Choosing the top 10 things to do on a trip to Japan wasn’t difficult.
But I confess, it was a little overwhelming! Japan has so much to offer even the hardest to please visitors. Because there are endless things to do in a country as vibrant and culturally rich as Japan we narrowed down the top ten things that you must try on your visit to this wonderful country below. From sipping tea with Geishas in Kyoto to watching sumo wrestling, here’s our pick of the top 10 amazing things to do on a trip to Japan.
Top 10 super cool things to do on a trip to Japan
Watch Sumo Wrestling at Ryogoku Kokugikan
The tournament takes place in January, May, and September for 15 days. If you are in Japan during the period, catch the big boys in action in the largest sumo stadium of Japan. The event opens at 8am and the wrestling starts at around 2pm when the senior wrestlers hit the ring. Purchase your tickets a month in advance so you don’t miss out.
Visit Nishibama Beach
This island is surrounded by picturesque beaches on all sides but the 1 kilometer stretch of white sand on the north-east coast called the Nishibama Beach is the most beautiful of all. If this beach is too crowded for you during the summer don’t worry, there are lots of other more serene beaches on the other side of the island.
Kyoto’s Ancient Sites
Another one of the most amazing things to do on a trip to Japan is visit Kyoto. This city has been the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868 and is bathed in history. The most prominent structure from the past is the gold-clad Kinkakuji which was once a Shogun’s retirement villa and is now a Zen Buddhist Temple. Admire the pond next to Kinkakuji and the golden reflection of the temple that can be seen in the water. Also not to be missed here are a garden at Royanji and 17 World Heritage sites.
Soak In Natural Hot Spring
For centuries the Japanese have been using natural hot spring water or communal onsens to heal and relax. For the past 1300 years, Japanese bathers have been using the hot spring bath at Dogo, Shikoku and it is still the most sort after onsen resort. However it’s not completely necessary for you to go to Dogo for a soak because there are endless Ryokan and public baths with onsens that are worth stripping off for all over Japan.
Experience Traditional Japanese Inns
The elegant interiors, soft smelling tatamis, perfect service, multi-course meals of fresh seasonal produce, hot spring baths and total serenity all coming together to give you an unforgettable experience at a traditional Japanese Inn. The experience is one of a kind but can be extremely expensive with a room and meals costing up to ¥100,000 (roughly 900 USD) per night. However there are more affordable options costing less than ¥10,000 (roughly 90 USD) per night.
Visit Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum
This Nagasaki museum tells the tale of destruction and loss of life through pictures and artifacts including mangled trees, rocks, furniture, clothes, pottery, a clock that stopped at 11.02. There’s stories of heroic efforts to provide relief and first-hand narration from survivors. This historical yet heartbreaking exhibit also includes information about the post-bombing fight for nuclear disarmament.
Art Island Gallery Hopping
The very beautiful Naoshima in the Seto Island stands out as the best place for contemporary art in Japan. It houses three major art galleries and several small art venues; the best among them being the Tadao-Ando designed Benesse House. On display are works by artists like Bruce Nauman, David Hockney, and Frank Stella. But art in Naoshima is not restricted to just these galleries. Nineteen spectacular outdoor installations adorn the beachfront of Benesse while Honmura, a small fishing village has numerous wooden buildings converted into permanent art installations.
The peaks of the Northern Alps are breathtaking and the most popular hiking destination in Japan. The gateway to the area is the town of Kamikochi. Here you can opt for a day-long hike or a week-long adventure that can test the strength of the most hardcore hiker. During summers some of the popular hiking points can be very busy with hikers but during autumns or on weekdays the area is peaceful and you can enjoy hiking in solitude on the 10,000ft peaks.
Spend The Night In A Temple
For a very long time, Mount Koya has been a pilgrimage center. You can visit the Okunion Cemetery and a number of temples that were built in Daishi’s honor. So why not spend a night at one of the top temples of the Koya Mountain. One such place that welcomes guests from all over is the Eco-inn. It provides guests with a typical Koya experience; a peaceful tatami mat room, multi-course vegetarian meals and the opportunity to join the monks for morning prayers.
Looking for more cool things to do in Japan? Pick a tour…
There is so much more to see and experience in this amazing country. Plan ahead so that you can take your time exploring and be prepared to be flexible because sometimes travelers you meet along the way will have the best suggestions for undiscovered gems and awesome things to do.
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