Expertly blending ancient traditions and modern life, Japan is a country that fascinates travellers from all over the world, and for a good reason. From technology and innovativeness that has seemingly stepped out of the screen of a futuristic sci-fi show to the stunning natural landscape to the customs that have shaped the country that stands today, the variety of Japan and its culture is intriguing.
The home of Manga, anime and cosplay; the traditional kimono garment and geisha; the legends of the Samurai and ninjas; the foods that please palates the world over; the weird and the wonderful vending machines and cat cafes; and the juxtaposition of the bustling cities and natural spaces that both exude splendour in their own unique ways. Japan has so much to offer any visitor, so pack your bag, grab your passport, apply for your Japan e-visa, if necessary, and hop on that flight to uncover some of the most wonderfully varied pastimes, technologies and terrains that will leave you in awe.
Here, we look at 10 things you can do in Japan to ensure a varied experience of this captivating country.
Take a trip to the tallest tower in the world
Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting and observation tower, is the second tallest structure in the world behind the Burj Khalifa and stands as the tallest tower. Enjoy extraordinary views of the capital city and beyond from the upper observation deck, which stands at 450 metres high, when visiting Tokyo.
Visit a cat café
Cat lovers will be delighted with the number of cat cafes that are open to visitors across the country, but especially in Tokyo. Enjoy a matcha tea alongside some cute companions as they roam about and play happily – a big draw for those who enjoy the company of a feline friend.
Head to Mount Fuji
The tallest mountain in Japan, Mount Fuji, an active volcano, stands at 3,776 metres high and is a sacred symbol of the country, having been depicted in various works of art. Visitors can hike to the summit during July and August, enjoy lake resorts at the foot of the mountain or get active at one of the ski resorts here.
Take in the beauty of the blossom trees
No mental image of Japan would be complete without the bold and beautiful blossom tree. Best seen in springtime, these iconic blooms have become the unofficial national flower of the country and will have visitors reaching for their cameras at every turn. Take in the beauty at the famous Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto.
Explore the cuisine and gastronomic traditions
Sushi, sashimi, tempura, ramen, miso soup – many of us have tried and regularly devour a lot of Japanese foods, and there’s no better place to enjoy these popular dishes than in the country itself. Don’t miss out on a traditional tea ceremony at a tea house, and fine dining fanatics will be thrilled with the huge amount of Michelin starred restaurants that can be found across the whole country.
Relax in an onsen
Everyone needs to relax in between all of the sightseeing and an onsen is the perfect place in which to do this. Japan’s natural hot springs come in their thousands – it is a volcanically active country after all – and the varied baths can be indoor, outdoor, come accompanied with traditional inns, and have certain customs to be respected, too.
Head to a sumo wrestling match
The only country in which the sport can be professionally practised, sumo wrestling does come with its controversies, but if you want to witness the spectacle, then Japan is the place to do it.
Get creative with various art forms
From origami to calligraphy and pottery to woodblock prints and more, the art of Japan comes in many styles and forms, taking influence over the thousands of years of history and culture the country has seen. The Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto and the Hakone Open-Air Museum in Hakone are just a few of the places to head to on your travels.
Take in the tech
From bullet trains travelling at over 300km/h to vending machines selling anything from lobsters to flowers to kittens, the technology evident throughout the country will amaze, and that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Historical shrines and temples
It would be remiss in visiting Japan and not take in some of the tens of thousands of beautiful Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines that are dotted about. These places of worship are fantastic examples of sacred architecture and are well worth a visit.