Discover Top 18 Things to Do in Japan
Japan is an amazing destination offering a lot to its visitors, including historical heritages, modern landmarks, unique culture, beautiful natural scenery, and tasteful food. Here is a list of top things to do in Japan for travelers.
Visit Mount Fuji – A Symbol of Japan
As a symbol of the country, Mt. Fuji is definitely a must-see when travelling to Japan. Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Ashi nearby are the best spots to appreciate Mt. Fuji. At Lake Kawaguchi, the boat cruise allows visitors to admire Mt. Fuji from varied angles; and the panoramic ropeway there gives a bird’s-eye view of both the mountain and the lake. At Lake Ashi, cruise boat and Hakone Komagatake Ropeway are also available for visitors to appreciate Mt. Fuji. If interested, one can reach Mt. Fuji 5th Station on the hillside, to get in touch with the divine mountain.
Appreciate Sakura – National Flower of Japan
Sakura, the oriental cherry blossoms, is the national flower and another icon of Japan. The cherry blossom season varies from region to region; the northerner the place, the later the cherry blossom flowers. Generally, it flowers from February to May and March to April is its most prosperous period and the best time to see alluring sakura in Japan. In Tokyo, you may witness the natural beauty at Ueno Onshi Park and Shinjuku Gyoen; also, Meguro-kawa Riverbanks are nice for viewing sakura at night. Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Daigoji Temple, and Maruyama Park in Kyoto, Mount Yoshino in Nara, and Osaka Castle Park in Osaka are also great destinations to see imposing cherry blossoms.
Try Japanese Onsen Bath
Hot spring bathing, or onsen in Japanese, is an essential part of Japanese’s life. Why not have a try? There are many hot springs all over the country. Hakone, Hokkaido, Arima, Kusatsu, and Beppu are the most popular onsen resorts throughout Japan. You may stay in a ryokan in resort towns, and the natural settings is enjoyable, too. Especially in winter, you may indulge in the mineral water while enjoying snow scenery in the surroundings. Please follow the Japanese traditions to relax yourself.
Watch Geisha in Kyoto – Unique Culture in Japan
Geisha is a unique culture form only existing in Japan all over the world. Kyoto’s Gion is the best-known geisha district in Japan, where you can come across geishas in traditional kimono on the antique streets. Miyako Odori at Kyoto Minami-za Theater is a superb event to watch geiko or maiko (geiko trainees) performances in April. More geisha or maiko performances at different theaters in Gion are also wonderful. There are also geiko or maiko performances in tea houses sometimes, when you can enjoy the tea ceremony as well.
Eat Authentic Sushi
How can you go to Japan without trying the local cuisine? Sushi is the most widespread Japanese food in the world. It is made with rice and raw or cooked ingredients such as seafood, eggs or vegetables. In Japan, sushi is available at all places and prices. You can get a box of fresh sushi in convenience stores, or enjoy the high-end sushi dinner in grand restaurants or hotels. Take your pick on your economic capability. Japan holds more food to satisfy visitors’ taste bud, like kaiseki, tempura, and Kobe beef. Okonomiyaki, gyoza, dango, takoyaki, matcha, and more street snacks are also goluptious. Dotonbori in Osaka, Tsukiji Jogaii Market and Shibuya Yokocho in Tokyo, Kyoto Ramen Koji, etc. are recommended places for foodies. If interested, you may take a cooking class in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, or other cities to learn to cook Japanese food on your own.
View Ancient Japanese Architecture – Castles, Shrines & Torii
Historical sites and architectural heritages can never be neglected when getting to Japan. The old architecture with distinguishing features are full of charm. Many Japanese castles were built for defense in ancient times, with high and low towers. You can learn the structure of Japanese castle as well as Osaka’s history in Osaka Castle; Himeji Castle in neighboring Hyogo is known for its white walls, often compared to egrets. Temples and shrines can be found all over Japan as well. Sensoji Temple and Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, and Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Fushimi-Inari Taisha with glorious Senbontorii in Kyoto are eye-catching. You may never get there before, but you must have seen the pictures somewhere. Hiroshima has a distinct torii standing in sea, and the whole Itsukushima Jinja is like floating on water in the rising tide.
Pray at Sensoji Temple
Sensoji Temple is the most famous and oldest temple in Tokyo, which has a history of nearly 1,400 years. In Edo style, it is well-preserved with giant Kaminarimon gate, towering five-storied pagoda, and Nakamise Street with over 90 shops selling Japanese specialties. Sensoji Temple is also regarded as the most efficacious temple to make wishes come true in Japan, which attract a lot of pilgrims. Why don’t you try the mysterious oriental magic? Paying 100 Japanese yen, you can also go for a fortune-telling stick to ask the good and the bad. Be cautious, but don’t worry if you get an inauspicious stick. In accordance with the tradition, you should tie the poem paper of corresponding stick to the designated location, so Avalokitesvara will protect you from bad luck.
Enjoy Night Panoramas of Modern Cities - One Million Dollar Night Views
The amazing night panoramas of modern cities are nicknamed as “One Million Dollar Night Views”. Why? Because in the 1950s, a stuff in a local electric power company calculated that the gorgeous night view of Kobe cost a million dollar’s electricity every month. Coming to Japan, how could you miss the legendary one million dollar night views? In Kobe, Mt. Maya is the highest spot, where you can witness the fantastic view of dazzling lights in downtown; you can even see Osaka when it’s clear. In Osaka, Abeno Harukas is the highest site with HARUKAS 300 observation deck, where you can get a 360-degree view of the whole city. In Tokyo, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree are all perfectly high for night pieces of Tokyo. In Hakodate, Mount Hakodate is no doubt the best place to appreciate its night charms.
Stay for at least One Night in a Ryokan with Tatami
Ryokan is the old-fashioned Japanese inn, which emerged a dozen of centuries ago. Ryokan is more common around onsen resorts or in ancient cities, like Hakone and Kyoto. There is usually tatami, zabuton (Japanese cushion), shoji (wooden paper-screen doors), and low table in the room, where you can experience how the ancient Japanese spent the night. There, you can also have an onsen bathing as well and get dressed in yukata offered after. Besides, ryokans often provide local cuisine or a kaiseki meal for guests, which is also enjoyable.
Ski in Hokkaido
In Japan, skiing is a popular activity can only be enjoyed in winter. But don’t feel disappointed. The winter in northern Japan and mountainous areas are comparatively longer, where ski resorts or snow parks are usually open from late November to early April. Hokkaido is a paradise of powder snow, making the region a best ski resort in the world. When getting to Hokkaido in Japan during wintertime, you can challenge the snow-sliding down, snowmobile, dog-sledding ride, and more exciting snow sports, for the thrill of speed and chill. Niseko United, Rusutsu, and Furano Ski Resort are the most popular among both beginners and skilled skiers.
Watch Sumo Wrestling – Unique National Sport in Japan
You can never find an orthodox sumo wrestling in other countries, so the sumo battle should not be missed when coming to Japan. It is an old wrestling sport having a long history, but loved by Japanese people till today. The big rikishi (sumo wrestlers) struggle while wearing nothing but only fundoshi. There will be a long Shinto ritual before the battle, which is also interesting. 6 national sumo tournaments, or called basho, are held in Japan every year. Tokyo hosts 3 of them in January, May and September respectively, which is in The Ryogoku Kokugikan.
Get Dressed in Kimono
Do you see people in kimono when in Japan? How beautiful! Kimono stores are available in many cities and attractions. You can either buy one or rent one to take some memorable pictures in the Japanese style. Generally speaking, there are diverse styles of kimono for your choice. You can select one together with hair ornaments per your preference. After getting dressed with help of the shop assistant, you can stroll around temples, shrines, and old districts with geta shoes eventually. Sensoji Temple and Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Osaka Castle, and Kyoto are the most popular places for impressive photos.
Ride Shinkansen Bullet Trains
Shinkansen in Japan is the first high-speed railway all over the world. The bullet train will give a furious memory as the buildings and fields flash away out of the window. The highest speed of Shinkansen has reached 320km/h (199mi/h), saving a lot time for your Japan tour. The east-west span is large in Japan, so Shinkansen has become the optimal way to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto or Osaka. Departing from Tokyo, you can get to Kyoto by a Nozomi bullet train in about 2 hours and 20 minutes, covering a distance of 480 km (298 miles) or so. The railway bentos may be another reason to take Shinkansen; the delicious local food win wide praises, worth a try.
Return to Childhood at Tokyo Disney Resort
Where to have fun in Tokyo? Disney Resort is a superb answer for you, especially when you travel with children. There is Tokyo Disneyland housing mild rides and the more thrilling Tokyo DisneySea. The latter is the only DisneySea on the globe. You may go on a cruise with “Pirates of the Caribbean”, take a fast ride escaping from Temple of the Crystal Skull, and float on a shell hanged by jellyfish. The exhilarating rides seem to bring you back to your childhood, to discover innocent joy. Also, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is another option for crazy fun in Japan.
Stroll in Shirakawa-go - the Oldest and Most Primitive Village in Japan
There are many ancient villages in the mountains in Chubu region worth visiting. Hida Folk Village show local folk crafts, and historic village of Gokayama has the thatched roofs looking like palms together. However, Shirakawa-go is perhaps the most-visited old historic village as a world cultural heritage. Situated in Gifu, Shirakawa-go also holds the Japanese thatched gassho-zukuri, like devout disciples. In addition, people come here for its splendid winter landscapes. The snow-covered tranquil mountain village gives you peace of mind, and the lighting festival makes it dreamy in a white world. Don’t you want to see the beauty in person?
Learn the History of Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima
Hiroshima has a renewal after the atomic bombing in 1945, which was the first in human history. Can you image what it was like after the bombing? Atomic Bomb Dome remains there will tell you the answer. It has also been a world heritage to show the sorrow of people and the city brought by war. To learn more, you can also pay a visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park & Museum, where preserves the images, videos, and relics of the city after the giant disaster.
Feed Cute Deer in Nara
As another ancient capital in Japan, Nara is well-known for the Buddhist arts, temples, and of course, deer. You can see deer in many spots in the city. Nara Park is the grandest place to seek for deer, where raises more than 1,300 of these lovely creatures. Come and play with them! Feeding sweet-tempered deer cubs with the senbei may be the biggest enjoyment there; audacious ones may also poke their heads to your pockets or bag, to find their food. Going further insides, the large grassland is perfect for photography with deer. What a funny kid-friendly relaxation!
Nakasendo Hiking – Ancient Trail Adventure
Mountainous Chubu region in Japan is a perfect hiking destination. An old trail formed there in Edo Age between Tokyo and Kyoto, which is Nakasendo. Now it becomes a popular hiking route to take a glimpse of ancient Japan. The section from Magome in Gifu to Tsumago in Nagano is well developed and the most popular among hikers, taking 2.5-3 hours to complete the entire course. You may take a bus from Nagoya to Nakatsugawa, and get a transfer to Magome. It’s a pleasure to explore the trail in forests, pass by old post towns, and appreciate the natural scenery, particularly with the leaves changing colors in autumn.
- Last updated on Mar. 20, 2023 by Nancy He -