The top things to do in Japan
The top things to do in Japan
Japan is a place full of contradictions that make this Northeast Asian country a little more peculiar and fascinating than its Asian neighbours. A country where ‘past meets new’ preserves its traditional heritage but will be as equally dynamic and modern. In Japan you’re likely to see a stunning temple only to be surrounded by very ordinary buildings. If you’re in the thrust of the city, you’ll no doubt see the state-of-the-art skyscrapers but nextdoor authentic authentic Japanese chambers filled with tatami mats and shoji screens. The ‘Land of Smiles’ very much perceives the phrase ‘each to their own’. What we mean is that if you want to practice methods the old-fashioned way in Japan, so be it. New modern structures and technologies won’t replace these; they will just work in parallel. This goes for other commodities such as the people, food, fashion and accommodation too. Many locals may approach you for being visibly foreign and try to start up a conversation, where others will be obliviously reserved.
Intrigued? Have we convinced to go? We thought so. Take a read below of the top things to get up to over there!
Kyoto is the second most popular city in Japan, second to Tokyo. Not only that Kyoto has one of the world’s largest collections of UNESCO Heritage Sites that includes a variety of temples, castles and shrines. You may not get to visit all 17 of them, but you’ll have fun doing so. Each is worth a half-day trip, with our picks including Kinkaku-ji temple and Kiyomizu-dera temple.
Eat Sushi, Ramen and Drink Tea
Osaka’s district Dotonbori is known as Japan’s foodie type of place. Eat all kinds of weird and wacky sushi, devour the bowls of ramen and put a little holiday weight on in an area you’ll want to try everything!
Climb Mount Fuji
You’ll have seen this peak before through photos we are sure, but Japan’s UNESCO Heritage Site is the symbol of the country. At an elevation of over 3,700m, Fuji is actually an active volcano that is thought to be sacred to locals. It’s a popular hike and one certainly for bucket list enthusiasts.
Visit Japanese Gardens
Visiting Japan wouldn’t be at all complete without strolling through their intricately crafted gardens. These gardens bring a energy of solitude where no harm can ever be done within its perimeters. Instagram lovers will explode the colours when editing for the final shot, although if you’re experiencing gardens such as Sankei-en, Kenroku-en and Katsukura Imperial Villa these need no filter.
Japan Has Castles
It isn’t just Europe that castles are eerily still standing from centuries ago; Japan has a fair share too. There are many to visit but it is thought only 12 are still standing originals due to the effects from World War II. One you definitely should visit the famous Himeji Castle which is impressively still around after surviving much flack from a variety of natural disasters and human destruction.
Collect Hanko Stamps
Hanko Stamps are a great way to remember your trip. The locals love it and although not really known to foreigners, that don’t mean you can’t enjoy the fun. For every place you visit collect one and make a Japan scrapbook!
Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park & Museum
This will be a sobering experience but intriguing all the same. Be deep in thought, as you’ll be reminded of the devastation that took place with this once from the atomic bombings back in the mid 1940s.
Be in Awe Of Temples & Shrines
The majority of temples in Japan are Buddhist with some dating back to over 1,000 years old. These marvellous religious structures reign all over Japan and along with Shinto Shrines if anything would represent the countries deep heritage roots, these clever structures would be it. Many of these are found in Kyoto, but the form of Buddhism and its belief has a profound impact throughout Japan.
Ride a Shinkansen Bullet Train
In Japan there are all modes of transport. With the Shinkansen there isn’t anything faster. Reaching speeds of around 200mph, the Shinkansen is the perfect example of the modern technological approaches that are in Japan.
Stay in Traditional Accommodation
A ‘Ryokan’ is a typical authentic Japanese inn that includes tatami mats and communal baths that were initially for intended purposes for travellers passing through some 400 years ago. Peaceful and simple, there is no better way than to personalise yourself with Japanese culture.
We get it, Karaoke can be sometimes ear wrenching, but this popular activity isn’t as up to speed and more efficient than in Japan. Think of Karaoke systems with surround sound, top of the range electrical machinery and a cult-like culture that goes with, makes you’re Karaoke experience like no other.
Get Lost In Tokyo
Tokyo is a whirlwind of a city. It has unusual fashion, modern technology, historical temples and crowded centre. Be a spectator at the traditional fish markets, take a trip to the Imperial Palace or go out in Roppongi, whatever it is, Tokyo has a whole bunch to do.
Geisha’s are illuminated by their oriental and extravagant fashion but essentially are Japanese artists capable of playing a range of musical instruments. Geisha shows are impressive and in particular at annual festivals that take place in Kyoto.
A method use to demonstrate generosity and respect from guest to host, ‘Matcha’ which is powdered green tea is a traditional ritual that is still practiced in Japan. You’ll often experience this if you’re staying in Ryokans or other authentic Japanese establishments.
A unique but age-old sport in Japan, Sumo Wrestling is still a proud and popular event in Japan. Going to see a battle is a must, and with the games insistence on keeping traditional rules still in tact despite modernity today, you’ll see a sport that has barely changed since its origin.