20 Things To Do In Japan

Things To Do In Japan

Japan, a mesmerizing archipelago where tradition intertwines with modernity, offers a myriad of activities that cater to every type of traveler. From the snowy peaks of Hokkaido to the tropical beaches of Okinawa, the country is a patchwork of diverse landscapes, cultures, and experiences. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, nature lover, or culinary connoisseur, Japan provides a rich tapestry of sights and sounds. This blog post explores an extensive list of “Things To Do In Japan,” each designed to enrich your travel experience and create lasting memories. So, buckle up as we embark on a journey through the Land of the Rising Sun, exploring its unique offerings.

Things To Do In Japan

  1. Explore the Historic Streets of Kyoto

Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is the heart of traditional Japanese culture. Walking through its historic streets, you can see wooden tea houses, meet kimono-clad locals, and visit some of the country’s most famous temples and shrines. The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a natural wonder that feels like stepping into another world. Meanwhile, the Fushimi Inari Shrine, with its iconic torii gate pathway, offers a beautiful hike that also provides insight into Shinto traditions. Kyoto’s charm is in its peaceful coexistence of the old and the new, making it a top destination for anyone wanting to experience the soul of Japan.

  1. Witness the Bustling Crosswalk at Shibuya, Tokyo

The Shibuya Crossing is often featured in films and is symbolic of Tokyo’s bustling urban energy. Standing amidst the hundreds of people crossing from all directions, you’ll feel the vibrant pulse of one of the world’s busiest intersections. Nearby, you can explore fashionable boutiques, taste local and international cuisines at trendy restaurants, and experience some of Tokyo’s best nightlife. Visiting Shibuya is more than just watching the crowd; it’s about immersing yourself in Tokyo’s dynamic culture and understanding the contemporary urban lifestyle of Japan.

  1. Relax in an Onsen in Hakone

Hakone is renowned for its hot springs, known as ‘onsen’, which are perfect for relaxation after a long day of sightseeing. Surrounded by mountains and serene natural beauty, Hakone offers a variety of onsen experiences, from outdoor baths with views of Mount Fuji to private indoor hot springs at traditional ryokans (inns). This experience not only soothes the body but also offers a cultural insight into a quintessential Japanese practice. Bathing in an onsen is considered a way to cleanse both body and soul, embodying the Japanese philosophy of purification.

  1. Climb Mount Fuji

For the adventurous spirits, climbing Mount Fuji is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Japan’s tallest peak and a celebrated cultural icon, Mount Fuji has inspired artists and pilgrims for centuries. The climbing season runs from early July to mid-September, when the weather conditions are most favorable. Reaching the summit at sunrise, known as ‘Goraiko’, offers breathtaking views and a profound sense of accomplishment. This activity requires physical readiness but promises an unforgettable journey through stunning landscapes and an iconic part of Japan’s heritage.

  1. Experience the Springtime Sakura

The blooming of cherry blossoms, or ‘sakura’, during spring is a celebrated event in Japan. Hanami, the practice of viewing flowers, involves picnicking under blooming cherry trees and is a way for locals and visitors alike to enjoy the transient beauty of nature. Cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka have numerous parks where these blossoms can be viewed in their full glory. This experience is not just about enjoying the beautiful scenery; it’s also a deep dive into Japanese aesthetics and the cultural significance of appreciating the moment.

  1. Visit the Historic Village of Shirakawa-go

Shirakawa-go is a picturesque village known for its traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. These homes are designed with steep thatched roofs that resemble hands in prayer. The village is set in a stunning mountainous region and offers a glimpse into rural Japanese life. In winter, the snow-covered landscape transforms the village into a winter wonderland, making it ideal for photography and cultural exploration. Visiting Shirakawa-go isn’t just about seeing the buildings; it’s about experiencing a way of life preserved over centuries.

  1. Attend a Sumo Wrestling Match

Sumo wrestling is an ancient Japanese sport that offers a deep dive into the country’s traditions and rituals. Attending a live sumo match, particularly in Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka, allows you to experience the excitement and intensity of this competitive sport. The ritualistic elements surrounding the matches, including the ceremonial entrance and the salt-throwing to purify the ring, are as fascinating as the bouts themselves. For any visitor, this is a chance to see a unique blend of sport and culture that is quintessentially Japanese.

  1. Explore the Neon Lights of Akihabara, Tokyo

Akihabara is a vibrant district in Tokyo known for its electronics shops, pop culture, and anime merchandise. Often called “Electric Town,” Akihabara is a paradise for tech enthusiasts and anime fans. The area is also famous for its maid cafes and arcade centers, where visitors can enjoy retro video games and unique dining experiences. Exploring Akihabara provides a look at Japan’s youth culture and technological advancement, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in modern Japanese life.

  1. Visit the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is dedicated to documenting the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 and promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. The museum and the adjacent Peace Memorial Park serve as powerful reminders of the horrors of war and the importance of peace. The iconic A-Bomb Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stands as a poignant monument to peace efforts. Visiting this site offers a profound and moving insight into an important part of world history, reflecting on destruction and the resilience of humanity.

  1. Discover the Nightlife in Osaka

Osaka is renowned for its vibrant nightlife and delicious street food. The Dotonbori area, with its dazzling neon signs and bustling atmosphere, offers a lively night scene where visitors can taste local delicacies such as takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes). The spirited atmosphere, friendly locals, and array of food and drink options make Osaka a fantastic place to experience the lively side of Japanese culture. Whether you’re looking to shop, dine, or just soak in the energetic ambiance, Osaka’s nightlife is an exhilarating experience.

  1. Stroll Through the Streets of Kanazawa

Kanazawa, often referred to as “Little Kyoto,” is famed for its well-preserved Edo-era districts, art museums, and beautiful gardens. The Kenrokuen Garden is considered one of the three great gardens of Japan, offering breathtaking beauty in every season. Walking through the Chaya districts, old tea house areas, you can feel the history of the samurai age. Kanazawa also offers a rich culinary scene, especially known for its fresh seafood. A visit to Kanazawa provides a quieter, yet equally rich, cultural experience compared to more bustling tourist spots.

  1. Participate in a Tea Ceremony

Experiencing a traditional Japanese tea ceremony offers deep insight into Japanese culture and history. The ceremony is a choreographed art of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Participating in this ritual in places like Kyoto or Tokyo allows you to appreciate the tranquility, harmony, and the Japanese philosophy of ‘wabi-sabi’ (finding beauty in imperfection). This peaceful experience is both meditative and enlightening, ideal for those seeking a deeper understanding of Japanese customs.

  1. Explore Nara’s Ancient Temples

Nara, the first permanent capital of Japan, is home to some of the country’s oldest and largest temples. The Todai-ji Temple, which houses a giant Buddha statue, is a must-visit. Nara Park, where these temples are located, is famous for its freely roaming deer considered messengers of the gods in Shinto. Exploring these ancient sites offers a window into Japan’s rich religious heritage and architectural grandeur, providing a tranquil escape from the modern world.

  1. Take a Food Tour in Tokyo

Tokyo’s culinary landscape is as diverse as it is excellent. Taking a guided food tour can help you explore hidden gems and taste a variety of dishes, from sushi to ramen, and other less-known local specialties. Tours often include visits to several izakayas (Japanese pubs), street food stalls, and sometimes even a visit to the bustling Tsukiji or Toyosu Fish Market. This activity is not just about eating; it’s about understanding the local food culture and the intricacies of Japanese cuisine.

  1. Go Skiing or Snowboarding in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is Japan’s northernmost island, known for its incredible snow quality and beautiful winter landscapes. Resorts like Niseko, Furano, and Rusutsu offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world. Apart from the thrilling slopes, you can also enjoy onsen after a day in the snow. The Sapporo Snow Festival, held in February, is another highlight, showcasing massive ice and snow sculptures. Winter sports enthusiasts and those looking for a magical winter experience will find Hokkaido to be an ideal destination.

  1. Visit the Islands of Okinawa

Okinawa is a unique part of Japan with its own distinct culture, history, and tropical landscape. The islands are renowned for their stunning coral reefs, making them a top destination for snorkeling and diving. Okinawa also offers visitors the chance to explore historical sites like Shuri Castle, and to experience the laid-back island lifestyle and longevity diet of the locals. The warm climate and beautiful beaches provide a perfect setting for a relaxing holiday combined with rich cultural exploration.

  1. Wander Through the Art Island of Naoshima

Naoshima is known as Japan’s “art island” and is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. The island is filled with contemporary art museums, installations, and sculptures, including works by renowned artists like Yayoi Kusama. The Benesse House and Chichu Art Museum are highlights, offering art pieces in unique settings that blend architecture and nature seamlessly. Exploring Naoshima gives you a profound appreciation for how art can transform a community and landscape.

  1. Attend the Sapporo Beer Festival

For beer lovers, the Sapporo Beer Festival held in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is a summer event not to be missed. It’s one of the oldest and largest beer festivals in Japan, where you can enjoy a variety of Japanese and international beers in the open air of Odori Park. The festival is a great way to experience Japanese beer culture, enjoy live music, and taste local Hokkaido foods in a festive atmosphere.

  1. Explore the Ghibli Museum

Located in Mitaka, Tokyo, the Ghibli Museum is dedicated to the art and animation of Studio Ghibli, Japan’s famed animation studio known for works like “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro.” The museum offers a magical experience with its creative design, exhibits, and exclusive short films that cannot be seen anywhere else. It’s a whimsical exploration that delights not just Ghibli fans but anyone interested in the art of animation.

  1. Take Part in a Festival (Matsuri)

Japan is famous for its matsuri (festivals), which are vibrant and energetic celebrations held throughout the year. The Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, held in July, is one of the most famous, featuring elaborate floats and traditional clothing. Another notable festival is the Awa Odori in Tokushima, where participants perform a traditional dance known as the “Fool’s Dance” through the city streets. Participating in or observing a matsuri offers a deep dive into the communal spirit and tradition of Japanese culture.


Exploring Japan is like peeling back layers of a richly detailed tapestry, with each layer revealing something more enchanting than the last. The activities listed in this guide are just the beginning of what you can discover in this fascinating country. From diving into the vibrant festival culture to relaxing in serene natural hot springs, and from exploring ancient temples to indulging in cutting-edge culinary delights, Japan offers an endless array of experiences that cater to all tastes and interests. As you plan your trip, consider each of these unique “Things To Do In Japan” not just as items on a checklist, but as doors to deeper understanding and appreciation of this incredible country. Pack your bags, set your spirit of adventure alight, and prepare to be transformed by the beauty and diversity of Japan.

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