People crossing the famed Shibuya Crossing at night

Travel Guide to Japan

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Japan spans an archipelago of 6852 islands. Its five main islands are called Honshu (home to Tokyo and Kyoto), Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. Japan’s capital city is Tokyo, the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

Japan’s history is colourful and exciting, and there is evidence that it started in the Upper Paleolithic (30,000BC). Japan is a fascinating country that has seen the rise and fall of emperors, shōguns (military dictators), feudal lords while being ruled by samurai.

Japan is mountainous and forested, with its highest point Mount Fuji, at 3,776 meters (12,385 feet). Japan is part of the Ring of Fire, a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where many natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.

Most Japanese people practise a blend of Shintoism and Buddhism. The native religion of Japan is Shinto, a polytheistic faith with a focus on celebrating the natural world. It’s not uncommon to find Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines at the same site.

Visiting Japan means immersing yourself in ancient and rich Japanese culture that spans thousands of years and evolved to become one of the most advanced and modern countries in the world.

Japan Travel Guides

Momochihama beach in Sawara ward in Fukuoka

Travel Guide to Fukuoka

11 Mar 2024
Hakone Japan

Travel Guide to Hakone

11 Mar 2024
Hiroshima Peace memorial

Travel Guide to Hiroshima

11 Mar 2024
Hokkaido Destinations

Travel Guide to Hokkaido

11 Mar 2024
Mount Sakurajima in Kagoshima city

Travel Guide to Kagoshima

11 Mar 2024
Kamakura large Buddha statue

Travel Guide to Kamakura

11 Mar 2024
Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

Travel Guide to Kanazawa

11 Mar 2024
Shinto priest at Kawagoe kumano shrine

Travel Guide to Kawagoe

11 Mar 2024
Things to do in Kobe

Travel Guide to Kobe

11 Mar 2024
Kyoto looking beautiful in November during Koyo festival, autumn leaves at Kiyomizudera

Travel Guide to Kyoto

11 Mar 2024
Chureito Pagoda with iconic views of Fujisan

Travel Guide to Mount Fuji

11 Mar 2024
Nagasaki Bay View from above

Travel Guide to Nagasaki

11 Mar 2024
Beautiful Japanese Shrine in Nagoya

Travel Guide to Nagoya

11 Mar 2024
Magome juku with its famous steep slope

Travel Guide to Nakasendo

11 Mar 2024
Buddhist Temple Nara

Travel Guide to Nara

11 Mar 2024
Shinkyo Red Bridge Nikko Japan

Travel Guide to Nikko

11 Mar 2024
Naminoue shrine in Okinawa main island

Travel Guide to Okinawa

11 Mar 2024
Osaka Castle during the cherry blossom season

Travel Guide to Osaka

11 Mar 2024
Takayama City Old Street - Where to stay in Takayama

Travel Guide to Takayama

11 Mar 2024
Where to stay in Tokyo - the vastness of Tokyo as seen from above at sunset

Travel Guide to Tokyo

11 Mar 2024
Byodo in Temple in Uji with its reflective pond

Travel Guide to Uji

11 Mar 2024
Cory visiting the the beautiful Kuan Ti Miao temple in Yokohama

Travel Guide to Yokohama

11 Mar 2024

Things to know about Japan

People crossing the famed Shibuya Crossing at night

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Our rental in Okinawa which we called the Varga mobile

Renting a car in Okinawa

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Introduction to Japan Cinematography

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Natural features of Gyokusendo cave

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First Emperor Jimmu

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Japanese hanko or inkan - your guide to personal stamps

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Kyoto or Osaka which is better?

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Beautiful Japanese words

Beautiful Japanese Words

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Cory holding her phone in front of Shibuya area, showcasing useful travel apps for Japan

Best Travel Apps for Japan

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Japanese Kimono Dress Oiran

Oiran vs Geisha – Key differences

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Cory pointing at the onsen with her wrist tattoo visible

Visiting Japan with tattoos

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Basic Japanese phrases

Useful Japanese Phrases for Tourists

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Futuristic sushi robot as itamae inside Mori Art Museum

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Autumn Leaves Koyo in Shinjuku National Garden, Tokyo, Japan

Autumn leaves (Koyo) in Japan

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Pedestrians crossing in Ginza Japan

How to rent a car in Japan

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Must try in Japan: Cory visiting a local sake brewery and taking to the owner about how sake is produced

Why visit Japan

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Is Japan expensive? Cory exploring Japan to find out the real cost of a trip to Japan

Is Japan Expensive?

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Japanese kawaii ocean seal

Kawaii Shop

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Japanese kawaii oven glove

Understanding Japanese Kawaii

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Cory and Greg Wearing a traditional Japanese Kimono in Japan

Wearing a traditional Japanese Kimono

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Woman walking in front of the Tokyo Akihabara Station on a rainy evening

Tokyo Adult Guide: 18+ activities in Japan

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Suave Hanami Japan 2017

Japan Cherry Blossom Guide

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Bamboo Grooves Kyoto

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Japanese ryokan room

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Fushimi Inari Taisha Charm Writing in its signature vermilion red

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Tokyo Subway Train Station

Guide to the Tokyo Subway Map

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Shops Shinjuku Tokyo Japan Night

Strange Shinjuku

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Tokyo from above with its iconic Tokyo Tower

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Greg holding two JR Passes

Japan Rail Pass Guide

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Cute check in Japan with a drawing of me and my husband

hings nobody told you about visiting Japan

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Spiritual Japan

About Japanese Religion

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Popular Japanese food

How to behave in Japan

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Ginza

Why is Tokyo so unique

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Akihabara Tokyo

Strange Akihabara

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Sushi Japan

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Weird and cute sign in the subway in Japan

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Shibuya Crossing at night from Hikarie building Tokyo

Planning a trip to Japan

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Japanese writing – Japan uses three writing systems, kanji, hiragana, and katakana. In Japanese, Japan is pronounced Nippon. It’s written using kanji 日本. The characters mean “sun origin” which is very likely the source of the Western byname “Land of the Rising Sun”

Currency – The official currency in Japan is the Japanese yen (Symbol: ¥, 円, 圓)

Language – The official language in Japan is Japanese. You will see it written in a mixture of kanji, hiragana, katakana. You’ll also come across Romaji, which is Japanese is written out in the Roman alphabet.

ATMs – ATM’s are available in the cities and cards are widely accepted. However, Japan is very cash focused, and it’s best for you to have cash, especially when paying in smaller restaurants and establishments. Your American Express will not be accepted in many places. A way around it is to purchase a SUICA or PASMO card and top it up. You can then use this card to pay in various places. The withdrawal limit on many ATMs is 100,000 yen. For cards with magnetic stripes or for American Express cards, the limit is 30,000 yen.

Plugs & Sockets – In Japan the power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 100 V and the standard frequency is 50 / 60 Hz.

Safety – Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with a very low crime rate. You’ll often find unaccompanied belongings in cafés, bars or in front of shops. This is very common in Japan. One of our main safety tips is to avoid going around Kabukicho, alone, at night.

Climate – Japan has four distinct seasons with a climate ranging from subarctic in the north to subtropical in the south. Northern Japan has warm summers and cold winters with heavy snow. Eastern Japan has hot and humid summers and cold winters with very heavy snow. Western Japan has very hot and humid summers and moderately cold winters. Okinawa and Amami have a subtropical oceanic climate. This means hot and humid summers and mild winters.

Driving – In Japan, cars drive on the left side of the world. Foreign visitors need an international driving licence, passport, and home country driving licence. To save money, train travel is recommended for navigating Japan, as it’s home to fast bullet trains. One of the best money-saving tips is to purchase a Japan Rail Pass to explore Japan, for a more in-depth, amazing trip.

Tipping – Tipping is not required, nor encouraged. Familiarise yourself with the Japanese culture and get this book before visiting Japan.

Drinking water – It’s safe to drink water from the tap in Japan.

Smoking – You can only smoke in designated smoking areas but some indoor establishments allow smoking. You can also book a smoking room in your hotel.

In an emergency – For emergency services, call 119. For the police, call 110, for the coast guard, call 118.

Customs and Manners – The moment you enter Japan, you will notice that people behave differently than the way you might be used to. Japan has strict manners and etiquette that every local follows. Local life might seem different to you, but that’s part of your Japan trip charm. The Japanese are quite proud of their unique cultural heritage and is deeply ingrained in how the country runs. Familiarise yourself with the essential customs and manners in Japan. Order your copy of the book here.

Useful phrases – Here are a few things to learn in Japanese.

  • Hello – Kon’nichiwa!
  • Goodbye – Mata ne
  • Goodbye forever – Sayōnara (please note, this means farewell, like a final goodbye and it’s rarely used)
  • Yes – Hai
  • No – Īe
  • Excuse me – Sumimasen
  • Please – Onegaishimasu
  • Thank you – Arigatō
  • Thank you very much – Arigatōgozaimasu
  • I don’t understand – Wakarimasen
  • Help – Tasukete

Visa

Most nationalities can enter Japan visa-free for a short-term stay. A short-term stay is up to 90 days for tourism, business, visiting friends or relatives etc that does not include remunerative activities.

There are currently 68 countries and regions for visa exemptions including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. However, please ensure you always check your Visa conditions before booking a flight, even if you are from a Visa exemption countries/regions. You can read more about how to obtain a visa on the official Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Safety in Japan

Japan is a very safe country and crime levels are low across Japan. Japan is a safe travel destination for solo and group travellers. The majority of visits to Japan are trouble-free. Always buy travel insurance before arriving in Japan.

As with any destination, you should maintain the same level of vigilance and practice common sense. It’s safe to walk at night and to take public transport.

Tokyo’s entertainment districts are considered at higher risk for crime. Avoid entering clubs and bars in the Kabukicho area without a guide or a local who you can trust. Take steps to ensure your drink cannot be tampered with.

Don’t accompany street touts to any bar or establishment. Remember that hospitals might need to confirm that you have valid insurance before admitting you as a patient.

Road travel is safe, and you must adhere to all the rules and regulations. Remember to have all the correct documents with you at all time, as the penalty for driving in Japan without the correct documents are severe.

Remember that there are some exclusion zones around the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The areas are identified by the Japanese authorities and kept up to date.

Best time to visit Japan

Ōkōchi Sansō in Arashiyama, Kyoto in November

Best time to visit Kyoto

09 Mar 202434 min read
Stunning blue pond in Hokkaido during autumn

Best time to visit Hokkaido

07 Mar 20249 min read
Yoyogi Park Tokyo Autumn Red Leaves

Best time to visit Japan

07 Mar 202420 min read
Blossom Sakura Japan Spot

Spring in Japan

07 Mar 20244 min read
Winter in Japan

Winter in Japan

09 Mar 20246 min read

Japan is a year-round destination, and every season has something incredible to offer. Japan has four distinct seasons, average temperatures are not consistent across the country. Each season has a cultural significance in Japan. Food in Japan relies on celebrating seasonal produce.

The best time to visit Japan is during Spring (March-May) or Autumn (September – November). Many come to visit Japan during the cherry blossom season, when the entire country becomes a stunning display of pink Sakura leaves. To see the cherry blossoms, you’ll normally plan for a trip to Japan sometime in mid-April.

Right after the cherry blossom season, Japan enters the Golden week, one of the most important national holidays in the country. Golden Week, Japanese Ōgon Shūkan represents a series of four holidays that take place at the end of April and the beginning of May. If you wish to visit Japan during Spring, make sure to plan ahead as accommodation will fill up very fast, usually months in advance. Hokkaido cherry blossoms typically bloom in early May.

Summers are hot and humid in Japan. Summer is the best time to climb Mount Fuji. The climbing season for Mt. Fuji is from early July to early September. Outside the climbing season, it’s prohibited to climb Mt Fuji.

Autumn is a spectacular time to enjoy a Japan tour. Japan is a wonderful place during autumn, especially when you can admire the Koyo leaves. In Kyoto especially, the foliage is incredible. If you can imagine a Japanese classic landscape with traditional shrines and stunning deciduous leaves, then autumn will provide it. Autumns are great for a mid-range budget traveller.

Winter is a perfect time to visit if you are on a tight budget. You will be able to find cheap accommodation in major cities. One exception is the capital of Hokkaido during the Sapporo Snow Festival. The Snow Festival is held annually over a period of seven days in February. Winter is a popular time to visit among winter sports enthusiasts who love the incredible ski resorts in Japan. Winter is a great time to visit if saving money is a priority.

How to get around

Travel has one of the best infrastructures in the world, which means that Japan is easy to visit. You will never have issues relying on public transport. Your trip abroad in Japan will feel very carefree, as you will rarely have to worry about getting from place to place. Japan is a wonderful place and to fully appreciate your Japan trip it’s best to visit at least a few major cities as well as other destinations and points of interest. Here’s how to get around in Japan.

By bullet train – The bullet trains in Japan, known as the Shinkansen, are fast and reliable and always on time. To save money, buy a JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass) in advance. A JR Pass allows you to enjoy unlimited travel around the country for the duration of your pass. A ticket on the bullet train is not cheap, which is why, if you are visiting several cities and points of interest, a JR Pass is really worth it as it will save you a lot of money. Train stations in Japan are clean and well maintained. You can purchase your tickets in advance or from a train station. Make sure to follow the queuing system in Japan. Shinkansen trains are cleaned several times a day.

By bus – Shinkansen links larger cities and some towns, but there are times when you will rely on local trains and buses. Buses run on time, are clean and well maintained. Highway buses are inexpensive alternatives to trains for long and medium distance travel. There are plenty of regional and local buses as well.

By subway – Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka have a comprehensive subway system. However, the Tokyo system is the most impressive and comprehensive of them all. You can check the Tokyo subway map, which operates 180 stations on nine different lines. The route covers 195 km (121.2 miles). As of 2020, the combined subway network of the Tokyo and Toei metros comprises 286 stations and 13 lines, covering a total system length of 304.0 kilometres (188.9 mi). The Tokyo subway has 8.7 million daily passengers. To travel by subway, purchase a SUICA or PASMO card and top it up with the desired amount. Simply tap to get in and when you exit to be billed for your travel. Almost every train station will have a top-up machine if you need it. You can also use your contactless card.

By taxi – If you need to get somewhere quick, you can always ask your hotel to book you a taxi. You don’t have to touch the exterior of a taxi car, as the taxi driver will automatically open the door for you and help you with any luggage. You might have to rely on a taxi if you need to be at the airport in the middle of the night. The taxi ride will feel very smooth and pretty incredible.

By car – If you want to take advantage of a long and fun road trip to Japan, you can rent a car. Rentals can be expensive in Japan, and rates are increased during peak seasons. There are places where having a rental makes a lot of sense, like northern Japan. This is because Hokkaido’s attractions are quite spread out and not as well-connected by public transport.

By plane – When you visit Japan from other countries, you will very likely arrive by plane. And very likely, you will land in Tokyo in either Narita or Haneda. Japan Airlines, also known as JAL or Nikkō, is an international airline and Japan’s flag carrier. There are ample options for domestic air travel in Japan.

Japan itineraries

Itsukushima shrine with its great floating torii

Hiroshima to Miyajima Day Trip Itinerary

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Mount Sakurajima in Kagoshima city

2 day Kagoshima Itinerary

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Okinawa Weed Beach from above

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Kawagoe day trip from Tokyo - 1 day itinerary to see the kurazukuri no machinamino

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Chinatown in Yokohama during my Yokohama day trip

1 Day Yokohama Itinerary

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Kamakura day trip from Tokyo first stop at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu

Kamakura day trip from Tokyo

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Pirate ship cruise on Lake Ashi in Hakone

Day trip to Hakone

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The beautiful Kanmangafuchi Abyss as seen on a day trip to Nikko

Day Trip To Nikko

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View from Roppongi in Tokyo

3 days in Tokyo itinerary

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Himeji Castle during sakura season as part of my 3 weeks in Japan itinerary

Japan 3 week itinerary

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Kyoto Gion Japanese Street Night

Kyoto 2 day Itinerary

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Beautiful Hokkaido Itinerary

15 Day Hokkaido Itinerary

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5 days in Tokyo itinerary - beautiful Tokyo from above as seen from Omohara Garden at sunset

5 days in Tokyo itinerary

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Places to visit in Tokyo

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Day Trips from Kyoto

Day trips from Kyoto

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Watanabe Sahei Sake Brewery Nikko

Day trips from Tokyo

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osaka cherry blossom

4 Days in Osaka Itinerary

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Cory and G seeing Mount Fuji during their 2 weeks in Japan itinerary

2 Weeks in Japan Itinerary

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Himeji Castle Japan

Day trip to Himeji Japan

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Getting from Tokyo to Nagoya

Getting from Tokyo to Nagoya

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Cory and G seeing Mount Fuji during their 2 weeks in Japan itinerary

Tokyo to Mount Fuji Day Trip

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Hiroshima From Osaka Floating Gate

Hiroshima from Osaka

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Tokyo local in front of an intersection at night

7 Day Tokyo Itinerary

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Cory and G during their 7 days in Japan itinerary

7 Day Japan Itinerary

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Places To Visit Outside Tokyo

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Kyoto Gion Shrine Temple Night

24 hours in Kyoto Itinerary

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View of Jisho-ji also known as Ginkaku-ji or the Silver Pavilion from the top of the garden

5 Day Kyoto Itinerary

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Japanese salaryman passing a local coffee joint in Shibuya

1 day Tokyo Itinerary

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Prepare for your Japan travel by making sure you have a comprehensive itinerary in place. You should aim to spend at least 7 days in Japan. A week in Japan can be divided between Tokyo and Kyoto.

However, 2 weeks in Japan will enable you to visit a few more cities and points of interest. If you are completing an ancient pilgrimage route, your trip to Japan should be around 3 weeks long.

Visiting Japan is very exciting and usually, 7-19 days are ideal for first-time visitors to Japan. But the more you visit, the more you’ll want to come back and see even more of this wonderful country.

You don’t need a guide to visit Japan. You can complete all the itineraries on your own by using a rental or public transport which is reliable. It’s easy to tour Japan on your own, and it’s perfectly safe to do so.

Things to do in Japan

Seeing Sakurajima from the observation deck in Kagoshima

Things to do in Kagoshima

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Local wearing cool and trendy clothes in front of Takeshita street Harajuku

Things to do in Harajuku

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Visiting Kerama islands is one of the main attractions in Okinawa

Things to do in Okinawa, Japan

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The beautiful city of Fukuoka at sunset

Things to do in Fukuoka

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Entrance to Nezu Museum Aoyama

Top Museums in Japan

07 Mar 202418 min read
Hiking in Hakone, on the Hakone shrine approach

Things to do In Hakone, Japan

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Hiroshima Miyajima island

Things to do in Hiroshima, Japan

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Snow Monkeys bathing in their hot spring at Snow Monkey Park in Nagano, Japan

Things to do in Nagano, Japan

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Yokohama skyline at night

Things to do in Yokohama, Japan

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Tokyo nightlife

Authentic Tokyo nightlife

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Cory and Greg seeing Mount Fuji-san at sunset, one of the best things to do in Japan

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Japanese Kimono Dress Oiran

Japan Travel Blog

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Best 50 things to do in Kyoto

50 best things to do in Kyoto, Japan

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Red Store Shibuya Tokyo

Things to do in Tokyo at night

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Best Things to do in Nagoya

Things to do in Nagoya, Japan

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Things to do in Kobe

Things to do in Kobe, Japan

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things to do in osaka

Things to do in Osaka, Japan

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Drinking Tokyo Pub Crawl

Tokyo Pub Crawl Experience

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Cory seeing the Sumo Players Morning Practice - one of the unique things to do in Tokyo

Sumo Wrestling in Tokyo

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Exterior Samurai House Nikko

Things to do in Nikko, Japan

07 Mar 202415 min read
People crossing the famed Shibuya Crossing at night

things to do in Shibuya, Tokyo

07 Mar 202427 min read
Bird's eye view of the Shinjuku Train Station from the Shinjuku Southern Terrace (Penguin Square)

Things To Do In Shinjuku, Tokyo

26 Mar 202413 min read
Tokyo Ginza at night

Things to do in Ginza, Tokyo

07 Mar 202420 min read
Salaryman entering a Yokocho in Tokyo at night

Things to do in Tokyo, Japan

09 Mar 202446 min read
Matcha cake Japan

Shijo Dori, Kyoto

12 Mar 20242 min read
Kyobashi matsuri held in Nihonbashi, held October in Tokyo

Free Things To Do in Tokyo

12 Mar 202411 min read
Traditional teahouses and machiya in Gion district Japan

Guide to Gion District, Kyoto

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spiritual sensoji tokyo

Must Do Guide in Tokyo

07 Mar 20246 min read
View of Tokyo from above

Tokyo From Above

09 Mar 202410 min read
Top things to do in Nara - A sika deer in front of the Todaiji Temple

Best things to do in Nara

07 Mar 20248 min read
Shinjuku skyscrapers from Shinjuku National Park

Get Lost in Shinjuku

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A Japanese snow monkey in Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park enjoying its time in the onsen

Snow Monkey Park, Nagano

09 Mar 202410 min read
Beautiful round Moon Pine tree in Ueno Park

Things To Do in Ueno, Tokyo

07 Mar 202413 min read
Tsukiji Market stalls at night when it's closed and quiet

Tsukiji Fish Market

08 Mar 20248 min read

There are so many things to do in Japan, you’ll never get bored. It has many tourist attractions and points of interest ranging from cultural to fun and playful. You can explore Japan on your own but if you prefer meeting like-minded travellers, you can get opt for small group tours or join walking tours in some of the cities.

Bathe in an onsen

Bathing in an onsen is one of the best things to do in Japan. Onsen is about celebrating mother nature in Japan as you immerse your body in natural hot springs. Some luxury ryokans offer private onsen facilities with incredible views of the nearby mountains. There is a whole ritual about it which makes the experience even more exciting. No trip to Japan is complete without trying a traditional onsen. Book your admission ticket for the FuFuNoYu Onsen in Kyoto.

Go on a pub crawl in Tokyo

One of the coolest ways to experience Tokyo is to go on a pub crawl with a local to get a taste of what izakayas are like. You’ll be surrounded by locals enjoying themselves after a long day at work. Try the snacks, and the local beverages including beer, whiskey, and sake. Your Japan travel is all about immersing yourself in new experiences. Book your pub crawl experience here.

Dress in a kimono

Always wanted to wear a silk kimono and look incredible? You can do this in Japan as there are many provides that help you get dressed in a beautiful traditional kimono. For an outstanding experience, you might want to consider dressing up as an oiran or samurai. At the end of the experience, find a silk shop and buy your own traditional kimono to take home. Book a kimono experience in Asakusa, Tokyo.

See the Snow Monkeys in Nagano

One of the coolest things to do in Japan is to see snow monkeys relaxing in hot springs, in the mountains of Nagano. Visit on a cold day, so the snow monkeys have a reason to bathe in the hot onsen. Besides, you’ll enjoy a walk on an ancient forested path. It’s worth noting that this is in line with responsible travel, and it’s not considered animal tourism as the monkeys are free to roam in the wilderness. They are not kept in captivity. Book your Snow Monkey experience.

See a game of Sumo

Time your arrival to see an actual game of sumo. If that’s not possible or tickets have sold out, book a morning tour to see a sumo practice. It’s very fascinating and insightful and your guide will tell you quite a lot about the players, their diet, and rules. At the end of the practice, you might be able to meet the sumo players. Book your Tokyo Sumo Morning Practice.

Go skiing in Japan

Did you know Japan is an incredible skiing destination? Take a trip to Japan to see how snowy the mountains get in the winter. Not many tourists know that Japan is a fantastic destination for winter sports. If you’ve never skied before, don’t worry, as there are skiing schools with trained professionals so you can learn a new skill. Just make sure you add skiing and winter sports as an add-on to your travel insurance.

Visit Akihabara

Akihabara, much like Shinjuku, can be a little unusual at times. Akihabara is also known for its large shops, some of which sell magazines, electronics, and even cosmetics. You can also come to Akihabara to find anime figurines and posters with Sailor Moon. There are several electronic souvenirs for good prices here, like instant Fuji cameras, phones, and computer parts. For maid cafés, Akihabara is a must-visit in Japan. Book your Street Go Karting Experience in Akihabara.

Take the Shinkansen

You won’t believe how incredible the Shinkansen is. Not only it’s fast and efficient, but also clean and well-kept. People are quiet and well-mannered, making the trip even more convenient and pleasant. The Shinkansen tickets can get expensive, so if you are travelling via train, make sure to purchase a JR Pass.

Have a karaoke session

Karaoke means an empty orchestra, which has such a deep and beautiful meaning. Karaoke is a Japanese word, so you must try a karaoke session while in Japan. Book a karaoke room in advance and go there with your travel companions. Most rooms have comfortable seats, soundproofing, as well as drinks, included.

Eat street food

No trip to Japan is complete without trying street food. You’ll want anything and everything you find available at food stalls. You’ll want to visit the great Nishiki market in Kyoto, lined with stalls offering incredible food. Try matcha cakes, octopus on a stick, smoked tofu, noodles and fluffy cakes.

There is no such thing as bad food in Japan. You’ll love it all. Besides, food stalls are very clean, and the owners take great pride in providing great food. Book your Izakaya Food Tour in Shinjuku.

See the cherry blossom season

Seeing the Sakura season in Japan is a must. Even if you can’t do it during your first trip to Japan, you’ll want to come back to the country for more. See the cherry blossom in a major city like Tokyo or Kyoto, then head over to Yoshino to admire landscapes of what looks like floating mountains thanks to the incredible pink hues of the Sakura petals.

Places to see in Japan

The pond feature in the Water Garden - Okinawa Southeast Botanical Gardens

Okinawa Southeast Botanical Gardens

07 Mar 20244 min read
The gorgeous Ginza Six rooftop on a rainy day

Ginza Six Rooftop, Tokyo

07 Mar 20242 min read
Lucky cat figurines on outdoor wooden shelves at Gotokuji temple

Gotokuji Temple, Tokyo

07 Mar 20249 min read
Torii Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine)

07 Mar 202410 min read
Welcome to Nago Pineapple Park sign

Nago Pineapple Park in Okinawa

11 Mar 202414 min read
Golden pavilion in Kyoto - one of the most popular Japan tourist attractions

Popular Japan Tourist Attractions

07 Mar 202422 min read
Cory admiring the most iconic landmark in Japan: Mount Fuji

Stunning Landmarks in Japan

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Yanaka Ginza during the day

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The path at Bise Fukugi Road Okinawa

Bise Fukugi Tree Road

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Views of Mt Fuji from Enoshima Island

Guide to Enoshima Island

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Magome Juku postal town in Kiso Valley Japan

Magome Juku, Japan

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Shibuya Crossing at night from Hikarie building Tokyo

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Views of Nakameguro Rooftops

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View from Roppongi in Tokyo

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Entrance to Ame Yokocho in Ueno Park

Ameyoko Shopping Street

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View of Tokyo from the lobby of Bills Ginza

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Streets of Golden Gai at night

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The distinctive mirrors at Tokyu Plaza Omotesando

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku

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Memory Lane in Tokyo at night

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Shibuya Crossing at night from Hikarie building Tokyo

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Arashiyama Bamboo Forest at night, illuminated during the December Hanatouro festival ©Cory Varga

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Top of Mount Hiei: View of Kyoto and Lake Biwa

Guide to Mount Hiei

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Byodo in Temple in Uji with its reflective pond

Day trip to Uji

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Fushimi Inari Taisha Torii Gate Pathway

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Incense and visitors enjoying the beautiful Senso-ji in Asakusa

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Japan has so many incredible places for you to discover. Your trip to Japan will take you places you couldn’t have imagined existed. Walk the paths that samurai and geisha walked for centuries before you. Hike mountains surrounded by cherry blossoms and see dreamy landscapes in all their splendour. Drive around Hokkaido and see stunning flower carpets and dive into Okinawa’s waters, Japan’s tropical islands.

Fushimi Inari Shrine

One of the most well-known places to visit in Japan is Fushimi Inari Shrine. Fushimi Inari Shrine is the most important spiritual ground dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice. Most tourists come to Fushimi Inari Shrine to follow the mountain path through the wooded forests of the Mountain Inari. The best times to visit Fushimi Inari Shrine is either first thing in the morning or late in the evening. Book a Fushimi Inari Hidden Hiking Tour.

Mount Fuji

To see the elusive Mt Fuji, take a day trip from Tokyo on a sunny day, when you are almost certain there won’t be any cloud above the mountain. Take a trip to one of the five lakes around the mountain for the best chance to see it. An easy option is to head over to Lake Kawaguchi. You’ll also get to see the snowed-capped mountain during your train ride as well. Book your tour to Lake Kawaguchi.

Arashiyama Bamboo forest

A gem located in Kyoto, the Arashiyama bamboo forest is a well-known tourist attraction in Japan. Make sure your Japan travel itinerary has it on the list, as you’ll want to walk the path lined with swaying bamboo stalks. Along the path, you’ll stop at many temples and shrines and see some incredible Japanese gardens. Book your Arashiyama Rickshaw Tour.

Miyajima Island

Itsukushima, also known as Miyajima, is a small island in Hiroshima Bay. To get to you, you’ll need to make your way to Hiroshima, and from there you’ll take a ferry across. The island is incredible and should be seen at low and hide tide. There are many trails on the hillside and also plenty of restaurants with street food and typical Japanese delicacies. Purchase deer biscuits and feed the local deer, and try some delicious oysters, especially great in the region. Book your Hiroshima and Miyajima tour.

Nikko

An often-overlooked location amongst tourists, Nikko is a stunning mountain destination full of trails, vista points and waterfalls. Start your tour from the Nikko town, then take one of the local buses all the way to the top of the mountains, where you can find some of the most secluded and stunning ryokans with access to a Japanese onsen.

Yoshino

Often votes the most beautiful place in Japan to see the cherry blossoms, Yoshino is a popular destination that fills up fast. Take a day trip to Yoshino from Kyoto, Osaka or Nara, just stay overnight in a traditional ryokan. Along the paths, you’ll find restaurants that serve authentic kaiseki with views over the Sakura trees.

Hokkaido

Hokkaido is a whole island with many points of interest, but if you can spend time driving around it, you’ll have the best of time. Hokkaido is especially known for its fresh seafood and flower landscapes. In the winter, Sapporo, the capital city of the island, truly comes to the island with ice sculptures and snow celebrations. Visit the Shirogane blue pond and Lake Tōya. Book your Sapporo tour.

Okinawa

Beach bums must-see Okinawa, the tropical islands of Japan. Crystal clear waters, sandy beaches and perfect seafood dishes all await you in Okinawa. Visit Yonaha Beach, one of the best in the prefecture, see Taketomi island and relax on Zamami island. Life here is quieter and a lot more relaxed.

Kamikochi

Kamikōchi is a remote mountainous highland valley within the Hida Mountains range, located in Nagano prefecture. It is considered one of Japan’s National Cultural Assets. It is sometimes referred to as the “Japanese Yosemite Valley”.

Kumano Kodo

Kumano Kodo is 70 km in length, and it usually takes 4 days to complete. For 1000 years, many people, including emperors and Japanese aristocrats, made the arduous pilgrimage to Kumano. Walking the ancient Kumano Kodo is a fantastic way to experience the unique cultural landscape of Kumano’s spiritual countryside. This path is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage.

What to pack for Japan

What to wear in Japan

What To Wear In Japan

07 Mar 202416 min read

What to pack for Japan

07 Mar 202413 min read

The suitcase for your trip to Japan might look a little different depending on the season and location you wish to visit in Japan. The good news is that if you forget anything, Japan has so many convenience stores where you will find anything you need. There are plenty of clothes shops too, especially in places like Ginza where you can find great quality items. And you might want to consider shopping in Japan anyway because the quality of items and service is usually far superior to almost anywhere else in the world.

Don’t leave without travel documents and a copy of your travel insurance. Make sure you have a copy of your itinerary as well. We recommend buying this travel planner to have everything written down, just in case.

For Spring, you’ll want to pack layers. You will need a light jacket or a trench, and waterproofs as well. While sunny and lovely, you will find that Japan gets showers and the evenings are cold. Pack dresses, skirts, shorts but also jeans, tights, walking shoes and a sweater. You can’t go wrong with a thermal layer.

For Summer, you’ll want breezy dresses and linen shirts and shorts. It will be hot and humid, so add sandals and comfortable shoes.

Autumn will be warm in the day and cool at night, so it’s best to get your waterproofs, especially if you want to do some walking trails in the mountains. Bring comfortable shoes, and layers. Add a couple of sweaters, some tights, jeans, and thermals.

Winter is cold, so you’ll want to pack your snow jacket and your snow boots. Add as many layers as you can, including wool sweaters and thermal trousers.

Bring your favourite cosmetics and travel makeup but remember you can go shopping in any place in Japan.

Where to stay in Japan

Tokyo Shibuya crossing from Shibuya Hikarie

Where to stay in Shibuya

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Takayama City Old Street - Where to stay in Takayama

Where to stay in Takayama

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Nagasaki Skyline at Night

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Beautiful entrance to Fukuoka onsen at night

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Autumn foliage at Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

Where to stay in Kanazawa

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Momochihama beach in Sawara ward in Fukuoka

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Beautiful beach - Where to stay in Okinawa Japan

Where to stay in Okinawa

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Nagoya city centre shot at night, one of the best areas for accommodation

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Where to stay in Sapporo - city snow at night with neon lights

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Where to stay in Hiroshima floating torii gate on Miyajima island - perfect place for couples and nature lovers

Where to stay in Hiroshima, Japan

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View of Snowy mount Fuji from Hakone

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The front entrance at Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan

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A ryokan with onsen during a snowy evening in Kyoto

Kyoto Onsen

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Where to Stay in Kyoto

Where to stay in Kyoto

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Kita at night - one of the most vibrant places to stay in Osaka Japan

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Where to stay in Tokyo - the vastness of Tokyo as seen from above at sunset

Where to stay in Tokyo

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Accommodation in Japan can be on the expensive side, but with a little planning, you can find fantastic deals. Japan has a range of accommodation options, and you should book your hotel at least a couple of months in advance.

Japan is a popular travel destination and unique in many ways. You can stay in a capsule hotel in Tokyo if you wish to save money but can also splurge in the most incredible experience in a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan). Stay in a ryokan if you visit Kyoto and take advantage of the onsen option available to you. An onsen is a natural hot spring in Japan.

Major cities will have business hotels, mid-range and luxury hotels. If saving money is a priority, then you’ll want to consider a business hotel. While the rooms are compact, there are clean and affordable.

Luxury hotels in Japan are found in key locations like Shinjuku or Shibuya. The rooms are large and comfortable, and the service is top-notch.

Japanese cuisine

Umi Budo Sea Grapes from Okinawa

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The barista counter at Tokyo Sanryo

Tokyo Saryo Experience

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High tea at Palace Lounge Tokyo

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Master at work shaking cocktails at Sakurai Japanese tea experience

Sakurai Japanese Tea Experience

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Entrance to Ogawa Coffee Laboratory

Ogawa Coffee Laboratory

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Shoyu ramen in a Tokyo ramen joint

Different types of ramen

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Hotpot of duck breast at Kikunoi Honten in Kyoto

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Kokoro care package inside the Vegan Shojin Ryori Zen Pack

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Japan Crate subscription box contents

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Tokyo Treat box review is it worth it?

Tokyo Treat Box Review

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Exciting contents of Sakuraco box

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Shibuya Yokocho red lanterns at night

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Delicious Japanese desserts

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Eel in Red Miso Nagoya

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Japanese Gyoza Tokyo challenge

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Tsuta Michelin Star Restaurant Ramen

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Japanese Tea Ceremony Matcha

Japanese Tea Ceremony

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Japanese food sushi soy

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Chocobanana served on a stick as street food

Tokyo Streetfood

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Hoppy drinks from the Hoppy street adjacent to Senso-ji temple

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Sashimi course, part of the Kaiseki dinner at Hanasaki Manjiro

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Mochi Tokyo Japan

Tokyo Streetfood

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Japanese cuisine is considered one of the best in the world. With more Michelin star restaurants than any other country and plenty of street food options, you’ll never get bored with the food here. Your trip to Japan will be about food, and once you sample some dishes, you’ll fall in love with the country even more.

The Japanese have a worldwide reputation for being incredibly passionate about their food. Throughout the centuries, skilful chefs have perfected the art of cooking. With every bite of sushi or each sip of ramen, you can tell that Japanese food has a soul.

Most people associate Japan with sushi, and for good reason. Japan is home to the largest fish market in the world, which means, you’ll sample some of the freshest fish. Sushi chefs (itamae) train for years before they are allowed to make your most exquisite sushi.

Try ramen while you are in Japan. Every region has its own ramen with different flavours. In Himeji, you can even find a usual, yet delicious milk ramen. Since your whole trip is all about tasting food, you will want to add mochi, dango and takoyaki to your list of must-try dishes and snacks. Order tonkatsu from one of the rural villages and eat the best Japanese sweets from a traditional tea house, where you’ll also learn about the Japanese tea ceremony.

Stop at a family mart or a 7-eleven and grab a snack on the go and get a hot beverage from one of the 5 million vending machines in the country.

Shopping and Souvenirs

The lattice entrance to Sunny Hills Aoyama

SunnyHills Aoyama, Tokyo

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Unique Souvenirs to buy from Japan

Souvenirs To Buy In Japan

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Where to Buy Engagement Rings in Tokyo Japan

Where to buy engagement rings in Tokyo, Japan

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You can stop at a souvenir shop to purchase the usual gifts from Japan or you can go to a shop in Japan and combine souvenir hunting with an awesome shopping experience.

Head over to a supermarket in Japan to purchase sweets and drinks from Japan for family and friends. Buy a box of mochi or a small bottle of sake. You can find rice crackers, jellies, and all sorts of unique items that taste fantastic.

If you wish to purchase clothes, you can visit one of the main shopping centres. Even train stations will have plenty of shopping options, so you’ll never be too far from one. For unique items, head over to Tokyo Hands, a cute shop in Tokyo that’s particularly great for souvenirs from Japan. The Loft in Shibuya is another great option where you’ll find items for home, kitchen, office, and even your car. The products are cute and memorable, and you’ll want to bring home so many gifts from your Japan travel.