Japan has many things in common with Asia. However, in some ways it also resembles Europe or even the US. In many other ways Japan is truly unique. Here are a few.
1. CutenessJapan hasn't always been cute.
The obsession with kawaii culture first began in the 1970s at the height of Japan's economic growth.
It was in the 70s that Japanese advertising agencies perfected the fine art of mass marketing. Getting into customers hearts, minds and wallets with cute lovable characters. If you choose your bank because of it's lovable cartoon character it's a sign you're turning Japanese.
Amazingly, even Japanese warning signs are cute.
2. OtakuOtaku are Japanese fanboys (nerds). Japanese people don't like the crazy image that otaku have brought to the country. The fact is that Japan isn't crazy.
To a large extent the Otaku subculture is crazy either. Many otaku obsessions are just interesting pop culture.
3. ServiceJapan has the best service industry in the world. Japanese service is (almost always) polite and diligent.
The best thing is that staff aren't motivated by tips. Great service in Japan seems to be a purpose into itself.
4. HostoMale hostesses (hosto) are beyond unique — they're bizarrely unique. Amazingly, the primary customers of hosto are hostesses. It all seems very circular.
5. Team SpiritThe old saying in Japan is that the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. Japanese people (tend to) value their ties to community over individuality. In Japan, teamwork is paramount.
Self sacrifice for the team is highly respected. Showboating and self serving tactics are despised.
6. Salary MenSalary Men in Japan have a very different lifestyle from their American or European counterparts. They're rarely at home except to sleep.
7. FestivalsJapan has thousands of unique festivals. Pretty much everyone in Japan attends a few festivals every year.
8. UniformsJapanese people wear uniforms from a young age. In many professions this continues for life.
9. Anime / MangaJapanese anime and manga is a world of literature and art unto itself. They cover every topic imaginable from golf to future robot wars.
10. Japanese ComedyJapanese television is filled with comedy shows that the Western media often misinterprets as being serious.