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20 THINGS TO DO IN JAPAN ON YOUR PRE & POST CRUISE EXTENSIONS
Article | April 2nd, 2022 | Anne
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PLANNING FOR THE EXTRA TIME BEFORE AND AFTER YOUR CRUISE EXTENSION CAN HELP YOU CREATE UNFORGETTABLE MEMORIES. HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING THINGS TO DO IN JAPAN.

Going on a Japanese cruise is exciting and refreshing. However, you should consider a tour with a cruise extension so that you have ample time to explore the country's must-see sites and rich culture. There is no shortage of fun-filled things to do in Japan, particularly these shore excursion activities:



1. EAT SUSHI AND SASHIMI AT THE TSUKIJI FISH MARKET

Visitors can be found at the Tsukiji Fish Market from the early hours, spending their morning enjoying a delicious sashimi and sushi breakfast.

In addition to seafood and fresh vegetables, you could buy clothing and shoes, jewelry, baskets, ceramics, and earthenware at the famed marketplace. Countless eateries, including small cafés, noodle shops, and kitchen stores, all serve delectable, low-priced meals.



2. TAKE A RICKSHAW RIDE

The name "rickshaw" is an anglicized translation of the Japanese word "jinrikisha," which refers to a human-powered carriage. The term now encompasses not only the conventional human-powered carriage but also any other conveyance that looks similar, whether motorized or electric.

In Tokyo, you can find friendly rickshaw drivers in the traditional Asakusa neighborhood, where they offer an unconventional and unique experience. A rickshaw typically does not require a reservation unless you plan on making it a long one. You can book a tour with companies such as Kurumaya, Jidaiya, Kosugiya, or Ebisuya.

Rickshaw Ride



3. MAKE AND EAT YOUR OWN SUSHI

Sushi and Sashimi are at the top of everybody's list of things to do in Japan. Sushi is available in a wide range of forms, sizes, and flavors. While the majority of it consists of rice steamed in sushi vinegar, not all of it contains raw fish. Sushi made with cucumber, tofu, and other vegetables, on the other hand, is somewhat harder to come by. Sushi is available in a wide range of establishments, from grocery stores to local restaurants.

If you'd like to change it up and learn a new skill, one of the many beginner lessons in Tokyo will teach you how to create and serve sushi. They can demonstrate proper sushi-making skills and explain why each step and each ingredient used is significant.

View Tours that included Sushi Making Experience



4. TAKE A RIDE ON A BULLET TRAIN

Japan's enormous Shinkansen rail system has been in service since 1964 and is quite well known. Once commuter transportation is accessible within a few years, the world's fastest trains will be second place to the Maglev.

Japan's high-speed commuter trains have had no fatalities in their sixty years of business, making it one of the safest modes of transportation there is. The Maglev system aspires to maintain its immaculate track record.

Visitors may very well take humorous-themed bullet trains such as the Hello Kitty Shinkansen. Shinkansen are expensive, but with a Japan Rail Pass, you can take multiple rides without having to make a reservation.



5. VISIT SHRINES AND TEMPLES

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Japan is its Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples. They have unique features, fascinating neighborhoods, and a rich culture that takes you back to ancient Japanese times. Here are the best ones to visit:

• Meiji Jingu Shrine, in Shibuya Tokyo
• Sensoji Temple, in Asakusa Tokyo
• Nezu Shrine, in Bunkyō Tokyo
• Kinkaku-Ji, in Kyoto
• Itsukushima Shrine, in Hiroshima
• Tennoji Temple, in Yanaka Tokyo
• Fushimi Inari Taisha, in Kyoto
• Yushima Seido, in Bunkyō, Tokyo
• Sengakuji Temple, in Tokyo
• Zojoji Temple, in Tokyo

Meiji Shrine



6. GLIMPSE MOUNT FUJI

Whether you like the harsh waves of Kumomi Kaigan or the peaceful waters of Lake Tanukiko, there are multiple places to see Mount Fuji's spectacular traits. The Hakone hot spring spa and the Fuji Five Lakes district are the best sites to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji. A hike up Mount Fuji is possible, but only in the summer, and it is a challenging trek.

View Tours that Visit Mt Fuji



7. WANDER THROUGH THE BAMBOO FOREST AT ARASHIYAMA

Both locally and globally, the Sagano Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama is famous for its green stalks of bamboos which create an enchanting image. An exotic, serene, and surreal environment is created by walking routes bordered by endless rows of gorgeous bamboo. The rustling bamboo trees create a relaxing sound that enraptures tourists.

View Tours that Visit Arashiyama Bamboo Forest



8. EXPLORE A JAPANESE CASTLE

Castles are one of the most fascinating and stunning aspects of Japan's history. Each location has its own unique architecture and incredible life stories. By the 1500s, Japanese castles had evolved from wooden forts to their most iconic shape. Originally, Japanese castles served the same purposes as their European equivalents in defense, strategic control, and intimidation of opponents. Here are the most beautiful castles you can visit on your cruise extension:

• Osaka Castle
• Nagoya Castle
• Nijo Castle
• Matsumoto Castle
• Okayama Castle
• Kanazawa Castle
• Hikone Castle
• Odawara Castle
• Himeji Castle
• Hirosaki Castle

Himeji Castle



9. SPEND A NIGHT IN A RYOKAN, EAT A KAISEKI MEAL AND SOAK IN AN ONSEN

Of all the things to do in Japan, you need to experience a relaxing bath in an onsen, a stay at a ryokan, and a kaiseki meal to gain a complete insight into Japanese cuisine and culture.

Ryokans vary from simple guesthouses called minshuku to opulent ryokans boasting private onsen and stunning scenery of Japanese gardens. Over 2000 organic Japanese hot springs, recognized as onsens, can be found throughout the country. The onsens are usually communal, but some Ryokans include private onsens for couples. These guest rooms have amazing views of nature, allowing you to unwind while maintaining some privacy.

Kaiseki is a multi-course, traditional meal. Diners are served a succession of modest, attractively prepared meals that feature fresh, regional ingredients presented in a way that reflects a theme. Although kaiseki meals are pricey, they are as essential to trying out Japanese cuisine as eating sushi.



10. WANDER THROUGH JAPANESE GARDENS

Tea buildings, ponds, emerald hills, and beautiful stones characterize traditional Japanese gardens, which create a visual harmony unaffected by any artificial confinement. You can immerse yourself in fascinating, beautiful natural landscapes. The following are some of the best Japanese gardens to visit:

• Ryoan-ji Temple, in Kyoto
• Kairaku-en, in Mito
• Ritsurin Koen, in Takamatsu
• Shinjuku Gyoen, in Tokyo
• Koraku-en, in Okayama
• Kenroku-en, in Kanazawa

Kenrokuen Garden



11. SEE A FESTIVAL

Matsuri are traditional Japanese festivities with a rich history behind them. Each festival has its own date and theme, which varies from area to area. Matsuris are powerful, energizing, fascinating, and pleasant events in which anyone is welcome to take part.

There are over 300,000 local "matsuri," which translates to "festival" in Japanese, and they vary greatly from region to region. A matsuri is usually arranged by the community and hosted by a local temple or shrine. People dress up in traditional matsuri garb and carry a hefty Mikoshi, a mobile shrine, along the street in the hopes of blessing the town and its inhabitants.

During your cruise extension, be sure to look up any upcoming festivals in the local neighborhood. They occur throughout the year, so you're very likely to encounter one.

View Tours that included a Festival in Japan



12. ZEN MEDITATION

Meditation is used in Zen Buddhism to achieve self-realization and spiritual awakening. Zen practitioners do not rely on almighty spirits but rather on their instructors to guide them on their path to enlightenment.

Visitors from all over the world come to Japan to learn about meditating at Buddhist temples. Zen temples are abundant in Nara, Kyoto, and Kamakura, and many of them provide meditation lessons. These classes are also available in less well-known regions such as Sendai and Otsuki. A zazen instruction normally requires reservations, and English lessons are available in numerous locations throughout Japan.

It's advisable to do some research and planning before you travel because some sites offer daily practice while others just have a single session per week. Almost all Zen temple grounds have gardens that you can walk through either during or after your session to help you meditate and relax.

View Tours that included Zen Meditation



13. EXPLORE ONE OF THE PRESERVED HISTORIC VILLAGES

Throughout the Japanese Alps, many charming Japanese towns can be found buried away in unexplored regions. Nearly all of the inhabitants have fled, and the villages are becoming major tourist sites, showcasing rural Japan's relics and mementos. The following are some of the villages you can plan a trip to:

• Shirakawa-Go, in Gifu Prefecture
• Ine, in Kyoto Prefecture
• Taketomi, in Okinawa Prefecture
• Tsumago, in Nagano Prefecture

Shirakawago



14, EXPERIENCE A TEMPLE STAY AT KOYASAN

Mount Koya in Wakayama, which has a history of more than 1,200 years, exudes a very spiritual air that is dispersed all across the mountain by numerous historic temples.

In fact, 52 temples in the area enable guests to stay the night in shukubo custom, giving travelers a peaceful spot to rest and unwind, as well as breakfast and lunch with their popular vegetarian cuisine.

These are indeed genuine Japanese temples, complete with actual monks and religious ceremonies on a daily basis. With traditional Japanese services, you can experience the culture firsthand when you spend the night there.

Koya-san was established in the early 800s CE, and over 120 temples were built within the enclosure. The town and mountain are significant to Shingon Buddhists since it is the burial site of Kobo Daishi, the religion's leader.

View Tours that included Temple Stay at Koyasan



15. PARTICIPATE IN A JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY THAT HOST BY GEISHA

Gion in Kyoto is a well-known geisha district, hosting many tea shops and ryokans. The Geisha Encounter Performance at Omori Chaya in Tokyo, for instance, allows you to participate in a traditional ceremony conducted by a geisha.

View Tours that included Green Tea Ceremony with Maiko Interaction



16, TASTE SAKE AT A SAKE BREWERY

Sake, also known as Nihonshu in Japanese, is a curious beverage that is sometimes described as rice wine in English, despite the fact that it doesn't look or taste like wine. Several sake breweries throughout Japan have been making this complicated refreshment for generations and can educate you on the various varieties and flavors of sake, from floral, graceful Daiginjo to smooth and dry Karakuchi.

Nagano prefecture contains approximately 80 sake breweries, the 2nd largest number of any prefecture in Japan, where you can sample native flavors that have been refined over generations. For example, Endo Brewery, Masuichi Brewery, Tamamura Honten, and more.



17. WEAR A KIMONO

The kimono is a traditional Japanese garment worn by men, women, and children. The traditional kimono has a complicated pattern that needs assistance to wear and is woven of premium silk. Although most Japanese have abandoned the look, it is coming back into fashion, not just in Japan but also globally.

View Tours that included Kimono Experience

Kimono Experience



18. SEE CHERRY BLOSSOMS

Many tourists travel to Japan solely to participate in hanami, the cherry blossom festival, in which towns are adorned with blossoms and illuminated to create a lovely scene.

The ideal time to gamble on cherry blossoms is generally late April. You should keep an eye on blossom forecasting to make sure your trip corresponds with their blossoming, which fluctuates significantly year after year depending on weather patterns.

View Cherry Blossom Tours



19. WATCH A KABUKI PERFORMANCE

Along with noh and bunraku, traditional dance-drama is among the three famous classical Japanese theatrical performances. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the theatrical performances, elaborate costumes, and excessive kumadori make-up that are fundamental components of Kabuki were perfected.

More than the conversation, which is presented in an ancient language that even Japanese people struggle to grasp, the actors' dramatic motions serve to convey messages to the viewer. Traditionally, Kabuki performances tell stories about significant historical events, as well as romance, heartache, and moral difficulties. They often feature traditional Japanese musical instruments to create an all-rounded experience.

Minamiza, one of the most prominent Kabuki theatres, is located in Kyoto, the birthplace of the art form. This theatre, on the other hand, usually only hosts performances during a limited time frame, usually near the end of the year. Other theatres include the Kabukiza Theater, Shin-Kabuki-za, Misono-za, Hakata-za, and more.



20. LEARN ABOUT CALLIGRAPHY, IKEBANA OR ORIGAMI

There are cultural traditions in Japan that have stood the test of time and have shaped the country's traditional elements. Calligraphy, known as shodo, flower arrangement, known as ikebana, and origami, which is the art of folding, and many other activities are some of the most fascinating things to do in Japan on your cruise extension.

The art of calligraphy is known as hodo. Every brushstroke in this popular fine art has philosophical connotations. Your work can reflect your mood while you practice calligraphy. Ikebana is a Japanese flower arrangement technique that aims to unite humans and nature with a single creation.

The Japanese word origami literally means "paper folding." Paper folding has a long history dating back over 1000 years. The crane, the most well origami figure, is a sign of peace in the country's history.

View Tours that included Calligraphy and Ikebana

Origami

When organizing a cruise to Japan, there are numerous factors to consider, including your departure date, duration of stay, target cities, sites of interest, and finances. If you do not allow extra time at your boarding ports, you may not be able to fully appreciate the local area.

So, you should consider a cruise extension so that you can fully immerse yourself in all the wonderful things to do in Japan.

Join one of our pre-designed escorted group tours, visiting must-see sights in Japan and including unique cultural activities. Or contact us to plan a fully customized itinerary based on your interests.


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