Japan is an island country in East Asia and is known for the beautiful nature, where Mt. Fuji stands, anime (Japanimation) studio, local foods such as sushi, ramen, bento, takoyaki and many more that mostly use fishes as it’s raw material because Japan is also known for its good fisheries and aquaculture. Tokyo is the capital of Japan and Shibuya, a special ward in Tokyo is the busiest area because of its major commercial and business centre, especially the Shibuya crossing intersection. Visiting Japan is a must if you’re curious about their culture, or if you’re an anime lovers, a wanderer and a foodie because you can experience it all here. Japan is home for all crazy things you might not know before, so make sure you enjoy it to the most by checking on this Japan must-do list.
1. INDULGE IN ONSEN, A JAPANESE HOT SPRING
This is a must-do if you’re visiting Japan especially if you’re there during wintertime. Onsens are the name for hot spring and public bath as well. Japanese onsens are truly made by country volcanic activity, so many of them are located on the outdoor side. So you’ll get to soak in the warm water while looking out to the beautiful nature. Five of the famous onsens are the best quality Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma, the mountain view Yufuin Onsen in Oita, the traditional small Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto, the historical Gero Onsen in Gifu and the healthy therapeutic Noboribetsu Onsen in Hokkaido. The price is around 470 JPY per adult.
2. SPEND A LIVELY NIGHT AT IZAKAYAS
Izakaya is a small bar and restaurant for people who just want to take a bite of local foods while chitchatting and socializing with locals. Some of the famous Izakayas in Japan is the biggest Uotami Izakaya, the cheap 280 JPY Torikizoku, the self-grilling Isomaru Suisan and the foreigner-friendly Kin no Kura. All of these izakayas are spreading throughout the country so you can easily find them. The price for foods and drinks varies between shops.
P.S don’t forget to try sake, the Japanese alcohol beverage made from fermented rice.
3. GO FOR A RELIGIOUS TRIP TO SHRINES AND TEMPLES
In Japan, most people are divided into two big religions. They are Shinto and Buddhism -but it doesn’t mean all of Japanese are Shintos or Buddhists. Some religions also emerge in Japan such as Christians and Islam- This is the main reason why you’d likely to see temples (for Buddhists) or shrines (for Shintos) everywhere you go in Japan -but that’s why Japan is so appealing, right?- The famous shrine and temple in Japan are Fushimi Inari Shrine and Kinkaku-ji Temple. Every tourist visiting Japan at least have one of them in their bucket list. Fushimi Inari Shrine is famous for it’s orange Torii gates -known as “The Shrine of the Thousand Torii Gates”- and the beautiful view of Kyoto for photo spot, while Kinkaku-ji Temple is known for the gold leaf exterior and the lake beside it makes this place even more worth to visit.
It’s recommended to go here in the morning as it’s when the temple is less crowded, so you’ll get to picture this magnificent temple without any worries. The Fushimi Inari is free of charge with 24 hours operational, while the Kinkaku-Ji Temple costs you 400 JPY for adult and is open from 9 AM – 5 PM every day.
P.S you are welcomed to write a wish on a small wooden block called ema. This is one of the features you will see at every shrine in Japan.
4. STAY IN A RYOKAN/SHUKUBO (TEMPLE)
Ryokan is a guest-house where you’ll experience sleeping like traditional locals on the tatami mat. Tatami is made from rice straw and covered with a soft rush. Tatami is also used for Judo training, but tatami for judo are made from different materials to adjust their activity. Usually, staying at a ryokan means you can try a yukata robes (traditional simple clothes) as they provide it to guests, access to the onsen and a set of dinner and breakfast. Staying at ryokan requires you to pay for around 15.000 – 25.000 JPY per person.
If you’ve had experience staying at a ryokan -or if the ryokan stays is too expensive for you-, then you have to try sleeping at a temple instead. From there, you will see monks doing their ritual of the day and get to test on Buddhists vegetarian foods. You can also participate in their temple activities. Get all of these in just one-night stay for around 5.370 – 9.600 JPY. One of the temples that are open for tourists is located at Mount Koya/Koya san.
5. TREK ALONG WITHTHE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, KUMANO KODO TRAIL
Stay away from the crowds by going to the Kumano Kodo. If you’re an adventurous person and like to hike, then Kumano Kodo trail is a must-do! Kumano Kodo is located in the south side of Japan, 4 hours drive from Osaka. As you walk on the paved trail through the cedar forest, you’ll get to see small villages, shrines and finally, the best view is when you see a pagoda with beautiful Nachi Falls behind it. Don’t worry about getting lost, because you will likely to find many signs along the trail in English.
There are some shelters in the woods provided for you who want to take a bit rest but beware of the sudden weather change as hikers often get drenched in the rain. Prepare an umbrella or raincoat before you hike. Stay a night -or even more!- at the nearest town such as Koguchi/Katsuura/near Tsubo-yu Onsen.
6. ADMIRE THE NATURE AT BAMBOO FORESTS
There’s always something magical when you visit a bamboo forest in Japan. This is a place where you’ll find peace and some fresh air outside the busy city. One of the most famous -but also crowded- bamboo forest in Japan is Arashiyama. Don’t come to Arashiyama during high season otherwise, won’t get the tranquillity that you need. If that’s the case, go to Sagano/Kodai-ji Temple/Kamakura Bamboo Forest to avoid the crowd. The entrance fee for every bamboo forests are free, but they will charge you if you want to go to the temple (bamboo forests are usually located in a temple complex).
7. ANIME TOUR AT GHIBLI MUSEUM
If you’re an anime fan, then going to the Ghibli Museum is a must. There, you will find a showcase for Japanese animation such as the famous Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Go deep into the artist, Hayao Miyazaki imagination by seeing his drawing, see the things that used for filmmaking and watch some original short films at their theatre. Don’t forget to visit their annual special exhibition if you’re lucky to go right to the exhibition time. Advance booking for the museum’s ticket is a must and is recommended at least a month before your visit. The admission fee is around 1.000 JPY per person and you can book it from the Ghibli’s Museum official website.
8. DO A NIKKO TOUR
Going to Nikko town during your visit to Japan is hardly irreplaceable. Nikko town is located in the northern mountains of Tokyo and it’s a town full of UNSECO World Heritage temples. Go to the National Treasures of Japan and also Nikko main tourists attraction, Tosho-gu Shrine. You may see the famous statue of three wise monkeys, get an audio guide tour -which require you to pay an extra cost-, see the five-stories pagoda, and the top 100 waterfalls in Japan, Kegon Falls. Beside Tosho-gu Shrine, you can also do a boat ride at the scenic Lake Chuzenji that is beautiful to visit during autumn and winter, stroll around the Nikko National Park to see falls, lake, shrines and temples at the same place or even do mountaineering, visit Futarasan Jinja that is protected by three deities
Ōkuninushi, Tagorihime, and Ajisukitakahikone for some games and hike to Takino Shrine if you still have free time. Please note that the Tosho-gu Shrine has an entrance fee for 1.300 JPY and 1.000 JPY for the museum, while a boat ride at Lake Chuzenji costs 1.400 JPY. The other attractions like Nikko National Park, Futarasan Jinja and Takino Shrine are free of charge.
9. TRY A REAL LIFE MARIO KART AT MARICAR SHIBUYA
Drive like your favourite character in Mario Kart at MariCar in Tokyo, Osaka or Kyoto. This Go-Kart driving will bring you back to childhood as you’ll be provided by their costume and you’ll get to proof your Mario Kart driving skills through the city streets by using the game unique cars. Don’t forget to bring your passport and international driving license before you go on this tour as this is strictly required to drive in Japan. The price for this experience starts from 6.000 JPY depends on the location and tour duration.
10. ENJOY THE VIEW OF MT. FUJI FROM NEAREST PLACE OR CLIMB IT UP TO THE PEAK
Mt. Fuji is Japan’s tallest peak and an active volcano located on the southwest side of Tokyo. Mt. Fuji is also used for many of Japan’s artworks icons. Tourists usually don’t have any intention to hike Mt. Fuji as it’s quite challenging and it requires around 5-6 hours to the peak. Besides, it can only be hiked around July and August season, so if you don’t have a chance to hike, then just go to Kumomi Kaigan (Kumomi Beach) to see the Mt.Fuji among the waves (but please note that Kumomi Kaigan will be crowded during summer as it’s popular for swimming and diving) or see the reflection of Mt. Fuji on the peaceful water surface at Lake Tanukiko.
You can also find many attractions at this lake including cherry blossoms during spring and autumn leaves during falls. That is why this lake is a good place for camping, fishing and boating. From there, you can enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji without any difficulties.
P.S if you are still willing to climb the Mt. Fuji, it’s recommended to use a tour instead of the hike it by yourself. A two-day all-in Mt. Fuji tour may costs you around 45.000 JPY starting from Tokyo.
11. GO SHOPPING AT NISHIKI MARKET
Nishiki Market is known for “Kyoto’s Kitchen” where you’ll find many ofJapan’s local foods. This is a perfect place if you want to explore some local cuisines like seafood, sweets and sushi. This narrow five-blocks market is located at the Nakagyo Ward, downtown Kyoto and it’s open every day except for Sunday, from 9 AM – 5.30 PM. You won’t regret visiting this popular foods market.
12. JOIN A JAPAN’S FESTIVAL
Have a party like locals and enjoy the annual Japan’s festival such as the popular winter festival Yuki Matsuri (Sapporo Snow Festival) at Hokkaido in January/February, Omizutori (sacred-water drawing) at Nara City in March, Gion Matsuri at Kyoto in July, Aomori Nebuta Matsuri at Aomori in August and Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri at Kishiwada in September. Whether you want to experience making an ice sculpture at Yuki Matsuri Festival, getting showered by the 8 metres giant fire torches at Omizutori, join the ritual to repel the floods, fire and earthquakes at Gion Matsuri, enjoy the colourful lantern festival at Aomori Nebuta Matsuri or see the Japanese wooden float (danjiri) accompanied by almost 1.000 people through the streets at Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri are up to your decision and your travel time.
Japan is in the list of the most popular holiday destinations.
Find the best things to do in Japan and make your experience better.
There are more than 5000+ things to do in Japan, to see more simply click on any of the above.