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Things to do in Japan

Things to do in  Japan

Welcome to Japan

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 10 attractions in Japan

#1
Sengan-en Garden

Sengan-en Garden

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A UNESCO World Heritage Site garden that once belonged to the ruling Shimazu clan, the Sengan-en Garden in Kagoshima includes the Shoko Shuseikan Museum and the Iso Residence, used as a summer villa by the Shimazu family. The Japanese-style strolling garden, which dates from the mid-17th century, features streams, ponds, and shrines.More
#2
Yokohama Zoo ''Zoorasia''

Yokohama Zoo ''Zoorasia''

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At Zoorasia, a zoo in Yokohama with minimal fencing, animals live in an environment as close to nature as possible. The zoo is divided into seven different geographic and climatic zones, including Asian Tropical Forest, Japanese Countryside, and Subarctic Forest, that house animals belonging to more than 100 species.More
#3
Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine

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With a long history dating back to 1063, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine is the most important Shinto shrine in Kamakura, and the spiritual and cultural heart of the city. Dedicated to Hachiman, the patron saint of samurais, the complex contains several shrines and museums, and is a popular venue for festivals, weddings, and other events.More
#4
Zenkoji Temple

Zenkoji Temple

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In the year 642, Zenko-ji Temple was founded when one of the earliest Buddhist statues in Japan, brought over from the Korean Peninsula, was enshrined at the site. Today, the temple is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the country, as well as Japan’s third largest wooden structure, with the entire town of Nagano built up around it.The structure as it stands today dates back to 1707 and contains a large hall displaying a variety of Buddhist statuary, a main alter and an underground passage beneath the alter where visitors can pass in complete darkness, feeling for a single key on the wall -- the key to paradise -- that’s believed to grand salvation to any who touch it.Behind the main temple, a newer pagoda houses the Zenko-ji History Museum with its collection of statues of the Buddha and his disciples.More
#5
Asahiyama Zoo

Asahiyama Zoo

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Located on the island of Hokkaido, Asahiyama Zoo is the northernmost zoo in Japan. Known for its innovative enclosures, which are designed to resemble natural habitats and to showcase natural animal behavior, Asahiyama Zoo is one of the most popular attractions in the Asahikawa region and draws millions of visitors a year.More
#6
Kawaguchi-ko (Lake Kawaguchi)

Kawaguchi-ko (Lake Kawaguchi)

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Located near Mt. Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi is the most easily accessible and developed of the Fuji Five Lakes. A popular day trip from Tokyo, Lake Kawaguchi offers plenty of natural beauty, access to Mt. Fuji and a variety of outdoor activities, as well as proximity to hot springs, museums, and other tourist attractions and amenities.More
#7
Maruyama Park (Maruyama Koen)

Maruyama Park (Maruyama Koen)

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Set at the base of Maruyama Mountain in the western suburbs of Sapporo, Maruyama Park (Maruyama Koen) comprises 15 acres (6 hectares) of virgin and secondary forest filled with oak, magnolia, maple and Japanese katsura trees. Some 1,700 Hokkaido wild cherry trees also grow within the park, making it a particularly popular destination come springtime.Predating the park itself is the Hokkaido Shrine, located at the north end of the park. Built in 1869, the shrine sees a steady stream of devotees, especially on New Year’s Day and the last day of winter, seeking the good graces of the four protective deities believed to be enshrined within.Visitors to Maruyama Park will also find Maruyama Zoo on the grounds. The zoo houses around 200 species of plants and animals and includes a tropical bird aviary and an insect house.More
#8
Narukawa Art Museum

Narukawa Art Museum

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In a beautiful setting by Lake Ashinoko in Hakone, the Narukawa Art Museum Art holds a collection of more than 4000 Japanese (nihonga) paintings. Literally meaning ‘Japanese-style painting’, nihonga art follows traditional Japanese artistic conventions, and more recently has expanded to incorporate Western-style techniques too.This is a small museum, yet each exhibition room has plenty of room for visitors to appreciate the art. In addition, there’s an impressive observatory lounge (and cafe) providing simply stunning panoramic views over Lake Ashinoko and the floating torii gate of Hakone Shrine from its huge glass windows. What’s more, on a clear day, the views extend to reveal the mighty Mount Fuji in the background.There’s also a pleasant garden at the site, and don’t miss the museum’s unusual collection of kaleidoscopes.More
#9
Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima Jinja)

Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima Jinja)

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Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima Jinja), a Shinto holy site on Miyajima Island in the Seto Inland Sea near Hiroshima, has a history dating back to the sixth century, when the first shrines were likely erected on the island, believed to be the above of gods. The iconic red torii, or shrine gate, that appears to float on the surface of the water just of the shores, guards the UNESCO-listed shrine. At the time the shrine was built, commoners weren’t allowed to step foot on the island due to its holy status, so the gate and temple were constructed in the water to allow visitors to approach by boat.The entire Itsukushima complex, which in its present form dates back to the twelfth century, comprises several buildings connected by boardwalks, including a prayer hall and a performance stage.More
#10
Arashiyama Park

Arashiyama Park

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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

Trip ideas

Things to Know About Visiting Japan During Golden Week

Things to Know About Visiting Japan During Golden Week

Japanese Beer in Sapporo

Japanese Beer in Sapporo

Top activities in Japan

Recent reviews from experiences in Japan

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Fun Harajuku tour
Japan_tourist, Jul 2021
Half-day Kawaii Tour in Harajuku
We visited a lot of unique places and I got to see exactly what I wanted in Harajuku, as well as some other places.
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Great online Ramen class - it was super yummy
DanielGruener, Apr 2021
ONLINE JAPANESE COOKING / Chicken Ramen from Scratch
The video quality, the recipe and Fumi Sensei's English all worked super well, so that the virtual setup was no issue at all.
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A friday well spent!
ana_c, Nov 2020
Best of Tokyo Small Group or Private: Japanese Traditions, Shopping & Food Tour
the guide was well informed and spoke very good english.
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Mt. Fuji
Monroe_G, Feb 2020
Mt Fuji Day Tour with English Speaking Guide
His driving habits, knowledge and english are excellent.
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The Village historu
elaineeverett, Feb 2020
[Day trip bus tour from Kanazawa Station] Weekend only! World Heritage Shirakawago Day Bus Tour
We do not speak Japanese but the tour did cater for English.
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Tokyo economy
mrjacobamiller, Feb 2020
Private Tour - Nihonbashi Walking Tour: Founding City of Japanese Economy
The tour guide had a good command of both English and Japanese which made translation relatively easy.
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Amazing!
moonbum1, Jan 2020
Nikko 1-Day Bus Tour :World Heritage of Nikko Toshogu,Lake Chuzenji,Kegon Falls
Nikko was an amazing place to visit.
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Tokyo Day Tour
attfil22, Jan 2020
1-Day Tokyo Bus Tour
Now want to go back to see more
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Good trip
johnsong6, Jan 2020
Mt Fuji, Hakone, Lake Ashi Cruise and Bullet Train Day Trip from Tokyo
We had a limited time in Japan so this was a good way to see quite a bit in a day.
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Takayama drum and live performance
Sunshine829631, Jan 2020
Takayama's only Japanese drum and live performance show of traditional arts
English and Japanese narration.
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Had a great time!
snitkdan, Dec 2019
Discovering Shibuya
Offered good recommendations for other things to do, and was general very nice and cordial.
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Many thanks to Hiro!
brabcovamilada, Dec 2019
Osaka Half-Day Private Tour with Nationally-Licensed Guide
Adopted the tour to a senior person for whom is English a second language.
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Highly recommended Kyoto Tour
OnAir161569, Dec 2019
Kyoto Cultural Forest, Shrine and Temple Tour with Options
All mentioned attractions in the package visited.
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Sadahiro Yamasaki San is a super guide👍👍👍👍👍
Wanderer07913574217, Dec 2019
Hiroshima / Miyajima Full-day Private Tour with Government Licensed Guide
His English is excellent.
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Valuable and amazing tour
SubiAG, Nov 2019
Kyoto Cultural Forest, Shrine and Temple Tour with Options
It gives you a taste of the cultural Japan and offers the opportunity to see many iconic Kyoto spots in 1 day.
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Very good tour
Franke4651, Nov 2019
1-Day Tokyo Bus Tour
You get to see 7-8 places in a day, which is great except several of those would be worth staying half day or more on.
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Well organised but you have to be lucky to see Mount Fuji
Nixon Q, Nov 2019
Mt Fuji, Hakone, Lake Ashi Cruise and Bullet Train Day Trip from Tokyo
Be prepared to only look at a bunch of clouds or to see the mount for 1st Station with little visibility.
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Perfect
ashleymrebello, Nov 2019
Mt Fuji, Hakone, Lake Ashi Cruise 1 Day Bus Trip from Tokyo
We have been very blessed to have perfect weather to see Mount Fuji.
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Excellent Driver and Service
patriciaboyd, Nov 2019
Tokyo Private Chauffeur Driving Sightseeing Tour - English Speaking Driver
Highly recommend the service and in particular our Spanish-english speaking driver Oriol He was well versed in the streets, parks and sights of Tokyo, often explaining the temples visited and the customs of the people of Japan.
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Private tour of yokohama
Jayrome2019, Nov 2019
Yokohama Private Full Day Tour
Mr Kitamura speaks excellent english.

All about Japan

When to visit

Summer is festival season in Japan, and major events include the Obon Festival, Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, and Awa Odori (Tokushima). The entire country blooms with cherry blossoms in springtime, with the best viewing periods typically from late March to early April—to avoid the biggest crowds, visit before Japan’s Golden Week in May.

Frequently Asked Questions