There are many things about the Japanese that can cause foreigners to scratch our heads in confusion, and I thought I’d throw a few of them out to you, along with answers.
Why are cherry blossoms such a famous image of Japan yet there are no cherries here? (The cherry trees in Japan are of a type that don’t bear edible fruit.)
Why do the Japanese love making the “peace” sign so much?
There are several theories, but the best is that an actor in a 1972 Konica camera commercial made the gesture spontaneously, causing it to become associated with photography.
Why do the Japanese say ‘yes’ when they mean ‘no’?
It’s common for Japanese to give verbal feedback when someone is talking to them, which often includes the word hai, which means “yes, I am following what you’re saying,” not necessarily “yes, I agree with you and will do what you suggest.”
Why are the teeth of Japanese so crooked?
Orthodontic standards are improving, but many Japanese find crooked teeth, represented in anime by a single “fang” in the mouth, to be cute and endearing.
Why do the Japanese eat green tea and squid ink flavored ice cream so much?
Actually the most popular flavor of ice cream in Japan is vanilla, but that’s not very interesting so you never hear about that on the Internet.
Do Japanese girls always rush out the door with a piece of toast in their mouth, like in anime?
No, it’s just a visual meme anime creators propagate because it’s fun.
Why do the Japanese sometimes point at things with their middle fingers?
They only learned the American usage of this gesture 10-15 years ago, and many people still find it natural to point at things using the middle finger, which would be very rude in the U.S.
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Questions about crooked teeth and cherry blossoms answered.