13 Things Everyone Should do in Japan
If you’ve been thinking of visiting Japan-the land of the rising sun-or already have a business trip slated for this destination and would like to pack more value into your trip, check out the 13 suggestions below. They’ve been selected to give you a ‘holistic’ view of Japan. It’s too easy to visit Japan and get the impression that it is this super futuristic country that lives, eats, and breathes technology. The same goes with a manga- or anime-centric impression of Japan. While there’s certain aspects of Japan that is definitely technology-centered and Japanese culture is definitely enriched by anime and manga, Japan defies easy classification and simplification. The 13 trip suggestions below should give you a more balanced impression of Japan.
If you are traveling to Japan for the first time and unsure what to pack check out our comprehensive guide here.
1.) Tsukiji Fish Market
Seafood has a huge role in Japanese cuisine and culture. See all the hustle and bustle of the global trade in fish products at this central and iconic Tokyo fish market to witness Japanese seafood tastes and attention to food quality and cleanliness. The variety of seafoods on offer is nothing short of amazing.
2.) Tokyo’s Ginza District
If you’re looking for a quick snapshot of Japanese commercialism in all its glitzy (and kitschy) best, check the Ginza out. It’s chockablock full of shops hawking all sorts of stuff. There are tons of places to eat too.
3.) Imperial Palace Grounds
Take in a lot of Japanese history and architecture by visiting the Imperial Palace. It’s located in the Chiyoda district and is surrounded by great places to shop. The main Tokyo train station is nearby as well which is a great bonus.
4.) Asakusa Shrine and Temple
Japan’s main religion is Shinto and you can experience the grandeur of Shinto with a quick Asakusa tour. Originally built to honor the 3 founders of the Senso-ji sect. Not only does the shrine and temple grounds look impressive and offer a peek into a crucial aspect of Japanese national identity and historic shift from Buddhism to Shintoism, it’s also surrounded by great places to eat and shop.
5.) Former Hokkaido Government Office Building
Located in Sapporo, Hokkaido, this iconic building shows Japanese architecture dating several decades from Japan’s pivotal period of modernization and industrialization-the Meiji Restoration era. It offers a nice peek into a key part of Japan’s history-a defining era that contributed to what Japan is now. Best of all, this building is located in a majestic park and garden that easily rivals European contemporaries.
6.) Kyoto to Tokyo Rail Tour
Board a bullet train and take a quick trip to Kyoto from Tokyo. On the way, you’ll be treated to quintessentially Japanese sights like Mount Fuji. Checking out the countryside on a bullet train offers a nice juxtaposing view of Japan-the traditional mixed with the hyper-modern.
7.) Heian Shrine and Kioyomizu-dera Temple
Located in Kyoto, both the Heian Shrine and Kioyomizu-dera Temple highlight Japanese culture and traditions-Shintoism and feudal architecture. They take you back to the age of Samurai. Also, the artwork contained in these buildings are nothing short of amazing. Try not to go in a tour group though because if you like art, you’ll need time to soak it all in.
8.) Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, Hokkaido
If you’re looking for a park that is part picnic area, cycling park, jogging trail, and art installation, Moerenuma Park has you covered. Well designed and extremely space efficient, this park offers something for every member of your family or tour group. It is quite spacious so you might want to rent a bicycle.
9.) Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi Tour
Besides enjoying the great vistas between Tokyo and Kyoto, you might want to take a guided tour of Mount Fuji itself. Not only do you get to take in amazing views of Japan’s most iconic and most drawn/painted mountain, you also get treated to the distinct charms of nearby Lake Ashi. The best time to go is summer so your views don’t get spoiled by fog. Pro tip: Go in May because the 5th station is accessible that month. This station is almost halfway up Mt Fuji and offers the best views.
10.) Mount Moiwa in Sapporo Hokkaido
The top of this hill has a paved concrete viewing deck and you’re treated to the most amazing light show-Sapporo’s night time landscape. Do yourself a favor though, go in May or the summer to minimize the risk of fog.
11.) Robot Restaurant
Located in Tokyo’s Kabukicho district, the Robot Restaurant offers diners a fantastic light and robot show. Don’t expect the very best in robotic technology though. The show instead highlights the kitschy and adorably cheesy side of Japan’s fascination with technology. Also, don’t expect high quality food because the star of the show is… the robot show itself.
12.) Yoyogi Park
Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park is well laid out and is a great place to just lean back and watch people. It’s free. It’s wide open and safe. A great place to chill in Tokyo and take it easy in between your trip’s itinerary stops.
13.) Hama Rikyu Garden
This garden, located near Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market offers a great survey of Japanese floral designs. Keep in mind that your enjoyment of the flora on view varies based on the seasons. This place really comes alive in the summer.
Check out the 13 suggested sights above and gain a much deeper appreciation of Japan’s distinctive charms.