Japan

Things to do in Japan

It’s nearly impossible to run out of things to do in Japan. The country is bursting with activities, from the shopping, dining, cultural and nightlife activities in Tokyo, to the traditional shows and ceremonies in Kyoto, to the breathtakingly beautiful hikes along the coast and through the Alps.

Visitors wondering what to do in Japan should start with the country’s world-renowned dining scene. Japanese cuisine is fresh, local, and typically made from seasonal ingredients. Don’t leave the country without ordering ‘omakase’ at a sushi bar. The Japanese phrase means ‘I’ll leave it to you,’ and allows the chef to present diners with whatever dishes he or she sees fit, enabling the use of the freshest ingredients.

While Tokyo and Kyoto offer an astounding number of things to do in Japan, the activities don’t end with urban life. Nature-lovers wondering what to do in Japan need only travel a few minutes by car outside Kyoto’s borders to find themselves immersed in forested mountains, perfect for a day-long hike.

The bold structure of undulating glass walls designed by Kisho Kurokawa is Tokyo's largest art venue.

A lack of Japanese language skills is no barrier to enjoying this terrific market on the grounds of the Togo Shrine—just bring pad and pen, and negotiate the price on paper.

Set in a residential downtown-Tokyo neighborhood, Toyo Ito’s design of the new Za-Koenji public theater is unabashedly theatrical. The building is mysterious and all purple-black, its tentlike roof and walls punctuated by several hundred porthole-style windows.

Perhaps the natural next step for the extension of the brand, Gucci's first cafe is located on the fourth floor of its Ginza store, giving shoppers a chance to experience more of the Gucci lifestyle, while dining or sipping coffee surrouned by Gucci-inspired decor, such as streamlined upholstered

Known informally as the pet hotel, this facility—accessed from the first-floor basement in the north wing of Terminal 1’s car park—is staffed with veterinarians who take care of pets (from $42/day) while their owners are overseas; call up to 30 days in advance to make a reservation.

The Japanese are obsessed with stationery, and Ito-ya is just the place to satisfy the habit, with 11 floors of paper, notebooks, photo albums, pens, pencils, markers, decorative boxes, office supplies, and other things you don’t need but soon find yourself craving.

Ukiyo-e woodblock prints, a uniquely Japanese art form, are the focus of this niche museum collection, bequethed by the estate of Seizo Ota, the late chairman of a major Japanese insurance company.

Billed as a bespoke travel designer, Lisa Lindblad specializes in adventure and luxury travel to destinations ranging from Morocco and Uruguay to Norway and Sri Lanka. With a background in cultural anthropology, Lindblad is known for blending the expected with the undiscovered.

Two high-tech skating rinks, plus a museum with artifacts from the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, which were held in the city.

The Tokyo City View observation deck has floor-to-ceiling windows that provide panoramic views of Tokyo Tower, Haneda Airport, Mount Fuji, the island of Odaiba, and the Shibuya and Shinjuku districts.

Housed in a modern Japanese building designed by architect Kengo Kuma, the Suntory Musuem of Art is a striking white structure with vertical louvers that run the length of the exterior.

The largest outlet mall in Japan, just 60 miles west of Tokyo in Shizuoka, is pilgrimage-worthy for two reasons. First, its 200-strong shop selection includes rarities like Maison Martin Margiela, Balenciaga, and Bottega Veneta at 25–65 percent off retail.