For a lot of people, Japan is top of their travel wishlist. With a population of 126.5 million people in an area spanning 377,915 square kilometres, this is a country like no other.
Depictions in popular culture aside, Japan is so much more than sushi, Mount Fuji and manga comics; this country has a unique and vibrant culture dating back to 14,000 BCE. Visitors find themselves treading the boards of a country which effortlessly combines ancient culture with the super-modern.
If you are looking for the ultimate guide to what is big in Japan right now, the following information will help you to navigate the cool, the quirky, and the absolutely crazy during your visit! You can learn about the Japan eVisa on our dedicated page too.
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- 1 Unique Things to Do in Japan in Summer
- 2 Cool Things to Do in Japan in Winter
- 3 Exciting Things to Do in Japan at Night
- 4 Fun Things to Do Alone in Japan
- 5 Interesting Things to Do in Japan With Kids
- 6 Cool Things to Do in Tokyo
- 7 Top Things to Do in Osaka
- 8 Interesting Things to Do in Hakone, Japan
- 9 What to Do in Kanagawa, Japan
- 10 Best Things to Do in Kyoto, Japan
- 11 Secret Places in Japan
- 12 Cool Things to Buy in Japan That You Can’t Buy Elsewhere
- 13 What Not to Do in Japan
- 14 Conclusion
Unique Things to Do in Japan in Summer
Summertime in this country is hot in every sense of the word. While the Land of the Rising Sun is an incredible experience at any time of year, summer is when this country really springs to life.
You can plan your trip with a convenient online tool such as Triptile. Choose the locations in Japan you plan to visit, the experiences you’ll go on, your accommodation and more.
Fortunately, there are tons of things to do during the warmer months; some of our favourite summertime activities are:
Honour the Spirits at the Bon-Odori Festival
This family-oriented festival is a Japanese Buddhist custom which honours the spirits of one’s ancestors. It features fabulous costumes, music, dancing and food and drink.
Usually celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, this unique festival is held all across Japan. The festivities focus on a central stage, around which dancers form concentric circles.
If you are lucky enough to be in the area in August, the Bon-Odori Festival should absolutely be right at the top of your list of things to do!
Walk the Sacred Kumano Kodo Trail
If you are visiting Japan during the summer, be sure to bring a sturdy pair of walking boots with you. Every year, many visitors head for the ancient pilgrimage trail of Kumano Kodo, the sister trail of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
Located in the southern Kansai region of Japan, this trail leads nature lovers through majestic mountains and traditional tiny villages which offer reasonably priced accommodation. Do not worry if you are not an athlete, as it is easy to adjust the hiking to fit your comfort zone.
Cool Things to Do in Japan in Winter
As in many countries, Japan’s temperature and climate vary widely between the summer months and the winter months. While some sightseeing activities are best enjoyed in warmer weather, there is still tons to do in this country in the winter. Here are some of our favourites pastimes:
Get Steamy at a Natural Hot Spring
Japan’s onsens (natural hot springs) are fabulous in any season but never more so than during the winter. There is something quite magical about taking in a stunning Japanese view whilst immersed in steaming water; this is an experience that is really like no other.
If you are a little on the shy side, it is a good idea to check out the rules and etiquette for your chosen onsen, as most are communal and many require you to be entirely naked!
Hit the Slopes at Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort
Forget Switzerland and Aspen; this country has some of the best ski resorts in the world which offer endless ‘Instagrammable’ opportunities.
One of Japan’s best resorts is the Gala Yuzawa Ski Resort close to Tokyo. This luxurious resort offers fantastic skiing at all levels, plus hot springs, luxury accommodation and much more.
Belt Out a Tune at a Karaoke Bar
You were not, of course, planning on visiting Japan at any time of year without visiting one of the many karaoke bars on offer, right?
Whether you’ve got a set of lungs to rival Adele or can barely carry a tune, karaoke is huge here. You can take your pick of any number of venues and even rent a private room by the hour if you prefer to keep your talents to yourself.
For some of the best karaoke bars around, head to Golden Gai (Golden Street) in Shinjuku in Tokyo. This is a hidden gem full of bars and restaurants, all of which include English translations on their menus.
Exciting Things to Do in Japan at Night
Japan is truly something to behold as night falls, and there are no end of things to do after dark in this magical country.
Get Handcuffed While You Dine
Every country has bars and restaurants, but most do not come near the level of crazy that Japan achieves. If the usual ‘tables, chairs and menus’ combo is a little pedestrian for your tastes, head to The Lockup in Tokyo!
On entering this bar and restaurant, you will be handcuffed and escorted to a cell by a ‘warden’ to a soundtrack of yelling and screaming. As you wait for your food and drink to be delivered to your cell, you may muse on the fact that The Lockup takes the concept of ‘a captive audience’ to a whole new level.
It’s dark and a little creepy, while items on the menu include ‘Fried Chicken and Handcuffs’ – leave that to your imagination!
Get Your Fangs into a Meal at the Vampire Café
If you prefer creepy to captive, Tokyo’s Vampire Café may be right up your street. If, that is, you like your meal to be served with a side of costumes, puppets and blood curdling screams!
Take a Night Walk in Kyoto’s Gion District
If you find yourself in Kyoto’s traditional Gion district, be sure to take a night walk around this incredible area. Well-preserved wooden facades, Geisha districts and high-end teahouses and restaurants all make Gion very much a walk to remember.
Enjoy the Riotous Gion Matsuri Festival
For July visitors, the Gion Matsuri festival is a riot of music and colour that you will not forget in a hurry.
Get a Good Night’s Rest at a Temple Stay
A good night should, of course, be followed by a good night’s sleep. If you are looking for accommodation that is a little off the beaten track, why not try a temple stay?
Close to the bustling town of Osaka is the tranquil Mount Koya region which is rich in stunning temples. Tourists can stay in a traditional ryokan and enjoy a Buddhist breakfast while viewing local monks performing their morning rituals.
Fun Things to Do Alone in Japan
Solo travel is increasingly popular these days and can be a great way of seeing a country without distractions. This is very much a country which welcomes lone travellers, as there is plenty to do when touring solo.
Tuck into a Fabulous Food Tour
Japan is, of course, all about food. If this is your passion, then a food tour is a great way of discovering the hidden nooks and crannies of a place whilst sampling some fabulous fare. The following are some of the best food tours for visitors in the region:
- Retro Osaka Street Food Tour: Explore the Shinsekai neighbourhood, which dates back to the early 1900s.
- Old Town Tokyo Food Tour: Walk the streets of the delightful Yanaka neighbourhood, which still has a traditional small-town feel.
- Crazy Cute Kawaii Food Tour: If you are into all things cute and quirky, this food tour in Harajuku is the one for you! This area is colourful as well as crazy. There’s pop art everywhere, street performers and the biggest and most unusual selection of sweets and desserts!
Soak Up the Kawaii Culture in Harajuku
If you have taken the Crazy Cute Kawaii Food Tour and want to see more, you are in luck. A stroll around the uber-busy Harajuku neighbourhood will deliver more cute than you can handle in the form of women dressed like dolls, rainbow candy floss and cartoon-themed ice cream cones.
Interesting Things to Do in Japan With Kids
For those holidaying with children, Japan is the ultimate playground. Whatever your kids are into, there is something for everyone in this diverse and dynamic country. Here are just a few things to keep the kids occupied in this country:
Visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
Your little monkeys will be in heaven in this pine tree-lined paradise, which was the setting for the 1998 Winter Olympics. Located in Nagano (around 3 hours from Tokyo), animal lovers can get up close and personal with the park’s snow monkeys who wander around freely – and are usually up for the odd selfie with visitors.
Entrance to the park costs 800 JPY (about 8 USD) for adults and 400 JPY (about 4 USD) for children. The Macaque monkeys treat this place like an animal spa, as they are intrinsically wild and allowed to come and go as they please. One minute they are throwing themselves into snow and ice, then the next minute, bathing in luxury in the hot springs!
Watch the Mario Karts – and Have a go!
Even if your kids are too young to remember the video game, they will love watching this costume-themed go-karting experience in either Osaka or Tokyo.
Participants get to costume up and drive a go-kart along the streets of the city. If watching this inspires you to give it a go, note that you will need a full driving license to take part.
Try the ‘Pachinko’ Pinball Machines
Imagine, if you will, a brighter, noisier, crazier version of pinball – that’s Pachinko! These games are found all over Japan, from huge arcades to tiny village shops. They are definitely worth a try as you tick off authentic Japanese activities from your list.
Of course, there is always Disneyland and DisneySea to visit too. That said, you can see those in other areas of the world, and who knows when you will have a chance to visit Japan again!
Cool Things to Do in Tokyo
Tokyo is, of course, the number one tourist destination in this country, and a treasure trove of cool culture, quirky, curious and endless opportunities for people visiting. Here are some of the coolest things to get up to:
Head to TeamLab Borderless Museum
No trip to Tokyo is complete without a visit to this unique museum. There’s crystal ‘rain’, floating lanterns, plus lasers and flowers which move when touched.
It’s more than possible – in fact, probable! – that you’ll lose the best part of a day inside the walls of this fascinating museum. For the best experience, check in advance about the quietest time to visit.
Visit Senso-ji, Tokyo’s Most Ancient Temple
When it comes to ancient temples, you are spoilt for choice in Tokyo. You will want to see as many as possible but, if you are pushed for time, then Senso-ji, the city’s oldest and most famous temple, should be at the top of your list. You can find Senso-ji in the Asakusa neighbourhood – try to get there early to avoid the crowds.
What’s more, Senso-ji is near Tokyo’s biggest souvenir market, as well as perhaps the most glaring entry point, namely the Kaminarimon Gate with the huge red chochin lantern – said to guard over the town.
Eat at a Robot Restaurant
If celeb-spotting is your thing, you will be in good company at the Robot Restaurant’s famous show. Follow in the footsteps of the likes of Katy Perry and Anthony Bourdain, as you enjoy traditional food and drink whilst marvelling at barely dressed dancers, giant robots and stunning light shows.
Top Things to Do in Osaka
Osaka is a port city on the island of Honshu and is known for its super modern architecture, buzzing nightlife and fantastic street food. The main attraction in Osaka is, without a doubt, the 16th-century Shogunate Osaka Castle, which is surrounded by a moat and a park filled with plum, peach and cherry blossom trees.
Aside from the stunning castle, you will never be stuck for something to do in Osaka and the following are some of the highlights of this incredible city:
Visit Shitenoji Temple, Osaka’s Oldest Buddhist Structure
The most important Buddhist structure in the whole of Osaka, and one of the oldest in the whole of Japan, this impressive temple is a must-see on a visit to the city.
You will also want to make time for the nearby Gokurakujodo Garden. This is a spacious and beautiful garden featuring a pond, cherry trees and trickling streams.
Watch Some Sumo Wrestling
Osaka is the perfect place to watch one of Japan’s favourite sports. Osaka is host to a sumo wrestling tournament every year, and tickets are generally available to buy a month in advance.
If you are planning to make sumo part of your trip to Osaka, be prepared to make a day of it as the tournament runs from early morning to late afternoon.
Make Personalised Noodles
Not only does Osaka have its very own Cup Noodle Museum (yes, really), but you can even create your very own masterpiece.
Great fun for all the family, this oh-so-Japanese experience allows you to decorate your noodle cup and then get all creative producing your very own noodle recipe to take home.
If you cannot wait that long to taste your handiwork, you can eat your noodles on the premises then wash your cup to keep as a souvenir.
Indulge Your ‘Crazy Cat Lady’ (or Man) Side
Visit the Save Cat Café, a rescue café with a special room for pussy cat cuddling! You take off your shoes and are given a fluffy blanket and a cat toy – pretty soon you will have a cat scrum on your hands!
See a Performance by Obachaaan
For great J-Pop music, go watch this band. But beware – it’s a band made up of middle-aged women, dressed in garish clothes who, whilst singing, hand out candy to you. Quite bizarre as only Japan can do!
Interesting Things to Do in Hakone, Japan
Hakone is a mountainous town west of Tokyo which is known for its stunning volcano views and the lovely Lake Ashi.
If it’s traditional Japanese experiences you are after, then you have come to the right place. This outrageously beautiful part of this country offers much more than just stunning scenery, including:
Take A Dip in a Yunessun Onsen
Onsens are traditional Japanese bathing pools which are incredibly popular with locals and tourists alike.
Yunessun puts a modern spin on these heated pools whereby visitors can choose to bathe in red wine, sake, coffee or syrup for the ultimate in unique experiences.
One thing to note here is that tattoos tend to be frowned upon, and some onsens may refuse entry to those with ink. So it is a really good idea to check this out before you go.
Eat Volcanic Black Eggs
Yes, you read that right. Hakone is home to the imposing Owakudani volcanic valley, dubbed locally as ‘The Valley Of Hell’. A ropeway will take you across the valley so that you can view the billows of steam and strong-smelling sulphuric gases from the large crater in the ground below.
After a trip to the visitor centre, you can hike a short distance to a boiling natural spring where staff will boil an egg for you, which will turn black during the process. Do not worry though, it is only the shell that is affected – the rest of your egg will be perfectly normal and perfectly edible.
Blow Glass at the Hakone Craft House
You can blow your own distinct little glass cups here and decorate them as well. Don’t worry, you are guided through how to do it! You can also take part in beadwork and pottery with the ever-friendly and talented staff.
What to Do in Kanagawa, Japan
Just south of Tokyo, Kanagawa is a coastal prefecture close to the capital city, Yokohama. Well worth a visit, Kanagawa has plenty to offer including:
Dig the Views at Yokohama Landmark Tower
If views are your thing, you will not do much better than the 296-metre Yokohama Landmark Tower. The observatory on the 69th floor of this stunning skyscraper offers 360-degree views of Yokohama’s Minato Mirai, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Fuji and the Boso Peninsula.
Visiting this towering landmark costs 1000 JPY (about 10 USD) and is most definitely worth it for the photo opportunities.
Stroll Down Osanbashi Pier
This pretty waterfront site is perfect for a stroll if the weather is good and, if not, there are plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants to take refuge in.
Best Things to Do in Kyoto, Japan
Japan’s former capital, Kyoto, is a city on the island of Honshu and is home to Shinto shrines, temples and imperial palaces. If you are a culture vulture, you will be in your element in Kyoto. Here are just a few things you can see during your visit:
See the Fushimi Inari Shrine
One of the most famous Japanese shrines, Fushimi Inari is protected by a set of iconic red Tori gates. Sitting at the foot of Mount Inari, part of the experience here is watching the locals make their way to the shrine dressed in their best kimonos – a sight only second to the shrine itself.
Be prepared for stunning views, and also for the fact that the climb is steep. So make sure that you wear some comfortable walking shoes, and take plenty of water with you.
Observe (and Try on!) the Kyoto Kimonos
When visiting the region, you would of course expect to see the odd kimono and this is very much the case in Kyoto.
As well as observing the locals in their beautiful outfits, you can even rent your own for the perfect Kyoto selfie opportunity! If you fancy going the whole hog with a kimono and hair styling, this will set you back around 1000 JPY(about 10 USD) for 2 people.
Check Out Saiho-Ji Temple
Yep, we did say that Kyoto is all about the temples! Known locally as Moss Temple, Saiho Ji is home to over 200 kinds of moss which surround a golden, heart-shaped pond.
Your visit to Saiho-Ji begins with a mandatory ritual after which you will be given permission to enter the moss garden and the temple itself. Admission to Saiho-Ji costs 3000 JPY (around 30 USD) and you must reserve in advance to gain entry.
Secret Places in Japan
Japan has more than its fair share of much-visited tourist attractions, most of which are well worth a visit. If, however, you are looking for something a little different then Japan certainly does not disappoint here either. The following is just a small selection of the secret places in Japan that you should visit as soon as possible:
Visit the Traditional Houses of Shirakawa-go Village
Made up of clusters of traditional Japanese houses, you could be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped back in time when you walk into this village.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Shirakawa-go is one of the few places in Japan where you can see the traditional gassho-zukuri style of building. It’s an incredible place to visit.
Go to Amanohashidate – the ‘Bridge to Heaven’
The Amanohashidate Sandbar (easier to get to than it is to pronounce!) is known locally as the ‘bridge to heaven’, and it’s a sandbar which spans the mouth of Miyazu Bay.
This sandbar earned its nickname because, when viewed from the mountains at each end of the bay, the sandbar resembles a path leading from the Earth to the sky.
Situated in Kyoto, the Amanohashidate Sandbar is one of the most breathtaking things you will see anywhere in the world. It’s best viewed all-year round, though especially during the summer months.
Stroll Along Hozenji Yokocho Alley
This little-known corner of Osaka is a riot of Edo-era architecture, outstanding restaurants and quirky stores. Located remarkably close to the stunning Hozenji temple, Hozenji Yokocho Alley is an 80-metre-long street which is steeped in history.
Eminently ‘Instagrammable’, you will want to stay here from dusk until dawn to experience the 2 very different atmospheres of this hidden gem.
Get Tropical on Chichijima Island
Even if you are staying in the heart of Tokyo, you do not need to go far to experience one of Japan’s secret places. Chichijima Island is just a short ferry ride from Tokyo – but a world away in terms of atmosphere.
You can enjoy a tropical island feel with Chichijima’s sandy beaches and clear blue waters. Alternatively, tourists can choose to take a hike in the mountains, take part in water sports or explore the island’s treasures. These include lots of fascinating wildlife and sunken warships!
While we realise that it’s very unlikely that you will ever tire of Tokyo, a trip to Chichijima provides a welcome break from the city, plus some incredible scenery and fun activities.
Dive with Hammerhead Sharks in Yonaguni
If hammerhead sharks float your boat, then a visit to Yonaguni is an absolute must. This little-visited island is a haven for diving enthusiasts. Between November and June, you stand a good chance of spotting magnificent hammerhead sharks during your dive.
Meanwhile, all year round, you can marvel over the Yonaguni Submarine ruins. This is a rock formation which some say are the sunken remains of an ancient city (while others say that it’s just a natural rock structure, but what fun is that?)
Yonaguni is the westernmost inhabited island of Japan, and is just 108km from the east coast of Taiwan.
Cross the Rope Bridges of Lya Valley
This remote valley in the mountains of Tokushima Prefecture is home to Japan’s legendary rope bridges which are crafted from mountain vines. Lya Valley features 5 or 6 of these unique bridges which tourists can use to access mountain hiking trails.
These bridges, which begin to swing the moment that you set foot on them, can be a little unsettling at first. That said, the bridges of Lya Valley are a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that we can highly recommend, even if you only visit to view the valley’s gorgeous autumn foliage.
Take a Tub Boat to Sado Island
Once a place of exile for notable figures, including an emperor and the founder of Noh theatre, Sado Island is about as off-the-beaten-track as you are likely to get.
Accessed by tub boat, this little-known remote island offers stunning scenery, gold mines which tourists can explore and the endangered crested ibis bird.
Sado Island is also the place to be in August, as this is when the Kodo taiko drumming group holds its Earth Celebration. This is a prestigious music and dance festival which features markets, workshops, taiko drumming and traditional Japanese dancing.
Soak Up the Takayama Festival
In the spring and autumn seasons, Takayama is the venue for one of Japan’s most popular festivals – named (somewhat unimaginatively) the Takayama Festival.
While a remote, rural mountain town may seem an unlikely setting for a festival, this event allows you to soak up some Japanese history. Also, you can enjoy open air museums, traditional performances and plenty of markets, plus some colourful and unique floats. The festival takes place mainly in April and October.
Cool Things to Buy in Japan That You Can’t Buy Elsewhere
When visiting this wonderful country, you will want to bring a big suitcase to leave plenty of room for souvenirs. Forget the usual t-shirts and fridge magnets that you usually pick up on holiday; Japan has shops – lots and lots of interesting shops.
Many of these shops sell items that you simply won’t find anywhere else in the world. The following are some of the things you should be looking out for during your visit:
Bag Yourself a Ceramic Bowl
‘What is so special about a ceramic bowl?’ I hear you ask. In Japan, a bowl is not simply a practical item to stop your soup ruining your tablecloth.
Here, ceramics are works of art and you will not be able to get enough of these beautiful items. Not only do these bowls look fantastic on your table, but they will be a constant reminder of your time in this incredible country.
Pick Up Some Chopsticks
If you have perfected your chopstick technique during your time in this country and fancy bringing your new skills home, then an elegant set of chopsticks makes the ideal souvenir!
From affordable plastic sets to resin coated-chestnut or bamboo versions, you will find plenty of choice. So be sure to shop around to find your perfect pair.
Snap Up a Sushi Magnet
OK, I know we told you above to forget the fridge magnets but, as with everything else, Japan does these popular tourist items somewhat differently.
You can, of course, find traditional style fridge magnets here. That said, why would you when you can buy a lobster or sushi themed one? In this country, sushi themed magnets can be picked up for next to nothing and make great gifts for friends and family.
Be a Fangirl (or Boy)
As mentioned, summer in Japan is hot and because of this, you will see lots of people – tourists and locals alike – using hand-held fans.
In ancient times, fans were only allowed to be carried by certain social classes, and the number of wooden strips on each fan would denote your rank and status.
Thankfully, everyone can now make use of these, and there are plenty to be found in this country. In fact, as you stroll down a Japanese street, you will often be handed a paper fan (often with some kind of brand or advert on it) for free.
While free and cheap fans may get the job done, they’ll usually be disposable items made in China and, therefore, not true Japanese fans.
If you fancy one of these pretty, authentic items as a souvenir, you’re best off heading to the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo where you can bag a good quality fan for around 3000 JPY (around 30 USD).
Be an Art Connoisseur
There is no better reminder of a great trip than having a stunning piece of art on your wall – and Japan has great art by the bucketful!
Probably the most popular piece of Japanese art is the iconic ‘The Great Wave Of Kanagawa’, and thousands of prints of this depiction of nature at its finest are sold every day.
If you prefer something a little different, Japanese art stores are full of colourful paintings of butterflies, mountain scapes and samurai scenes.
Be a Material Girl (or Boy)
Fabric may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to souvenirs but, as always, Japan is the exception. This country boasts a huge range of beautiful fabrics in stunning prints, and swathes of fabric can be picked up pretty cheaply if you know where to look.
If you have some sewing skills, you will be able to make light work of turning exquisite Japanese fabrics into cushion covers, or even clothing for a souvenir that you will be able to enjoy for many years to come.
Be Charmed with an Omamori
One Japanese souvenir you will not want to miss is the Omamori, an unusual and uniquely Japanese charm.
These charms can be picked up inexpensively at pretty much every shrine or temple in Japan, and they all have different meanings such as ‘protection against calamities’.
Delight in a Daruma Doll
Available in a range of sizes, Daruma Dolls are figurines which are used to help make your dreams come true (yes, really).
The idea is that you colour in one of the doll’s eyes and assign to it a goal or ambition. Once this dream has been achieved – and only then – you can colour in the remaining eye.
Make Waves with a Maneki Neko
The Maneki Neko will be familiar to anybody who has ever visited an Asian restaurant, but we never get tired of them. These waving or ‘beckoning’ cats make great souvenirs and are thought to bring good fortune to the owner too, so make sure you stock up during your visit.
Bring Home Something Sweet
For many people, bringing sweets back from your holiday for your co-workers is a long-standing tradition, and one that you will definitely want to uphold when visiting Japan.
Traditional rice and red bean-based sweets like manju and daifuku are widely available all over this country. What’s more, you might also want to stock up on Kit Kats.
Yes, we know that Kit Kats can be bought in most supermarkets, but it’s only in Japan that you’ll find flavours like matcha, edamame, fruit parfait and soy sauce (I kid you not).
Elsewhere, if you only purchase one sweet treat whilst in Japan, make it the highly addictive Sugar Butter Sand Tree crispy cookies.
Make an Impression with a Name Stamp
Originally used as a signature for documents, name stamps (hanko) have become so popular in this country that it is said that almost every single resident owns one.
Hanko make perfect gifts for adults and for children. You can choose to have the name translated into Japanese or can even have an emoji or cartoon included on the stamp.
You can grab your hanko from shops called hankoya, which can be found in most Japanese neighbourhoods.
Twirl a Parasol
These light and decorative umbrellas are a really popular way of keeping the hot Japanese sun at bay, and you will spot people using these all the time if you visit Japan in the summer.
Parasols are widely available from souvenir shops in Japan and you can choose from a seemingly endless range of shapes, sizes, designs and colours.
The good news for tourists is that these parasols also pack up really neatly and compactly and so won’t take up much room in your case – even if you’ve got hand luggage only.
Pick Up a Kanzashi Hair Pin
When a bobby pin just is not enough, a Kanzashi will cut it for cool style. Traditionally worn with a kimono during festivals and rituals, these hair pins are part practical, part work of art.
The pins themselves come in a vast range of colours and designs, and the attached flower ornaments can be swapped around to fit with the changing seasons.
Make a Photo Finish in a Purikura Booth
No trip to this country can ever be complete until you have visited a Purikura, a Japanese photo booth.
Unlike the versions found in train stations and post offices elsewhere, in a Purikura, you can take your pictures to the next level by adding virtual makeup, stickers, backgrounds and more. These make for a hilarious reminder of your trip to this sometimes bonkers country.
You can expect to pay about 400 yen (approximately 4 USD) for the Purikura experience.
What Not to Do in Japan
So there you have it – 53 crazy things to do in Japan! Of course, as with many ancient cultures, this beautiful country has its own set of unique rules and etiquette. It’s a really good idea to study up on these to avoid causing offence. Some of these are:
1. Break the Chopsticks Etiquette
While you will be forgiven for not being an expert at using chopsticks, there are certain things you shouldn’t do. These include sticking your sticks into a bowl vertically, as this resembles a funeral ritual. You should also avoid rubbing your chopsticks together as this is considered rude.
2. Keep Your Shoes on When Going Indoors
Always remove your footwear when entering a home or business, unless you are specifically told that this is unnecessary.
3. Queue Jump
Many nationalities including Brits love a queue, and most of us would never dream of pushing in. Keep this in mind in Japan, as queue jumping is considered appallingly bad manners.
4. Eat on Public Transport
Apart from long distance trains, it is considered bad manners to eat on public transport or while on-the-go in Japan. Street vendors will generally provide a designated area with bins where you can stand and eat your food before moving on.
5. Blow Your Nose in Public
Blowing your nose in public is considered very uncouth in Japan, as many residents go out of their way to avoid cold and flu germs, including wearing masks. Where possible, find a bathroom to do your thing in private.
7. Tip in Taxis or Restaurants
Tipping is considered an insult in this country, including tipping taxi drivers and restaurant staff. Most restaurants include a service charge in the bill – and staff will often chase you down the road if you make the mistake of leaving a tip!
8. Point at People or Objects
Always refrain from pointing at people or objects in Japan, as this is very much a no-no. Instead of pointing, Japanese people will gently wave their hand at the object and, when referring to themselves, will delicately touch their nose with a forefinger.
Also, you should also never use your chopsticks to point at anyone or anything.
9. Raise Your Voice
Raising your voice in anger in public is a major taboo in Japan and should be avoided.
10. Help Yourself
When dining or drinking with friends, you should never fill your own glass from a bottle. Japanese etiquette dictates that you should fill the glasses of your companions but not your own. A companion will then fill your glass for you.
A visit to Japan can at times feel like a visit to a different planet. Soaked in historic culture and yet fully immersed in the modern world, it would take a lifetime to properly get to know this incredible country.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing mountain holiday or a city break in Tokyo’s buzzing centre, you will never run short of things to do, see and experience here.
After all, where else could you go to dress up as a Geisha with full and authentic make-up – it’s the real deal in Japan! If you want everything from historic to crazy, or from fast and furious to peaceful and quiet, you have it all here.