15 Curious Things in Asia That Can Bewilder Any Tourist
Within recent years, Asia has become a little closer and more familiar to the rest of the world. One can easily find sushi in his hometown, and some Asian resorts have already become popular tourist destinations. Still, this part of the world is full of mysteries, surprises, and shocking details.
Bright Side collected some facts from the lives of Asian people that prove it’s still difficult for us to get accustomed to certain aspects. Despite the fact that most Asian people are hospitable and friendly, one should keep these details in mind to avoid unexpected surprises.
15. It’s better not to be the first to enter an elevator in Japan.
Entering an elevator first means becoming a new elevator captain. There are a bunch of unspoken rules for this in the Land of the Rising Sun. The captain operates the control panel, holds the “door open” button, and presses all other buttons for the members of the trip. If you want to avoid this duty, just let someone go before you when entering an elevator.
14. Tomato juice with sugar. Mmm, yummy...
There is a big surprise for those who love tomato juice. People drink it here with sugar, honey, coconut milk, and even concentrated milk. Asia is incredible. Stay aware!
13. There is no 4th floor.
Irrational fear of the number 4 is widespread in many Asian countries. It even has a name: tetraphobia. The roots of this suspicion go back to China where the words “death” and “four” sound almost the same. The situation is similar in Korea and Japan. That’s why there are no floors in hospitals and public buildings that end with the number 4.
12. Instead of Christmas, people celebrate the birthday of the national leader’s granny in North Korea.
The leader of the country, Kim Jong-un, abolished Christmas. Instead, the country celebrates the birthday of his late grandmother, Kim Jong Suk. She was the wife of the country’s first leader, Kim II Sung (who was also known as “The eternal president of the republic”), a communist, and the “Sacred Mother of the Revolution.”
11. Japanese people use ear rakes to clean the inside of their ears.
This cleaning tool with a little spoon on one side is usually made of bamboo and plastic. However, there are more luxurious options as well: gold, whalebone, and ivory. The ear cleaners are decorated with pom-poms, feathers, or fringe and carefully stored in a case. This is a tool for multiple uses.
10. If you don’t have a partner, you can celebrate Anti-Valentine’s Day.
Every year on April 14, people in South Korea celebrate “Black Day,” a day for loners and those who are not in love. It’s customary to eat noodles topped with a thick sauce of black bean paste, wear black clothes, and make jokes about the absence of a personal life. If you didn’t get any presents for Valentine’s Day, you can celebrate this event.
9. The Vietnamese dislike cats.
Local people are scared of cats, and that’s why one can hardly see a cat in a Vietnamese house. Moreover, they are not on the streets either. Again, it’s all because of superstitions. The meowing of cats sounds like the Vietnamese word for poverty. Therefore, so as not to attract poverty, they simply prefer to stay away from cats.
8. Japanese spouses sleep in separate beds.
After having a baby, the role of a Japanese woman in the family changes completely. Instead of the matrimonial bed, she starts using a child’s bed, which is often placed in another room. It’s a usual thing for many countries during the first years of a baby’s life, but Japanese mothers sleep with their children until the age of 10-13.
7. It’s indecent to caress kids’ heads in Thailand.
Thai people believe that there is a “bright spirit” living in each person’s head that should not be disturbed by others. And the top itself is the most sacred part of the body. Therefore, only parents and monks can touch it. So it’s better not to tease the spirits or irritate local parents.
6. Chewing gum is forbidden in Singapore.
There are many restrictions in Singapore that might seem strange to a Westerner. But even an experienced law-breaker will think twice before breaking the rules because the fines are so high. For example, it’s better to forget about chewing gum during a trip to Singapore because it’s prohibited to import or sell it. You can buy it only in a pharmacy with the prescription of a doctor.
5. Japanese, Korean, and Filipino schoolchildren play unusual games.
If anyone ever invites you to play “Kancho,” think twice before agreeing. Here are the brief rules of the game: a player puts his hands together with his index fingers out and tries to poke his best friend’s butt. The friend is usually busy with something else at the time and doesn’t notice the attacker. Yes, that’s how elementary schoolchildren entertain themselves.
4. All Vietnamese people celebrate their birthdays on the same day.
Most Vietnamese people don’t celebrate their birthday on the exact day when they were born. Instead, every person celebrates his coming into this world on the day of the Vietnamese New Year: Tết. Family and friends give children red envelopes with “happy” money. After that, they successfully add another year to their age.
3. Chinese parents put open-crotch pants on their children.
In China, a kid can poop and pee anywhere outside, and it’s not unusual for Chinese people to see. To ease the process, local parents put their children in special split pants (kāidāngkù). Children don’t even need to pull them down as squatting will be enough for fulfilling one’s personal needs. Still, there are many debates about how hygienic and useful it is for a child. Many parents nowadays shift to diapers, but open-crotch pants are still used.
2. In Japan, people eat KFC on Christmas Day.
In most countries of the world, Christmas is associated with roasted turkey or ham and many side dishes. But the fast-food chain KFC has completely replaced traditional Christmas meals in Japan. Within the last 4 decades, KFC has managed to make its fried chicken a symbol of Christmas. People order chicken baskets one month before the holiday. Cheers to marketers!
1. Japanese bikini jeans
What do you get when you cross jeans with a bikini? Bikini jeans! This provocative hybrid of a bikini and ultra-low-rise jeans is actually produced in Brazil but finds its market mostly in Japan.
The peculiarity of Asia is in its diversity, and that’s why there can be different variations in traditions within one culture or location. Let us know in the comments what unusual things you have heard about Asian countries or witnessed yourself!