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.
While in Asakusa do not miss this furugi (used clothing) store’s affordable secondhand kimonos. Selection and prices vary widely, and even if you are not looking for a kimono to wear, you can find beautiful material to reuse in quilts, handbags, skirts, and other crafty projects.
One floor above Gyoza Stadium in Namjatown, Ice Cream City is full of gelato stands and Turkish men selling orchid-root-thickened ice cream. Cup Ice Museum, a theme park within a theme park, has around 300 flavors including Christmas Island salt, soy chicken, and preserved cherry blossom.
These reflexology and massage stations—there are four in total, spread throughout the airport’s two terminals—are removed from general foot traffic. Comfortable massage chairs are spaced far enough apart so you almost buy into the illusion of privacy—if you close your eyes.
Home to more than 200 shops, restaurants, and services, Roppongi Hills is one of Tokyo's premiere shopping destinations, located in the heart of an area that includes residences, a museum, hotels, theaters, and galleries.
A distilled spirit made from potatoes, rice, wheat, or barley, shochu originated in Kyushu (in southwestern Japan), but is now produced all over the country. The Sho-Chu Authority carries over 3000 varieties of the liquor, which differs from sake in that sake is fermented rather than distilled.
Taste rare brews at this low-key bar run by an Israeli expat.
F.I.L (shorthand for Free International Laboratory) is the boutique of Berlin-based, Japanese fashion designer Hiroki Nakamura and his visvim clothing, a high-concept line focused on creating the opposite of disposable fashion.
The bakery in the New Otani Hotel specializes in mont blanc desserts.
At almost 38,000 square feet, Narita Nakamise is the largest airport duty-free boutique mall in Japan, linking 19 full-blown stores, including fashion bigwigs Cartier, Hermès, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tiffany, and Coach.
Feel the beat of the music as omikoshi (portable shrines) mounted on palanquins are paraded through the streets of Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood the third weekend in May. The Shinto festival honors the founders of the Asakusa Shrine and Sensoji Temple.
Departing passengers who have gone through passport control can take advantage of the airport’s official relaxation areas, which include a bright waiting room (think polished wood floors, blue benches, and white walls), an adjacent “comfort corner” outfitted with mirrored vanities, and 13 tiny si
Most tourists come to Kappabashi (Tokyo’s “Kitchen Town”) to pick up plastic sushi key chains and refrigerator magnets, but the real find is the wooden black-and-red lacquerware at Tanaka.
Sugino's creations are baked daily in minuscule quantities, which qualifies them as gentei (limited-edition) and thus extra-desireable.
With its distinctive clock tower and curved granite façade, Wako is one of the most iconic department stores in Tokyo.
With everything from hardware to hobby, craft, and office supplies, even sushi-making supplies and lunch boxes, Tokyu Hands is a uniquely Japanese shopping experience and a glimpse into the country's culture.