We've taken the endless number of experiences that await you in Japan and narrowed them down to the top ten. Unless you’ve ticked them all, all that’s left to ask is: have you really experienced Japan?
10. Experience a Themed Restaurant
Renowned for its quirky, bizarre and quite frankly, outlandish personality, Japan has embraced the themed restaurant and café culture, and made it uniquely theirs. Unlike your ordinary themed restaurant anywhere else, Japan has a restaurant for every possible niche! From a Alice in Wonderland theme to a prison theme and every peculiar fantasy in-between. If you’re feeling daring, head to the Dungeon Café for a night of horror, with eccentric energy and suspense. Mix your drinks in test tubes and beakers but watch out for the monsters joining you for tea! Whatever takes your fancy, no-one quite does it like Japan!
9. Learn How to Make Sushi
Sushi is Japan’s most popular cuisine that has reached its way right around the world. With over a hundred kinds of sushi in Japan – what better way to appreciate the mouth-watering snack than to make it yourself? Discover the history and etiquette of making sushi with a professional chef, and learn the tricks of the trade from its place of origin! You’ll master creating sushi with a taste of authenticity, guaranteed to transport you back to Japan with every bite you take.
8. Cruise on Tokyo Bay
Where the night sky meets the futuristic and illuminated city of Tokyo, Tokyo Bay is the perfect viewpoint to gaze in awe at the twinkling lights of the capital. Offering a stark contrast between ancient and modern Japan, Tokyo is a glimpse of what makes Japan iconic, and, to truly admire its beauty, one must board a boat! Take to the serene waters of the Bay and tuck into dinner with the backdrop of the city. It really does not get any more perfect than this!
7. Admire Mount Aso
While Mount Fuji towers over the other peaks across the islands, Mount Aso should definitely not be overlooked. Sitting in the heart of the southern island of Kyushu, Mount Aso is the largest volcano in Japan. Its crater is one of the world’s largest and encompasses various other active peaks. No picture can compare to the sense of wonder when gazing over the natural phenomenon in person.
6. Learn About Geisha Culture
Geisha in Japanese means ‘person of art’. Elegantly dressed in stunning kimonos, with poise second to none, a geisha is a woman who is cultured in the art of music, dance and performance. Symbolic of the Japanese culture, no trip to Japan is complete without witnessing a geisha in all her splendour – especially when walking through the charming streets of Kyoto. The best way to immerse yourself in geisha culture? Experience it first-hand from a geisha herself.
5. Witness a Sumo Wrestling Tournament
Sumo wrestling is a symbol of Japan and one of its oldest sports. A ground-shaking sport - for all the right reasons – sumo dates back over 1500 years old and stems from a Shinto tradition where martial arts were incorporated into the sport. Held at certain times of the year, if you ever have the chance to experience a match, you’ll notice many of the traditional rituals are still performed today.
4. Enjoy a Traditional Tea Ceremony
Don't miss a slice of Japanese traditions and ideals served with a hot cup of matcha tea. Experiencing a tea ceremony provides the perfect insight to the aesthetics and principles of Japanese culture. It is more than simply sipping the emblematic beverage. Brim-full with history, the ceremony’s rituals offer more about the way of life than any other experience in Japan.
3. Eat Your Way Through Osaka
Osaka, also known as Japan’s Kitchen, is a gateway to all things mouth-wateringly Japanese. Step into the world of food galore! Taste the delights of Okonomiyaki, a thick savoury pancake topped with whatever you like. Try the classic Takoyaki, a delectable dumpling snack served with a sweet sauce. An unofficial city motto, ‘Kuidaore’, meaning ‘to ruin oneself by extravagance in food’, is a motto we can all get behind!
2. Spend a Night in a Ryokan
Eat, drink and sleep like a local. A ryokan is a centuries-old style of guesthouse that offers the ultimate experience of Japan. The traditional Japanese-style inn was created to maintain the natural standard of living, rather than showcasing the latest modern conveniences. With traditional sliding paper doors, low wooden tables and a futon with sitting cushions, there is no better way to experience Japanese life than residing in a ryokan for a night. Sleep on futons and tatami mats, dine on traditional food and bathe in the relaxing warm waters of an onsen.
1. Bathe in an Onsen
Sitting at the top of our list is the ultimate experience in Japan. Japan’s onsens are natural hot waters caused by the island’s volcanic activity. Nature's way of inviting you to relax, onsens offer numerous mental and wellbeing benefits. With a variety of options from mud baths, to clear baths to open-air sand and steam baths – Japan’s hot springs have something for everyone.
Feeling eager to tick these off this list? What better way to do so than on a Wendy Wu tour! Get in touch with your local Travellers Choice agent
You probably have some idea of what you’d like to see on an adventure to Japan. Perhaps the dazzling lights of Tokyo have captured your attention, or the gorgeous gardens of Kyoto have called your name. Japan is a place where traditional and modern cultures blend to create a vibrant paradise that's unlike anywhere else in the world. If Japan is not at the top of your list, allow us to tell you why it should be.