THINGS TO DO - JAPAN
- Try Authentic Japanese Cuisine
- Enjoy Outdoor Activities
- Visit Historical Sites
- Go Shopping in the Main City
- Walking through Street Market
- Visit Temple & Shrine
- Enjoy Nightlife
- Watch Sports & Performance
1) Try Authentic Japanese Cuisine
Open air bath hot spring during Autumn in Japan @ rockzheart / Adobe Stock
Thanks to the huge coverage Japan receives in the West, we all know at least a little about Japanese cuisine. It’s considered one of the best cuisines in the world, and for a reason. Japanese cuisine which focuses on a special fifth flavor, called umami, is blessed with diverse dishes that are all absolutely mouth-watering!
Here are some famous Japanese dishes that you must try when in Japan:
- Sushi: Sushi needs no introduction. The delicious Japanese rice dish is almost as famous around the world as it is in its home country. But there’s nothing better than authentic sushi, at a Japanese joint. Try the different varieties of sushi such as makizushi, inarizushi and nigiri sushi with your favorite fillings, toppings and dips in the cozy environment of a Japanese restaurant!
- Tempura: Want to indulge in the crunchy crispiness of a batter fried prawn? Try Japanese tempuras! The concept of tempura is frying pieces of meat, fish or vegetables in a special batter until they’re golden brown. Tempuras look just as heavenly as they taste, and you should definitely try one!
- Yakitori: Yakitori is the go-to Japanese dish for sports competitions. Just grab a stick of this barbecued chicken and enjoy! There are many types of seasonings you can choose from. These include the basic salt-seasoned yakitori, or the tare-coated yakitori that is covered in a sauce made of soy sauce, mirin, sake wine and sugar.
- Ramen: Another universally famous Japanese dish! Ramen is the name of a noodle soup that has wheat or ramen noodles in it, a savory soup broth and all kinds of other toppings. The toppings can include meats, fish, vegetables such as enoki mushroom and corn, and greens. You can get yourself a bowl of hot.
- Udon: Udon is a famous noodle type loved in Japan for its thick and chewy texture. Although udon can be added to any dish you like, it’s usually eaten cold, stir fried, or in hot pots. But udon is mainly added to noodle soups with broths similar to ramen and many toppings. The most common udon noodle soup dishes are tempura udon, kitsune udon and chikara udon.
- Tonkatsu: Just like the Japanese introduced many dishes in the West, the West introduced many there. These yoshoku foods include Tonkatsu, which are fried pork cutlets. Tonkatsu is prepared using pork chops that are covered in breadcrumbs before being fried. This gives them an amazing color and an even better taste. Tonkatsu is usually served along with salad greens and a special Tonkatsu sauce.
2) Enjoy Outdoor Activities
Neon lights and billboard advertisements on buildings at Akihabara at rainy night, Tokyo, Japan @ Nataliya Hora / Adobe Stock
Japan is quite possibly one of the best places for outdoor activities. The country has all kinds of natural landscapes, including dense forests, deep seas, clear lakes and much more. Tourists particularly enjoy outdoor activities in Japan due to the peaceful environments of Japan’s landscapes. You can have the time of your life without any hassle in a Japanese natural site!
Here are some of the best outdoor activities you can do in Japan:
- Skiing: Did you know that the Winter Olympics have been hosten twice in Japan? It’s a lesser known fact about Japan that the country is great for winter sports such as skiing. Ski resorts in Japan have all the facilities you could wish for.
- Hiking: Hiking is another outdoor activity that’s an absolute joy when done in Japan. The mountains, volcanoes and lakes all offer the perfect ground for you to have a hiking trip. On top of that, you don’t have to be a hiking expert to enjoy this activity in Japan, Japan will be perfect for your first time!
- Beach Activities: Japan has a coastline spanning more than 18000 miles, and some great activities that you can do at each stretch! Japanese beaches are perfect for swimming and sunbathing. Moreover, you can also do other activities such as spending time at a beachside spa, or some of the more extreme activities such as surfing.
- Onsen: Onsen, or Japanese hot springs are plenty in number and all welcoming of people. You can do a number of activities here such as taking a hot bath, relaxing and much more.
- Amusement Park: There are many, many, many amusement parks in Japan. And all of them are filled with the most thrilling rides, the best arcades and the best food. Some famous amusement parks in Japan are Universal Studios Japan, Tokyo Disneysea, Tokyo Disneyland and Fuji Q Highland.
3) Visit Historical Sites
traditional Japanese village at shirakawago, Japan @ jon_chica / Adobe Stock
Another thing Japan is rich in is history. The historic country has seen countless wars, the rise and fall of entire dynasties and all kinds of economic, social and political changes. This history has been well-preserved for the generations to come in Japan’s many historical sites. Visitors love seeing these historical places due to the care and mindfulness with which they have been preserved.
Here are some famous Japanese historical sites that you must visit:
- Kii Peninsula: The Kii Peninsula is located on Honshu Island and is home to some of the best natural, historic and spiritual sites. The place has a lot to see and a lot to do, but some of the must-see places include the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Mt. Koyo and Yoshino and Omine.
- Kumano kodo: Kumano Kodo is the name of pilgrimage routes situated in the Kii Peninsula. For almost a millennium, people from all walks of life have paid pilgrimage by coming to this place after a long journey. It’s the perfect place to witness the spiritual side of Japan.
- Japan Alps: Japan Alps are a mountain range series where some of Japan’s best landscapes are situated. Japan Alps have been a spiritual site for Japanese people throughout history. Moreover, the place also has many natural resources that have been extracted over the years.
- Hiroshima: Hiroshima is one of the most talked-about cities. Many know it as one of the 2 cities nuclear bombed by the US forces during WWII. However, today Hiroshima is an important Japanese city. It has the famous Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park that you must visit if you’re a history buff.
- Shirakawa-go: Shirakawa-go is where the popular gassho-zukuri farmhouses are situated. It has a unique architectural style that you’ll find interesting to see.
Japan is great for yet another thing: shopping. There’s a whole list of shopping centres in Japan delivering the latest trends at the best deals. Travellers enjoy shopping in Japan due to this very reason. You can find some of the best goods at cheap prices!
Here are some of the best shopping places in 2 of Japan’s main cities:
Shibuya crossing @ Peera / Adobe Stock
Ginza is perhaps Japan’s most modern and luxury shopping area. It’s lined with various luxury stores and brands, selling Japanese goods at premium prices. Shopping in the Ginza district is a must if, of course, you can afford it.
Shinjuku is another famous Tokyo region, known for its many restaurants and bars, as well as some of Japan’s best shops and shopping sites.
Shibuya is the most famous area in all of Tokyo. The intersection sees about 500000 people daily and is filled with world-renowned brands, famous fast food chains and even CD shops. The trendy area is a youth-favorite and is loved for its mix of the modern and the classic.
Akihabara is the Japanese electronics heaven. It's a place where the biggest media stores are located alongside the smallest electronic equipment vendors. Satisfy all your technical needs at Akihabara.
Osaka, Japan - november 5, 2019 Dotonbori the famous place in Dotonbori Osaka, Japan Travel Concept @ Nattapol_Sritongcom / Adobe Stock
Dotonbori is one of the most important places in Osaka. This is where the kuidaore food culture thrives. Dozens of cafes and restaurants decorate the district with colors and flavors. You must visit the area if you’re a foodie!
Rinku Premium Outlet
Rinku Premium Outlets are situated in Rinku Town with a resort-like environment. This is the biggest shopping centre of Western Japan and has all sorts of goods up for sale in its stores.
Umeda is at the heart of Osaka, with its diverse stores and never-ending variety. You can find almost anything in Umeda, no matter if it’s old or new.
5) Walking through Street Market
Nishiki market,Kyoto,japan @ yoko_ken_chan / Adobe Stock
Okay, so you must visit Japanese street markets. Lined with food, clothes, accessories and even electronic stores, travelers absolutely adore the experience of walking through a street market alongside dozens of tourists and locals.
Here are some of Japan’s best street markets:
- Shinsaibashi and Dōtonbori: These two come together to be Japan’s most exciting street markets. You can find the best food in both Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori. But not only that, other goods such as cosmetics, bags and much more will be right in front of you as you enter the district.
- Nishiki Market: Known also as “Kyoto’s Kitchen” locally, Nishiki Market is one of Japan’s best food markets. This is a historically-important market too as decades old family businesses are still thriving in the area.
- Tsukiji Fish Market: Tsukiji Fish Market, the seafood lover’s paradise. The market is filled to the brim with some of the most exotic marine life and the best part is that you can take it with you and cook it.
- Ameya Yokochō: Tokyo’s Ameya Yokocho market is another must-see. Here you’ll find anything from fresh veggies to makeup items to the prettiest jewelry. Make sure you pay a visit.
6) Visit Temple & Shrine
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan @ SeanPavonePhoto / Adobe Stock
Japan may be an atheist-majority country now, but it doesn’t erase its highly spiritual past. Japan still holds the centuries old shrines and temples that were built by its ancestors once, and a trip to Japan without seeing them is incomplete. This is why travelers love visiting them too.
- Sensoji: The Sensoji temple is the heart of Tokyo. It’s a beautiful centuries-old temple founded for the goddess of mercy, Kannon. It’s a popular tourist attraction today too with swarms of visitors pouring in each day, make sure you’re one of them!
- Kinkakuji: Kinkakuji in Kyoto is one of the most documented temples in Japan. It’s beautiful golden color attracts visitors from all over Japan. The temple was once the resting villa of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu back in the 13th century. However, it’s now a Buddhist temple.
- Fushimi Inari: The Shinto god of rice, or Inari, has over 30000 shrines in his honor in Japan. But the head shrine is Fushimi Inari located in Kyoto. It's an architectural marvel with 10000 red torii gates, each with Japanese carving on it.
Some famous schools of Buddhism in Japan include Todai Ji, Tenda. Shingon, Jodo, Soto, Rinzai.
7) Enjoy Nightlife
Japan Bar street Izakaya Red light sign with people drinking. Tokyo Nightlife @ VTT Studio / Adobe Stock
Nightlife in Japan is bustling with music, drinks and other fun things. Japan has scores of bars in almost every city that serve both traditional and Western drinks.
Here are the 4 main places to enjoy nightlife in Japan:
- Bars: Bars in Japan offer what any bar offers throughout the world; music, drinks and a social and lively environment. Some popular drinks to try in a Japanese bar are Mugi Shochu, whiskey highball, Umeshu and Awamori.
- Izakaya: Izakayas are like bars, except more traditional. These serve up popular Japanese drinks including sake and many more.
- Karaoke: Karaokes are small developments where you can sing along popular songs as their beat plays in the background. You can also buy food and drinks in Karaokes.
- Club: Clubs are places where you can dance to upbeat music, have you favorite drink, and have the time of your life!
8) Watch Sports & Performance
Japanese sports combine both tradition and modernity. These include centuries old Japanese sports, as well as more Western ones. Visitors usually enjoy watching these sports as the authentic feel of watching them in Japanese stadium cannot be replaced.
On the other hand, Japanese performance arts are another distinct aspect of Japanese culture. They show the kind of artistic and creative past Japan has held.
Sumo wrestling @ kadenkei / Adobe Stock
Sumo is the traditional martial arts of Japan which involves bulky individuals physically fighting each other. The atmosphere of a Sumo match is not to be missed if you ever go to Japan.
Samurai is an ancient Japanese sport sport involving sword fighting and much more. It’s one of the most Japanese things you could witness while in Japan, with fascinating individuals showing their unbelievable skills.
Baseball is a common sport in Japan. It’s played in most schools and is a lot like cricket. So if you enjoy cricket, it’s most likely you’ll enjoy watching a baseball match too.
Traditional Japanese performance. Group of actresses in traditional white and red kimono and fox masks dance and drum a big taiko drum on the stage. @ elen31 / Adobe Stock
Kabuki is a traditional Japanese dance form where actors dance and act at the same time. Kabuki is still done in its true form in many parts of Japan. You can buy a ticket to a Kabuki show and see for yourself the magical performance art.
Noh is an ancient theatre art still being performed in Japan. It involves face-painting, elaborate costumes and classic acting techniques.
Buraku is a traditional Japanese puppet theatre art where puppets are used to tell stories and act scenes. It’s truly beautiful and most people who see it end up loving it.