Hello, fellow wanderers!
If you have ever dreamed of immersing yourself in the captivating culture, outstanding landscapes and mouthwatering cuisines of Japan – then you are in for a treat!
In this blog, we delve into the must-see attractions and things to do in Japan, specifically in the most popular areas within the country: From Tokyo & Osaka to Kyoto & Nara.
Beyond that, we also mention invaluable tips on what not to do during your visit to this world-of-its-own.
Additionally, we explore the delightful souvenirs and unique items that you can bring back home to cherish the memories of this unforgettable journey.
Let’s Go & explore the best things to do in Japan – 2024’s most favorite destination!
Table of Contents
Things to do in Japan
There are more than a plenty things to do and explore in Japan, the most favorite and popular amongst those are:
1. Explore Tokyo Tower
Tokyo Tower stands as an iconic symbol of Japan’s capital city. It offers visitors with a fascinating panoramic view of the sprawling metropolis called Tokyo.
Ascending to its towering heights lets you witness the cityscape glowing magically with neon lights, especially during a twilight.
One can go on an explore its glass-floored observation deck for some thrilling perspective. I mean who wouldn’t wanna just stand at a tall skyscrapper or tower and look down and afar to the world around – glowing with fairydust and stars and shit.
I’m not lying it does feel like a “King of the World” moment!
2. Witness Mount Fuji
Country’s tallest peak has to be on your things to do in Japan list since it is an unmissable experience if you enjoy nature and it’s majestic allure.
You can embark on this fascinating journey to behold this revered icon, whether gazing upon its snow-capped summit from afar or ascending its slopes for a closer encounter.
Another great thing to do in Mount Fuji is to witness the fascinating sunrise from the peak – a spectacle known as Goraiko.
Five lakes surround the peak and attract the visitors to come and walk or relax around. Also, they provide a fascinating photo-opportunity.
One of the most fun things to do in Mount Fuji is to indulge in hiking for an intimate communion with nature.
3. Visit the Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park & Museum
The devastating events of World War II are etched in the memories of mostly everyone who has read about it or watched various documentaries.
The Hiroshima Memorial Museum stands as a great place for things to do in Japan due to it being a museum exhibiting various chronicles of the city’s tragic past and advocating for peace.
Witness artifacts, survivor testimonies and immersive displays which evoke deep reflections on the horrors of war and the resilience of the human spirit.
You get to pay your homage at the Peace Memorial Park and Atomic Bomb Dome, solemn reminders of humanity’s capacity for both destruction and hope.
4. Relax in an Onsen
An Onsen in Japan is basically a traditional hot spring bath wherein the therapeutic mineral-rich waters rejuvenate your body and soul as you soak amidst serene natural landscapes or within tranquil indoor settings.
Whether nestled in a secluded mountain retreat or integrated into the urban spa complexes, Onsen culture offers a sanctuary for unwinding and contemplation.
Embrace the ritual of cleansing before soaking, and savor the profound sense of tranquility that permeates these therapeutic havens.
5. Try Japanese Cuisine
Japanese cuisine is a rich gastronomic heritage where every dish tells a story of tradition, innovation and meticulous craftsmanship.
From savory sushi and sashimi to comforting bowls of ramen and delicate tempura, the food of Japan tantalizes the taste buds with its exquisite flavors and artful presentation.
Sample regional specialties such as Kyoto’s kaiseki or Osaka’s okonomiyaki, offers a distinct culinary experience.
Another interesting thing is to embrace the ritual of dining, whether in Michelin-starred establishments or humble izakayas & savor the harmonious blend of fresh ingredients and culinary mastery that defines Japanese cooking.
Things to do in Tokyo Japan
6. Explore infamous neighborhoods
One of the best things to do in Japan has to be to explore the unique neighborhoods of Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku and Asakusa in Tokyo.
With each having its own unique character, atmosphere, attractions and shopping districts.
Diving into the vibrant Kabukicho, where neon lights illuminate narrow alleys lined with bars, clubs and entertainment zones.
Alternatively, one could venture through the eccentric streets of Harajuku, famous for its quirky fashion, vibrant youth culture as well as very eclectic shops.
If you are looking for an old-world charm mixes with contemporary grit, wander through the nostalgia-filled alleyways of Golden Gai in Shinjuku – where tiny bars packed with unique characteristics beckon adventurers to explore its secrets.
7. Experience Cherry Blossoms
Attending one of many cherry blossom festivals in the city during peak bloom is another very popular and fun things to do in Japan.
Experiencing sakura or these cherry blossoms is a quintessential part of visiting Tokyo. Join locals and fellow-travelers as you get involved in traditional picnics or Hanami experience underneath the cherry trees.
The festival of Cherry Blossom involves stunning landscape views, delicious food stalls, live performances and illuminated evening views of the blossoms.
Spring in Tokyo heralds this mesmerizing season with a breathtaking spectacle drawing visitors from across the globe.
Ueno Park or Shinjuku Gyoen are some of the iconic spots where you could go and witness the pink delicate blooms adorning the city parks.
8. Experience Shibuya crossing
Shibuya crossing is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the entire world and provides opportunity for explorers to be a part of the Japanese crowd as they cross in all directions.
As you step into the very heart of this bustling intersection, you get to marvel at the out-of-this-world synchronized chaos as traffic halts and waves of people surge across the street doing like a dance of movement.
On the Shibuya Sky Observation deck, one can capture these moments from above to try and understand how this chaos looks so glamorous.
You feel the fast paced lifestyle and ambiance of the city as you listen to the rhythm of Tokyo’s urban beat pulsing through the streets.
9. Tokyo Skytree
Enjoy the breathtaking views of Tokyo from the observation decks of the Skytree – one of the tallest towers in the world.
On clearer days, one can even see Mt. Fuji at a distance from here.
Take in the panoramic views that this towering structure has in store for you as you set eyes on Tokyo’s sprawling metropolis from the observation decks.
The floor-to-ceiling type of windows offer unparalleled views of vistas stretching as far as the eye can see.
Beyond the vast landscape, the innovative design of this modern marvel is also something which might be interesting to witness.
The tower’s design is inspired by the traditional Japanese craftsmanship, and marvel at the spectacle of Tokyo unfolding below.
Whether by day or by night, a visit to Tokyo Skytree promises an awe-inspiring experience which would leave you captivated by the boundless expanse of the urban landscape.
10. Tokyo Disneyland
Who doesn’t want to at least once in life – visit the Disneyland.
And when you have come all the way to Tokyo for a family getaway, why not visit this enchanting land of all things Disney.
From enthralling rides like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean to heartwarming character meetings with beloved Mickey Mouse and Cinderella, the park is like a large treasure trove of entertainment for all ages.
Tokyo Disneyland offers endless delights for visitors and opportunities to immerse oneself in the wonder of fairy tales and adventure as one explores the varied themed lands like the Fantasyland, Tomorrowland or the Adventureland.
Things to do in Osaka Japan
11. Explore Osaka Castle
Next big destination on our virtual Japan journey today is Osaka and the most popular things to do in Osaka is none other than to explore the infamous 16th century Osaka Castle.
If history intrigues you and you love to wander through castle grounds, this place is the ultimate haven for you.
Enjoy panoramic views of the city from the top floor while also learning about the deep history of the place at the museum.
Step inside to discover the fascinating exhibitions detailing the significance and the samurai era from the past.
Whether you’re a history buff or simply seeking a serene escape, Osaka Castle promises an unforgettable experience steeped in culture and beauty.
12. Dotonbori District Nightlife
Beyond the landscapes and the castle, there’s also plenty to do for nightlife seekers and food enthusiasts in Osaka’s Dotonbori District.
Experience stunning vibrant nightlife and culinary scene as you walk along the beautiful canal. One can indulge in various activities like: trying out local delicacies, soaking in the neon lights and indulging in the bustling atmosphere.
From traditional izakayas serving up mouthwatering delicacies to modernized bars and clubs pulsating with music, there’s something for every taste.
Do not forget to snap a pic with the iconic Glico Running Man Sign, a symbol of the area’s liveliness.
13. Universal Studios Japan
The next best thing about Japan after the Disneyland for family travelers, is the Universal Studios!
Some of the most exciting things to do in Japan come down at last to this magnificent world of cinema showcasing thrilling rides, live shows and themed attractions based out of your favorite movies.
From the immersive Wizarding world of Harry Potter to the adrenaline-pumping experience of Jurassic Park, the Universal Studios has everything in store for you.
Have a fun-filled day at Universal Studios Japan, one of the country’s most popular theme parks. Enjoy thrilling rides, live shows featuring beloved characters, and themed attractions based on popular movies.
Meet beloved characters, catch performances and indulge in delicious themed treats throughout the park.
The Universal Studio Japan guarantees a day filled with laughter, adventure and unique experiences for the entire family.
14. Osaka Aquarium
Osaka’s Aquarium is one of the largest establishments for viewing underwater life in the entire world. And once you get inside, you yourself have the ultimate experience of witnessing a wide variety of ocean habitats and species.
The marine life includes: majestic whale sharks, playful dolphins and graceful jellyfish.
There are many other themed exhibits showcasing different habitats, while providing an educational yet interesting experience for visitors of all age groups.
Whether you are a marine enthusiast or not, the Osaka Aquarium is sure to provide you a fascinating day full of memorable captures.
15. Kuromon Ichiba Market
Osaka’s food culture at Kuromon Ichiba Market is widely popular and people stroll here through the bustling market filled with customized, vibrant stalls selling fresh seafood, veggies, fruits and other local varieties.
You can sample some amazing Japanese street food here like sushi, takoyaki or grilled seafood skewers, as well.
Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere as locals and tourists alike gather to experience the vibrant flavors of Osaka.
A small visit to the Kuromon Ichiba Market in Osaka will definitely be one of the most memorable things to do in Japan.
Things to do in Kyoto Japan
16. The Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji)
This iconic Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto is adorned with golden leaf, set amidst a tranquil pond with beautiful gardens.
What attracts the travelers into the Kinkaku-ji or the Golden Pavilion is the shimmers of the sunlight reflecting gracefully off the tranquil pond surrounding it.
Originally constructed as a retirement villa for a shogun, it was later converted into a Zen temple.
Visitors tend to wander through the meticulously landscaped gardens, intaking the serenity of the temple grounds.
Each season offers a different perspective of the sight, with cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant foilage during autumn.
The Golden Pavilion stands as a unique symbol of beauty and tranquility and acts as a must-experience things to do in Japan.
17. Fushimi Inari Taisha
An iconic Shinto shrine renowned for its thousands of vermillion (vibrant orange) torii gates that seem to wind through the forested hills of southern Kyoto.
Dedicated to the Shinto god of rice and prosperity (Inari), this spiritual site offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural significance.
Visitors can embark on a journey through these gates, meandering along scenic trails lined with stone fox statues, the messengers of Inari,
The hike to the mountaintop also is something which must be experienced wherein the travelers hike to witness a panoramic view of Kyoto’s cityscape.
18. Traditional tea ceremony
If you want to truly immerse yourself in the Japanese culture, you must participate in one tea ceremony – where you can learn about the art of preparing and enjoying the infamous Matcha Green Tea of Japan.
Rooted in Zen Buddhism, this ceremony emphasizes harmony, respect, purity as well as tranqulity.
You are welcomed into a serene tearoom adorned with tatami mats and elegant utensils.
A skilled tea master then prepares and serves the matcha, while guiding guests through each step of the ritual.
Sipping the bitter-sweet brew in silence, surrounded by the beautiful ambiance of the ceremony offers a moment of reflection and a sense of connectivity to the Japanese culture.
19. Historic district of Gion
Not to be confused with Nobita’s bully-esque friend Gian, the district of Gion is mostly known for its traditional wooden machiya houses (traditional wooden townhouse in Japan), teahouses and the chance to catch glimpses of Geisha and Maiko, in their elegant attire.
When you witness these houses, the narrow cobblestone streets and the lantern-lit alleyways, you tend to feel as if it is a time lost in history.
It is a very surreal experience giving out the old-world charm vibes and a ride through history while looking for the kimono moving from the teahouses to ochaya.
Explore quaint shops, teahouses and restaurants offering a glimpse into Kyoto’s rich cultural heritage.
20. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
If you want to explore a natural wonderland just outside the Kyoto city, you must visit the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove!
Towering bamboo stalks welcome you by creating a surreal canopy which sways gently in the breeze, casting dappled sunlight onto the forest floor.
The walking paths meander through the grove, inviting explorers to immerse and lose themselves in the natural landscape of the place.
The sound of rustling bamboo leaves creates a soothing soundtrack, transporting you to another world.
You can also visit the nearby attractions: namely, the Tenryu-ji temple or the iconic Togetsukyo Bridge.
Things to do in Kobe Japan
21. Visit Kobe Harborland
Kobe’s waterfront district, called Harborland, is one place to not-miss when looking for the best things to do in Japan.
It is a place roaring with shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and scenic views of the harbor.
One can take a leisurely stroll along the promenade or ride the giant Ferris wheel for panoramic vistas of the skyline.
The Kobe Harborland offers captivating blend of modernity with history along the waterfront. It leads the visitors to explore the vibrant promenades that it offers.
Something to not miss while at the Kobe Harborland, is the nightly illuminations that completely transform the area into a mesmerizing magical landscape.
22. Wander through Kitano-cho District
Another pretty exciting district in Kobe, Japan is the Kitano-cho district. It is a well-preserved Western-styled district with houses from the Meiji era.
One can roam around for hours while discovering museums, cafes, galleries and whatnot nestled among the historic buildings.
If you want to learn more about the heritage and history of the area, you can visit the Kobe Kitano Museum.
The Kitano-cho offers a peaceful escape from the daily chaos of the city, inviting visitors to unwind and appreciate the districy’s timeless beauty.
23. Savor Kobe Beef
If you are into beef, the Kobe beef will not let you down.
It is a world-renowned Japanese delicacy celebrated for its exceptional tenderness, marbling and flavor.
When you dine at one of Kobe’s steak restaurants, you experience this culinary delight prepared by skilled chefs using the traditional Japanese techniques.
Sink your teeth into the tender cuts of the delight, meticulously raised to perfection.
Whether you prefer it grilled, teppanyaki-style (cooked with an iron griddle/pan) or as a part of the traditional meal – experiencing the Kobe Beef would definitely be a gastronomical journey not to be missed during your visit to Kobe.
24. Ascend Mount Rokko
Another opportunity to hike a mountain on your Japanese travel venture shall not be missed!
As you turn your head on the opposite direction to the city, you witness the breathtaking Mount Rokko nearby calling upon you to provide you the most stunning views of Kobe and the surrounding landscapes.
This scenic journey through lush green forests and winding trails offers an exciting experience before even reaching the destination.
Once you are there, you can reach the summit via cable cars to witness the stunning vistas stretching as far as Osaka Bay on clearer days.
You get to experience a lot more than just a mere hike up a mountain. These attractions include: botanical gardens, observatories, hot springs and other activities like cycling or enjoying the fresh air of the mountain.
Whatever be the thing that attracts you, Mount Rokko will not leave you unhappy or thinking if it was all worth it.
25. Nunobiki Falls
A trip amidst the wild is not complete until we witness a mesmerizing waterfall cascading within the lush surroundings.
The Nunobiki Falls of the Herb Garden near Kobe is what completes your natural landscape tour around the city.
Accessible via a scenic hiking trail or ropeway ride from the nearby Shin-Kobe station, this falls provides a tranquil retreat for relaxing, exploration and photo-ops.
Whether you are seeking adventure or tranquility, Nunobiki Falls invites visitors to immerse themselves in the splendor of nature and experience a moment of pure bliss in Kobe’s wilderness.
Things NOT to do in Japan
Unlike many Western countries, tipping in Japan is not a common practice and can even be considered rude.
Japanese hospitality is based on exceptional service without expecting additional monetary compensation.
Don’t wear shoes indoors
In Japanese culture, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering someone’s home, a temple or a traditional ryokan (inn).
Always look for a designated area where you could leave your shoes before stepping onto tatami mats or wooden floors indoors.
Don’t speak loudly in public
The Japanese society values harmony and modesty, so it is best to avoid speaking loudly or causing disruptions in public places.
Keep conversations at a moderate volume, especially in trains, restaurants or other shared spaces – and you’re good to go!
Don’t disregard etiquette at shrines and temples
When visiting the shrines and temples of Japan, show respect by following proper etiquette.
This includes bowing before entering, cleansing yourself at the temizuya (or purification fountain) before approaching the main shrine or temple building and refraining from photography in restricted areas.
Don’t ignore cultural norms
Japan has a wide and rich cultural heritage with many customs and traditions. So, it is essential to familiarize yourself with basic cultural norms such as proper chopstick etiquette, giving and receiving business cards (meishi) with both hands and showing gratitude by saying “Arigatou Gozaimasu” (thank you very much).
Things to get from Japan
Matcha Green Tea
Japan is famous for its high-quality matcha green tea. You can find various grades of this tea: from ceremonial to culinary and it is a versatile ingredient for making tea, desserts or even some savory dishes.
Japan is known for beautifully designed stationery: like notebooks, pens and washi tapes, etc.
These make for a unique and kinda practical souvenir, perfect for stationery enthusiasts or anyone who appreciates well-crafted items.
Traditional Japanese Ceramics
Japanese pottery (porcelain and stoneware) is highly regarded for its craftsmanship and aesthetic appeal.
Consider purchasing teacups, bowls or plates adorned with traditional Japanese designs like cherry blossoms or Japanese landscapes.
Exclusive KitKat flavors
Japan offers a unique range of KitKat flavors that cannot be found anywhere else across the world.
From matcha and sake to sweet potato and wasabi, these make for fun and delicious gifts to take back home.
Innovative beauty products are another great souvenir or gifts to carry back home from Japan as it is one of the most popular places to get your hands on some interesting beauty brand products.
From Shiseido, SK-II and Muji, one has so many brands to choose from and so many products from sheet masks, cleansing oils as well as sunscreen.
Japan has so much to do, see and experience that would captivate any kind of traveler from all the aging levels.
From the towering heights of the Tokyo Tower to fascinating cascades of the Nunobiki waterfall, from the Hiroshima Memorial to the blissful relaxation of an Onsen, this country beckons travelers to immerse themselves in its beauty and culture.
This blog celebrates Japan being 2024’s most sort-out destination and tries to answer the question that most travelers might have: what are the best things to do in Japan.
Hoping you got your answer, we ask you to share this blog as much as possible to your friends and family so we can grow and bring you more exciting destination guides.
That’s All Folks!