What is a ‘Only in Japan’ moment?

December 1999.I teach English in Osaka. One day, my student appears in the classroom, with black and bruises all over her body. I asked him what had happened.

He says: “I had an argument with three Yakuza gang members in front of a Pachinko salon.I have accused them of illegally manipulating the Pachinko machines.”

I say, “I suppose you lost the fight?”

A huge smile spreads on his face.He says, “Yes, but I managed to kick one of them in the neck!”

November 2018.I take a walk through Matsumoto, and this guy casually passes by:

July 2000.

During one discussion, one of my students mentions that he saw the impact of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. He was 10 years old at the time and lived in a small village outside Hiroshima.

August 2015.Deep in the mountains in Kochi, I stopped by the side of the road next to an old wooden sign. After falling down a slippery dirt road, I discovered this:

July 1999.

Not long after I arrived in Japan, I try to withdraw cash from an ATM. I accidentally typed “5 yen” instead of “5,000 yen”. The ATM opens and spits out a 5 yen coin.

November 2018.

Near a lake in Yamanashi Prefecture, the clouds suddenly open to reveal something:

Mount Fuji.

December 2018.

I was waiting to cross the road in Akihabara when suddenly a few people in animal suits in go-karts pass by in the middle of the road.

November 2018.

At the Tokyo National Museum I find the following amazing sculpture along with about 50 other similar sculptures with different faces, poses and outfits.

I think, “Hmm, I guess they were formed a few hundred years ago.”


They were formed more than 1300 years ago in 7th century Japan.

August 2015.

I live in a log cabin deep in the mountains of Tokushima:

There is no shower in the log cabin, but fortunately there is this waterfall just around the corner where I can take a very cold shower:

This is the current view from the log cabin:

November 2000: During a discussion, my student mentions that she flew out of school at the age of 13 and was forced to work in a ball factory during the war.

August 2015: Exquisite symmetry in the Imperial Palace of Kyoto:

November 2018: In Himeji I find this extraordinary building:

September 2016: Two Vega gulls fly by on a boat in Ine and look like this…. in any case.. used to express the starting point of a movement.

November 2018.

Tokyo is simple……. unique:

August 2015.

As I walk in the forest in Kochi Prefecture, I am suddenly greeted with this mystical view:

November 2018: In a busy street in Arashiyama, Kyoto, I find this extraordinary botanical thing:

August 2015: If you dare, you can actually take a spa bath here:

September 1999.

Shortly after my arrival in Japan, I meet an old lady on the train. It turned out that she is a famous musician. She not only teaches me the Koto – a traditional Japanese musical instrument – but also takes me on a Buddhist pilgrimage to Mount Koya.

February 2010: On the way to Japan I look out of the plane window and am greeted with this view of Mount Fuji:

November 2018.

In Matsumoto I find this extraordinary building:

August 2015.

Fancy a swim overlooking the woods?

November 2000.

The beauty of Nigatsu-do at night is almost indescribable.

August 2015.

In Tokushima I find this amazing house, which is about 400 years old. Someone actually lives here. She is 85. The house is a national treasure.

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