things to do in japan

Last Updated on: 10th February 2024, 09:34 am

Welcome to Japan, a country that offers a myriad of incredible experiences waiting to be explored. Whether you’re seeking the best things to do in Japan, or simply looking for top-notch activities that will create unforgettable memories, we’ve got you covered. From delicious Japanese cuisine to cultural festivals and breathtaking natural scenery, Japan has something for everyone.

Devour Authentic Japanese Food Alongside Locals

One of the best things to do in Japan is to indulge in authentic Japanese food. From yakitori skewers to okonomiyaki pancakes, the variety of dishes available is endless. Explore the bustling street food stalls in Osaka and Fukuoka or try sushi at a kaiten-zushi conveyor belt restaurant in Tokyo. Don’t miss out on the unique flavors and culinary experiences that Japan has to offer.

Japanese cuisine is renowned for its emphasis on freshness, seasonality, and presentation. Each dish is meticulously crafted, showcasing the taste and beauty of the ingredients. Whether you’re a fan of sushi, ramen, or tempura, you’ll find an array of options to satisfy your taste buds.

One of the best ways to experience authentic Japanese food is by dining alongside locals. This allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and truly understand the flavors and traditions. Whether it’s a cozy izakaya with a lively atmosphere or a traditional kaiseki restaurant serving multi-course meals, you’ll find that the locals take great pride in their cuisine.

When visiting Japan, be sure to try these iconic dishes:

  1. Sushi: Freshly-caught fish and vinegared rice
  2. Ramen: Noodles in a flavorful broth garnished with various toppings
  3. Tempura: Lightly battered and deep-fried seafood and vegetables
  4. Tonkatsu: Breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet
  5. Sashimi: Sliced raw fish or seafood, often served with soy sauce and wasabi

“Japanese cuisine is a delicate balance of taste, texture, and aesthetic. Each dish is thoughtfully prepared to create a harmonious dining experience.”

For an unforgettable dining experience, head to a local food market, such as Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo or Nishiki Market in Kyoto. These vibrant markets offer a wide variety of fresh seafood, produce, and street food. Explore the stalls, interact with the vendors, and sample a range of dishes.

To further enhance your culinary journey, consider participating in a cooking class or food tour. These experiences allow you to learn about the ingredients, techniques, and cultural significance behind Japanese cuisine. You’ll have the opportunity to create your own sushi rolls, master the art of making ramen noodles from scratch, or discover the secrets of traditional wagashi sweets.

Popular Japanese Dishes

Dish Description
Sushi A combination of vinegared rice topped with various types of seafood or vegetables
Ramen Wheat noodles in a savory broth, often served with pork, eggs, and vegetables
Tempura Lightly battered and deep-fried seafood, vegetables, or other ingredients
Tonkatsu Breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet, typically served with rice and shredded cabbage
Okonomiyaki A savory pancake made with cabbage, pork, and other toppings, often drizzled with sauce and mayonnaise

Indulging in authentic Japanese food is not just a culinary experience but a journey into the heart of Japanese culture. From street food to fine dining, every meal offers a glimpse into the traditions, flavors, and artistry that define Japanese cuisine.

authentic Japanese food

Chase Cherry Blossoms and Festivals

Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are a symbol of spring in Japan and attract travelers from around the world. Witness the beauty of the cherry blossoms at top spots like Mount Yoshino and the Fuji Five Lakes region. Experience the joy of hanami, or flower viewing, as you join locals in picnics and celebrations under the blooming trees. Don’t forget to explore other traditional festivals like Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and the Sapporo Snow Festival.

cherry blossoms

Festival Location
Gion Matsuri Kyoto
Sapporo Snow Festival Sapporo

Cherry blossoms and festivals are deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. The mesmerizing beauty of cherry blossoms draws visitors from all over the world, making it a must-see attraction. The traditional practice of hanami allows both locals and tourists to immerse themselves in the vibrant colors and delicate petals of the cherry blossoms. It’s a time for joyous celebrations, picnics, and appreciating the transient nature of nature’s beauty.

Delighting in Cherry Blossom Festivals

One of the most famous festivals in Japan is the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto. Held in July, it is a month-long celebration featuring stunning parades, traditional costumes, and the lighting of lanterns. Another notable festival is the Sapporo Snow Festival, held in February, where intricate snow sculptures take center stage.

“The cherry blossoms are a symbol of renewal and fleeting beauty in Japanese culture. Experiencing the hanami tradition is a unique opportunity to appreciate the transience of life and find joy in the present moment.” – Local Resident

Visiting these festivals not only allows you to admire the cherry blossoms but also offers insights into the rich cultural heritage of Japan. Immerse yourself in the local traditions, taste delicious festival food, and witness captivating performances that blend ancient customs with modern creativity.

  1. Participate in the centuries-old custom of hanami by joining locals in picnics under blooming cherry trees.
  2. Experience the awe-inspiring Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and witness the grand processions and cultural performances.
  3. Marvel at the intricate snow sculptures and enjoy winter activities at the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Don’t miss the chance to chase cherry blossoms and immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Japanese festivals. The combination of natural beauty, cultural traditions, and joyful celebrations make these experiences truly memorable. Whether you’re exploring historical temples or indulging in local cuisine, the cherry blossoms and festivals in Japan are sure to captivate your heart and create lasting memories.

Cycle Between Islands around the Seto Inland Sea

Looking for an unforgettable adventure in Japan? Consider cycling along the Shimanami Kaido, a picturesque 70km route that spans six islands in the breathtaking Seto Inland Sea. This cycling journey offers a unique opportunity to soak in the natural beauty of the region while enjoying the freedom and exhilaration of cycling.

As you pedal through the Shimanami Kaido, prepare to be captivated by the stunning views of mountains, orange groves, and expansive sea vistas. The route is well-maintained and offers both beginner-friendly sections and challenging uphill climbs, catering to cyclists of all skill levels.

Take breaks along the way to discover the hidden gems of this region. Swim at secluded beaches, visit local museums to learn about the area’s rich history, and make a stop at awe-inspiring shrines with panoramic views. The peaceful and serene atmosphere of the islands make it the perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

If you’re looking for a truly off-the-beaten-track experience, consider exploring the Tobishima Kaido cycle route. Less crowded and equally beautiful, this route allows you to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the Seto Inland Sea while exploring lesser-known islands.

Embark on a cycling journey like no other and discover the wonders of the Seto Inland Sea. Don’t forget to pack your camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes along the way.

Cycling Along the Shimanami Kaido

Experience the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea while cycling along the Shimanami Kaido.

Sip Sake in Saijō

Discover the rich tradition of sake brewing in Saijō, a charming town known for its authentic sake breweries. Embark on a fascinating tour that unveils the centuries-old process of traditional sake brewing, showcasing the meticulous craftsmanship and dedication of the local brewers.

Immerse yourself in the world of sake as you learn about the brewing techniques passed down through generations. From the selection of premium rice to the delicate fermentation process, witness the artistry and precision that goes into creating this beloved Japanese beverage.

Indulge your taste buds with a sake tasting experience, sampling a variety of flavors and styles. From rich and robust to delicate and floral, each sip offers a delightful journey through the diverse palette of sake. Feel the smoothness and crispness as you savor every drop of this renowned drink.

During your visit, make sure to explore the Kamotsuru Sake Brewing Company, a revered establishment known for its exceptional sake. This esteemed brewery even caught the attention of former US President Obama, who had the opportunity to try their signature gold-leaf sake.

Experience the ancient art of traditional sake brewing and treat your senses to the exquisite flavors of Saijō’s finest sake. Don’t miss this opportunity to delve into Japanese culture and history through the world of sake.

Time Jump to Ancient Japan in Kyoto

Kyoto, known as the cultural heart of Japan, is a city that offers a captivating glimpse into ancient Japanese traditions and history. With its vast collection of temples, enchanting gardens, and traditional tea houses, Kyoto is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic experience of Japan’s rich heritage.

Explore over 2000 exquisite temples scattered throughout Kyoto, each with its own unique charm and significance. From the iconic golden tiers of Kinkaku-ji to the serene beauty of Fushimi Inari Taisha, these temples are not only architectural marvels but also a testament to the spirituality and devotion of the Japanese people.

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Japanese gardens, meticulously designed to harmonize with nature and create an oasis of serenity. Admire the artistry of the Zen gardens at Ryōan-ji, where carefully arranged rocks and raked gravel invite contemplation and meditation. Lose yourself in the vibrant colors of cherry blossoms or the lush greenery of moss gardens, a true feast for the senses.

Indulge in the age-old tradition of tea ceremonies by visiting traditional tea houses in Kyoto. Experience the grace and elegance of the tea ceremony, where every movement and gesture holds deep cultural significance. Sip on matcha, finely ground powdered green tea, and savor the moment of tranquility and mindfulness that this ancient ritual provides.

“Kyoto is a city that effortlessly blends the ancient with the modern, creating a unique atmosphere that transports visitors to a bygone era of Japan’s rich history and traditions.” – Travel Enthusiast

Top Temples to Visit in Kyoto

  • Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)
  • Ryōan-ji (Temple of the Dragon at Peace)
  • Kiyomizu-dera (Pure Water Temple)
  • Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion)
  • Fushimi Inari Taisha

As you wander through the lantern-lit streets of the Gion entertainment district, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to the days of ancient Japan. Observe geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) gracefully passing by in their exquisite kimono, adding to the enchanting ambiance of the area.

With its cultural treasures, peaceful gardens, and traditional tea houses, Kyoto offers a captivating journey into ancient Japan that will leave you with cherished memories and a deep appreciation for the country’s living traditions.

Zip Across Japan on a Bullet Train

Experience the marvel of Japan’s high-speed bullet trains, known as Shinkansen. These state-of-the-art trains revolutionized transportation in Japan, providing a fast and efficient way to travel between cities. With speeds of up to 320 kph, you can reach your destination in no time, allowing you to make the most of your time in Japan.

The bullet train network connects major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, and more, making it incredibly convenient for tourists to explore different regions of the country. Whether you’re visiting iconic landmarks, exploring historic sites, or indulging in local cuisine, the bullet train offers a seamless travel experience that saves you valuable time and energy.

Efficiency and Comfort

One of the key advantages of travelling on a bullet train is the efficiency it offers. The trains run on a precise schedule, ensuring that you arrive at your destination on time. The spacious and comfortable seating allows you to relax during the journey, whether you’re admiring the picturesque landscapes or catching up on some rest.

Save Money with the JR Pass

If you’re planning to visit multiple cities in Japan, the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) can save you time and money. This all-inclusive ticket provides unlimited travel on the Shinkansen and other JR trains for a designated period, allowing you to explore the country at your own pace. It’s a cost-effective option, especially for those who plan to travel extensively within Japan.

Explore Vibrant Cities

With the bullet train’s extensive network, you can easily access vibrant cities and popular tourist destinations. Visit the Akihabara district in Tokyo, known as the electric town, where you can immerse yourself in the world of anime, manga, and gaming. Marvel at the bright lights, explore the quirky shops and arcades, and indulge in delicious street food.

In Osaka, head to Den Den Town, the city’s answer to Akihabara, and delve into the otaku culture. Discover shops selling manga, anime merchandise, and cosplay costumes. You can even participate in cosplay events and embrace your inner character.

Advantages of Bullet Trains Disadvantages of other modes of transportation
High-speed travel Slow and time-consuming
Comfortable seating Cramped and uncomfortable
Efficient and reliable Unpredictable and prone to delays
Convenient access to major cities Limited reach and connectivity
Opportunity to admire scenic landscapes Restricted views and lack of flexibility

So why endure long hours of travel when you can zip across Japan on a bullet train? Experience the thrill of high-speed travel, the comfort of modern amenities, and the convenience of exploring vibrant cities. The bullet train truly embodies the essence of efficient and enjoyable transportation in Japan.

Conclusion

Japan is a land of endless possibilities, offering a myriad of unique and unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re an history enthusiast, a nature lover, or a fan of modern pop culture, there are plenty of things to do and see in Japan that will leave you amazed.

Immerse yourself in the rich history of ancient Japan by exploring the awe-inspiring temples and tranquil gardens of Kyoto. Indulge in the world-class Japanese cuisine, from delectable street food to refined traditional dishes, and experience a culinary journey like no other.

Don’t miss the chance to witness traditional festivals like hanami, where you can marvel at the breathtaking beauty of cherry blossoms and join locals in joyful celebrations. And if you’re looking for something offbeat, Japan has its fair share of weird and wonderful attractions, from quirky themed cafes to unique vending machines.

With its blend of tradition and innovation, Japan has something for everyone. So why wait? Start planning your trip today and embark on an adventure of a lifetime in this captivating country. From the cool to the curious, Japan promises to deliver unforgettable memories and experiences that will stay with you forever.

FAQ

What are some top things to do in Japan?

Japan offers a wide range of incredible attractions and experiences for visitors to enjoy. From indulging in authentic Japanese food to exploring ancient temples and gardens, there is something for everyone in this incredible country.

Where can I find authentic Japanese food?

To experience the delicious flavors of Japanese cuisine, explore the bustling street food stalls in Osaka and Fukuoka or try sushi at a kaiten-zushi conveyor belt restaurant in Tokyo. The variety of dishes available is endless.

What are some popular festivals in Japan?

One unmissable experience is witnessing the beauty of the cherry blossoms during spring. Visit top spots like Mount Yoshino and the Fuji Five Lakes region and join locals in picnics and celebrations under the blooming trees. Other traditional festivals like Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and the Sapporo Snow Festival are also worth exploring.

Where can I go cycling in Japan?

The Shimanami Kaido is a 70km cycling route that takes you across six islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Enjoy breathtaking views of mountains, orange groves, and sea vistas as you pedal through this scenic route. For a more off-the-beaten-track experience, consider the Tobishima Kaido cycle route.

Where can I try sake in Japan?

Saijō is a town known for its traditional sake breweries. Take a tour and learn about the sake brewing process that dates back 2000 years. Enjoy tasting different varieties of sake and experience the smooth, crisp flavors of this popular Japanese beverage. Don’t miss the Kamotsuru Sake Brewing Company, known for its gold-leaf sake.

What can I see in Kyoto?

Kyoto is a city that showcases the rich history and traditions of ancient Japan. Visit over 2000 exquisite temples and immerse yourself in the beauty of Japanese gardens. Marvel at the golden tiers of Kinkaku-ji and explore the stunning Zen garden of Ryōan-ji. Enjoy a peaceful time reflecting on Japan’s living traditions by wandering through lantern-lit streets in the Gion entertainment district.

How can I travel around Japan?

Experience the marvel of Japan’s high-speed bullet trains, known as Shinkansen. Travel between cities at speeds of up to 320 kph and enjoy the comfort and efficiency of these modern trains. Use the JR Pass or other all-inclusive train tickets to save money and time. Explore vibrant districts like Akihabara in Tokyo or Den Den Town in Osaka.

What are some cool and weird things to do in Japan?

Japan offers an endless array of unique and unforgettable experiences. From participating in traditional tea ceremonies to exploring themed cafes and shopping in futuristic districts, there is something for every interest. Immerse yourself in the world of anime and gaming in Akihabara or visit cat and owl cafes for a cute and quirky experience.