15 Unique Experiences You Must Not Miss When You’re in Japan

Make no mistake – Japan is a unique and truly beautiful country, made up of unique people and things to see and do. There’s more to this country than matcha green tea and cherry blossoms, and truly, it deserves to be explored – their unparalleled creativity knows no bounds, especially when it comes to welcoming visitors.

When you get the chance to visit Japan, make sure to put these things to do on your bucket list. We have a long list of suggestion on what to do, eat, see and enjoy all over Japan.

1. Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, for a day of fun and fantasy

Image source: usj.co.jp/

Don’t let the cozy weather and cherry blossoms fool you – Japan can also be a country thrill-seekers would love too. In one place, you get access to Harry Potter world (where you could be a wizard for a day!), get your adrenaline pumping on thrilling rides, and enjoy show-stopping entertainment. Universal Studios Japan is not to be missed, and we bet many tourists and locals would agree.

  • Location: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 554-0031, Japan
  • How to get there: From the Osaka station, take the JR Osaka Loop line to the Nishikujo station, then the JR Yumesaki line to the Universal City Station.
  • Operating hours: 9am to 7pm everyday, on average (check https://www.usj.co.jp/e/parkguide/calendar.html)
  • Rates: ¥7,600 for adults, ¥5,100 for children below 12

2. Tokyo Disney Resort to entertain both kids and grown-ups

Image source: tokyodisneyresort.jp

Kids and kids-at-heart, this is your haven in Japan. Relive your childhood for a day (or more, because why not?) at Tokyo Disney Resort, where you can meet your Disney favorites up close and personal. Tokyo Disney Resort is sprawling with life, and you can choose among three different attractions: Disneyland, DisneySea or Disney Resort.

  • Location: 1-13 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture 279-0031, Japan
  • How to get there: From the Tokyo Station, take the JR Keiyo or JR Musashino lines to the Maihama Station
  • Opening hours: Opening and closing time vary, please check http://info.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/calendar/201802.html#20180201
  • Rates: ¥7,400 for adults, ¥6,400 for teenagers below 18, ¥4,800 for children below 12

3. Nara Deer Park to be see real life Bambis

Image source: facebook.com/奈良公園-Nara-Park-515834485289215/

How often can you say you’ve seen a deer with your own two eyes? The deer at Nara Deer Park are quite endearing (pun intended), and you can make them happy by feeding them too. When your stomach’s grumbling, there’s street food nearby too, so don’t worry if you find yourself staying here for an entire afternoon. You just might.

  • Location: Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan
  • How to get there: Only a five-minute walk towards the east from the Kintetsu Nara Station.
  • Opening hours: Accessible 24/7
  • Rates: No access fee

4. Ginkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto, to experience centuries-old traditions

Image source: Instagram.com | daiwandeyi

Ginkaku-ji started as a retirement home for shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa. But since its conception 500 years ago, it’s become a temple and the center of contemporary culture. When you’re at Ginkaku-ji, you get to experience firsthand where the likes of the Japanese tea ceremony, flower arrangement, noh theater, and architecture came from.

  • Location: 2 Ginkakuji-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City
  • How to get there: From the Kyoto Station, take the 5, 17 or 100 busses directly to the Ginkakuji
  • Opening hours: 8:30am to 5:00pm daily (9:30am-4pm from December to February)
  • Rates: ¥500

5. Fushimi Inari-taisha Temple, Kyoto, for a magical experience

Image source: instagram.com | jwestie

The Fushimi Inari-taisha Temple is probably one of the most iconic sights in Japan. This is where people go to pray for generous harvests and prosperity, and we seriously won’t be surprised if there’s some kind of magic going on here.

  • J〒612-0882 Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, Fushimi-ku, Fukakusa Yabunouchicho, Japan
  • Right outside the Inari Station, JR Nara Line
  • Open 24/7
  • No access fee

6. Meiji Jingu Shrine, Tokyo, for a zen walk in its park

Image source: instagram.com | sunxg

If you’re curious about how Japan became one of the world’s most influential countries in the modern era, you have Emperor Meiji to thank for that. Long story short, his rule brought Japan to the height of its modernization before the World War. This shrine pays tribute to Emperor Meiji, and it’s a beautiful sprawling greenery in the middle of busy Tokyo.

  • Location: 1-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-8557, Japan
  • How to get there: The shrine is just a few meters away from the Harajuku Station of the JR Yamanote Line, or the Meiji-jingu-mae Station of the Chiyoda or Fukutoshin Subway Lines
  • Opening hours: Open from sunrise to sunset daily
  • The shrine itself is free to access, but the attractions inside cost ¥500 each to access

7. Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo, to find out your fortune

Image source: instagram.com | adachi_nightphoto

Japan has many, many temples, but few are as colorful and lively as Senso-ji in Asakusa. This is probably why many patrons flock to this temple – it’s not only beautifully designed, but it also features a shopping street filled with yukata, folding fans, and various Japanese sweets. Take a moment and try to learn your future via omikuji.

  • Location: 2 Chome-3-1 Asakusa, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0032, Japan
  • How to get there: Only a few meters away from the Asakusa Station, of the Ginza and Asakusa Subway Lines, and the Tobu Railways.
  • Operating hours: 6am to 5pm (6:30am opening from October to March)
  • Rates: No access fee

8. Shinsaibashi-suji Shotengai, Osaka, for a true japanese shopping experience

Image source: instagram.com | mosle

Shinsaibashi-suji Shotengai finds it easy to capture eyes and hearts because it’s an eclectic blend of high-end and quirky shopping finds. In one long, long street, you can shop ’til you drop – and we can bet you you’ll find anything you need here, whatever it may be.

  • Location: 2 Chome-2-22 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0085, Japan
  • How to get there: Right above the Shinsaibashi Subway Station
  • Opening hours: Open roughly from 10am to 9pm daily
  • Rates: Open to public, no access fee

9. Dotonbori Street, Osaka, to try flavourful takoyaki

Image source; instagram.com | nupuripiapa

If you walk a bit farther into Shinsaibashi-suji Shotengai, you’ll find yourself at Dotonbori Street. This street is lined with glittering night lights, dining options from the high-end to Japanese street food, and bars and pubs for the night crawlers. Don’t dare skip out on a trip here – you will regret it.

  • Location: Dotonbori, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0071, Japan
  • How to get there: 5 minutes walk from the Namba Subway Station
  • Opening hours: Open roughly from 10am to 9pm daily
  • Rates: Open to public, no access fee

10. Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M, Osaka, for the best wagyu you can have

Image source: instagram.com | angelchuaaa

The most expensive beef in the world is not expensive for no reason. Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M serves up the best Matsusaka Beef in the world, offering patrons the chance to bite into the softest and most marbled beef to ever touch their taste buds. It’s a little painful on the wallet, but it’s definitely a must-try.

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  • Location: 1 Chome-1-17 Nanba, Chuo, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0076, Japan
  • How to get there: 5 minutes walk from the Namba Subway Station
  • Operating Hours: 12nn to 9pm daily (upon reservation)
  • Rates: ¥20,000 to ¥40,000 for two people

11. Ichiran Ramen, Tokyo, because you must have ramen

Image source: jj_foodie

A trip to Japan isn’t complete without authentic, Japanese ramen. While we’d argue that almost all places that serve ramen in Japan serve it excellently, Ichiran Ramen raises the bar so high you’d probably never look at ramen the same way again. This is one of Japan’s best, so don’t miss it.

  • Location: 1 Chome-22-7 Jinnan, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0041, Japan (many other branches available around Japan)
  • How to get there: 5 minutes walk north from the Shibuya Station
  • Operating hours: Open 24/7
  • Rates: Upwards of ¥790 per person

12. Hatsune Sushi, Tokyo, for Michelin starred sushi

Image source: instagram.com | hatsunesushi

As with ramen, a trip to Japan demands sushi. Hatsune Sushi is one of the best sushi restaurants in Japan, where patrons can watch legendary chefs prepare their sushi with the freshest ingredients. Did we mention they’re also a Michelin-star restaurant?

  • Location: 5 Chome-20-2 Nishikamata, Ōta, Tokyo 144-0051, Japan
  • How to get there: 10 minutes walk north of the Kamata Station of the Keihintohoku Line
  • Operating hours: Weekdays from 5:30pm–10:30pm (break from 7:45pm to 8pm); Saturday from 12nn–2:45pm, 5:30pm–10:30pm (break from 7:45pm to 8pm)
  • Rates: ¥15,000 to ¥30,000 per person

13. Tempura Shinjuku Tsunahachi, Tokyo, for deep-fried goodness

Image source: instagram.com | dannemullern

Tempura lovers would find heaven in Tempura Shinjuku Tsunahachi. We never thought tempura could possibly get better – to the Japanese people who created this dish, kudos – but then this restaurant comes along. They also serve seasonal dishes and traditional tempura, so make sure to fill your belly!

  • Location: Japan, 〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, 新宿3丁目31−8
  • How to get there: A few minutes walk towards the east from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station
  • Operating hours: 11am-10:30pm everyday
  • Rates: ¥5,000-10,000 per person

14. Hakuba Happoone Winter Resort, Nagano, for a snowy experience

Image source: happo-one.jp

How often can you experience snow sports in Japan? Not very. When in Japan, head to Hakuba Happoone Winter Resort for some skiing, snowboarding and snowmobile fun. Gear rental is available too!

  • Location: 〒399-9301 Nagano Prefecture, Kitaazumi District, Hakuba, 大字北城5713, Japan
  • How to get there: From the Tokyo Station, take the Hokuriku Shinkansen Bullet Train to the Nagano Station (1hr 40mins), then a Limited Express Bus to Hakuba (1hr), then the Fixed Bus Route Sakura Line to the resort.
  • Rates: For a one day pass, ¥5,200 for adults, and ¥3,000 for children 12 or below. (More passes available)

15. Iwatayama Monkey Park, Kyoto, to mingle with the 

Image source: instagram.com | cieraelliott3

When we see monkey’s up close, it’s usually with them on the opposite side of a glass or a cage. But not in Japan – Japan wants you to really get close and personal with them. At Iwatayama Monkey Park, you can go sightseeing, take breathtaking photos, and interact with monkeys all in one place.

  • Location: 61 Arashiyama Nakaoshitacho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0004, Japan
  • How to get there: 5-minute walk from the Hankyu Arashiyama Station, Kyoto
  • Operating Hours: 9am – 4pm
  • Rates: ¥550 ticket for adults

So much to explore

Luckily, traveling to and inside Japan is a breeze. Their transportation is one of the best in the world, and you’ll find that every corner is filled with an interesting experience. You might even find it hard to choose which areas to visit first.

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