Trying to convince people that Japan is a little bit weird is like trying to sell them on the idea that breathing air and not swallowing razors is beneficial to them in the long run. The image of that country has been tarnished ever since Google first started indexing, when Japan officially became less about ninjas and Godzilla and more about bizarre game shows and traumatizing sex fetishes.
Really, the only thing left to do is concentrate on the more adorable kinds of Japanese zaniness that (thank God) no one is masturbating to. With this in mind, here are the 10 Weirdest Japanese Snacks and Drinks.
When you are living on an island, it’s natural that most of your daily diet will come from the sea, and the Japanese have proven over the years that if it swims in some water, they will eat it without exception. This is the nation that willingly eats Fugu for Pete’s sake, a fish so poisonous that unless you prepare it correctly you will die very painfully within minutes of eating it. Compared to that, candied squid seems almost sane… the key word being “almost”.
You can get these at a variety of convenience stores or on a stick during a traditional Japanese festival. Funny thing though: the candied squid isn’t actually sweet (don’t ask how that works) and often comes in such appetizing flavors as “Cod Roe” or “Spicy Korean Cabbage.”
The product of the “NEEDS Cheese Factory” in Hokkaido, the Cheese Drink has allegedly been produced to raise cheese awareness in Japan. It is estimated that over 20 million Japanese kids don’t know what real cheese looks like* and more than 30% of all Japanese adults think you can get cancer from touching cheese**, so what the “NEEDS” company is doing is actually very noble indeed***. We mean, hey, it’s not like they simply had a full batch of industrial grade cheese-byproduct liquid and decided to sell it to the general population as a beverage, right? Nah, couldn’t be.
The cheese drink can also be used as salad dressing.
*Completely false. ** Made up on the spot. *** Not in the least.
Rose Sweat Gum
The aptly and yet very horrifyingly named “Otoko Kaoru” (“Man Smelling Sweetly”) is a brand of chewing gum that makes your sweat smell like roses.
Believe it or not, there actually is a very good explanation for this product. The Japanese spend a great portion of their lives in the overcrowded public transportation systems (according to our calculations, if you add the hours every Japanese man spends in a train and multiply it by a Billion, you get a really large number). Can you imagine what would happen if 50 of these old Japanese dudes started sweating their natural manly musk?
Suddenly the gum doesn’t sound so crazy after all. Actually, it should probably be made mandatory for some people. You know the type I mean.
Cream Collon Biscuits
What would you do if I came in to your office (assuming you had an office and were the head of a major candy company) and propose a new type of biscuit snack in the shape of small tubes filled with cream? You would probably let me keep talking, cause that doesn’t sound so bad. OK, but then just how many guards you would send after me if I said I wanted to name this new snack “Collon”, without the slightest bit of irony? 5 guards? 20?
If your answer was anything more than 0 then sadly you do not have what it takes to be the president of Glico, the biggest candy company in Japan and the proud manufacturers of the Cream Collon snack. See Japan, this is why everybody is laughing AT you, not WITH you. You can’t even spell ‘colon’ correctly.
Ah, curry and lemonade, together at last! Wait, what?! This has got to be either a joke or some sort of Fear Factor merchandise tie-in. But we all know that is not the case, otherwise it wouldn’t make the list. No use fighting it, let’s just acknowledge that somewhere in Japan there is a person (a whole lot of persons to boot) who willingly swig curry flavored lemonade. Let’s now acknowledge that this is really freaky.
Oh, and look at the label: “A miraculous collaboration of curry and lemonade”. Can’t argue that this product is a miracle. Curry Lemonade had to be devised, presented in front of a group of businessmen, taste-tested and then marketed. And during that time no one stopped to say “Guys, isn’t this product actually very strange?” A bloody miracle if we ever saw one…