13 Strange Things You Might See in Modern Japan

October 23, 2013 Updated: January 21, 2016

1. Your bill calculated with an abacus 

Epoch Times Photo

There are still shopkeepers who use an abacus to calculate your bill. This woman runs a sweet shop in Kyoto. A lot of people think everything is modern and high-tech in Japan, but the reality is more often a refreshing mix of old and new.


2. Sushi chefs on stilts

Sushi chef
(Cindy Drukier/Epoch Times)

Traditional wooden sandals called “geta”, are still worn in Japan, usually with Japanese formal wear. Run-of-the mill geta are about 2 inches tall. Then there are “ashida geta” which can be a towering 6 to 8 inches tall. They are designed to keep you out of the muck when it rains, but these days, they’re mostly worn by sushi chefs to keep their feet above the fish scraps they drop on the floor. So if you ever see an extra-tall sushi chef, check out his footware.


3. Hog walkers

Epoch Times Photo

This Kyoto woman took her pet hog for a “walk.” Clearly it’s too dangerous to let the hog cross the street on its own.


4. Clever contraptions

Epoch Times Photo

Japanese are astounding innovators. Here’s a contraption at a highway rest stop created just to make possible to open or close an inaccessible window.


5. Gravestone eviction notices 

Epoch Times Photo

In Japan, the real estate crunch even extends to graveyards. Space is so prime, that if the family doesn’t keep up with paying graveyard dues into perpetuity, the stones and urn inside are removed to make space for someone who can pay. This one is from the expansive 8th century Kiyomizu-dera temple cemetery in Kyoto.