Unusual trends that only exist in Japan

There is no place in the world quite like Japan. The island nation has had an incredible impact on the rest of the world, blessing us with some incredible things like Hello Kitty, Tamagotchi, and PlayStation. Of course, not everything that is popular in Japan has caught on in the Western world. Some of their most popular and enduring trends are unique to the country. Here are some of the more unusual trends enjoyed by people in Japan.

Vending machines stuffed with questionable goods

Vending machines are found all over the world, but Japan sells some pretty interesting things in theirs. In the United States, a person might go to a vending machine to get a bottle of soda or some chips or maybe a gumball. In Japan, however, you can get everything from used underpants to corn chowder. 

While purchasing things from a vending machine can certainly be convenient, there might be such a thing as going too far. It's unlikely that vending machines will ever become quite as popular here as they are in Japan.

Camel toe underwear

This camel toe underwear brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "if you've got it, flaunt it." While most women try to avoid showing "camel toe," a Japanese trend has women trying to show off their lady parts by using specially shaped underwear to enhance their figures. The underwear promises to give the appearance of a camel toe when paired with tight leggings or pants. 

While it is unclear whether this is actually a widespread fashion or just a joke gone viral, the fact still remains that camel toe panties exist and can be purchased online for those daring enough to try out the trend for themselves.

Over-the-top cuteness

Anyone with a heart loves cute things. Who can resist pictures of adorable puppies or kittens? No one loves cuteness like the Japanese, though. Over there, they have built an entire culture around all things cute. 

Kawaii culture is all about celebrating everything that is small and lovable. You're probably already familiar with some of the aspects of kawaii culture — think of Hello Kitty or Pikachu. If you think toilet paper with cute faces on it, road signs covered in cartoons, or a toaster that makes bear-shaped toast sounds like fun, you might just be a fan.

Crooked teeth

While many people spend thousands of dollars to have the perfect smile, a Japanese trend called "yaeba" actually has people paying to have crooked teeth. The trend is adopted primarily by women in order to attract men who are enticed by the look. 

The trend has become so popular in recent years that an Australian Dental Association official issued a warning to Australians who might want to copy it. He warned that the fad could pose problems by irritating the lips and even causing speech impediments.

Owl cafes

Owls are great. Cafes are great. But are owls actually inside in cafes great? Some people in Japan certainly seem to think so, judging by the number of owl cafes that have popped up all over the country. 

While hanging out with owls seems like a fun activity, owl cafes aren't all they're cracked up to be. It turns out that owls in captivity aren't always the friendliest of creatures and, to make matters worse, cannot control their sphincters which means owl poop literally flies around. A small consolation is that these cafes don't actually serve drinks or food, so you don't have to worry about rogue excrement falling into your coffee.

Provoking tears to relieve workplace stress

Japan's workplaces are notorious for the amount of pressure that is placed upon employees. The work culture is so strenuous that it has been linked to heart failure

In order to alleviate some of the stress associated with work, a new trend has sprung up among Japan's working women. The practice was introduced in 2015 by a company called Ikemeso Danshi. Women who want to relieve the pressures of work hire men, called Ikemeso's, to come to their office and watch "a slideshow of touching videos and photos." The Ikemeso then "encourages the woman to share her feelings and cry, and then he wipes her tears away."

Thong jeans

It remains to be seen whether these jeans from Japanese brand Thibaut will actually catch on, but they're just strange enough that they might. Nicknamed "thong jeans" because the largest patch of fabric covers the crotch, these jeans debuted at 2017's Tokyo Fashion Week. Runway trends don't always take off, so there's a good chance these won't hit the big time. But if they do you, can save a lot of money by cutting up your own jeans instead of dropping cash on a designer tag.

Shironuri living art

The art of white, powdery makeup called Shironuri has been singlehandedly revived by a woman who calls herself Minori. While Shironuri itself dates back to the 9th century when it was used by wealthy women as a symbol of status, Minori has brought the trend into the 21st century. She combines the makeup with elaborate outfits and intricate backdrops in order to turn herself into a living work of art.

Omiyarimi

Most parents try to make their babies stop crying, but this Japanese tradition encourages it (at least for one day). The 400 year old Nakizumo Festival, held in Tokyo every year, is meant to bring babies good health. Parents bring their children to the festival where sumo wrestlers hold the babies, gently shaking them and making funny faces in order to provoke them into crying. It is thought that doing this will ward off evil spirits.

Ganguro

Ganguro is a Japanese trend that basically looks like an overdone tan. The term ganguro translates to "intensely black," and the style originated in the 1990s as a reaction against the traditional Japanese ideal of light skin and dark hair. Today, ganguro cafes are popping up in Japan and are staffed by darkly tanned women sporting shockingly bright hair. These cafes have become popular tourist attractions for those who want to experience some of Japan's more unusual offerings.