One of my favorite chickens of all time was a Japanese Bantam hen. In a way, she was everything I wanted to be-feisty, self-assured, and independent. She was also rather beautiful to look at, I must say, standing out against all of the other chickens nearby. When I saw her, I knew immediately she would be coming home with me.
This little hen was also one of the best mothers I have seen to date. She was an occasional free ranger during the day and disappeared one day, so naturally we assumed the worst. It seemed like several weeks passed with no sign of her and then all of a sudden, she popped back up with five chicks in tow. Apparently when it was time to nest, she had her own setup in mind that she preferred over ours. We never did figure out where she went off to, but we did try to round up her babies to put everyone in a safe place. To say she strongly objected to this would be an understatement. She puffed up like a turkey and charged forth to protect those babies, nary a drop of fear in her eyes.
As a rule, Bantams are smaller than other chickens, especially in the case of a 'true' Bantam, which does not have a larger bird in its breeding. Their legs may be short but their tails are large as are the combs of roosters, which contributes to their appeal. They also come in a wide variety of colors (ABA Standard recognizes 17 varieties in all!) as well as being plan, frizzle, or silky feathered.
The care of these birds can be more extensive than their larger counterparts. Due to their being low to the ground, Bantams do not do well when kept outdoors as that allows for dirt accumulation and thus irritation. I will say that ours spent a lot of time outdoors and had minimal problems, but each bird is unique and it is best to be safe rather than sorry. Instead, they are better off in covered sheds and runs with good ventilation to avoid a heavily soiled underside and potential discomfort. They will also require frequent bedding changes when kept indoors for this same reason.
Outside from requiring some extra work regarding cleanliness, Japanese Bantams do not need anything different in comparison to other breeds. They are often purchased because they are aesthetically pleasing, but if you want chickens for egg-laying purposes, steer away from the Japanese Bantam. Their eggs are approximately one third the size of the typical hen's egg and they only lay between 50-100 annually, so they will not feed you terribly well unless you have several. Even so, they are a hearty little bird with a lot of gusto and make excellent mothers, so if you want something to bring beauty to your life and maybe an egg here and there, a Japanese Bantam could be the hen for you.
(Bantam egg on right.)