Japan

Japan Travel Guide

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.

Tachinomi, casual, inexpensive bars without seating, is a trend with a formula: low-key atmosphere, countertops and no chairs, bumping music. It works, keeping customers (many of them young) coming in for a few drinks and small plates.

Often called the "Japanese Gap," Uniqlo is a fashion retailer specializing in casual, affordable clothing for men, women, and children. While the company has more than 700 stores in Japan (and others worldwide), this flagship Ginza location is its biggest and flashiest.

Japanese pastry chef Sadaharu Aoki established a reputation in Paris before opening his all-white, ultra-modern Marunouchi shop, where exquisite pastries are displayed like works of art.

France's top pasty provocatuer is a household name in Tokyo, with several boutiques and a swank marbled Bar Chocolat created by Wonderwall, the cutting-edge design firm behind Uniqlo stores.

Both terminals have free observation decks, but the one attached to Terminal 1 offers the best views of the main runway. The spacious terrace is enclosed by netted fencing interrupted by several small windowesque openings for camera-wielding passengers.

Established in 1560, Aritsugu is famous the world over for its high-quality knives. This Tsukiji Market shop is a branch of the original 16th-century shop that is still located in the Nishiki Market in Kyoto.

The pastry boutique was designed by Wonderwall, the cutting edge design firm behing Uniqlo stores.

International Japanese jewelry chain Tasaki Shinju specializes in pieces made from high-quality pearls. Browse the carefully curated collection of bracelets, necklaces, and earrings made from both salt- and fresh-water pearls.

If you are lucky enough to be in Tokyo for a sumo match, get a ticket at the Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo’s main sumo arena. The pomp and circumstance of the prefighting rituals alone is worth the price of the ticket.

The Cultural Experience Program organizes homestays and offers hands-on lessons on Japanese cuisine, dance, calligraphy, and ikebana (flower arranging). Four-week intensive summer courses start in July.

Around the corner from Hermès and Chanel, Sake Shop Fukumitsuya contains an informal bar that showcases fermented rice from the Fukumitsuya brewery, which was founded in 1625. The menu lists dozens o f premium sakes and mirins, including several rare or aged vintages, served by the glass.