There are many countries that one could argue are the best. US patriots claim their country is ‘the greatest’ because of the supposedly endless opportunity it offers, while Finland is officially the Happiest Country in the World and the Netherlands currently tops the Good Country Index for everything it contributes to the planet.
In their own unique ways, these countries are all ‘great’. But in another, more objective way, Japan is probably better. In terms of technology, hospitality and quirky gadgets that have little practical use but offer enormous interest regardless, Japan is about as good as it gets right now.
Here are 15 photos of Japan that make the argument for the Land of the Rising Sun being the greatest nation on Earth.
15. Gourmet-quality hospital food!
If you thought the hard jelly and days-old egg sandwiches combo that they serve in British hospitals was good, then you’ll be amazed by the artfully presented, gourmet-quality stuff you get if you take a hospital stay in Japan.
14. Bullet trains!
Have you ever felt frustrated by the fact that it’s virtually impossible to balance coins when riding on rickety old British trains? On the almost indecently smooth Japanese bullet train, there’s no worry of that at all.
13. Braille cans!
Because in Japan they understand that the legally blind like to get hammered just like everybody else, cans are marked with braille, so that those who are visually impaired can pick up their favourite beer from the supermarket without any fuss.
12. Community spirit!
You might have seen this one in the news: back in 2013, a commuter fell between the platform and the train car, so the entire platform decided to work together as a team to tip the train and free the woman from underneath. Socialism can work!
11. Elegant fish everywhere!
Japan is such a beautiful and majestic country, even disgusting drainage channels down the side of roads come filled with koi carp, which as everyone knows is the most regal member of the fish world.
10. Space-age toilet facilities!
More advanced than 2001: A Space Odyssey’s zero gravity toilet, Japanese loos come with seat-warming capabilities, bidet-style water sprays and even the option to play white noise to avoid the embarrassment of other people hearing you make.
9. Rotating train chairs!
For when you want to endure that depressing commute to work from a selection of different angles.
8. Spa-style relaxation on public transport!
Because Japanese rail travel is so luxurious as to be almost insulting to those of us for whom the train actually showing up constitutes luxury, you can also on some trains take a footbath on the way to work.
7. Fake driver’s seats for kids!
It should be clear by now that trains in Japan are more pleasant to be in than most actual homes. Even kids are catered for: this children’s seat on the Fujikyu line is designed to trick the child into thinking they are operating the vehicle, thus keeping them quiet for an extra few precious minutes of your life.
6. Surprise emergency toilets!
As horrifying as it us for the most claustrophobic among us to contemplate, sometimes lifts break down. In Japan, they’ve taken this into consideration: there are elevator seats that double as toilets, for if you’re trapped and you desperately need to go.
5. Selfie-friendly tourist destinations!
If you find yourself in a photogenic tourist hotspot in Japan without any nearby tourists to bother into taking your picture, not to worry: there are selfie stands on which to rest your smartphone and indulge that inner narcissist.
4. Turtle taxis!
If you for whatever reason want your taxi driver to lower their speed in Japan – maybe you want to see the sights, appear less suspicious to that car you’re tailing – just hit the ‘Turtle taxi’ button and the driver will slow to a crawl without you even having to make the effort of talking to them.
3. Square fruit!
Simpsons fans will know all about this one. In Japan, watermelon are shaped into squares not just because that looks really cool, but also so they fit better in the fridge.
2. Urinal games!
Japan has always been an innovator when it comes to video games, and this urinal is just the latest natty invention: a video game you play with your pee – the Nintendo Wee, if you will.
1. Fridge lockers!
Any time you finish supermarket shopping in the UK, it’s a race against time just to get home and throw any food into the fridge before it starts to turn, but in Japanese shops there are fridge lockers that you can store food in while you continue browsing.