For a relatively small country, Japan is so rich in culture and things to explore. Below are the Top 15 things to visit/experience that makes Japan the amazing country that it is:
1. Visit the Many amazing Temples and Shrine
There are so many temples and shrines all over Japan. Kyoto is a good place to explore many shrines and temples. There are a few in Tokyo too. The shrine dated back many years ago and offers spectacular architecture and sight. The top 5 shires and temples to visit among many others are:
- Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine
- Kinkakuji Temple
- Kiyomizu Dera Temple
- Todaiji Temple
- Sensoji Temple
2. Visit Castles
Other then temples and shrines, The Castle of Japan is another breathkakng must-see piece of fascinating history. Japan used to be ruled by shogun and had a collection of warlords. The history of the warlords and the different era of Japan are extremely fascinating. The castle often has an amazing Japanese garden and paintings. Another interesting point about castles in Japan are the nightingale floor. The wooden floor would made chirping sound and known as the nightingale floor. This chirping sound would indicate present of people so that there won’t be trespasses. The 3 Castles to Visit are
- Nijo-Jo (Kyoto)
- Imperial Palace (Kyoto)
- Osaka Castle
3. Visit Mount Fuji
Though it looked simple in pictures, Mount Fuji up close is a majestic view. It is a perfectly shaped triangle with snows on top making it blue and white all year around. The sight of mount Fuji changes with the season making sure a different experience for every return. During spring, summer, autumn and winter, there is a different charm to the mountain and the lake surroundings it. A stay in Lake Kawaguci/ Mount Fuji Area is very serene and laid back.
4. Explore neighbourhood outside Tokyo as well as the must-visit neighbourhoods.
Tokyo is a big and busy city. For a more serene atmosphere there are plenty of more peaceful neighbourhood still has the Edo era atmosphere. Though I like crowds I enjoys peace and quiet to recharge my battery. Some of the off beaten track in Japan that are highly reccomended are:
- Tetayama (Shirakawa-Go and Alpen Road)
5. Visit Museums
Japan has a lot of unique museums that you actually will want to visit. No boring bits. Some of the most popular museums are the Doraemon Museum, Ramen / Instant Noodle Museum, Samurai Museum, and The Studio Ghibli Museum. Check out my post on 5 Unique Museums to Visit in Japan for some inspiration
6. See Sumo Match
While I didn’t do this – I’d really love to for my next visit. I had the pleasure of being in the same train with a sumo wrestler. I can’t help but stare, they are huge, and they look really strong and intimidating.
7. Visit Themeparks
We are never too mature for themeparks. Japan most popular themeparks are the Disneyland, Disneysea nad the Osaka Universal Studio. Disneysea of Japan is the only Disneysea in the world and is more for a mature guest compared to Disneyland and is a very romantic place in a way. The highlight of Universal Studio is the Harry Potter Hogwards School. In Japan they have a fast pass system that let you book a time for your ride so no more 2 hours wait just to play a barely 10 minutes ride. I think it’s genius.
8. Eat Japanese Food
When in Japan I don’t want to eat other food than Japanese. Japanese food are amazing, even the food out of the fridge from your nearest convenient store. I couldn’t get enough of the fried chicken and onigiri from the convenient store, I almost have it daily. Japanese food never looks much in portion but it always very filling. Japanese are so incredible in what they do that most of the food will be very tasty. That’s explain there are a lot of 3 mitchelin stars restaurants in Japan.
9. Buy Something from the vending Machine
One of the most commonly known but still a great pleasure to do in Japan is to see all sort of unique vending machine and purchase something from them.
10. Eat green tea items
There’s green tea everything in Japan, including several cafes that offer all green tea related items. Like Nana Green Tea Cafe and others we spotted in Gion, Kyoto and Kino Chaya in Tokyo. My absolute favourite is the original matcha drink. Though a cup is very costly and the amount is surprisingly little, quality does come with price. There will be a sweet served to you alongside the green tea. The lady explains to us that green tea is bitter hence we need to take a bite of the sweet and then sip the green tea – sort of combine it in your mouth. I now enjoy my tea this way.
11. Go to Hotspring
There are plenty of Hotspring in Japan and you don’t have to go far. In Odaiba, Tokyo they have a hot spring theme park where you can try several hot springs complete with spa package to rejuvenate yourself. Hakone is another town which is popular for the hot spring and beautiful Lake Aishi No. You can also view the Fuji Mountain from here. For the ultimate experience, you can dip yourself in natural hotspring along with serene looking red faced monkey (okay, I googled it and they are called Snow Monkey) in Yamanouchi.
12. Experience at least 1 wacky and geeky thing Japan is famous for
There are so many fun things you can do in Japan – hire a costume and be a ninja or samurai, for guys, visit the maid dreaming café, dress up as your favourite manga/anime/game character, visit the robot restaurant for a show you’d remember.
13. Have a picnic at a beautiful park, especially during spring
Japanese park is among the most beautiful in the world, especially during spring and cherry blossom season. Picnic is so easy with many delicious foods you can grab from convenient store. This is definitely one of little life pleasure and Japanese are privileged with.
14. Visit the markets/ charming alleyways/ dori/ Yokocho
There are many winding alley in Japan that house many hidden gems and lines with many interesting shops, street food, restaurants and cafes. This is one of the most charming things about Japan in my opinion. Some of the more popular ones are Nonbei Yokocho (Also known as the drunken Alley), Kabukicho and Golden Gai in Shinjuku, and Takeshita Dori in Harajuku.
15. Experience a traditional stay
A Traditional stay is known as Ryokan in Japan. While most Ryokan are expensive, we had a great experience in a guesthouse that was build post-war so we get the whole futon and tatami mat experience without the price tag. The bed was made up of heavy futon and layers of very fluffy and soft blankets. I never thought that sleeping on the floor would be extremely comfortable – better than a bed.
I’ll add one more thing into this, which is to get yourself this super cute charms from temples. Each charm represents different things, most commonly happiness, success, good relationship and good fortunes. There are specific charm for different needs that will make great souvenirs this includes charm for school children (in the shape of a very cute backpack), charm for success in exams and others.