Now Japan is a big country with many islands, but there are some things you need to do when traveling or studying over there. Here’s our top ten not to miss experiences.
Food in Japan is so much more than sushi. There’s okonomiyaki, shabu shabu, takoyaki, karaage, nato, the list goes on. Each prefecture has its own special dish and they’ll love to tell you about it. So don’t be rude, and try each local delicacy.
2. Tea Ceremony
Matcha has become popular all over the world in the last few years but the best way to experience the true taste of proper Japanese green tea is in a tea ceremony. You can learn the proper ritual and the reasons behind it all. You often will have the opportunity to try it in a beautiful setting too if you go to a traditional tea house with a perfectly manicured garden.
3. Wear a yukata
In the summer months, you’ll see all the locals wearing traditional yukatas. They are the slightly more casual, common alternative to a kimono. Both men and women dress up in theirs to visit shrines, temples or local festivals. It’s worth trying one for yourself to truly immerse yourself in the culture. Combining it with a tea ceremony will give you the full experience.
Of course, you can’t come to Japan without trying karaoke. It’s a little different to what you may be familiar within your home country. In Japan, you rent a booth for a period with a group of friends and you can order food and drinks to sing your hearts out. So don’t worry you don’t have to sing in front of a large room of people. There’s also a huge range of songs to choose from.
5. Get lost
Every city in Japan is big and there’s a lot to see. But sometimes one of the best ways to get a real feel for a place is to get lost in it. Because it’s such a safe country, it’s also much easier to do this and feel comfortable. Turn down the road with fewer people on it or switch off your GPS for a bit, you’ll be amazed at what you find.
6. Visit a temple or shrine
It’s hard not to do this as they are everywhere. Buddhism and Shintoism are both popular in Japan and a trip to a temple or a shrine, or even both, is definitely worth it. Each shrine will likely have a different kami (god) and it’s interesting to see the different expressions of each type as you visit different ones. The temples are just as impressive with their large wooden structures and statues of Buddha or bodhisattvas.
7. Travel on a Shinkansen
Japan is known as a nation of technology and you’d be missing out if you didn’t take a bullet train or Shinkansen at least once. Make sure you pick up an ekiben for the train to enjoy as you fly across the country. The journey is incredibly smooth and comfortable and you’ll get to see a lot of the countryside too even if it is moving very fast.
8. Watch the sumo
This one can be a bit harder to guarantee. There are tournaments throughout the year but you do have to make sure you’re visiting when ones on otherwise you might miss out. There are some dojos that let you watch practice though if you can’t time it right and it’s worth doing the research to witness this ancient sport.
9. Visit an onsen
Not for the shy, a trip to the onsen is a lot more relaxing than you might think given that you’re bathing with a bunch of strangers. If you pick one in the right location out in the Japanese countryside, it can be a wonderfully relaxing experience to bathe in the hot spring water. Just make sure you learn the rules first!
10. Visit an arcade
You may think this is one just for the Otaku but the arcades in Japan are on the next level and there are games for everyone. Whether it’s a fight against a claw machine or trying to collect everything out of the gashapon, you’ll likely find something to get absorbed in.
You’ve got your to-do list and you’re ready to go. Why not book onto a study trip in Japan, did you know that many of our trips include some of our top 10 things to do in Japan?
Last Updated on November 1, 2019