Five Things We Love About Japan

There's really nowhere else like Japan. This beautiful and vibrant place is the Team's home for the next few days and we can't get enough of it. Even better, the welcome from the F1 fans is second to none.

Why do we love it? There aren't enough hours in the day to list all the reasons and we've got a race to get ready for, that is, when we've dragged the drivers away from Kendo and pulled the rest of the team out of that cat café. So here are just five reasons why we're in love with Japan.

1) Giant art is grown in rice fields
Where else but Japan would people come together to plant a giant picture in a rice field? In '93, the people of Inakadate Village in the Aomori Prefecture honoured their 2000-year history of growing rice by creating a huge rice artwork in a paddy field. They planted different rice to grow their design but as it could only be seen from above, they built a 22-metre high viewing castle in order to appreciate it.

Naturally, Tanbo Art has become a thing and over the years rice artwork in Japan has included Star Wars, Marilyn Monroe and Hokusai's finest works, like the Great Wave. Godzilla-rice and vegetables? We'll take it.

2) There are more monsters, demons and spirits than even Buffy couldn't handle
Don't believe us? Start reading up on Yokai! In Japan, there are plenty of supernatural creatures from folklore and the Edo period, generally called Yokai but also known as Mononoke and Ayakashi. You'll likely already be familiar with some as they've found their way into modern popular culture including horror and anime. Some are lucky or mischievous, while many are witches or are malevolent.

Not scared yet? Watch out for Mokumokuren in your sliding paper doors or creepy Nuribotoke at night! And don't even get us started on Akaname, who might be hanging around in your bathroom late at night...

3) Going out in Japan is a million times cooler than anywhere else
No, really. For example, if you fancy a coffee but also happen to be fond of life's furries, why not head to a bunny café or a penguin bar? For the geeks among us, there are multiple options including the futuristic Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku, where Gundam meets Bladerunner with dancing thrown in. Of course, it wouldn't be Japan without karaoke, so if a singalong is on the menu, you won't have to look far because it's everywhere.

If you need less city and more nature, Japan is full of outdoor excursions to take your breath away including the stunning Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, the legendary Mount Fuji and many beautiful temples and historic sites.

4) Napping on the job is totally ok (and you won't get fired)
Having a power nap has long been recognised as a tool to revive your brain when you hit a slump, but the Japanese are way ahead of the rest of us. "Inemuri" (sleeping while present), is socially acceptable in Japan, in fact, it's considered a sign that you're hard working. It's not just in the office; you're equally likely to see people practising inemuri on the train, in the park or in cafes (some of which have beds and pyjamas to help you rest). A recent study found that Japanese workers average less than six hours sleep per night, so it's no wonder that inemuri is part of daily life.

Thinking of adopting the practice? To do it properly, make sure that you nap without interrupting anyone else's space, which means you definitely shouldn't take five on your colleague's spot while they're busy staring at screens on the pit wall.

5) Japan makes us fall in love with our childhood all over again
Japanese culture has influenced more areas of our life than we realise but perhaps most enjoyably for many, it's influenced our Saturday mornings and after-school hours by way of Pokemon, Hello Kitty, Mario and many more. However, one of Japan's most beloved exports is the remarkable Studio Ghibli, helmed by the marvellous Hayao Miyazaki.

Ghibli is behind many of Japan's highest grossing animations and has won multiple awards, bringing us delights such as Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro and Princess Mononoke and even has its own museum where visitors are treated to the full on Ghibli experience. Many of the films have been voiced by well-known Hollywood starlets, but for the most authentic story you can't beat the Japanese language dub with subtitles. If you've yet to watch a Ghibli, we recommend picking up Castle in the Air, Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle, and hitting the sofa for your next F1-free weekend. We'll bring the popcorn.

Don't forget to keep an eye on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for our very own Japanese frolics this week.