It’s been said that Japan is the only country in the world that cares what its foreigners think, and I’m inclined to agree. One day I caught a variety show that introduced various aspects of Japan which were interesting to foreign visitors to the country. For example, there’s a scene in the film Battle Royale in which Beat Takeshi is holding a cheap umbrella in the rain, which is nothing special to Japanese but which looks really unique and strange to non-Japanese eyes. Bookstores in Japan are supposedly interesting to gaijin, too, with books that have obi or paper “belts” around the outside with advertising or other information printed on them, or cards handwritten by the staff of the bookstore recommending this book or that. Japan has many home electronics stores which foreigners love to visit, and they’re often surprised to find “washlets,” those butt-washing toilet seats that are so popular in Japan, which you’d never expect to see in a Best Buy. Steaming hot towels handed out to you in most every restaurant, taxis with doors that open automatically via a hydraulic mechanism and a life-sized statue of Colonel Sanders standing guard in front of every KFC restaurant were also discussed. Of course, the most interesting thing to me is that the idea of people sitting around taking in great detail about how their country and customs appear to foreigners. I could be wrong, but I just can’t see a similar show in the U.S. being very successful.
A list of things foreigners are enthralled with in Japan.