Japanese culture is thousands of years old so it’s no wonder that Japan is one of the most desired destinations among travelers. Known as the nation of politeness, Japan is often praised as the country where natives are very polite and everything is punctual, especially the rail service. This is also the country which invests in high technology so you will encounter super toilets and robots serving you drinks.
Of course, cherry blossom and food are one of the main attractions here, although there are many other things that make Japan extraordinary. So, if you plan to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, here are some tips to have the most amazing vacation.
1. Go to a sumo wrestling match
It would be a shame to come to Japan and not see a sumo wrestling match which is actually a traditional sport here. The wrestlers weigh over 300 pounds and engage in the ancient Shinto ritual intended to entertain gods with matches lasting only a few seconds. Annual tournaments happen six times a year and you can easily plan your trip to catch one and see these iconic Japanese athletes in person.
2. Practice forest bathing also is known as shinrin-yoku
Shinrin-yoku literally means forest bath and is a tradition that has spread from Japan all over the world-famous for its therapeutic benefits. The concept includes spending a few hours in the dense forest and enjoying the presence and sounds of trees. This is a perfect way to de-stress and practice mindfulness quietly among nature with phones turned off. The most famous forests in Japan for shinrin-yoku are Sayama Hills near gorgeous Sayama Lake in Saitama and Mount Takao a popular hiking spot near Tokyo.
3. Ride the bullet train through the breathtaking landscapes
The whole world has heard about Japanese bullet train Shinkansen which can run up to 177 miles per hour. It goes through magnificent landscapes like forested hills and mountainous regions with snowy peaks and straight to Mount Fuji. There is also a Japanese Rail Pass which will get you a discount for the tickets intended for tourist and the best part is that you can get them online.
4. Join a ghost tour in Tokyo
Tokyo is the most popular tourist destination and as such it tells many stories of rich Japanese heritage through shrines and temples. So, it’s no wonder there are many ghost tours taking you through the paranormal and otherworldly legends of this glorious city. Especially interesting time to go on a ghost tour is during the season of Obon when it’s believed that the dead the most easily find the way into the land of the living. This is the perfect time to visit Aoyama Cemetery considered to be haunted thus promising a truly eerie nightly experience in Tokyo.
5. Make a wish at the Shinto shrine
Making a wish at the Shinto shrine is very popular all over Japan and attracts tourists from every part of the globe. The shrines have thousands of wooden blocks called ema which hang from their walls and fences which are actually visitors’ wishes and prayers. It is believed that the spirits will see these emas and help them come true, so many don’t leave the country without making a wish.
6. Take a nap in one of the capsule hotels
Japan is famous for minimalist philosophy and you will notice it in the gardens, décors and also in accommodations. Although they are not spacious, capsule hotels gained popularity among tourists for their design which resembles sleeping pods in the science fiction movies. However, this is also an ideal way to save money on accommodations, especially in big cities like Tokyo. Every capsule has a bed and lights which is enough to have a good night’s sleep and then continue venturing the city. Also, their designs vary from traditional and rustic to futuristic ones with automatic doors and will really make your stay in Japan unique.
7. Cuddle with foxes
The Zao Fox Village is a wildlife sanctuary and probably one of the cutest places to visit in Japan. Here, visitors will be surrounded by kitsune or undomesticated foxes which will play around them and even come close enough to pet. The ticket is really affordable and everyone older than 12 can hold a baby fox and cuddle with it. This is truly a therapeutic experience unlike anywhere in the world which will immediately put a smile on your face and help you chase away the worries.
8. Found out all about anime at the Studio Ghibli Museum
Japan is famous for its animated movies or anime which have a distinctive voice in the global cinematography like Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro made by Studio Ghibli. You can find out more about Miyazaki and his movies at Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo which will give you a unique insight into the works of this Japanese artist. The exhibition will show you how it all started through designs and colors, as well as explain the studio’s journey to critically acclaimed praise and worldwide fame.
9. Go on an overnight trip to the Buddhist temple
Japan offers a once in a lifetime experience to spend the night at some of its Buddhist temples providing accommodation. These temple lodgings are also known as shokubo and visitors can participate in temple activities by praying and meditating. The most popular temples are located in Kyoto and Mount Koya, and since this is a very popular activity among tourists make sure to reserve your spot in time.
10. Have sushi off a conveyor belt
One simply can’t visit Japan and miss to try the authentic sushi fresh out of the kitchen and served on a conveyor belt. Sushi served this way is available at kaiten zushi restaurants all over Japan and you will eat plenty since it’s pay-by-plate service. For those brave among you, there are many delicacies available only here, like kani miso sushi which is made from fresh crab innards.
11. Ski on the best snow in the world
Going on a ski holiday in Japan is a unique experience because the country is famous for its perfect snowfall. One of the most attractive ski destinations is Hakuba Valley in the Japanese Alps with 11 resorts, although Niseko and Furano are no less popular. Make sure to try the relaxing onsen or Japanese hot springs are located on the mountain slopes after the day of skiing. These are hard to resist even by snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park who like to bathe and soak in their comfortably warm waters.
12. See the glowing squids
Take a boat ride to Toyama Bay where you will find the firefly squid, a mysterious creature from the deep ocean who only comes to the surface to mate. This happens during nights from March to June when these squids glow electric blue light. The whole sight is like a fantasy scene and you can find out more about these creatures at the Hotaru Ika Museum and even try the firefly squid sushi.
All in all
Japan is an extraordinary destination by default since it has a unique culture and tradition spanning thousands of years-long period. With such a rich history, travelers can easily find tips to have the most amazing vacation and take home lasting memories. Even the most mundane things like walking through the forest or drinking tea are special and meaningful here, so open up all your senses to truly experience Japan.