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Japan's cool factor? High-tech toilets for one thing, a poll says

March 27, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Some Japanese moms create food characters for their children's bento box lunches.
Some Japanese moms create food characters for their children's bento… ( )

High-tech toilets, bento box animal characters and sushi-go-round carousels are among the top 10 things that some say make Japan hip. Sumo wrestlers, rickshaw rides and iced coffee? Not so much.

That's the latest results of the highly unscientific "Is Japan Cool?" online poll, posted by All Nippon Airways, in which more than 3,700  people so far ranked the toilets at No. 2. "Ordinary features include warm water washer, automatic up/down lavatory seating, seat warmer and deodorizer," the poll description reads.

But in this poll, the toilets aren't too far behind the first-place finisher: Japanese hospitality, known as omotenashi, which has garnered more than 4,500 votes.

Voting continues through Saturday, so feel free to weigh in. But let's keep it real; vote only if you have been to Japan and experienced cool (or not-so-cool) culture. (All Nippon Airways also is giving away two free airline tickets to those who register on the website.)

The rest of the top 10 cool list:

--No. 3: hot-spring spas
--No. 4: Mt. Fuji;
--No. 5: "ultra-modern" vending machines
--No. 6: "character bentos" (in which moms create animals and other food beings for bento box lunches)

--No. 7: sushi-go-round plates that whiz by on a conveyor belt for hungry diners to grab
--No. 8: Harajuku girl, fashionistas who dress the part;
--No. 9: soba noodles
--No. 10: Japanese pubs.

Sumo wrestlers, alas, weigh in at 25th place.

Earlier this month, Andrew Bender, writing in the Travel section of The Times, listed what he found endearing about the Land of the Rising Sun; you can see how closely these match. 

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