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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A traditional onsen (hot springs) resort that dates back to the 1870's, Arai Ryokan has a serene, old-world feel, evoked by the traditional Japenese wooden-beam architecture, covered walkways and bridges, and wooded surroundings.

This centrally located store offers easy one-stop shopping for those looking for travel-related electronics: translation machines with voice output to headphones, memory chips for your camera, and more.

Operating here since 1935, the world’s largest fish market is a sight to be seen and experienced. The jonai (inner market) area for wholesale fish merchants is closed to the general public, but the jogai (outer market) is open to everyone.

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.