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Top 100+ Things to Do in Japan (Your 2019 Japan Travel Bucket List)

Japan is exciting, fascinating, and serene all in one. It’s majestic shrines, serene scenery, zen gardens, gastronomic food, and advanced technology blend to make this destination one of the top honeymoon destinations in the world. Beauty is in every corner of Japan, from the vibrant capital city of Tokyo to scenic Hokkaido to laidback Okinawa. Japan will magically reel you in with its ancient temples, tranquil ceremonies, relaxing hot springs. Visiting Japan for the first time? Here are the Top Things to Do in Japan, and we have sorted it by destinations for you to plan your trip easily!

Top Things to Do in Japan (Updated 6 Nov 2019)

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Top Things to Do in Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan, a blend of modernism and tradition. It’s the world’s most populous metropolis and is also the largest city in Japan. Over 10 million tourists visit Tokyo each year. This well-connected city has unlimited choices for shopping, entertainment, culture, and dining. There are also plenty of places to sightsee, which include museums, temples, and gardens. Here are the Top Things to do in Tokyo

  1. Have fresh sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market (old site) or see the famous tuna auction at Toyosu Market (this is the new location for the Tsukiji market) 
  2. Visit Tokyo’s oldest temple Sensoji, located in the historic center of the city, Asakura. Be sure to take photos of the iconic Kaminarimon gate and stroll down Nakamise Street where there are many traditional street snacks to try. There are also many long-established Japanese restaurants in Asakusa. 
  3. Get a bird’s eye view of Tokyo city from Tokyo Tower Observatory, Tokyo Skytree, Roppongi Hills Observation Deck, Tembo Deck or go on a helicopter cruise
  4. See the very popular and entertaining Robot restaurant show (booking needed in advance!
  5. Visit the largest hot spring theme park in Japan – Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari 
  6. Immerse yourself in the first digital art museum in the world – TeamLab Borderless Exhibits (highly recommended) 
  7. Go on a romantic dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay
  8. Take the Mount Fuji classic tour and see Lake Kawaguchi, Oshino Hakkai, Fuji Bussharito Heiwa Park, and Gotemba Premium Outlets
  9. Experience being a Ninja for a day (or take this day tour to see the Nikko Toshogu Shrine and Nikko Edomura theme park and Edo Wonderland). Or, experience being a Tokyo Samurai with this Armour Experience
  10. Watch a sumo wrestling tournament or go on a guided tour by a veteran sumo wrestler
  11. Visit an animal cafe (Owl Cafe, Hedgehog cafe in Shibuya), or a maid cafe where you can see Japan’s cosplay scene
  12. Join in Japan’s epic firework festival – Atami Sea Fireworks held in June, July, Aug, Sept, and December
  13. Visit a sheep farm in Tokyo – Chiba Mother Farm
  14. Dress up in a traditional Kimono or a beautiful Yukata and go one step further to take a photography tour
  15. Partake in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony
  16. Go for a sake tasting session
  17. Eat delicious wagyu beef at Ryuen in Shinjuku
  18. Get a unique booze experience at Izakaya Alleys (Japanese-style gastropub) at Omoide Yokocho
  19. Dine at the 24/7 Isomaru Suisan Bar, a popular seafood restaurant in Japan or go to Michelin-starred restaurant Sakuragawa to enjoy an authentic Kaiseki meal
  20. Learn Japanese cooking by attending cooking classes like Soba making, Tempura Gozen Cooking Class, Morning Waugy Kaiseki Cooking Course, Afternoon Sushi Cooking Course or Evening Okonomiyakai Cooking class.
  21. Experience local street food and drinks on Sunamachi Ginza Shopping Street
  22. Learn about Japanese food culture on this Nihonbashi Gourmet Tour
  23. Go shopping at Nakamise Shopping Street or Ginza Street (the most upmarket shopping district in Tokyo) 
  24. Visit Harajuku for the mecca of Kawaii culture and tons of Instagrammable food, from unicorn cotton candy to light bulb soda
  25. See Shibuya Crossing (capture an aerial shot from the Starbucks directly above the crossing!) 
  26. Visit the only DisneySea in the world
  27. Take a relaxing stroll in the zen Japanese gardens – Rikugien Garden, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. Yoyogi Park is also one of Tokyo’s largest parks and is a beautiful place to visit in autumn. 
  28. Ride the Shinkansen (bullet train) and explore Japan’s other cities and towns – you can get the JR Rail Pass here
  29. Visit the Ghibli Museum, the famous animation studio by Hayao Miyazaki

Day Trips from Tokyo: 

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Top Things to Do in Kyoto

Originally the capital of Japan for over 1,000 years, Kyoto is a city on the island of Honshu. Kyoto is the cultural and historical heart of the country and is the best place in all of Japan to experience the tradition and culture of Japan. It is famous for its Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines, and traditional wooden houses. Alongside that, you will encounter their formal traditions such as kaiseki dining and geishas. Here are the Top Things to Do in Kyoto.

  1. Marvel at Fushimi Inari Shrine
  2. Get a bird’s eye view of Kyoto city from Kyoto Tower
  3. Take a kimono photoshoot amid beautiful temples and scenic backdrops (Alternatively, you can rent your own kimono and take your own photos here)
  4. Dazzle in the romantic countryside scenery of Arashiyama
  5. Visit the Kyoto Aquarium and discover local aquatic life
  6. Go skiing at Biwako Valley & Hakodateyama Ski Resort
  7. Eat the unique Japanese fugu fish at Guenpin
  8. Soak and relax in an authentic Japanese onsen
  9. Learn about Japan’s history at UNESCO sites Nijo Castle & Ninomaru Palace
  10. Experience Japan traditions with a traditional ‘maiko’ dance and kaiseki dinner
  11. Sightsee Kyoto on a horseback carriage or cycle to explore the backstreets of Miyagawacho
  12. Go on an autumn leaf walking tour at Higashiyama
  13. Ride the famous Kyoto Sagano romantic train (said to be one of Japan’s best railway journeys!
  14. Learn about Geisha traditions by visiting the geisha districts in Kyoto – Gojyorakuen, Miyagawacho, and Gion
  15. Shop for foods and tea at Nishiki Market & Teramachi Street (you can also take a donburi cooking course here)
  16. Make authentic Japanese food by attending a cooking class: Learn how to make a full Japanese 3-4 course meal, a Bento lunch box or learn how to make ramen
  17. Step into the world of ninjas through a virtual reality experience
  18. Go on a seaside day tour and experience dock houses and fresh seafood
  19. Experience the natural beauty and temples in Southern Kyoto (see cherry blossoms during spring!
  20. Delight in local foods and Japanese sweets at Nishiki Market, aka “Kyoto’s Kitchen”

Day tours from Kyoto: 

Click here for more Top Activities in Kyoto >  

Top Things to Do in Osaka

Located Near Kyoto, Osaka is a cosmopolitan city best known for its modern architecture, dynamic street food, busy nightlife, drinking culture, and famously outgoing people. Here are the Top Things to Do in Osaka. 

  1. Get your adrenaline rush at Universal Studios (Get your 1-Day E-Ticket – Universal Studios Japan™ or the Universal Express Pass for 4 rides or 7 rides to avoid waiting in line). Also, check out the 2020 countdown party with this pass!
  2. Witness a breathtaking view of Osaka from Harukas 300 Observatory
  3. See the famous Himeji Castle that is over 400 years old
  4. Visit the sea animals at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan E-ticket
  5. Stay in a Ryokan and get an onsen experience
  6. Explore Osaka’s main tourist areas while riding a go-kart
  7. Admire the maple leaves in autumn, and see Nabana no Sato, the brightest Winter illumination in Japan
  8. Indulge yourself in food at Osaka’s Dotonbori street or go on a food walking tour in Kuromon Market to experience Osaka’s unique food culture
  9. Visit the NIFREL Aquazoo – a combination of aquarium, zoo, and museum in one
  10. Immerse yourself in the relaxing warm waters of Spa World or Solaniwa Onsen (Solaniwa is West Japan’s largest onsen theme park!)
  11. Visit Legoland Discovery Centre Osaka
  12. Ride the HEP Fiver Ferris Wheel in Umeda and see Osaka’s landmarks from a bird’s eye view
  13. Dress up in a Kimono and take beautiful Instagram photos at Osaka’s main sights
  14. Go skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and tubing at Biwako Valley Ski Resort (or Rokko Snow Park, which is an artificial snow park an hour’s drive from Osaka)
  15. Watch a Samurai show

Day Tours from Osaka:

Travel Tip

If you plan to visit many of Osaka’s tourist sites like Osaka Castle Museum, Science Museum, the HEP Five Ferris Wheel, Umeda Sky Building and more, get the Osaka Amazing Pass which gives you access to all 30 iconic Osaka tourist sites. 

Don’t forget these travel essentials:

Click here for more Top Activities in Osaka >  

Top Things to Do in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is well-known for its scenic beauty comprising of volcanoes, lakes, onsen (natural hot springs), ski areas and beautiful flower fields. Furano is where you will see their famous lavender fields. Hokkaido is also famous for fresh and high-quality seafood and uni (sea urchin). Here are the Top Things to Do in Hokkaido. 

  1. Dine & Drink at Sapporo Beer Garden
  2. See the serene Shirogane Blue Pond 
  3. Meet adorable creatures at Asahiyama Zoo or see the underwater world at Noboribetsu Marine Park
  4. Savour fresh and delicious crab at one of Hokkaido’s crab specialty restaurants, Kaniya in Sapporo or tuck into fine gourmet seafood at Kitano Gurume-Tei
  5. Immerse your senses in the onsen springs of Jozankei Tsuruga Resort Spa Mori No Uta
  6. Ride the Usuzan Ropeway up to the UNESCO Global Geopark to visit the active volcano
  7. Enjoy the views of Osaka and the Sea of Japan from Sapporo TV Tower
  8. Rent a car and explore Hokkaido on a road trip
  9. Embark on an ATV ride around the forests of Hokkaido
  10. Go on a scenic walk along Otaru Canal
  11. Rent a kimono and take beautiful photos in Sapporo or try this Koto Playing experience
  12. Witness the hustle and bustle of the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
  13. See Hokkaido’s natural landscapes at Noboribetsu and Lake Toya
  14. Play snow golf at Bibai snow land, go snowshoeing at the foot of Mount Yotei, try a snow driving experience or go dynamic snowmobile riding
  15. Enjoy a scenic cruise around Lake Akan
  16. Go back in time to Japan’s Edo period at Noboribetsu Date Jidamura Cultural Park
  17. Take a day tour to see Noboribetsu Hell Valley, Fukidashi Park, and the Jozankei Hot Spring Village 
  18. Try the pufferfish prepared at Guenpin
  19. Try a traditional Kaiseki Dinner at Hanayuzen

Don’t forget these travel essentials:

Click here for more Top Activities in Hokkaido >  

Top Things to Do in Hakone

Hakone is a hot springs resort town on the shores of Lake Ashi. Here you will see natural beauty and views of the nearby Mount Fuji. It is a popular destination for those looking for a break from Tokyo. You will also see plenty of shrines and art museums here. Here are the Top Things to Do in Hakone. 

  1. Go to Hakone Kowaki-en Yunessun Hot Spring Theme Park
  2. Visit the Little Prince Museum
  3. Do the Mount Fuji View zip line and see the magnificent view
  4. See Chibi Maruko-chan come alive at this museum or visit the Pola Museum of Art
  5. Take a 2-day side trip to see Yokohama and Kamakura
  6. Enter the Narukawa Art Museum and see the wide collection of Nihonga paintings
  7. Handpick oranges at Suzuki Orchard
  8. See sea animals at Shimoda Aquarium
  9. Visit Hakone Yuryo for a relaxing onsen experience
  10. Enjoy snorkeling or diving in Shizuoka Izu
Click here for more Top Activities in Hakone >  

Top Things to do in Niigata and Nagano

Niigata is the largest port in Japan famous for its rice, sake, seafood and cut flower industry especially tulips. It is nestled by mountains and seas, a beautiful paradise for nature lovers and is also a haven for foodies. It also holds the “Big Three Fireworks Festivals of Echigo” in summer.

Nagano city has shot to fame after having hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics. It is the capital of Nagano Prefecture and has impressive highland areas that showcase the breathtaking alps. It is also a great destination for ski resorts and hot springs. You can also peek into the city’s ninja past here. The two main areas are Suwa / Ida and Matsumoto.

Here are the Top Things to Do in Niigata and Nagano:

  1. See the famous snow monkeys at Nagano Snow Monkey park
  2. Go to Mt. Asama for a snowshoe trekking experience in Karuizawa
  3. Enjoy serene nature – Go trekking at Shinanoji Nature Trail, Usui Pass in Karuizawa or Mount Asama
  4. Visit the lovely town of Karuizawa
  5. Take a private ski and snowboard lesson in Yuzawa, Niigata
  6. Go horseback riding in Fukushima
  7. Experience a sake and beer tasting session at Karuizawa from Nagano
  8. Experience the city of Karuizawa on a cycling tour
  9. Visit Sado Island by ferry and learn about their history of gold mining. You can also take part in Sado Gold Leaf Painting

Don’t forget these travel essentials:

Click here for more Top Activities in Niigata & Nagano >  

Top Things to Do in Hiroshima

An iconic site from the first atomic bomb drop during World War II in 1945, the Hiroshima of today is regarded as the world’s “Peace capital” and is a resilient city that bounced back from the tragedy. Today you will find it to be a modern city with several prominent sites such as the Hiroshima peace institute and exciting festivals such as the Hiroshima Flower Festival. Here are the Top Things to Do in Hiroshima

  1. Visit the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO heritage site. You can even explore it on a stand-up paddleboard
  2. Visit an Oyster Farm 
  3. Kayak across the waters of Hiroshima Bay and see the island of Miyajima 
  4. Ride the Hakone Tozan Railway 
Click here for more Top Activities in Hiroshima >  

And that’s it! These are our  Top 100+ Things to Do in Japan. We hope that you enjoyed this guide. Please do share it with your friends and loved ones! Happy travels to Japan!

For more information on traveling to Japan, be sure to check out our Ultimate Japan Travel Guide – it shares the Top Japan destinations to go to, where to stay in Japan and key travel FAQ!

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