Japan Travel Guide 2024: 7 Must-Do Activities

Travellers walking in Shibuya, Japan

Planning a trip to Japan? Renowned for its rich culture, quirky experiences, and breathtaking landscapes, Japan offers a myriad of unforgettable activities for travellers of all tastes. Whether you’re drawn to iconic landmarks or seeking hidden gems off the beaten path, the country promises a travel adventure you simply can’t get anywhere else.

For an unforgettable Japan trip, check out this guide for seven activities to include in your itinerary!

Things to Include in Your Japan Travel Itinerary

1. Explore Japan’s Culinary Delights

Sushi as a Japan travel food option

One of the highlights of any trip to Japan is undoubtedly its cuisine. Whether you’re a sushi lover, a diehard ramen fan, or a tempura addict, there is a vast array of culinary delights to explore during your Japan trip.
From Tsukiji Market in Tokyo to Gyoza Street in Utsunomiya, be sure to explore the local specialties of whichever prefecture you visit in Japan.
Tokyo ramen suggestions from our co-founder:

Mutekiya

A bowl of Mutekiya Ramen as a must-try dish in Japan

Narkiyu

Who hasn’t heard of the Michelin-starred Narkiyu? Their unique “Tan-Tan” ramen style is a culinary experience not to be missed. The broth bursts with flavor, offering a delightful hint of spice and sesame aroma, perfectly complemented by minced meat, green onion, and their homemade noodles, creating a harmonious bowl of ramen.

Since February 2024, they have implemented a new reservation system. You can no longer simply walk in and queue up. Instead, you’ll need to obtain a numbered ticket, so we recommend arriving between 8 AM and 9 AM to secure your spot. If you’re lucky, you might snag the coveted 11 AM slot, which marks their opening time.

2. Visit Mount Fuji

Sightseeing by Mount Fuji

No visit to the land of the rising sun (aka Japan) is complete without witnessing the awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Fuji, the highest peak and an iconic symbol of the country.

Book a JR train ride to the Fuji Five Lakes region, where you can hike trails like the Yoshida Trail or Subashiri Trail to reach the summit. Consider spending the night to catch the sunrise at the summit for an unforgettable spectacle that will stay with you forever.

Where to find the best view of Mt. Fuji:

Chureito Pagoda

Nestled atop a hillside in Japan’s Fuji Five Lakes region, the Chureito Pagoda offers a mesmerising view of the iconic Mt. Fuji. The pagoda’s five-story structure provides travellers an unparalleled vantage point to capture Mt. Fuji’s beauty throughout the seasons with nothing obstructing their view.

Lawson at Kawaguchiko Station

Enjoying the view of Mt. Fuji from Kawaguchiko Station Lawson

Dubbed the “prettiest convenience store”, this Lawson by Kawaguchiko Station boasts a stunning backdrop of majestic Mt. Fuji. Whether you are grabbing some light bites or refreshing beverages, enjoy the panoramic views from the storefront and take out your phone or camera for some jaw-dropping shots you won’t get anywhere else!

3. Stroll Along Tokyo’s Vibrant Streets

A couple walking through one of Tokyo’s bustling streets

Tokyo, the bustling capital city of Japan, is a vibrant metropolis and melting pot of cultures filled with endless things to do. Whether you’re looking for the latest fashion trends in Harajuku, vibrant nightlife in Shinjuku, or traditional crafts in Asakusa, Tokyo has something for every traveller.

Need some ideas on where to go? Here are our top picks:

Takeshita Dori

Known as a hub of youth culture and fashion, Takeshita Street in Harajuku is a kaleidoscope of colourful shops, quirky cafes, and vibrant street art. It’s a must-visit destination for fashion enthusiasts and trendsetters.

Nakamise-dori Street

Leading up to Senso-ji Temple, Nakamise Shopping Street in Asakusa is steeped in history and tradition. Here, visitors can explore rows of souvenir shops selling traditional Japanese crafts, snacks, and souvenirs.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo at night

As one of the world’s busiest intersections, Shibuya Crossing embodies Tokyo’s bustling energy. Flanked by neon lights, towering skyscrapers, and a sea of pedestrians, it’s an iconic symbol of modern Tokyo.

Ginza Chuo-dori

Ginza is Tokyo’s upscale shopping district, and Chuo-dori is its main thoroughfare. Lined with luxury boutiques, department stores, and gourmet restaurants, it’s a haven for high-end shopping and dining experiences.

Omotesando Avenue

Often referred to as Tokyo’s Champs-Elysées, Omotesando Avenue is a tree-lined boulevard known for its upscale boutiques, trendy cafes, and cutting-edge architecture. It’s a fashionable and chic destination for shopping and people-watching.

4. Immerse Yourself in a Traditional Tea Ceremony

A woman in kimono pouring tea for a chanoyu

Sign up for a traditional tea ceremony (chanoyu) session to indulge in a moment of pure relaxation as a skilled tea master unveils the intricate steps of brewing and presenting matcha green tea.

The gentle aroma and smooth texture of matcha, combined with the serene and comforting ambiance of a tatami-matted tearoom—what else could we ask for?

See our recommended tea ceremony locations to include in your Japan travel:

Taihoan

Taihoan, a historic tea house located within the grounds of Taihoan Garden. Taihoan invites visitors to engage in an authentic tea ceremony at an affordable rate. Set in a traditional tea house ambiance, guests are served matcha (with occasional days featuring regular green tea), while the host graciously imparts knowledge on proper tea ceremony etiquette.

Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo

Fukujuen Ujicha Kobo hosts a range of interactive tea-related workshops, including matcha grinding classes where participants can master the art of preparing their own tea. The session culminates in a tasting experience, allowing participants to enjoy the tea they’ve freshly ground.

No prior booking is necessary. Additionally, the facility houses a restaurant offering a variety of tea-infused meals and snacks.

5. Go Cherry Blossom Viewing

cherry blossoms in Japan under the spring sunlight

If you’re visiting Japan in the spring, don’t miss the chance to see the cherry blossoms (sakura) in full bloom. Join locals and tourists alike as they gather beneath the graceful pink petals for hanami (flower viewing) picnics in parks and gardens.

Check out the dates for local hanami festivals and obey local rules (such as treating the plants with care and not leaving behind any garbage) to get the full experience of spring in Japan!

Top cherry-blossom viewing location:

Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo

Situated near the Imperial Palace, Chidorigafuchi is famous for its picturesque sakura-lined moat. Visitors can enjoy serene boat rides while marvelling at the ethereal beauty of the cherry blossoms reflected in the water.

Hirosaki Castle Park, Aomori

Hirosaki Castle Park is renowned for its expansive grounds adorned with over 2,500 cherry trees. The combination of the romantic pink blossoms and the castle’s striking architecture creates a truly magical setting that reminds you of a scene from your favourite anime.

Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

Cherry blossom along the Philosopher's Path in Tokyo

Found in Kyoto, this scenic walking trail along the canal is especially enchanting during cherry blossom season. Lined with hundreds of cherry trees, visitors can take a leisurely stroll while admiring the delicate sakura petals.

Himeji Castle, Hyogo

One of Japan’s most iconic castles, Himeji Castle offers a spectacular backdrop for cherry blossom viewing. The contrast between the castle’s white walls and the vibrant pink blossoms makes this place a compulsory stop to include in your Japan trip!

Mount Yoshino, Nara

Considered one of Japan’s most famous cherry blossom spots, Mount Yoshino boasts over 30,000 cherry trees covering its slopes. Visitors can witness a breathtaking sea of cherry blossoms in varying shades of pink, creating a stunning natural spectacle like no other.

6. Relax in a Traditional Japanese Onsen

Relaxing vibes from a mountain-view traditional Japanese hot spring

Pamper yourself and get rid of all your stresses with a soak in a Japanese onsen (hot spring). Not just your regular hot bath, did you know that onsen’s mineral-rich waters can help better circulation, relieve muscle aches, and improve skin condition?

Whether you prefer an outdoor open-air bath (rotenburo) or a luxurious indoor bath, there is always an onsen experience for you:

Tenzan Onsen, Kanagawa

Tenzan Onsen features a series of elegantly crafted hot spring pools, predominantly situated outdoors at the base of a lush wooded incline, greets visitors. The bathhouse itself embodies the timeless beauty of traditional Japanese architecture, enhancing the overall experience. Conveniently located just a brief stroll away from the Oku-Yumoto Iriguchi bus stop (served by bus line K), it is easily accessible for locals and tourists alike.

Suginoi Hotel (Onsen), Oita

Tanayu serves as the primary hot spring facility within the prestigious Suginoi Hotel, a renowned ryokan within the region. This expansive complex boasts opulent outdoor pools situated atop the building, providing guests with breathtaking, panoramic vistas of the cityscape.

Additionally, visitors have the option to access the adjacent Aqua Garden hot spring facility, where mixed-gender bathing in swimsuits is permitted.

Sainokawara Rotenburo, Gunma

Situated within Sainokawara Park, this expansive rotenburo stands as one of Japan’s largest, with ample space to accommodate over 100 bathers comfortably. Its generous dimensions allow visitors to immerse themselves in the serene beauty of the changing seasons, from vibrant autumn hues to serene snowy landscapes during the winter months.

Daiichi Takimotokan, Hokkaido

The expansive and well-lit baths at Takimotokan stand out as some of Japan’s finest contemporary indoor hot spring facilities, if not the finest. What distinguishes them is not only their abundance of pools but also their unique feature of being supplied by up to five distinct hot spring sources.

These sources provide water with varying levels of acidity, mineral compositions, and therapeutic properties, offering guests a diverse range of health benefits to enjoy.

Sachinoyu, Gifu

View of Gero, Gifu Prefecture

Nestled in the Japanese Alps in Gifu Prefecture, Gero is celebrated for its clear, colorless waters and serene mountain surroundings. One of the most famous hot springs in this onsen town, Sachinoyu, is the preferred destination for travelers seeking relaxation in a variety of baths.

Options for both gender-segregated and mixed-gender baths are available, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in Gero’s traditional atmosphere.

7. Get a Taste of Japan’s Edo Period

Myoryuji Temple or Ninja Temple in Kanazawa, Japan

Wonder what Japan looked like during its feudal era? From well-preserved samurai districts to traditional kaiseki multi-course dining, let Kanazawa transport you into Japan’s Edo period (1603 to 1868) known for being the last period of traditional Japan.

Our favourite historical spots in the city include:

Myoryuji Temple aka Ninja Temple

Founded in 1643, Myoryuji begs to differ from your usual Buddhist temple – it features trap doors, secret rooms, and maze-like passages to fulfil its role as a covert military post. Furthering its disguise, the temple stands four stories tall while appearing as a two-story building from the outside.

Note that you’ll need to make a reservation by phone (076-241-0888) as walk-ins are not allowed! And you might want to ask a friend or your hotel receptionist for help as the temple staff only speaks Japanese.

Nagamachi Samurai District

Women wearing kimono strolling around Nagamachi Samurai District

Located west of Kanazawa Castle Park, Nagamachi shelters Nomura-ke (the restored residence of a high-ranking samurai), Maeda Tosanokami-ke Shiryokan Museum (museum housing historical artefacts of the Maeda clan), Shinise Kinenkan Museum (a restored pharmacy that sheds light on the ascendant merchant class), and the modest Ashigaru Museum (restored homes of low-ranking samurais). The cobblestone streets and earthen walls surrounding the district add to the experience we started missing a life we had probably never lived the last time we went there!

If you are into silk art, make sure to check out the nearby Nagamachi Yuzenkan for some silk painting workshops or shopping.

Higashi Chaya District

Stop by this geisha district to unwind with a cup of matcha, watch a geisha performance, shop gold leaf products, or drink sake. Experience an entertainment scene from 200 years ago in this Instagram-worthy place!

Stay Connected During Your Japan Travel

Wonder how to get to Tsukiji Market, video call loved ones on Mount Fuji’s summit, or discuss work with business contacts during your Japan travel? Stay connected wherever you go with TravelKon’s Japan eSIMs and SIM cards!

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