Japan Travel Blog Logo
Follow us:
50 Things to Do in Japan Part 2 (26-50)
Picture | September 26th, 2018 | Dayna Hannah
Share:

Part 2 of our list of the best things to do in Japan! For part 1 (1-25), click here!

26. CATCH A KABUKI SHOW 

Few performing arts traditions can compare to the uniquely beautiful spectacle that is Kabuki. Actors slowly move in stylized poses, linger over every word of their lines, and suddenly burst into flamboyant choreography. Costume and makeup changes happen right before your eyes, while hidden singers and musicians lull you into a fantastical world.  You can watch Kabuki performances in theaters like Kabuki-za in Tokyo or Minami-za in Kyoto. Both theaters provide translators for non-Japanese speakers and offer single-act tickets for guests who can’t watch the entire 3 to 4-hour performance.  

27. TRY ON A KIMONO 

You can’t leave Japan without  trying on a kimono! Choose between getting dolled up like a Geisha  in an expensive kimono, or trying a simple rental that you can wear all day. Plenty of rental shops also offer everything from undergarments to accessories, and the staff can even style your hair. Best of all, the shops will safeguard your street clothes while you strut around town in your stunning kimono! 

28. TRAIN LIKE A NINJA 

The mysterious ninja  mercenaries  of Japan’s history have fascinated people for centuries. Today, you can still  experience the life of a ninja at places like the Kid’s Ninja Village in Nagano City, where entire families can maneuver through obstacle courses designed to teach you  Ninjitsu. Or, explore the  Koka  Ninja Mansion in Kansai. 300 years ago, this fascinating house was designed with scores of traps and secret passages. If you want a fully immersive experience, check out the Nikko  Edomura  theme park to dress in Edo-period clothes and walk among actors who reenact scenes of everyday 18th century life.  

29.  GET CAUGHT UP IN THE EXCITEMENT OF A SUMO TOURNAMENT

The present form of this traditional sport developed during the Edo period  as a means to please Shinto deities. Large men in loincloths do their best to knock down or push their opponent out of bounds. Matches are over in a matter of seconds, and the 15-day sumo tournaments only happen six times a year: January, May, and September in Tokyo, March in Osaka, July in Nagoya, and November in Fukuoka.  

30. BECOME A SAMURAI 

The samurai of ancient times no longer exist, but the teachings of the samurai remain in Japanese culture today. At Osaka Castle, you can browse authentic samurai armor, try on a replica helmet, and even have your picture taken. At Shinjuku’s Samurai Museum, you can learn all about the Bushido code, take a sword fighting class, or watch experts give a choreographed demonstration of a swordfight. Samurai were and still are highly regarded in Japanese culture. In fact, many samurai districts (like  Kitsuki  Samurai District), have been preserved so you can still walk the old streets and see the world of the samurai for yourself.  

31.  MEET A REAL GEISHA

Typically, you can only schedule a meeting with a Geisha through third parties—like our well-connected staff at All Japan Tours. Geisha are trained experts in traditional Japanese arts,  conversation, and entertainment. The Geisha will converse with you over a meal, teach traditional Japanese games, or give a dance or music performance. Throughout the entire meeting, she will create an atmosphere that makes each guest feel welcomed and special.

32.  TAKE PART IN A  GREEN TEA CEREMONY WITH  A  MAIKO 

Maiko are Geisha-in-training who must take classes and work part-time jobs. Typically, many Maiko perform tea ceremonies. In a Japanese tea ceremony, the Maiko makes green tea from  matcha  powder using techniques developed by ancient Buddhist monks.  The ceremony itself is almost as beautiful as your Maiko teacher! 

33.  CENTER YOURSELF IN A ZEN MEDITATION CLASS

In a meditation class, you’ll learn to breathe into a relaxed state—a much-welcomed experience if you have a hectic itinerary. One of the best places to experience a Zen Meditation class is at Mt.  Koya, one of Japan’s most important religious sites for pilgrims. In such a class, a priest will guide you on your journey to mindfulness and relaxation. 

34.  STAY OVERNIGHT AT  A  RYOKAN 

A  ryokan  is a traditional Japanese inn, and you can find them scattered all over the country. A night in a  ryokan  often  involves wearing pajama-like kimono,  eating a meal  in your room, and sleeping on soft futons placed on  tatami  (woven bamboo mat) floors—but don’t wear your shoes or slippers on the tatami! After your meal, take a bath in the hot spring  Onsen! 

35.  BATHE IN THE NATURAL WATERS OF AN  ONSEN

Bathing in a natural hot spring isn’t just a typical Japanese experience; it’s the best way to relax after a long day on a tour! Many people might feel hesitant to try this since you must enter a public bath in the nude, but please don’t let this hold you back! Baths are usually separated by gender, and you can use a small towel to strategically cover yourself. These hot, natural spring waters offer so many benefits. They fill your pores with minerals that can reduce inflammation, and best of all, their warmth helps revive your weary soul.

36.  INDULGE IN A  KAISEKI  MEAL

At a  Ryokan,  you can often enjoy a  Kaiseki  (Japanese multi-course meal), but you don’t have to stay in an inn to eat one.  Kaiseki  includes an appetizer, sashimi (raw fish), a simmered dish, a grilled dish, a steamed course, and additional foods at the chef’s discretion. Individual plates are small and carefully balanced for nutrition, color, and taste. Don’t refuse a dish when the servers bring it to you! Sending a dish back without trying at least one small bite is considered rude and embarrassing for the chef, no matter how full you are.

37.  SLURP YOUR  RAMEN 

Ramen is originally a Chinese dish, but the Japanese have developed  a  distinct style over the centuries. Certain regions  of Japan have especially delicious varieties, like miso ramen in Hokkaido and salt ramen in Kyushu. If slurping food is rude in your culture, try not to be disturbed in a ramen shop. In Japan, slurping the noodles helps you fully taste the dish’s umami flavor.

38.  EAT SUSHI 

We can’t get through this list without discussing Japan’s most famous dish: sushi. You can find sushi shops anywhere in Japan, but Japanese people particularly love sushi made from fish caught in cold climates like the waters near Hokkaido and Aomori. Don’t dip your sushi rice-first into the soy sauce! Chefs take great care to season the rice with vinegar. Instead, dip your sushi fish-first to avoid insulting the chef. 

39.  BECOME A SUSHI CHEF

When you eat authentic Japanese sushi, you might become inspired to learn how to make sushi yourself! In a sushi-making class, your teacher is a trained sushi chef who will show you how get the best cuts and how to press your  nigiri  sushi into perfect, bite-size pieces. Best of all, you’ll have a full meal to enjoy after class!

Note: In Japan it’s more common to eat nigiri-style sushi rather than sushi rolls.

40.  GET YOUR NIGHT STARTED AT A REAL  IZAKAYA 

In Japanese culture, going out for drinks means having a meal, too. At an  Izakaya  (Japanese pub) you pay a flat fee to drink as many  alcoholic or soft drinks as you like  per hour. Most  Izakaya  sell food by individual plates, but some offer all-you-can-eat deals as well. The food at  an Izakaya  is usually bite-sized, and dishes are designed for sharing. However, you can choose from a wide variety of vegetables, meat, rice, and desserts to make a full meal.  If you have small children or minors in your group, you can still bring them along—Izakaya  are for everyone to have fun! 

Note:  Some  Izakaya  have private rooms where you must take off your shoes before entering. Be careful to look out for this! 

41.  EAT  WAGYU  BEEF 

Wagyu  is the word for top-grade Japanese beef. The most famous wagyu  variety is Kobe Beef. Wagyu  cattle farmers give their cows the highest quality of care in stress-free environments. There are several ways to prepare  wagyu, like grilling, boiling, or serving it raw. The meat is so soft that it seems to melt in your mouth—even before you bite into it! 

Note: Imported wagyu, like American wagyu, doesn’t follow the same strict grading system as in Japan! Even if you’ve had wagyu in your home country, you’ll find the taste and texture of authentic, Japanese wagyu very different!

42.  BECOME A FOOD CONNOISSEUR AT A DEPACHIKA

After a few days in Japan, you’ll start to notice just how much Japanese people love department stores. They’re usually built into train stations in big cities, and everywhere you look on the street, you’ll see someone carrying a name-brand shopping bag. Even if you’re not a fashionista (or you just don’t care to shop for the same brands as the ones in your home country), don’t skip the department stores—especially the basements. Department store basements almost always have deli-style shops called  depachika. You can get lunch, souvenir snacks, or just try free samples as you walk by each counter. Eating at a depachika is a great way to get to know your Japanese food preferences!

43. TEST YOUR STRENGTH WITH  SHOCHU 

Shochu  is Japanese potato wine, and its popularity among foreign tourists has risen in recent years.  Shochu  is  much  stronger than  sake and contains 25%-60% alcohol. You can drink  shochu  on the rocks, in a cocktail like  oolonghai  (oolong tea and  shochu), or buy a  shochu  cooler (chuhai)  that’s  mixed  with soda or juice from a convenience store.  

44.  DON’T FORGET TO TRY THE SAKE! 

What is known in the West as “sake” is actually called  Nihonshu  in Japanese. “Sake” is just the general word for alcohol. Sake is rice wine that contains about 15% alcohol and is served warm or chilled. You can sip sake at any  Izakaya  or bar. Or, go to a distillery to see how sake is made and try  tasting it after your tour. One of the most popular places to see a sake distillery is the Fushimi Sake District in Kyoto. Nearly 40 distilleries have been built around this area’s clean, flowing water.

45.  BE AMAZED BY THE ARTISTRY OF THE SAPPORO SNOW FESTIVAL 

If you’re coming to Japan in February, you have to see the Sapporo Snow Festival. This is a one-of-a-kind experience  where  artists carve ice sculptures and build massive statues out of snow. Odori Park is home to the snow festival’s main attraction, but it’s worthwhile to see the smaller Susukino site too. In Odori Park, building-sized statues and ice sculptures that double as entertainment stages run almost 10 blocks from the Sapporo TV Tower to the court house. Festival events include ski jump competitions, traditional dance performances,  and  Japanese Idol concerts. 

46.  SEE THE  TOHOKU 3 GREAT SUMMER FESTIVALS  FOR YOURSELF 

Summer is the season for most festivals in Japan, but the northeastern Tohoku region is known for having the “3 Great Summer Festivals”—so called due to their large scale and popularity. Locals celebrate the Akita Kanto Festival (August 3rd-August 6th) with a display of bamboo poles that reach 12 meters (40 feet) and hold up to 46 glowing, paper lanterns.  The Aomori  Nebuta  Festival (August 2nd-7th) attracts millions of spectators every year and features a parade of colorful, gigantic lantern floats.  During the Sendai  Tanabata  Festival (August 6th-8th), paper streamers and decorations shaped like everything from colorful characters to trash cans sprawl out over the area.

47.  WITNESS THE ENGINEERING PROWESS OF OLD JAPAN AT THE  TAKAYAMA  FESTIVAL 

There are two famous festivals in  Takayama—the  Takayama  Sanno  Spring Festival in April, and the  Takayama  Hachiman  Autumn Festival in October. During both festivals, 1,000 participants take part in a parade straight out of the 15th century. The start of the parade features dancers and musicians who perform the  shishimai  (lion dance). At the end of the parade, over 10  yatai  (giant floats) are pulled through the streets. Most interestingly, the  yatai  are decorated with giant wind-up marionettes that move with unbelievable dexterity.  

48.  GET ASTOUNDED BY THE GION FESTIVAL 

In Kyoto, the  Gion  Summer Festival (Gion Matsuri) lasts for the entire month of July. The main event (Yamaboko  Junko) happens on July 17th when a grand procession of floats rumbles through the streets. The floats can reach 25 meters (82 feet) high and weigh up to 12 tons! The  Gion  Summer Festival originated in the 9th  century, so don’t miss out on celebrating this grand and storied tradition! 

49.  WATCH LIVING HISTORY AT THE  AOI  FESTIVAL 

The  Aoi  Festival (Aoi Matsuri) is one of the most famous festivals of Kyoto. It’s celebrated every year on May 15th, and it recreates a classic, Shinto-style procession. 500 people dressed in Heian-era clothing walk or ride on horseback from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the  two Kamo  Shrines (Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrine). The participants carry offerings like flowers, scrolls, and hollyhock leaves. The most important person of the parade—the  High Priestess—rides in a palanquin in the back of the procession. The parade is a  solemn event, but the celebrations outside of Kamigamo  Shrine include dance and musical performances, as well as  horseback archery.   

50.  JOIN IN THE FUN AT THE  AWA  ODORI  DANCE FESTIVAL 

The Awa  Odori  Dance Festival is the largest of its kind in Japan. It originated in Tokushima and has slowly spread to other parts of the country. Still, the best place to see the festivities is in Tokushima from August 12th to the 15th. This dance festival has been celebrated for the past 400 years, and people of all ages are invited to join in the fun. The streets are filled with live music,  taiko  drums, and dancers wearing traditional clothing and hats. 

Ready to experience all that Japan has to offer? 


When is the Best Time to Visit Japan for Autumn Leaves?

When is the Best Time to Visit Japan for Autumn Leaves?

TRAVEL | When to Go

Picture | January 11th, 2019 | Dayna Hannah

Unique opportunities for travelers crop up in the fall, and the autumn leaves highlight the beauty o......

Day Trip from Tokyo: Ibaraki

Day Trip from Tokyo: Ibaraki

TRAVEL | What to Do

Picture | January 9th, 2019 | Dayna Hannah

If you’re looking to make a day trip from Tokyo, take the train an hour or so north to the fresh, ......

Experience Ibaraki Prefecture's UNESCO Certified Yūki-Tsumugi Silk

Experience Ibaraki Prefecture's UNESCO Certified Yūki-Tsumugi Silk

LUXURY | Experiences

Picture | January 7th, 2019 | Dayna Hannah

Among Japan’s bountiful traditional cultural experiences, wearing kimono stands out as an opportun......



Search Group Tour

Search
FOLLOW US

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOG VIA EMAIL

POPULAR ARTICLES

TOP 1
TOP 2
TOP 3
TOP 4
TOP 5
TOP 6
TOP 7
TOP 8