Japan is an incredibly beautiful destination that evokes thoughts of mystery, elegance, and tradition. Steeped in history and a rich culture, the country offers all sorts of wonderful places to see, and unique experiences waiting to be had. If you’ll be visiting on an exciting Far East cruise, take a little inspiration from our top 10 things to do in Japan.
Japanese food is enjoyed all over the world, and is known to have influenced the cuisine of many other countries. Anyone who is a fan of this kind of food will surely want to relish in trying the unarguably authentic dishes. Try, sushi, udon, ramen, teppanyaki, sashimi, and if you get the opportunity, delicious Kobe beef.
2. See Mount Fuji
Just over two hours southwest of Tokyo, the amazingly symmetrical Mount Fuji dominates the skyline. While cloud can often interfere with the view, on a clear day the mountain can actually be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama. For those who might not be satisfied with the view alone, Mount Fuji is open for climbing in July and August. There are four different routes, and the ascent is reported to take around 6 hours.
3. Take part in a Tea Ceremony
A Japanese Tea Ceremony is a sacred event, which perfectly showcases the thoughtful and intricate nature of Japanese culture. A ceremony can vary in length, and there are usually around five guests taking tea. Those who partake will be talked through the various steps of the ceremony, and the significance of every detail.
4. See Sumo Wrestling
Japan’s national sport is thought to have been invented more than 2,000 years ago, and in true celebration of history and heritage, it lives on with great fervour today. There are six sumo tournaments every year, in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Fukuoka, each one lasting 15 days. Seeing one of these exhilarating events will give guests a real insight into another aspect of Japanese culture.
5. Explore Ueno Park, Tokyo
This pretty, extensive park is a favourite among locals for its perfect range of things to see and do. It boasts museums, temples, exhibitions, and family-friendly boating, as well as plenty of space for walking, picnicking, and group activities like dance. It’s a wonderful place to see the famous cherry blossom trees in bloom in spring as well.
6. Buy something from a vending machine
This will sound like a peculiar suggestion, however in Tokyo especially, vending machines are an attraction in themselves. Selling everything from clothing and flowers to origami pieces, just wandering through a line of these machines will prove fascinating.
7. Watch a Geisha Dance
Geishas have played an important role in Japanese culture for many years, and their distinct appearance could be recognised all over the world. They are highly trained in the art of music, dance, and hosting – skills which when combined with their elaborate make up and costumes, make watching a geisha performance a quintessentially Japanese experience.
8. Visit Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
This vibrant shrine is situated in southern Kyoto, and pays homage to the Shinto god of rice – Inari. It is comprised of more than a thousand torii gates – arch-like structures which signify moving from the everyday to the sacred. These magnificent, bright orange gates are lined up over a number of nature trails behind the main buildings, which lead to the forest of the sacred Mount Inari.
9. Spend time in an Onsen
A Japanese Onsen is a natural spring bath resort – of which there are over 3,000 scattered all over the country thanks to plenty of volcanic activity. The experience of spending time in the soothing warm water will leave visitors feeling tranquil and refreshed, and invigorated at having taken part in another traditional Japanese practice.
10. See Todai-ji Temple
Built in 752 AD, Nara’s Todai-ji was designed to be the most important Buddhist temple in Japan. It became so significant that in the year 784 the capital was moved from Nara to Nagaoka, in an attempt to limit Todai-ji’s influence over political affairs. The main hall is the largest wooden building in the world, and houses a 15 metre tall bronze Buddha statue which is certainly a sight to behold.