Things to do in Japan

Things to do in  Japan

Arigato for the memories

In Japan, the past and the future are gloriously juxtaposed. Robots dance to techno beats in Tokyo; snow monkeys soak in hot springs in Yamanouchi; and geishas serve green tea ceremoniously in Kyoto. Tokyo, the Land of the Rising Sun's capital, is the obvious starting point for any Japan trip. Must-do activities in and around the city include watching a cabaret show at the Shinjuku Robot Restaurant, witnessing the early-morning tuna auction at Tsukiji Fish Market, and taking a day trip to Hakone to gaze at the snow-capped peak of Mt. Fuji during a Lake Ashi cruise. Visit hundreds of UNESCO World Heritage–listed shrines and Buddhist temples in Nara; ski and snowboard on the frozen slopes of Hokkaido; or relax on white-sand beaches lapped by the Pacific Ocean in Okinawa. Super-speed bullet trains make ticking off less central cities such as Nagoya, Osaka, and Hiroshima (home to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park) possible on a day trip, while food tours of major cities showcase the best of local Japanese cuisine, from sushi to ramen and gyoza (dumplings). For the ultimate sensory banquet, take your Japan vacation during the sakura (cherry blossom) season between March and April, when the country is carpeted in pastel-pink blooms.

Top 15 attractions in Japan

Mt. Fuji (Fuji-san)

As Japan's highest mountain, the legendary Mt. Fuji (Fuji-san) stands 12,388 feet (3,776 meters) tall. Travelers from around the world head to Hakone National Park to see the mountain, and over 1 million of them hike all the way to the top each year for the 360-degree views of Lake Ashi, the Hakone mountains, and the Owakudani Valley.More

Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha)

One of Kyoto’s most sacred temples and among the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, the Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha) is dedicated to Inari, the God of rice. The shrine’s five magnificent temples lie at the foot of the Inari mountain, and thousands of red torii gates (the Senbon torii) mark the forested trails to the top.More

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

With its gleaming gold tiers reflected in the lake below and a backdrop of forests and twisted pines, Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) is an enchanting sight. Dating back to the 14th century, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Kyoto’s most popular attractions and among Japan’s most visited temples.More

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Kiyomizu-dera Temple is one of Japan’s oldest and most eye-catching Buddhist temples. Its classic red pagoda has been influential to Japanese architecture for centuries. Located on a hilltop, Kiyomizu-dera Temple is also worth visiting for its sweeping views over Kyoto.More

Nishiki Market

With more than 100 shops, stalls, and vendors selling everything from fresh-off-the-boat fish and seafood to tasty sweets and sushi takeaway, Nishiki Food Market is a wonderland of culinary delights. It's no surprise then that Kyoto’s biggest and most popular food market is a local institution and a popular attraction for traveling foodies.More


The area surrounding Shibuya Station—famous for its busy streets, flashing neon advertisements, trendy boutiques, and teeming malls—ranks among Tokyo’s most energetic neighborhoods. Shibuya Crossing, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, has become somewhat of a tourist attraction in its own right.More

Gion Corner

Gion Corner is a convenient place for art lovers to visit while in Kyoto, as it brings seven traditional Japanese performing arts together under one roof. Attending one of its nightly performances is an ideal way to spend an evening in the heart of the Gion entertainment district while learning about traditional Japanese culture.More

Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver Pavilion)

Beneath the verdant canopy of the eastern mountains, Ginkaku-ji Temple (Silver Pavilion) is among the most visited of Kyoto’s UNESCO-listed temples and renowned for its idyllic gardens. Built in 1482 by Ashikaga Yoshimasa, legend dictates that it was to be covered in silver in homage to Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)—a feat that was never realized.More

Shitenno-ji Temple

Built in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku—a cultural hero who helped to bring Buddhism to the country—Shitenno-ji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. The complex includes a multi-tiered tower, pagoda, lecture hall, and gate. Though most of the current structures are from the 1963 rebuilding, they still reflect the 6th century design.More

Pontocho Alley

Pontocho Alley is a popular, atmospheric dining area packed with restaurants and exclusive tea houses lining a narrow, cobbled alley just west of Kyoto’s Kamo River. With no cars, modern buildings, or ostentatious signage allowed, it’s considered one of the most beautiful streets in Kyoto.More

Arashiyama Park

For classic Kyoto in a nutshell, head to Arashiyama Park. The perennially popular area is rich in temples and a riot of fall colors in November, with pink cherry blossoms in April.The park area embraces several major sights, including Tenryu-ji Temple, founded in 1339. The main temple of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, Tenryu-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by tranquil Zen gardens and bamboo forest.There are many other temples in Arashiyama, including the Gio-ji, Jojakko-ji and Daikaku-ji temples. Another highlight is walking across the Moon Crossing Bridge, with views over to Mt Arashiyama.More

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Museum is part of the larger Peace Memorial Park, which commemorates the events of August 6, 1945. On this day, the USA dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima—leading to the end of World War II—but at the cost of around 80,000 lives in what was the world’s first nuclear bombing.More

Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa Temple)

Located in Tokyo's Asakusa district, the must-see Senso-ji Temple combines architecture, centers of worship, Japanese gardens, and traditional markets to offer visitors a modern look at Japan’s ancient history and culture. The ancient temple, among Tokyo's oldest, is dedicated to Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, and houses statues of other gods guarding gates, shrines, and halls.More

Lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko)

In the shadow of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko), is a scenic spot in Hakone National Park. Considered sacred by the Japanese, it is home to the famous Hakone Shinto shrine. Visitors come to see the shrine, take a boat out on the lake, or enjoy the many hiking trails in the area.More

Tokyo Tower

At 1,092 feet (333 meters) tall, Tokyo Tower is an impressive Japanese landmark offering 360-degree views of the city from its two observation decks. Built in 1958 from red and white latticed steel, the Eiffel Tower-inspired structure houses a wax museum, a Shinto Shrine, an aquarium, restaurants, and other entertainment spots.More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Japan

Private Full Day Sightseeing Tour to Mount Fuji and Hakone guide
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Mt Fuji and Hakone 1-Day Bus Tour return by Bullet Train (Shinkansen)
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1-Day Tokyo Bus Tour
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1-Day Tokyo Bus Tour

Official Street Go-Kart Tour - Tokyo Bay Shop
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Tokyo go Kart experience in Asakusa→Skytree→Akihabara**IDP must**
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Mt. Fuji & Hakone 1 Day Tour From Tokyo (Return by bullet train in option)
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Scenic Spots of Mt Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi 1 Day Bus Tour
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Tokyo Bar Hopping Night Tour in Shinjuku
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Osaka Food Tour (10 Delicious Dishes at 5 hidden Eateries)
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1 Day Private Mt Fuji Tour (Charter) - English Speaking Driver
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Explore Gion and discover the arts of geisha
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All about Japan

When to visit

Japan experiences climate variation from north to south, but summers are generally hot and humid while winters are cold and often snow-covered. Spring and fall are warm and most comfortable for traveling. Hanamis (the tradition of cherry blossom viewing) in spring and koyo (leaf peeping) in fall make these seasons appealing. Golden Week (April 29-May 5) is a busy time due to a string of public holidays, so avoid it unless you enjoy big crowds.

Getting around

Japan has an extensive, efficient network of public transport, including the super-fast Shinkansen bullet train, local train networks, subway systems, and buses, monorails, and ferries. You can get almost anywhere by public transport. To travel long distances, it may be more cost-effective to buy a Japan Rail Pass before arriving vs. buying individual tickets once you arrive. Local trains are easy for non-Japanese speakers or readers to navigate, while buses can be more challenging.

Traveler tips

Japan is a heavily populated country, especially in its urban areas, and strict rules of etiquette help people to coexist relatively peacefully within confined spaces. Foreign visitors to Japan are also expected to abide by certain rules of etiquette, too. Some of the most important are taking off your shoes before entering a home, washing thoroughly before getting into an onsen bathtub, and not eating on public transport.

Local Currency
Japanese Yen (¥)
Time Zone
JST (UTC +9)
Country Code

People Also Ask

What is Japan known for?

Japan is known for its rich culture, both modern and traditional. It’s just as well known for its skyscrapers, innovative technology, and bullet trains as it is for its temples, cherry blossom trees, and hot springs. Japan is also known for its food and drink—especially sushi, sake, ramen, and green tea.

What should I do on my first trip to Japan?

Tokyo is a must-visit for anyone’s first trip to Japan. Make sure to try Japanese food and drink, including sushi, ramen, sake, and green tea. Visit a temple and try riding on a bullet train, soaking in an onsen, and singing karaoke.

How many days is enough for Japan?

You need at least two weeks to see a few highlights and get a true taste of Japan. Plan for at least three to four days in Tokyo alone, and another three to four in Osaka and Kyoto. Depending on your interests, you could then visit Mt. Fuji, Hiroshima, Hokkaido, or Okinawa.

What activities are popular in Japan?

Japan offers a wide range of activities that appeal to different visitors. Popular activities include visiting temples and shrines, eating and drinking (sushi, ramen, beer, and sake), attending tea ceremonies, shopping for electronics and unique goods, soaking in onsens, singing karaoke, and going to sumo wrestling matches or traditional theater shows.

What is the most visited part of Japan?

Tokyo is the most visited part of Japan. The sprawling city and capital of Japan is known for its skyscrapers, temples, and sights such as Shibuya Crossing, Meiji Shrine, and Tsukiji Market. Popular areas within Tokyo include Shinjuku, Ginza, Asakusa, Harajuku, and Akihabara. Outside Tokyo, Chiba, Osaka, and Kyoto are also popular.

What is the old name of Japan?

Japan is known in Japanese as Nihon or Nippon. The name Nihon (which means “origin of the rising sun”) was adopted around the seventh century. Before that, it was known as Wa, Wanu, or Wakoku during the Na Kingdom, and was later changed by the Yamato Kingdom to Yamato. The name Japan was likely coined by Marco Polo.

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