Japan is a land of captivating contrasts, where ancient traditions seamlessly blend with modern innovations. From bustling metropolises to serene natural landscapes, there’s something for everyone to discover in this captivating country.
If you’re planning a trip to Japan, here are 20 of the best things you can do to make the most of your time:
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1. Visit the iconic Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine in Kyoto.
Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. The shrine is home to thousands of vibrant red torii gates that wind up the mountainside, creating a truly breathtaking spectacle. As you ascend the path, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Kyoto and the surrounding countryside.
2. Experience the serenity of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
The Japanese tea ceremony is a centuries-old tradition emphasizing mindfulness and appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. During a tea ceremony, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history and etiquette of the ceremony, as well as sample some of Japan’s finest teas.
3. Immerse yourself in the neon-lit streets of Tokyo.
Tokyo is a city that never sleeps, and its neon-lit streets are a sight to behold. From the bustling Shibuya Crossing to the trendy Golden Gai district, Tokyo always has something to see and do. Be sure to sample some of the city’s delicious street food, and remember to take a ride on the iconic Yamanote Line.
4. Hike to the summit of Mount Fuji.
Mount Fuji is Japan’s most iconic mountain, and hiking to the summit is a challenging but rewarding experience. The hike typically takes around 5-7 hours, and the top views are breathtaking. Be sure to start your hike early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and dress warmly, as the temperatures can drop significantly at the summit.
5. Visit the historic city of Kyoto.
Kyoto was once Japan’s capital, home to some of the country’s most famous temples and shrines. Be sure to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion), and Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver Pavilion). Stroll through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove or rent a rickshaw for a city tour.
6. Sample Japan’s world-famous cuisine.
Japan is home to some of the world’s most delicious cuisine, and there’s no better way to experience the country’s culture than through its food. Try some of Japan’s most famous dishes, such as sushi, ramen, tempura, and soba noodles. You can also visit a local market to sample some of the country’s fresh produce.
7. Relax in a traditional Japanese onsen (hot spring).
Onsens are natural hot springs used for centuries for their therapeutic benefits. There are thousands of onsens throughout Japan, and they are a great way to relax and rejuvenate after a long day of sightseeing. Be sure to follow the proper etiquette when visiting an onsen, such as removing your clothing and showering before entering the baths.
8. Take a trip to the Japanese Alps.
The Japanese Alps are a stunning mountain range that offers some of the best hiking and skiing in the world. If you want a truly immersive nature experience, visit the Japanese Alps. You can hike to Mount Hotaka, Japan’s third-highest mountain, or take a gondola ride to the top of Mount Norikura for stunning views of the surrounding peaks.
9. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go.
Shirakawa-go is a small village in the Japanese Alps known for its traditional gassho-style farmhouses. These farmhouses have steep thatched roofs designed to withstand the heavy snowfall in the region. Shirakawa-go is a beautiful and serene place to visit, and it’s a great way to experience a traditional Japanese village.
10. Attend a sumo wrestling tournament.
Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport, a unique and exciting spectacle. Sumo tournaments are held throughout the year.
11. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum.
The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum are dedicated to the memory of the victims of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The park is home to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, a cenotaph dedicated to the victims of the bombing. The museum houses exhibits that tell the story of the bombing and its aftermath.
12. Explore the ancient city of Nara.
Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784 AD, and it is home to several important historical sites. Be sure to visit Todai-ji Temple, home to a massive bronze statue of Buddha. You can also visit Kasuga Grand Shrine, known for its thousands of stone and bronze lanterns.
13. Take a boat ride on the Okawa River in Tokyo.
The Okawa River is one of the main rivers that flow through Tokyo, and it is a great way to see the city from a different perspective. You can take a boat ride along the river, and you’ll be able to see some of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks, such as the Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge.
14. Visit the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka.
The Ghibli Museum is a must-visit for fans of Studio Ghibli films. The museum houses exhibits on the history of Studio Ghibli, as well as interactive displays and recreations of scenes from Ghibli films. Book your tickets in advance, as the museum is very popular.
15. Go shopping in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s most popular shopping districts, and it is home to a wide variety of stores, from high-end boutiques to department stores. Be sure to visit the Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest pedestrian crossings in the world.
16. See a traditional Japanese kabuki performance.
Kabuki is a traditional Japanese form of theater known for its elaborate costumes,歌舞伎 makeup, and stylized movements. Kabuki performances are typically long and complex but are a unique and unforgettable experience.
17. Visit the Osaka Castle.
Osaka Castle is one of Japan’s most famous castles and a must-visit for any history buff. The castle was built in the 16th century and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current castle is a reconstruction of the original, and it is home to a museum that tells the story of the castle’s history.
18. Take a walk through the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a stunning bamboo grove located in Kyoto. The grove is a popular tourist destination, and it is a great place to take a walk and enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature.
19. Visit the Dotombori district in Osaka.
Dotombori is a lively district in Osaka known for its food and nightlife. The district is home to several restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, and it is a great place to experience the energy and excitement of Osaka.
20. Take a bullet train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto.
The Shinkansen bullet train is one of the fastest trains in the world, and it is a great way to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto. The journey takes just over two hours and is a comfortable and convenient way to travel between the two cities.