Japan is known for a lot of wonderful things. There are the beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring, majestic Mount Fuji, and a royal family whose illustrious lineage stretches back thousands of years. But then there are the other things. The weird things. The rumors that are so bizarre you kind of wonder if they are true or not. Usually they do turn out to be true, because Japan has taken weirdness and made it a national pastime.
That means Japan has a lot of crazy things you can’t find in other countries. Sure, now that the world is so connected, sometimes the weirdness seeps out a little bit, but in general, Japan is home to plenty of bizarre things that only show up there. Just walking down a regular street can be a voyage of discovery into the weird and wonderful. Here are some of the very esoteric things you can find almost exclusively in Japan.
STORES WHERE YOU CAN BUY HUMAN CONTACT
The Japanese are in the middle of a love drought. Young people in particular have stopped bumping uglies, and say finding relationships is “too much trouble.” But it’s human nature to seek affection, so in 2012 a brand-new type of business opened in Tokyo’s electronics district. Soineya, according to Japan Today was the first-ever “sleep together shop.” Yep, that’s monetized physical affection.
But not like that. The whole thing was much more innocent, as the store’s webpage described the service as: “the simple and ultimate comfort of sleeping together with someone.” Like, literally sleeping. For a few thousand yen, customers (okay, male customers) could sleep in bed with a beautiful woman. He could shell out more money for extras, like putting his head on her lap, petting her hair, or staring at each other. The kinkiest stuff on offer were a foot massage or the woman changing clothes (presumably not in front of the customer.)
The service was apparently “quite popular,” according to Japan Info, and by 2019 there were more cuddle cafes. Seen as a legitimate stress-reliever for office workers, the service even became equal opportunity. At the Rose Group, women can “rent” men for a quick two-hour nap, all the way up to a full 48-hour boyfriend rental (as long as you don’t expect any intimate contact with your fake boyfriend.) These cuddle cafes won’t help Japan’s plummeting birth rate, but at least people are getting a bit of human contact.