This post is also available in: Chinese (Traditional)
1. Manhole Covers
You might be wondering why on earth are we recommending you to check out the manhole covers here in Japan. Well, it’s really cause if you look carefully at the covers you would notice that they are engraved with really beautiful patterns. Some would reflect the town’s flower, local art, famous places and many more. These manhole covers will be able to tell you what the place is really famous for. Ask the locals to explain to you what is engraved and you may have found the next item on your travel itinerary! Don’t be shy. The locals would be more than happy to tell you or any other travelers that are interested in their area more about these manhole covers. There is a fan club dedicated to these manhole covers. The members would go around taking pictures of these pretty manholes. From the picture above, you’ll understand why we are serious about the manhole covers here. The picture is of a manhole cover from Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture that showcases the Yokkaichi Port along with its petrochemical facilities and the city’s sister towns, Sydney, Australia and China’s Tianjin with their respective animals, the koala and panda.
About half of the post offices here in Japan have a special set of postmark rubber stamps that depict the area’s famous landmark. These special postmarks would make those postcards that you are planning to send out more memorable. All you have to do is to head to the post office on weekdays between 9am to 5pm and ask them for the Fu-kei-in. From the picture above, you’ll be able to see one of the postmarks that you can get from the post office in Hinomisaki. The postmark shows the Hinomisaki Shrine, Hinomisaki lighthouse and the coast that is locally known as Umineko (Sea Cat when translated into English).
HP: www.post.japanpost.jp/kitte_hagaki/stamp/fuke/ (Japanese Only)
Most of the postboxes in Japan are rectangular and red but at some tourist spots, the post boxes take a different shape, showcasing what the area is famous for! For example, the postbox at Tokyo’s Shinagawa station is in the shape of a train. The first picture is a postbox at Aomori’s Hirozaki station that has a big apple on top, which should not be surprising because Aomori is famous for its juicy sweet apples. The next picture shows you a very interesting postbox found at Kyoto’s Uji station, in the shape of a tea jar.
4. Soft Serves
Famous sightseeing spots in Japan will have their own special soft serve to serve. You’ll be spoiled for choices here because we have favorite flavors like apple or tangerine to interesting ones like green tea, soy sauce, salt and even bonito flakes! The flavors are usually determined by that area’s produce. There is a place some where in Japan that serves their soft serve with fried oysters! The picture above shows an absolutely yummy soft serve made of Kameyama green tea from Seki-juku, Mie Prefecture.
5. Hello Kitty
Who doesn’t know this lovable character. Hello Kitty is well known all over the globe but did you know that there are only certain Hello Kitty merchandise that you can only get at certain locations? These Kitties will be adorned with the area’s famous produce or landmark. The picture above shows you the cutest Hello Kitty dressed up in a Hokkaido Yubari melon costume! Besides limited Hello Kitty knick-knacks, you can also find special Rilakkuma and Funassyi souvenirs too!
HP: gotochikitty.com/ (Japanese Only)
6. ShuinWildgun/Wikimedia Commons
No visitor should miss out in visiting the temples and shrines here in Japan. While you are at one, don’t forget to check out the Shuin. Shuin is a seal given to those who have come to worship. In general, the seal is stamped onto a seal book that the worshippers bring along when they come to pay their respects. The date of the visit and the name of the shrine or temple is also written in calligraphy in the book along side with the stamped seal. You can get the seal book at any major shrine or temple in Japan and Shuins cost from ¥300 to ¥500. Even if you are not into anything spiritual, you could get one of these Shuins stamped onto your book just to remind you of your trip to Japan.
7. White PostboxesCorpse Reviver/Wikimedia Commons
This is no ordinary postbox. These white postboxes should not be mistaken as the normal red ones. These white ones are usually found in front of train stations. Don’t try sending your postcards with them cause white postboxes are meant to collect offensive materials that should not be seen by any minor at all. Most of these special postboxes are white in color but as you can see from the second picture, this particular “white” postbox is in the shape of a ladybug!
8. Train Station Rubber StampsBenzoyl/Wikimedia CommonsCorpse Reviver/Wikimedia Commons
At most of the train stations here in Japan (especially for those at really famous and popular tourist sites), you’ll find commemorative rubber stamps. By now you can probably guess what these rubber stamps would show! Yes, these rubber stamps are of famous landmarks or produce of the area. The stamps can be found near the ticket machines or information center in the station. There are many people in Japan that would take the effort to collect all available stamps throughout the country and this stamp fever is called Oshi-Tetsu in Japan.
9. Giant Pretzjencu/Flickrjencu/Flickr
You won’t be able to miss Giant Pretz here not just because of its size but because these Giant Pretz are sold in different and unique flavors depending on the area. These giant versions are 21cm in length (whereas the usual Pretz are only 13cm in length)! So what sort of unique flavors are we talking about here? Well, if you are ever in Osaka, look out for those takoyaki flavored Giant Pretz! And then in Sendai, we have grilled beef tongue, while Chinatown has sweet and spicy prawn ones! Each Giant Pretz box comes with 16 packs of two long yummy Pretz sticks! Besides these special Giant Pretz, you’ll also find interesting Kit Kat, Country Mama and Jagabee flavors.
10. Mascot Characterslefty1007/Flickr
Nearly every city or town here in Japan has a mascot! Mascot characters are called Yuru-kyara. If you attend one of the local events or visit famous tourist spots, you might be able to see that area’s mascot. The picture above is of the mascot for Hikone City in Shiga Prefecture, Hikonyan. If you are in Hikone, head straight to Hikone Castle and you might be able to catch Hikonyan!
Now that you know of these small little interesting facts of Japan, keep an eye out on them in your next trip! It’ll definitely make your trip more interesting.