Until weirdly recently, spontaneous dancing was illegal in Japan and the Sweden. Let’s hope that any such hang-ups are consigned to the past, and that the new EU-Japan trade deal is met with dancing in the streets.


The conclusion of the EU-Japan free trade deal was hailed as “the birth of the world’s largest, free, industrialised economic zone” by Shinzō Abe, Japanese Prime Minister. The two economies account for almost one-fifth of global GDP, and there are high hopes that the “cars for cheese” deal will prove lucrative to the tune of billions of euros.


One of the few countries that escaped European colonisation, Japan is an economic giant, and the country with the world’s third-largest economy. Japan’s kaihoken – or universal health care – is a marvel, and Japan’s citizens boast the highest life-expectancy in the world. Despite having one-tenth of its population, Japan has one and a half times as many centenarians as neighbouring China.

In the time that you’ve been on this page alone, the total number of noodle portions that have been eaten in Japan is:



Miso soups, sushi, sake and ramen have all exploded in popularity across Europe – as a result, culinary tourism to Japan has blossomed in recent years. Predictably, Japan is ahead of the game on fruit too, developing square watermelons designed to fit into your fridge.


Japanese tourists have been said to be particularly susceptible to ‘Paris syndrome’, where visitors to the French capital are disturbed and distressed by unmet expectations. The Japanese embassy runs a 24-hour hotline to help those affected, but with approximately 1 million Japanese tourists to Ville Lumière each year we hope it isn’t too common. Nevertheless, since all EU citizens are visa-exempt when travelling to Japan (and normally vice-versa), there’s no better time to visit.


As a tourism-boosting measure, Japan granted citizenship to Godzilla in 2015 – a bold move, as it’s one of the few things to have destroyed cities more often than corporate architecture. For the traditionalist, Japan’s stunning cherry blossom season normally occurs around April.





Further reasons to visit abound, and despite athletics superstars Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps having retired, we’re all very excited for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games. The logo of the games was briefly embroiled in a bizarre predicament when it was seen to have plagiarised that of a local theatre in Liège, Belgium’s 5th largest town. While we’re on the subject, I can tell you that before 1946 Liège was actually spelled Liége for some reason (can you spot the difference?), and was the birthplace of Charlemagne, Georges Simenon and Justine Henin, but I digress.


While in Japan be sure to ask about the Kuril Islands, a dispute over which meant that Japan and the USSR never signed an official peace treaty after the Second World War. Find out for yourself why going to KFC on Christmas Eve is a Japanese tradition, and why sumo wrestling is so wildly popular in one of the healthiest countries in the world.


What is your favorite Japanese food?
Sushi 🍣A

Ramen 🍜B

Tempura 🍤C