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Cultural Fun Facts: Japan

Since the beginning of time, the process or action of moving has always been part of life. The largest human migration is known to take place around this time. With modern transportation, millions journey home to celebrate the Lunar New Year with families. As for more permanent migration, in 2018, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that around 3.4% of the global population, i.e., 238 million people, live outside their country of birth.

Man with suitcases and books TCG

I am part of this statistic, five countries across three continents. A Chinese astrologer once said I have the “heavenly horse” star in my life’s chart; if astrology is a science, it certainly explains my travel streak of ~40 countries and 120+ cities. Younger, I used to take pride in my globe-trotting and road-warrior lifestyle, imagining I was following in the footsteps of my Nat-Geo heroes. Later, I realised quite some of my friends have as many, if not more stamps on their passports.

TCg globe, suitcases, food around the world

We (humans) are not the first nor the only great travellers on this planet. Do you know that many foods we enjoy today have travelled far? One example is the tomato, a South American native thought poisonous when it first arrived in Europe. Hard to believe, isn’t it, considering tomato is now an essential ingredient in Italian cuisine? To discover more, you can find some interesting food journeys on our Youtube playlist hereExploring Global Foods (Social Knowledge)

In addition, here are some Cultural fun-facts quizzes on Japan:

Q1. Where can you find the largest Japanese community outside Japan? The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Brazil, numbering about 2 million, followed by about 1.5 million in the United States. (source: Wikipedia.)

Q2. Why is “Kit-Kat” so popular in Japan? The name of this chocolate snack sounds closely to Kitto Katsu (きっと勝つ). In Japanese, it means “sure to win.” Today, students often take Kit Kats before sitting for their exams. One can find many limited editions of seasonal and regional flavours of Kit Kat chocolate bars in Japan. (source: Bokksu.)

Q3. Who introduced Salmon sushi to the Japanese? Salmon was not used in traditional Edomae-style sushi because of its propensity to parasite infection. It was not until the ’70s, when Norway successfully raised parasite-free salmon through aquaculture farming, that people felt safe to consume raw salmon. Due to its small domestic market, the Norwegians had to export their salmons. In the ’80s, they created the concept of salmon sushi and ran promotional campaigns in Japan. Today, salmon sushi is one of the favourite sushi types around the world. Isn’t that a wonderful cross-cultural story? (source: Norway Exports.)

Please click the Youtube link for more (clip credit: Office holidays): Fun facts about Japan:

To end, let me share one of my favourite passages from Kipling’s poem “The Explorer”:

“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges…Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”

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