101 Best Things to Do in Japan
If you’ve picked this island nation as your next travel destination, be prepared for the sheer number of things to do in Japan. The country has layers of character, history and culture that are just waiting to be explored. Shinkansen trains, anime, robots and quirky street fashion don’t even scratch the surface of attractions. If you’re willing to take the plunge, you’ll be amazed by just how much there is to see and do in Japan. Where else can you find museums dedicated to instant noodles? Or eat black volcanic eggs?

What sets Japan apart from the rest is its ability to harmonize traditions and modern living so effortlessly. Head to Tokyo and you’ll feel the energy of a fast-paced life all around you. Yet, if you travel to Kyoto, it’s like stepping into another time. Here, life slows down and traditional buildings and nature dominate. Venture east towards Hakone where hot springs, Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji are centres of attention.

Japan may be a tiny country but you’d never guess it when travelling here. The number of things to do and places to see seems uncountable. Indeed, the list we’ve put together is by no means complete and only touches the surface. However, we’ve picked some of the best sights and activities to keep you busy during a holiday or an extended stay. See if you can check them all off!

Here is the list of things to do in Japan:


Things to Do in Tokyo

Things to Do in Tokyo
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1. Have fun at Tokyo Disneyland- Indulge your inner child at Tokyo Disneyland where fun and frolic await. Meet your favourite Disney characters, go on thrilling rides and shop at numerous stores.

2. Watch Tokyo Tower at night- Japan’s second tallest structure, the Tokyo Tower comes alive at night when it’s fully illuminated. It's quite a dazzling sight to behold.

3. Visit Senso-Ji Temple- Visiting Tokyo’s oldest temple is one of the best things to do in Japan. Go during Sanja Matsuri in mid-May, an important Shinto festival that draws over a million visitors.

4. Tsukiji fish market - Japan’s seafood is legendary and Tsukiji fish market is where all the action happens. It’s the world’s largest wholesale seafood market and definitely worth a visit.

5. sumo wrestling at Ryogoku Kokugikan- Sumo wrestling is Japan’s national sport and the best place to watch it is at Ryogoku Kokugikan. Go during January when the sport begins. It’s held again in March, May, July, September and November.

6. Walk across Shibuya Crossing- It’s believed to be the world’s busiest intersection and when you actually get to Shibuya Crossing, it’s easy to see why. The buzz of energy is palpable with as many as 1,000 people crossing at a time!

7. Shopping at Ginza- Shopping at the country’s oldest department store chain is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Japan. You can find high-end fashion stores, boutiques and emporiums.

8. Visit Asakusa at Taito- Go temple-hopping in Asakusa, Taito. Senso-Ji has located here along with several others such as Asakusa Jinja and Chingodo Shrine.

9. Enjoy at Ueno Park, Taito- Escape the overwhelming excitement of Tokyo at Ueno Park in Taito. The 19th century Park has museums, fountains and lovely cherry blossoms.

10. Explore Tokyo National Museum- Tokyo National Museum is the country’s oldest such establishment and is among the world’s biggest art museums. It’s home to collections of visual artworks, arms and armour and archaeological finds.

11. Have a look at Tokyo Skytree- Tokyo Skytree offers a splendid view of the city. It has an observation deck, a cafe and a shopping complex.

12. 200 miniature bars at Golden Gai- Golden Gai is like another world with a collection of around 200 tiny bars in one place. They exude a down-to-earth and casual vibe.

13. Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Bay- The colourful Rainbow Bridge is lit up in several colours come nighttime. Pay a visit when daylight dies to watch the colours unfold.

14. Gundam anime robot statue- Japan is famed for its robotics and Tokyo’s massive Gundam anime robot statue is another testament to this. At over 60 feet tall, it features pulsating lights and is a faithful reproduction of the Gundam Unicorn.

15. Cycling in Yoyogi Park- Hire a bicycle and get in a little workout at Yoyogi Park. Ride through a lovely forest and breathe in the fresh air.

16. Walk around Tokyo Imperial Palace- This is one of the top things to do in Japan! Tokyo Imperial Palace is a stunning display of traditional Japanese architecture and features the lush Fukiage Garden.

17. Enjoy Yakatabune boat trip- Yakatabune boat trips give a glimpse into the life of Japan consisting of old tatami-matted floors, lanterns and protruding Miyoshi bows.

18. Boating Inokashira Park- Inokashira Park is a piece of heaven and you feel you’ve stepped into another time and place. Boating is the best way to take in the gardens, wooded areas and cherry blossoms.

19. Visit Shinjuku Gyoen- Another oasis in the midst of busy Tokyo is Shinjuku Gyoen. Thousands of trees, ponds, French and English garden and a greenhouse are found here.

20. Dance with robots at Robot Restaurant- If the Gundam statue failed to satiate your fascination for Japanese robotics, head to Robot Restaurant. You’ll be thoroughly entertained with special effects, dancers and robots.

21. Dine with ninjas at Akasaka Restaurant- It may be corny, but, where else can you dine with legendary ninjas? Akasaka Restaurant’s ninja-themed eatery is a fun place to visit especially if you love the guys in black.

Things to Do in Kyoto

Things to Do in Kyoto
22. View of the city from the Kyoto Tower- The Kyoto Tower is a modern marvel in a city of old charm. The structure contains a hotel, shops and a public bath.

23. Visit Kyoto’s best Fushimi Inari-Taisha- The foothills of Inari Mountain are home to Fushimi Inari-Taisha, the head shrine of Inari, a Shinto spirit. There are trails that lead to smaller shrines up the mountain.

24. Chourakukan Cafe- Chourakukan Cafe is a lovely establishment built at the turn of the 20th century. It serves continental cuisines ranging from French to Italian as well as delectable desserts.

25. Shopping at Mamemasa's Goshiki-mame- The confectionery at Mamemasa's Goshiki-mame is to die for. Sample as many as you can and pick up a few to take back home!

26. Kyoto International Manga Museum- Manga fans will go crazy at Kyoto International Manga Museum. Exploring the huge collection of indigenous and international manga will keep you occupied for hours.

27. Visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple- Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is an architectural wonder with not a single nail used. The wooden stage provides a wonderful view of cherry blossom and maple trees.

28. Sagano Bamboo Forest- This breathtaking forest of graceful bamboos is unlike any you’ve seen. Narrow paths snake through the dense forest and if you head far enough away from tourists, you’ll hear the bamboos create a mesmerizing sound.

29. Nishiki Market- One of Kyoto’s best food markets, Nishiki Market is a bustling place with dozens of shops and eateries. You can find a range of items from dried seafood to Japanese sweets.

30. Discover Sanjusangen-do- The Hall of the Lotus King is a sprawling temple that features 1,001 statues of the goddess Kannon. It’s also the longest wooden structure in the country.

31. Japan's oldest Yamaboko Festival in Kyoto- Travel to Japan in July and you can watch the Yamaboko Festival. It’s one of the oldest festivals in the country and began as a purification ritual.

32. Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama- Almost 200 Japanese macaques rule Monkey Park Iwatayama. The native monkeys are wild but can be fed food.

33. Nishi Honganji Temple- This 16th-century temple is the headquarters of the Jodo-Shin section of Buddhism. It showcases old architecture dating back to the Edo and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.

34. Go green at Honen-In- Honen-In stands out from the hundreds of other temples in Kyoto for its gorgeous greenery! This includes a moss-covered gate and garden. It also features a stone bridge, a grotto and cemetery.

35. Attend tea ceremonies at Kyoto- Japanese tea ceremonies are well-known and Kyoto is one of the best places to witness the elaborate rituals. Camellia and Tea Ceremony KOTO are a couple of venues for this.

36. Illuminations Shoren-in's- Shoren-in temple is a lovely place to visit and it takes on another level of beauty when illuminated. Try to go when the cherry blossoms bloom as the garden is dotted with blue spheres of artificial light.

37. Visit Kyoto Railway Museum- Discover the history of Japan’s railways and see retired trains like steam trains and electric trains at Kyoto Railway Museum. You can also learn how a freight train operates.

38. Discover historic Kyoto- Where Tokyo is incredibly urban, Kyoto still retains much of its traditional identity. It is home to around 1,600 temples, Japanese gardens and historical buildings.

39. Eikando Zenrinji Temple- Eikando Zenrinji Temple is the head temple of Japanese Buddhism’s Jodo sect. Autumn is the best time to visit as this is when the gardens burst into fall colors.

Things to Do in Osaka

Things to Do in Osaka
40. Do Osaka river cruise – Aqualiner- Tour Osaka on the Aqua-Liner, which is an aqua bus that covers some of the city’s most famous attractions. The tour takes about an hour to complete.

41. Visit Osaka Castle- Osaka Castle is a beautiful landmark that was built in the 16th century. Today, it features a modern interior with a museum and an elevator.

42. Popular entertainment area Dotonbori- Dotonbori is a sensory overload with numerous restaurants, entertainment centres and shops inviting visitors to explore Osaka’s trendy side.

43. Osaka Shochikuza for the art lovers- Osaka Shochikuza is the place to experience dance drama, Kabuki. The theatre was modelled after Milan’s Teatro Alla Scala.

44. Nakanoshima Park- Nakanoshima Park is Osaka’s first public park and continues to draw locals and tourists. The peaceful green space is illuminated at the end of the year.

46. Tempozan Ferris Wheel- Get a thrill and a great view from Tempozan Ferris Wheel. The 369-foot structure offers an incredible view of Osaka Bay, the Rokko Mountains and Mount Ikoma.

47. Dotonbori Konamon Museum- A favourite dish among locals is takoyaki and you can sample it at Dotonbori Konamon Museum, a themed museum based on popular Osaka foods. You can see experts making the popular snack too.

48. Enjoy water activities at SpaWorld- Spa World introduces you to a world of relaxation with onsens, ganban-yoku and a swimming area. It also has a hotel with western and Japanese style rooms.

50. Discover Sea World at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan- Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in Japan and features marine animals from the Pacific Rim. It also has a restaurant and shopping centre.

51. Have delicious food at a ramen shop- Ramen in Japan is the real deal and you absolutely have to try it when you’re here. Popular restaurants include Hokkaido Nagurikomi Ramen Betsubara, Sodaisho and Men-Ya 7.5 Hz+.

52. Universal Studios- You can never run out of things to do in Japan when you’re at Universal Studios. See where all your favourite superheroes hang out at numerous sets.

53. Visit Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine- Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is the main Sumiyoshi shrine in Japan. Explore the 4 halls, the pretty arched bridge and the Sumiyoshi-zukuri style of architecture.

54. Admire the beauty of the twin towers: Tsutenkaku and the Kobe Port Tower- Tsutenkaku and the Kobe Port Tower are excellent viewing points that let you see Osaka from a unique perspective. Like many Japanese structures, they’re illuminated at night.

55. Visit Mint Museum- See the history of Japanese coinage and learn about the minting process at the Mint Museum. Dioramas, a cherry blossom wing and a mint shop are found here.

Things to Do in Yokohama

Things to Do in Yokohama
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56. Visit the centrepiece of Yokohama's skyline, Yokohama Marine Tower- At over 100 meters tall, Yokohama Marine Tower dominates the city’s skyline. The 360-degree panorama is spectacular. The tower also has restaurants and shops.

57. Customize your Cup Noodles at Cup Noodles Museum- Learn the process of making ramen, create your own Cup Noodles and trace the history of instant noodles.

58. Enjoy the spa Minato Mirai Manyo Club- Relax at Manyo Club’s spa complete with a Japanese onsen, sauna, massage treatments and a rooftop foot bath.

59. Walk around the oldest seaside park, Yamashita Park- Yamashita Park offers gorgeous views of the Port of Yokohama and is a favourite among locals and tourists. You can see a huge ocean liner, Hikawa Maru and Yokohama Marine Tower from here.

60. Experience the real beauty at Sankei-en Garden- Each element of a Japanese garden is in perfect harmony with the other. Sankei-en Garden reflects this with traditional buildings peeking out between lush trees, ponds with koi fish, a tea room and an inner garden that’s closed to the public.

61. Enjoy a night cruise at Marine Rouge- Take in the sights of Yokohama from Marine Rouge. Sit down for a meal and watch the city’s landmarks lazily pass by.

62. Yokohama Stadium for sports lovers- Baseball fans will love a visit to Yokohama Stadium, which is mainly used for baseball. It mimics an American stadium and features natural turf.

63. Visit real Aqua World at Hakkeijima Sea Paradise- Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is a large aquarium that’s free to enter. You pay only if you want to venture into Pleasure Land and Aqua Resorts.

64. Adventure ride at Cosmo Clock 21- Cosmo Clock 21 was at one time the world’s tallest Ferris wheel and continues to command attention today. It has a massive clock at the centre.

65. Chinatown- Yokohama’s Chinatown no longer has a thriving Chinese population but there’s a lot to see and eat. Visit Chinese themed shops and restaurants and try popular Chinese cuisines with a Japanese twist.

66. Spend some time at Nippon Maru- Discover a part of Yokohama’s marine history at Nippon Maru. Explore the interior and sit on an educational program.

67. Delicious historical food at Tanakaya- This old establishment commands an impressive flow of visitors. Try specialities like Kuroge Beef Sukiyaki, Iberico pork in miso and black Wagyu beef in sweet rice wine.

68. Zoorasia- Japan is not really known for its stellar zoos but Zoorasia is better than most. The enclosures are spacious and there are fewer animals per enclosure.

69. Enjoy street food at Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum- You’ll be amazed by the varieties of ramen on offer at Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum. The traditional street food court serves up a list of goodies, each better than the last.

70. Kirin Beer Factory- Go on a brewery tour of Kirin Beer Factory, one of the country’s most prominent breweries. You’ll get to see fermentation tanks and the bottling area before finishing the tour with a free tasting of beer.

71. Old Yokohama dishes at Kadohei- Sample traditional Japanese dishes at Kadohei. The soba noodle shop serves delicious soba with tempura and soup – a truly heartwarming meal.

Things to Do in Hakone

Things to Do in Hakone
72. Explore Hakone Open-Air Museum- Hakone Open-Air Museum balances nature and art perfectly. The collection is displayed both indoors and outdoors and features works by artists like Picasso.

73. Ride Hakone Ropeway- Visit the mountainous town of Hakone by riding the Hakone Ropeway. The journey is incredibly picturesque and takes you over Owakudani Valley.

74. Enjoy mountain railways in Japan- The scenic mountains of Japan are appreciated best by taking a ride on a mountain railway. Hakone Tozan Railway and Oigawa Railway Ikawa Line are two to try.

75. Hiking at Hiryu Falls- Hiryu Falls is a gorgeous green wonderland that will envelop you in its embrace. Go on a hike and you’ll see it along the way.

76. Kayaking tour around Lake Ashi- While you’re in Hakone, take a kayaking tour around Lake Ashi, a serene locale that offers lovely views of Mount Fuji when the sky is clear.

77. Have volcanic eggs at Ata Owakudani- Hard-boiled eggs are nothing to write about but at Ata Owakudani, they are! The eggs are boiled black in natural volcanic springs and carry a sulphuric odour.

78. Pirate ship boarding at Lake Ashi- We’re back to Lake Ashi but this time aboard a pirate ship! Cruise the lake on an ornate vessel complete with pirate figurines and paraphernalia.

79. Visit POLA Museum of Art- POLA Museum of Art showcases the art collection of Suzuki Tsuneshi, the late owner of POLA, a cosmetics company. The museum is set in a forest of several hundred beech trees.

80. Travel Hakone Shrine / Kuzuryu Shrine Singu- Hakone Shrine is hidden amidst the forest of Mount Hakone. Try to visit when mist permeates the air as the shrine takes on an ethereal look.

81. Treat yourself at Naraya Cafe- Naraya Cafe is a relaxing space that chases away stress, thanks to its mountain view, foot bath tables and corner library. Shared tables make it a great place to mingle.

82. Explore Owakudani Station- Owakudani Station isn’t just the departure zone of the Hakone Ropeway; it also has a walking trail that leads to the volcanic zone and others that lead to Mount Kamiyama and Lake Ashi.

83. Visit Hakone Sekisho- Hakone Sekisho is the reconstructed Hakone Checkpoint that’s also an idyllic relaxation spot. It has a lookout tower, a museum and a tea house.

84. Witness the natural beauty of Onshi Hakone Park- Just like many of the attractions in Hakone, Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi steal part of the show at Onshi Hakonays Park. The park’s natural beauty is another with walkways that skirt the lake, viewing points and a garden.

85. Understand the art of wood at Kanazashi Woodcraft- The woodcraft method of yosegi-zaiku is a highly intricate process and you can see the stunning results at Kanazashi Woodcraft. Take home souvenirs for yourself and loved ones.

86. Visit Chisuji Falls- Although tiny, Chisuji Falls is nonetheless impressive in its beauty. The surrounding foliage changes colours with the seasons and there are hiking trails to help you explore the area in depth.

87. Eat the best sushi at Sushi Miyafuji- Japan has numerous good sushi restaurants but Sushi Miyafuji is a cut above the rest. Try the ajidonburi and sashimi. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait in line!

88. Soak yourself at Tenzan Onsen- Unwind at Tenzan Onsen, a traditional Japanese bath that uses hot spring water loaded with minerals. You can choose from several types of baths.

Other Offbeat Things to Do in japan

Other Offbeat Things to Do in japan
89. Enjoy hot springs at Shirahama Beach, Wakayama- Shirahama Beach is a pretty stretch of sand with blue water creating a striking contrast. But that’s not all it has – there are hot springs you can visit to de-stress before continuing on your sightseeing trip.

90. Scuba diving at Miyakojima Beach, Okinawa Prefecture- Discover Japan’s marine life by scuba diving at Miyakojima Beach. Coral, native fish and sea anemones are just a few of the wonders you’ll see.

91. Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a must-visit when in Japan. It was established in memory of the victims of the atom bomb dropped during World War II.

92. The trip to the highest mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji- Mount Fuji is a Japanese icon and hiking it is one of the best things to do in Japan. Join others eager to see it up close by hiking in the early morning.

93. The Fukiware Falls in Gunma- Although not incredibly high, Fukiware Falls still takes the breath away with its gushing waters. See it from below for the best view.

94. Witness the beauty of Akame 48 Waterfalls, Mie- Akame 48 Waterfalls is a series of captivating cascades in Mie Prefecture. A 4-km hiking trail will take you to them.

95. Hiking and cycling through the Oirase National Park, Aomori- Oirase National Park is a sea of green with trees and shrubbery dominating the landscape. Falls, a stream and a valley create a beautiful scene.

96. Climb Mount Rishiri volcano in Hokkaido- Mount Rishiri is an amazing piece of work with its cone shape often resembling Mount Fuji. The ascent can be challenging but experienced hikers will love it.

97. Video Game Bar Space Station (Osaka) for video game lovers- Gamers will go crazy over the number of video games on offer at Video Game Bar Space Station. Nintendo, Atari, PlayStation, Xbox – you name it and it is here.

98. Canyon down at waterfall slide in Minakami, Gunma- Enjoy water sports in Minakami, Gunma. The water slide is a thrilling ride and perfect for adventure seekers.

99. The real beauty of flowers at Akasoba No Sato, Nagano- Takane ruby or red buckwheat bursts into colour in Akasoba No Sato. Visiting in September when these little beauties are in full bloom is one of the best things to do in Japan.

100. Travel Tsujunkyo Bridge, Kumamoto- This 19th-century structure is an awe-inspiring stone arch aqueduct bridge and the country’s largest. Walk across and peer down to appreciate its size.

101. Witness the beauty of Shimoguri no Sato- This secluded village looks like something straight out of a fairytale. It’s nestled in a valley and surrounded by green mountains that stand like sentinels.