Japan is an incredible country, don’t let anyone tell you differently. On arrival at our second visit to the land of the rising sun we truly understood how special this place is – there was still excitement when we landed at Tokyo International Airport for the second time. We have explored the major recommended cities and have also spent some time in the countryside. So after looking back at both visits, we have decided to break down the top 30 things to do in Japan.
But first up, our top 10 must do’s – ranked!
10. Lunch at Ichiran Ramen (Introvert Ramen Restaurant)
If you’re looking for a unique dining experience than you need to have a meal at Ichiran Ramen Restaurant, or what we like to call it “The Introvert Restaurant”. This Japan-based restaurant chain is famous for its unique dining style. Customers eat alone, seated in individual sections that separate them from other diners, and orders are taken by filling out a form and passed through a window. Imagine going out to eat where you never have to speak to a person, let alone look at a person!
This was one of those experiences best explained in video. Check out our vlog below and let your inner introvert enjoy!
Price: From 790yen (7USD)
Find a list of Ichiran Ramen locations here
9. Have your very first Bidet Experience
We are aware that this is probably not on most top Japan lists that you have read, but for us it is a funny and memorable thing we experienced during our trip to Japan.
Japan has some of the most elaborate toilets we have ever come across on our travels. With heated seats, music functions and water squirting this way and that – these aren’t like any toilets you have used before, trust us! Click the video below, we totally filmed Jess’s first reaction to trying one!
8. Visit Tokyo Disney & Tokyo DisneySea
We are both big Disney lovers – so these two parks had to make the list!
Tokyo Disneyland Park was the first Disney Park built outside of the US and one you don’t want to miss when visiting Tokyo!
(Embarrassing fun fact: Our goal in life is to visit every Disneyland – and we now have 3 to go)
Tokyo DisneySea is a much newer park which was opened in 2001. It is often referred to as the crown jewel of Disney Parks, being the 4th most visited theme park in the world! Consisting of seven themed ports of call, this one of the most unique Disney parks we have visited.
How to get there: From Tokyo Station take the JR Keiyo or JR Musashino Line to Maihama Station (15 minutes)
1 Day Pass: 7,400yen (68USD)
2 Day Pass: 13,200yen (122USD)
7. Go Skiing of Snowboarding
Ask any Australian – heading to Japan to snowboard is a lifelong bucket list. Japan and snow sports come hand in hand when you visit during the winter.
Most Aussies head to Hokkaido to hit the slopes, but during our visit we headed out to Zao Sumikawa, a small snow park two hours south of Sendai in the Ou Mountains. This spot was way less touristy and so quiet, we basically had all the slopes to ourselves!
6. Travel on a Bullet Train
Japan’s main islands are all connected by a network of high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with most of the country’s major cities. Japan’s high speed trains (bullet trains) are called shinkansen and are operated by Japan Railways (JR).
Running at speeds of up to 320 km/h, the shinkansen is known for punctuality (most trains depart on time to the second), comfort, safety (no fatal accidents in its history) and efficiency. Plusm, thanks to the Japan Rail Pass, the shinkansen can also be a very cost effective way to travel around Japan!
JR Pass 7 consecutive days: 21,110yen (266USD)
JR Pass 14 consecutive days: 46,390yen (425USD)
5. Spend a Night in a Capsule Hotel
Our very first stop on our Japan trip was Tokyo, and after a long haul flight we were absolutely exhausted. We needed an easy, cheap place to spend the night and had heard stories about these ‘capsule’ hotels scattered throughout Japan, where you literally sleep inside a coffin-like room.
After a quick google we came across The Prime Pod Ginza Hotel and booked it with no idea what to expect.
Our nights stay was by far the most unique we have ever experienced and our vlog below is well worth a watch to see how insane this hotel is!
Average price: 5,800yen (53USD)
4. Try alllll the food!
Japan has some of the most delicious, weird and unusual foods we have ever tasted! Here is quick list of some of our favourites you need to look out for during your visit to Japan…
3. Get Blessed by a Shinto Priest
During our visit we had the incredible opportunity to experience a blessing ceremony by a shinto priest. This was on the the most unique and incredible experiences we have ever done. It would easily make our top 10 best experiences, not only in Japan but the world! The ceremony itself is a sacred performance, combining sights, sounds and smells to create an almost cinematic moment.
We recommend visiting the Kanahebisui-jinja (Golden Snake Shrine), located in the Southern part of Miyagi Prefecture. The name of the shrine is represented by the three Kanji characters 金 (kin/kane; meaning gold or money), 蛇 (hebi; meaning snake) and 水 (mizu/sui; meaning water). It is also believed that this shrine was built some 1000 years ago.
2. Visit Fushimi Inari in Kyoto
This magical, seemingly unending path of over 5000 bright orange torii gates is one of the most stunning shrines we have ever seen. The gates wind through the hills, making for a beautiful hike. The shrine is dedicated to the god of rice and sake back in the 8th century.
We highly recommend the early wake up call and visit when it opens at 7am – you will have this incredible place all to yourself!
How to get here: The shrine is located just outside JR Inari Station, the second station from Kyoto Station along the JR Nara Line (5 minutes, 140yen one way from Kyoto Station).
1. Real Life Mario Kart in Tokyo
Drum roll please…the number one thing we recommend you do in Japan is real life Mario Kart in Tokyo. Whether you play the games or not, dressing up as Mario or Princess Peach and throttling down the highway of Tokyo, (yes this isn’t a closed off circuit – you are on the roads) is an absolute treat. At some points on the trip we were going 50 to 60kmph over Rainbow Bridge which heavily inspired one of the levels in the game.
There are multiple stores and tracks you can choose from. We opted in for the “A1-L Long Tour” course which took us from Akihabara to Tokyo Tower and onwards to Rainbow Bridge and Ginza. The tour lasted about 2 and half hours and the team at MariCar took us to the Gundam statues which was a site worth seeing!
Book it, you won’t regret it.
Reminder: You need your international drivers license and your passport before driving. This isn’t your standard drivers license that you have at home – it’s a separate document. If you are Australian – go to any RAC store – for everyone else speak to your local travel agent.
Price: From 8000yen-10,000yen (depending on track) ($73-92USD)
Find a list of MariCar locations in Tokyo head here
There are so many more incredible things to do in Japan that we had to add a quick list of honourable mentions…
Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo
Harajuku area in Tokyo
Akihabara District in Tokyo
Visit as many temples as possible
Order food from a vending machine
Eat gold flake ice cream
Visit Japanese gardens
- Try sushi
Get instructions from a robot
Sleep on the floor
Win a pikachu
Visit monkey and bamboo forest
Trying everything matcha flavoured
Hiroshima bomb site
Play with deer
Have we missed something? We would love for you to share things you recommend people do during their visit to Japan in the comment below
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