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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
Okayama Korakuen Garden

Okayama Korakuen Garden

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One of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, Okayama Korakuen Garden was commissioned by regional ruler Tsunamasa Ikeda in 1686 and took over 14 years to complete. Today, the 13-hectare garden is a protected public park and retains its original appearance despite undergoing extensive restoration in the post-World War II years.Its vast grassy lawn is Korakuen’s most unique attribute, but for many visitors, it’s the traditional Japanese features that draw the most attention, like the immaculately clipped bonsai trees, the blossom trees that bloom with color each spring and the network of water ways bridged by dainty stepping stones and narrow wooden footbridges. Climb to the top of the Yuishin-zan hill for a view over the garden and the neighboring Okayama Castle, gaze out over the central lake from the Enyo-tei tea house, then follow the walkways to discover the plum and cherry orchard, small tea plantation and rice field, and cages of rare red-crowned cranes.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
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
#4
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
#5
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

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Few will forget the fateful events of Aug. 6, 1945, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city, effectively ending World War II and costing the lives of some 80,000 residents, and Hiroshima will forever be tied to its tragic past. Despite its losses, the overwhelming sentiment in Hiroshima is of peace and wandering around the poignant memorials and tributes is an emotional experience, made all the more powerful by the moving exhibitions at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.Both a fascinating insight into the pre-war city and a harrowing glimpse into the horrors of the bomb’s aftermath, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is surely one of Japan’s most important museums and it’s compelling, if uncomfortable, viewing. Exhibitions chronicle the lives of Hiroshima residents during World War II and after the bombing, and depict the graphic reality of the bomb’s destruction, while simultaneously retaining a sense of hope for the future through the rebuilding of the city and the consequent efforts for international peace.More
#6
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
#7
Shiraito Falls (Shiraito no Taki)

Shiraito Falls (Shiraito no Taki)

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Cascading from the spring waters of nearby Mount Fuji, Shiraito Falls is a wide waterfall standing 20 meters high. Located in Fujinomiya, it is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is a protected Japanese National Monument. It is is a tranquil natural space, unique in its 150 meter width, and is consistently ranked among the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan.The water moves down the rocks and moss in thin streams resembling white silk, which is where the waterfall get its name. At the base is a deep blue pool of calm water that makes for excellent photographs. It is best to visit in the summer, when the greenery is lush and the falls are heavy with water melted from Mount Fuji snow. It’s also beautiful in the autumn season when the leaves change, but can be visited year-round.More
#8
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
#9
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha)

Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha)

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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
#10
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

Trip ideas

Things to Know About Visiting Japan During Golden Week

Things to Know About Visiting Japan During Golden Week

Top activities in Japan

Mt Fuji Day Tour with English Speaking Guide

Mt Fuji Day Tour with English Speaking Guide

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From
US$608.97
per group

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