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!
This article was last updated on 2 February 2022.
Top Things to Do in Japan
Table of Contents:
Click to jump to Section
- Top Things to Do in Tokyo
- Top Things to Do in Kyoto
- Top Things to Do in Osaka
- Top Things to Do in Hokkaido
- Top Things to Do in Hakone
- Top Things to Do in Niigata and Nagano
- Top Things to Do in Hiroshima
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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!
- 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)
- 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.
- 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
- See the very popular and entertaining Robot restaurant show (booking needed in advance!
- Visit the largest hot spring theme park in Japan – Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari
- Immerse yourself in the first digital art museum in the world – TeamLab Borderless Exhibits (highly recommended)
- Go on a romantic dinner cruise around Tokyo Bay
- Take the Mount Fuji classic tour and see Lake Kawaguchi, Oshino Hakkai, Fuji Bussharito Heiwa Park, and Gotemba Premium Outlets
- 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.
- Watch a sumo wrestling tournament or go on a guided tour by a veteran sumo wrestler
- Visit an animal cafe (Owl Cafe, Hedgehog cafe in Shibuya), or a maid cafe where you can see Japan’s cosplay scene!
- Join in Japan’s epic firework festival – Atami Sea Fireworks held in June, July, Aug, Sept, and December
- Visit a sheep farm in Tokyo – Chiba Mother Farm
- Dress up in a traditional Kimono or a beautiful Yukata and go one step further to take a photography tour
- Partake in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony
- Go for a sake tasting session
- Eat delicious wagyu beef at Ryuen in Shinjuku
- Get a unique booze experience at Izakaya Alleys (Japanese-style gastropub) at Omoide Yokocho
- 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
- 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.
- Experience local street food and drinks on Sunamachi Ginza Shopping Street
- Learn about Japanese food culture on this Nihonbashi Gourmet Tour
- Go shopping at Nakamise Shopping Street or Ginza Street (the most upmarket shopping district in Tokyo)
- Visit Harajuku for the mecca of Kawaii culture and tons of Instagrammable food, from unicorn cotton candy to light bulb soda
- See Shibuya Crossing (capture an aerial shot from the Starbucks directly above the crossing!)
- Visit the only DisneySea in the world
- 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.
- Ride the Shinkansen (bullet train) and explore Japan’s other cities and towns – you can get the JR Rail Pass here
- Visit the Ghibli Museum, the famous animation studio by Hayao Miyazaki
Day Trips from Tokyo:
- Visit the Hitachi National Seaside Park & Mito Kairakuen Park
- Take a side trip to Kamakura city, often known as the Kyoto of the East for historical temples, shrines, monuments. This tour also includes the Enoshima Island
- Experience seasonal fruits picking at Kiyosato Highland
- Tokyo Hidden Kamakura and Enoshima Bay Drive Day Tour
- Go strawberry picking and visit Ashikaga Flower Park
- Go hiking at Mount Takao (just an hour away from Shinjuku)
- Autumn Maple Leaves Sightseeing Day Tour from Tokyo
- Adachi Fish Market and Taishakuten-Sando Half Day Tour in Tokyo
- Visit Mt. Fuji and Hakone on this Day Tour
Get your Tickets to:
- Madame Tussauds
- Tokyo Sanrio Puroland
- Japan Legoland
- Fuji-Q Highland Theme Park
- One Piece Tower
- Edo Wonderland
Don’t forget these travel essentials:
- Tokyo Subway Ticket (24, 48, 72 hours)
- Tokyo Skyliner Ticket to get from Narita Airport to downtown Tokyo
- Airport Limousine Bus Transfer to/from Narita and Haneda International Airport with Free WiFi onboard
- 4G SIM Card (Japan Pick Up) for Japan
- Get a Suica IC Card, an all-in-one transport card for JR East trains, subway trains, and some bus lines
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.
- Marvel at Fushimi Inari Shrine
- Get a bird’s eye view of Kyoto city from Kyoto Tower
- Take a kimono photoshoot amid beautiful temples and scenic backdrops (Alternatively, you can rent your own kimono and take your own photos here)
- Dazzle in the romantic countryside scenery of Arashiyama
- Visit the Kyoto Aquarium and discover local aquatic life
- Go skiing at Biwako Valley & Hakodateyama Ski Resort
- Eat the unique Japanese fugu fish at Guenpin
- Soak and relax in an authentic Japanese onsen
- Learn about Japan’s history at UNESCO sites Nijo Castle & Ninomaru Palace
- Experience Japan traditions with a traditional ‘maiko’ dance and kaiseki dinner
- Sightsee Kyoto on a horseback carriage or cycle to explore the backstreets of Miyagawacho
- Go on an autumn leaf walking tour at Higashiyama
- Ride the famous Kyoto Sagano romantic train (said to be one of Japan’s best railway journeys!
- Learn about Geisha traditions by visiting the geisha districts in Kyoto – Gojyorakuen, Miyagawacho, and Gion
- Shop for foods and tea at Nishiki Market & Teramachi Street (you can also take a donburi cooking course here)
- 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
- Step into the world of ninjas through a virtual reality experience
- Go on a seaside day tour and experience dock houses and fresh seafood
- Experience the natural beauty and temples in Southern Kyoto (see cherry blossoms during spring!
- Delight in local foods and Japanese sweets at Nishiki Market, aka “Kyoto’s Kitchen”
Day tours from Kyoto:
- Kyoto Arashiyama, Golden Pavillion Temple & Kobe
- Ride the Kyoto Sagano Romantic train, Arashiyama, Kiyomizudera & Fushimi Inari-Taisha
- Hiroshima and Miyajima Day Tour from Kyoto (or Osaka)
- Explore Kyoto & Visit Nara to discover Todaii-Ji Temple and Daibutsu Buddha
- If you prefer to self-explore, get the unlimited travel Kintetsu Rail Pass which allows you to explore Kyoto but also head to Osaka and Nara
- You can take the Kyoto Skybus Hop-on Hop-off sightseeing bus
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.
- 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).
- Witness a breathtaking view of Osaka from Harukas 300 Observatory
- See the famous Himeji Castle that is over 400 years old
- Visit the sea animals at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan E-ticket
- Stay in a Ryokan and get an onsen experience
- Explore Osaka’s main tourist areas while riding a go-kart
- Admire the maple leaves in autumn, and see Nabana no Sato, the brightest Winter illumination in Japan
- 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
- Visit the NIFREL Aquazoo – a combination of aquarium, zoo, and museum in one
- Immerse yourself in the relaxing warm waters of Spa World or Solaniwa Onsen (Solaniwa is West Japan’s largest onsen theme park!)
- Visit Legoland Discovery Centre Osaka
- Ride the HEP Fiver Ferris Wheel in Umeda and see Osaka’s landmarks from a bird’s eye view
- Dress up in a Kimono and take beautiful Instagram photos at Osaka’s main sights
- 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)
- Watch a Samurai show
Day Tours from Osaka:
- Explore the quaint villages of Northern Kyoto
- Visit Hiroshima and Miyajima
- Visit Mount Rokko and see the gorgeous view
- Visit Kyoto’s majestic temples and Shrines
- Enjoy time at Koyasan, a famous mountain with traditional temples in Wakayama (also visit the biggest seafood market of West Japan, Toretore Japan), and see the breathtaking sunset at Kansai region’s famous spot, Engesuto Island
- Take a Day trip to Nara Park
- Cruise the Uratomi Coastline and visit UNESCO World GeoPark to see the Tottori Sand Dunes
- See Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest and oldest freshwater lake (northeast of Kyoto)
- Take a day trip out to visit the exquisite areas of Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe from Osaka
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:
- Nankai Line Airport Express Train Tickets (KIX or Namba Departure) in Osaka
- Osaka Unlimited Travel Pass on metro, buses, and subways
- Explore Kansai region in Osaka with the Kansai Thru Pass for unlimited rides on subways, private railways, and buses
- Get unlimited train travel in Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe with this Hankyu Tourist Pass
- Ride the Haruka Airport Express from Kansai Airport to Osaka/Kyoto
- You can explore Osaka on the Wonder Loop Bus (hop on hop off bus)
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.
- Dine & Drink at Sapporo Beer Garden
- See the serene Shirogane Blue Pond
- Meet adorable creatures at Asahiyama Zoo or see the underwater world at Noboribetsu Marine Park
- 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
- Immerse your senses in the onsen springs of Jozankei Tsuruga Resort Spa Mori No Uta
- Ride the Usuzan Ropeway up to the UNESCO Global Geopark to visit the active volcano
- Enjoy the views of Osaka and the Sea of Japan from Sapporo TV Tower
- Rent a car and explore Hokkaido on a road trip
- Embark on an ATV ride around the forests of Hokkaido
- Go on a scenic walk along Otaru Canal
- Rent a kimono and take beautiful photos in Sapporo or try this Koto Playing experience
- Witness the hustle and bustle of the Sapporo Central Wholesale Market
- See Hokkaido’s natural landscapes at Noboribetsu and Lake Toya
- 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
- Enjoy a scenic cruise around Lake Akan
- Go back in time to Japan’s Edo period at Noboribetsu Date Jidamura Cultural Park
- Take a day tour to see Noboribetsu Hell Valley, Fukidashi Park, and the Jozankei Hot Spring Village
- Try the pufferfish prepared at Guenpin
- Try a traditional Kaiseki Dinner at Hanayuzen
Don’t forget these travel essentials:
- Get the JR Hokkaido IC Card – Kitaca for Transport
- Use the Hokkaido Enjoy Pass to enjoy the areas of Furano, Abashiri and Lake Akan
- Private Transfer from Shin-Chitose International Airport to Sapporo
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.
- Go to Hakone Kowaki-en Yunessun Hot Spring Theme Park
- Visit the Little Prince Museum
- Do the Mount Fuji View zip line and see the magnificent view
- See Chibi Maruko-chan come alive at this museum or visit the Pola Museum of Art
- Take a 2-day side trip to see Yokohama and Kamakura
- Enter the Narukawa Art Museum and see the wide collection of Nihonga paintings
- Handpick oranges at Suzuki Orchard
- See sea animals at Shimoda Aquarium
- Visit Hakone Yuryo for a relaxing onsen experience
- Enjoy snorkeling or diving in Shizuoka Izu
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:
- See the famous snow monkeys at Nagano Snow Monkey park
- Go to Mt. Asama for a snowshoe trekking experience in Karuizawa
- Enjoy serene nature – Go trekking at Shinanoji Nature Trail, Usui Pass in Karuizawa or Mount Asama
- Visit the lovely town of Karuizawa
- Take a private ski and snowboard lesson in Yuzawa, Niigata
- Go horseback riding in Fukushima
- Experience a sake and beer tasting session at Karuizawa from Nagano
- Experience the city of Karuizawa on a cycling tour
- 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:
- 1-Day Train Pass between Matsumoto and Shin-Shimashima
- Explore Matsumoto City at your own pace with the Hop-on Hop-off Bus
- Explore Tateshina, Kirigamine Highland, and Shirakabako with this bus pass
- See the best of Togakushi Plateau on a Hop-on Hop-off Bus
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.
- Visit the beautiful Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO heritage site. You can even explore it on a stand-up paddleboard!
- Visit an Oyster Farm
- Kayak across the waters of Hiroshima Bay and see the island of Miyajima
- Ride the Hakone Tozan Railway
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!