either a good thing or just a disappointment.
You Do Not Have to Slurp Ramen
If you are a ramen lover, you may have heard of Japanese Eating Etiquette. “You should slurp noodles in Japan! That way you’re complimenting the chef! If you don’t slurp and leave the soup, that means you didn’t like it!”. That is not true at all.
Well, I actually have said it to some of my friends because I thought it would be more fun to make them know it this way.. So I’m guessing this rumor spread around the world because people like me tell these things to their friends.
While it is true that most Japanese make noises when eating any type of noodles, some people do not. So it is completely up to you. But it is scientifically proven that slurping noodles actually does enhance the flavor of the noodles, especially Soba.
It is also okay not to finish the soup since the soup is very high in sodium and not healthy to drink that. I kind of have a moral obligation to finish the soup as a compliment to the chef (I don’t know why but I do) but, you absolutely don’t need to.
I have made a post about ramen if you want to know more!
You Do Not Need to Learn Japanese to Travel to Japan
If you traveled to Japan before or have made Japanese friends somewhere in the world, I bet you know Japanese people are not the best when it comes to speaking English. Indeed, most Japanese do not speak English and it is considered only less than 10% of Japanese people can communicate in English. I was also one of them that until before I was 22 I couldn’t even say “Could you take a picture?”. I would need a google translation or travel book to help me deliver a message in English.
However, we all learn English in school for at least 5 to 6 years. Children these days start learning English even at an earlier age than when I was in elementary school. We do understand “Where?”, “Thank you”, “How are you?”, those basic English. Especially in tourist spots and attractions in Japan such as Kyoto and some popular places in Tokyo, you can easily find someone who could answer your questions.
However, if you are planning to explore the local sides of Japan, I highly suggest either learning some useful Japanese phrases or asking someone to accompany you during that time.
All of those which I listed today were actually I heard from my friends while I was living in Australia. I hope you enjoyed today’s post.
There are many more weird facts about Japan that you may be familiar with such as “vending machines are everywhere”, “people bow to each other”, and “all students clean the classroom”. But they are all true and that is how I grew up in Japan.
And please please do not think Japanese men like those in Tokyo Drift! First of all, none of the actors in the movie is Japanese. As a matter of fact, almost all movie characters who have Japanese names and seem like they know how to speak Japanese, are not Japanese. They are usually Chinese actors or some other Asian actors. I mean they are really cool! But that is not us at all! I don’t know why they don’t actually cast Japanese actors.
If you know some cool facts about Japan that you are not sure if it’s true, please leave a comment below! I will try my best to answer.
Let me know what you think about my post in the comment below or you can reach out to me on my Twitter account. Thank you!