Japan is known for its culture, history, food, and beauty. It’s also home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural landscapes. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, Below you’ll find a Japan bucket list – packed full of unmissable experiences, breathtaking vistas, and scintillating cultural experiences.
here are twenty bucket list items to add to your itinerary.
1. Visit Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most famous landmarks. It’s also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The mountain is located in the northern part of Honshu, the main island of Japan.
2. Explore Kyoto
Kyoto was named after Emperor Kammu who ordered the city built during his reign back in 794 A.D. At that time it was called Uji which means “inland sea.” Today, Kyoto has evolved into an important cultural center within Japan.
3. Take a Boat Trip on Lake Biwa
4. Get Married at a Geisha House
In Japan, getting married costs about $45-50 thousand dollars. But if you visit a geisha house or maiko/maika household, then you’ll get to witness traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies.
5. Play Go / Ikusei
Go is a board game played by two people with pieces on a gridiron-like map. Each player starts with five stones, each side having different numbers of points. You need to try to score more points than your opponent so you win the game.
6. Enjoy Sushi & More Sushi!
Sushi refers to raw fish served without rice but instead being wrapped in seaweed. So basically, sushi is just seafood. In Japan, there are many other types of foods categorized as Sushi such as sashimi, hand roll, futomaki, chirashi zuke, etc.
7. Watch Wrestling Practice at a Sumo Stable
Sumo wrestling is not considered a sport typically enjoyed outside of Japan therefore this might seem unusual; however sumo wrestlers practice their craft from morning till night. Even though they earn up to half a million dollars per year, these guys still cover themselves in the mud because they believe that covering themselves in the dirt will help improve blood flow. That being said, visiting a stable isn’t simply just watching matches – visitors enjoy eating snacks while simultaneously enjoying live performances of music and dance.
8. Attend FestivalsLike Fireworks? Try Kumamoto Prefecture ’s Festival
If fireworks aren’t really your thing, don’t worry – there are plenty of festivals throughout Japan where you can experience various cultures through unique entertainment. One festival worth checking out is the annual Tanabata Matsuri in Kumamoto City. Held twice yearly, the Kumamoto Tanabata Matsuris features events based on local folklore.
9. See the cherry blossoms in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen is a garden complex situated next to Tokyo Tower in eastern Tokyo. Not only does it feature several gardens, museums, restaurants, cafes, and hostess clubs — but since 1922, it has been offering guests viewing parties of the blooming trees. Now, every spring, thousands of tourists flock to see the flowers bloom in full splendor. Osaka Castle, Himeji Castle, Hanamiyama Park in Fukuoka, and Hirosaki Castle in Tohuku are other great options.
10. Travel Around Hokkaido
Hokkaido is the smallest prefecture in Japan. It’s also home to some amazing natural wonders including Mount Hakodate, Asia’s highest mountain at 3,478 feet. There are also hot springs everywhere and beautiful lakes. The island is known for its delicious apples. Ainu culture remains alive and well here today. Traveling around Hokkaido gives you insight into Japanese history.
11. Overnight at a Buddhist retreat on Mount Koya
Mount Koya sits right above Kyoto city and became one of the first destinations when Buddhism came to Japan. Today overnight stays range between 2 and 5 hours depending upon which temple or hermitage you choose to stay at. Many travelers have found accommodation inside the temples. Others opt to sleep in traditional-style lodgings called a yagura. Either way, staying at a Buddhist monastery offers an opportunity to learn about Japan’s past.
12. Visit Japan’s largest graveyard at Koyasan
Koyasan is the best place in Japan to experience a Buddhist temple stay. It is famous for its many Jizo statues, mausoleums, shrines, and temples. Visitors come here from all over Japan to pay homage. Some even make pilgrimages from overseas. The main attraction is Konpira Taisha, a Shinto shrine that enshrines Amida Nyorai, the god of mercy. Here, people pray for good health, happiness, prosperity, and peace.
13. Visit Shikoku Island
Shikoku is famous for its cultural heritage, especially it’s the capital city of Tokushima. This region was once ruled by the powerful Shimazu clan. Onsen lovers should try bathing in one of many geysers located within the area. Karatsu Ramen Museum & Spa opens new ramen dishes inspired by ancient recipes. In addition to food, shopping opportunities abound until now with more opening each day.
14. Explore NikkoNational park is home to stunning scenery
You can walk through this national park and view Mt. Fuji. Take pictures and enjoy your trip.
15. Walk across Lake Biwa
A lake near Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture lies just west of Nagoya. One can take a cruise on this lake; however, the real fun happens if you decide to hike across the lake.
16. Go hiking in Kamakura
This UNESCO World Heritage Site receives millions of visitors annually because of its gorgeous temples and historical significance. For example, the Shorei Temple is worth seeing. Built-in 1252, it houses numerous treasures such as bells, gates, ponds, and many historic structures.
17. Enjoy Sea LifePark Yokosuka
Yokosuka is a port town in Kanagawa Prefecture. Its name means “the bay where ships anchor.” If you love sea animals then this theme park will be perfect for you. You get to see sharks, dolphins, whales, penguins, seals, turtles, and other marine life species. Make sure to leave enough time so you can visit the aquarium too!
18. Climb Mt. Fuji
Climbing to the top of the 3,776m high mountain is likely to be a memory you’ll cherish for the rest of your life and a truly Japanese experience. Fuji is a sacred ground for both tourists and locals alike. As far back as 710 AD, Emperor Shomu paid respect to the mountain. These days, climbers travel from all over the world to scale the mountain but there are several easier ways to reach the top than scaling the peak itself.
Mt Fuji is one of the most famous landmarks in the country that has been designated to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
19. Visit Studio Ghibli Museum
Ghibli is short for “The Kingdom of Dreams and Nightmares.” When most people think of anime they usually imagine characters like Dragonball Z or Sailor Moon. But what makes these shows special has nothing to do with fantasy action-adventure plots. Instead, anime focuses on stories that often include beautiful landscapes, dramatic music scores, whimsical creatures, strong family bonds, and human emotions. Anime studios capture dreams and turn them into movies.
20. See Famous Sites From Around the World at Taiyo Park
Taiyo Park is an amusement park in Himeji that has replicas of famous landmarks from around the world. Some of the most memorable sites are the Great Wall of China, Egyptian Pyramids, the Arc de Triomphe, Neuschwanstein Castle, and the excavation of the Terracotta Army – but there are many others to see too.
All in all, we hope our Top 20 Things To Do in Japan guide helps give you ideas about how to spend less than two weeks traveling in Japan. Are you planning to visit Japan? Or maybe you’re dreaming of going someday? We’d love to hear which ones were worth adding to your itinerary when visiting Japan. Share your thoughts below. 🙂