The Ultimate Bucket List of Things to Do in Japan

From the super fast bullet trains to viewing cherry blossoms, there’s so much to experience in Japan. I wanted to start this bucket list as a way of keeping track of the various things I would like to see, eat, and do around the country. Hope this helps inspire your travels too!

No doubt, when I travel to Japan and over time, this list of some of the best things to do in Japan will continue to grow and evolve. Check back now and then to learn more about what to see and do in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Photo by miurasat

Aichi-Ken

  • Drink sake out of a squid decanter (いか徳利 / Ika Tokkuri)

Aomori-Ken

  • Take in the sights and sounds of the Aomori Nebuta Festival (青森ねぶた祭り)
  • See an apple with printed designs on them (文字絵りんご / Mojie Apple)
  • Tour the drifting snow while wearing the traditional Kakumaki
  • View the rice paddy art in Inakadate village (田舎館村)
  • Enjoy a raw, dancing cuttlefish on top of rice (活いか踊り丼 / katsu ika odori don)

Chiba-Ken

  • Attend the Tokyo Game Show (東京ゲームショウ)

Ehime-Ken

  • Relax in one of the oldest hot springs in Japan/inspiration for Spirited Away (道後温泉 /Dogo Onsen)

Fukui-Ken

  • Ponder the beauty of nature under the 300+ year old Shidare Zakura at Asuwa Shrine (足羽神社)
  • Experience the beats of a DJ, buddhist monk (Shoonji / 照恩寺)

Fukuoka-Ken

  • Eat stand-side at the Yatai Food Stands (屋台)

Gifu-Ken

  • Make real-looking fake food at Sample Kobo (さんぷる工房)
  • Appreciate the gassho-style and traditional architecture in Shirakawa-go (白川郷)

Gunma-Ken

  • Discover the source of the Daruma (少林山達磨寺 /Shorinzan Darumaji Temple)

Hiroshima-Ken

  • Experience the beauty of the Floating Torii (厳島神社 / Itsukushima Shrine)
  • See the “World’s Largest Rice Scoop” and think about how big a corresponding single grain of rice would be

Hokkaido-Ken

  • Feast on at least three different bowls of ramen in Sapporo Ramen Alley (元祖さっぽろラーメン横丁)
  • See all the cute things made of snow (さっぽろ雪まつり / Sapporo Snow Festival)
  • Appreciate the beauty of mother nature reclaiming what’s hers at the Blue Pond (青い池)
  • Try a cheese tart from Niseko Milk Kobo (ニセコ高橋牧場 ミルク工房)
  • Choose your own seafood and have it prepared sashimi-style (エゾシーフード / Ezo Seafoods)
  • Discover the origin of crab cuisine (札幌かに本家 / Kani Honke)

Hyogo-Ken

  • Savor the flavor of real Kobe beef (神戸牛 / Kobe Gyu)

Ibaraki-Ken

  • View the “burning bushes” at Hitachi Seaside Park (国営ひたち海浜公園)
  • Tour the oldest sake distillery in the world (須藤本家 / Sudo Honke)

Photo by yisris

Iwate-Ken

  • Check out the beautiful emerald-green water in the underground lake at Ryusendo (龍泉洞)
  • Learn what the largest taiko festival in the world sounds like (盛岡さんさ踊り / Sansa Odori)

Kagawa-Ken

  • See how soy sauce is traditionally made on Shodoshima (小豆島)

Kagoshima-Ken

  • Get buried in hot black sand at Ibusuki Hot Spring (指宿温泉)
  • Fish for somen at the place that started the flowing noodle dish (唐船峡そうめん流し / Tosenkyo Somen Nagashi)

Photo by amanderson

Kanagawa-Ken

  • Be transported to the Kowloon Walled City and game on (アミューズメントパーク ウェアハウス川崎店 / Anata No Warehouse)
  • Hike up the mountain to eat an Owakudani black egg (大涌谷黒卵)
  • Discover a world of art akin to Myst on the art island Naoshima (直島)
  • View Hydrangeas train-side
  • Appreciate over 1,000 sculptures at Japan’s first open-air museum (箱根 彫刻の森美術館 / Hakone Open-Air Museum)
  • Try one of the hardest ramen to get in Japan, Miraku, and many more at Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum (新横浜ラーメン博物館)
  • Bathe and relax in baths filled with sake, red wine, coffee, green tea, and ramen (箱根小涌園ユネッサン / Yunessun Spa And Resort)
  • Ride on the world’s shortest escalator, the Puchicalator (プチカレーター)
  • Learn more about the history of Doramon at Fujiko F. Fujio Museum (藤子・F・不二雄ミュージアム)
  • Feast around strange beasts (怪獣酒場 / The Return of Kaiju Bar)

Kyoto-Ken

  • Check out the world’s first tatami-style Starbucks
  • Try to capture a gate photo without anyone in it at Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社)
  • Get transported to another world at the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (嵐山竹林)
  • See what fun monsters locals have created at Yokai Street (大将軍商店街 一条妖怪ストリート)
  • Try something unique at the Nishiki Market (錦市場)
  • Enjoy human food while playing with pugs (パグカフェ LivingRoom / Pug Cafe Living Room)
  • Relax under the warmth of cherry blossom trees in Maruyama Park (円山公園)
  • Check out the oldest Japanese confectionary and enjoy their aburimochi (一文字屋和輔 / Ichimonjiya Wasuke)
  • Roast tea and learn how to make the perfect cup of matcha (茶三楽 / Chasanraku)
  • Try some of the best sakura mochi in the world (祇園饅頭 / Gion Manju Factory)
  • Visit the 1,000 life-sized statues of the Thousand Armed Kannon (三十三間堂 / Sanjūsangen-dō)
  • Witness the most famous festival in Japan (祇園祭 / Kyoto Gion Matsuri)
  • Enjoy a sweet Japanese dish, fruit sando (フルーツパーラー ヤオイソ / Fruit Parlor Yaoiso)
  • Visit the only konpeito specialty shop in Japan (緑寿庵清水 / Ryokujuan Shimizu)

Kumamoto-Ken

  • Sample horse sashimi and other horse meat dishes (馬肉郷土料理 けんぞう / Baniku Kyodo Kenzo)

Photo by tanaka_juuyoh

Mie-Ken

  • Experience the blooms of Moss Phlox under the watchful gaze of Mt. Fuji (芝桜公園 / Shibazakura Park)

Miyazaki-Ken

  • Catch a horseback archer making a bullseye at Miyazaki Shrine (宮崎神宮)

Nagano-Ken

  • See a sleeping snow monkey (地獄谷野猿公苑 / Jigokudani Monkey Park)
  • Eat all the wasabi things at Daio Wasabi Farm (大王わさび農場)

Niigata-Ken

  • Sample over a hundred sakes from vending machines at Ponshukan (ぽんしゅ館)
  • Experience the larger than life straw sculptures (わらアート / Wara Art)
  • Paddle around in a bathtub-turned boat (たらい舟 / Tarai Bune)
  • Sample the many traditional Japanese desserts at Eguchi Dango (江口だんご 本店)

Okinawa-Ken

  • Create an awamori blend at Chuko Awamori Distillery (忠孝酒造)
  • See sand that looks like little stars (星砂の浜 / Starsand Beach)
  • Check out the naturally created rock formations that look like a turtle shell (畳石 / Tatami Rock)
  • Experience taco rice created by a master of cheese and spices (豊見城タコライス / Tomoshiro Taco Rice)
  • Sample mozoku seaweed in tempura form (酒仙 ふくろう亭 / Shusen Fukurotei)
  • Learn how the world’s healthiest sugar is made, Okinawa Kokutou (黒砂糖 / Kurozatou)
  • Enjoy fresh umibudo, sea grapes at Nanraku (南樂)

Osaka-Ken

  • Learn all about the dish that got so many of us through college (インスタントラーメン発明記念館 / Momofuku Ando Cup Noodles Instant Ramen Museum)
  • Experience the original capsule hotel (カプセルホテル朝日プラザ / Asahi Plaza)
  • See the huge lion head at Namba Yasaka Shrine (難波八阪神社)
  • Sample hand-picked, Momiji tempura in Minoo (箕面市)
  • Try one of the best Osaka-style okonomiyaki at Mizuno (美津の)

Saitama-Ken

  • Enjoy ramen that’s actually a dessert at Baigetsu Do (梅月堂)
  • Experience handmade rockets being fired off at the Ryusei Matsuri (龍勢祭り)
  • Learn how to make Japanese rice crackers, senbei, at Soka Senbei Garden (草加せんべいの山香煎餅本舗)

Shiga-Ken

  • Experience fish that is salted, aged, and fermented for years (元祖 阪本屋 / Ganso Sakamotoya)

Shizuoka-Ken

  • Find a place that prepares and taste Yabukita Tempura (tea leaf tempura)
  • Pick your own matcha (グリンピア / Greenpia)

Photo by sonotoki

Tochigi-Ken

  • View blooming wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park (あしかがフラワーパーク)

Photo by sjdunphy

Tokushima-Ken

  • Catch a performance at the Awa Odori Hall (阿波おどり会館)
  • Cross a rope bridge made from vines (祖谷のかずら橋 / Kazura Bridge)
  • Get up close and personal with the Naruto Whirlpools (鳴門の渦潮)

Tokyo-Ken

  • Create your own matcha at Urasando Garden Mini-Mall (裏参道ガーデン)
  • Try to view the sights from atop the Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー)
  • Climb the stairway to success at Atago Shrine (愛宕神社)
  • Watch amezaiku being made and maybe even create my own (浅草 飴細工アメシン / Asakusa Amezaiku Ameshin)
  • Experience one of the top softcream places (Silkream)
  • Learn how to repair pottery in the traditional kintsugi manner
  • Watch a sumo wrestling match at Ryogoku Kokugikan (両国国技館)
  • Try world famous dorayaki from Okano Eisen (岡埜榮泉)
  • Experience deep fried agemanju (浅草九重 / Asakusa Kokonoe)
  • Learn how to become a ninja (武蔵一族 本陣道場 / Musashi Ninja Clan Shinobi-Samurai Honjin Dojo)
  • “Hey, let’s go” and see the wonders of the Ghibli Museum (三鷹の森ジブリ美術館)
  • Get a birds-eye view of what Tokyo used to look like at the Edo-Tokyo Museum (江戸東京博物館)
  • Enjoy rainbow spaghetti and other colorful dishes at the Kawaii Monster Cafe (カワイイ モンスター カフェ)
  • Explore one of the oldest and most popular temples in Japan (浅草寺 / Sensoji Temple)
  • Take a funny picture with the Godzilla Head (ゴジラヘッド)
  • Try a healthy donut from Canvas Tokyo (キャンバストウキョウ)
  • Eat at the Kill Bill Inspiration Restaurant, Gonpachi (権八 西麻布)
  • Enjoy sushi prepared by women at Nadeshiko Sushi (なでしこ寿司)
  • Take a photo with the Statue of Liberty in Japan (自由の女神像)
  • Experience all the freshness at the new Toyosu Fish Market (豊洲新市場)
  • Go on a mixology journey at Bar Gen Yamamoto (ゲン ヤマモト)
  • Check out the stairway location from Your Name (君の名は)
  • Enjoy a meal and check out all the Pokemon things at the biggest Pokemon Center (ポケモンセンタートウキョーDX / Pokémon Center DX)
  • Walk across the world’s busiest intersection
  • Get immersed in the colorful and quirky, Harajuku culture at Takeshita Street (竹下通り)
  • Discover something new about Japanese culture at Yoyogi Park (代々木公園)
  • Experience all the costumes during Halloween in Shibuya (渋谷)
  • Take in all the colors at Pigment
  • Customize my own Kit Kat and sample a variety of unique flavors (キットカット ショコラトリー)
  • Try handgrilled senbei from Kanekoya (天丼 金子屋)
  • Enjoy Totoro cream puffs at the Shirohige Cream Puff Factory (白髭のシュークリーム工房)
  • Explore the grounds of one of Tokyo’s most popular Shinto shrines (明治神宮 / Meiji Shrine)
  • Sample all the pancake things at Flipper’s (フリッパーズ)
  • Get my sugar high on with rainbow cotton candy and other sweets at Totti Candy Factory (トッティキャンディファクトリー)
  • Check out the view from atop Tokyo Tower (日本電波塔)
  • Enjoy a meal at the vending machine restaurant, Jihanki Shokudo (自販機食堂)
  • Play with hedgehogs at Hedgehog Cafe HARRY (ハリネズミカフェ®️ HARRY 原宿駅前店)
  • Visit the the birthplace of the famed Beckoning Cat, Maneki Neko, at Gotokuji Temple (世田谷 豪徳寺)
  • Understand how architecture can be built to save cities (首都圏外郭放水路 / G-Cans project)
  • Try to eat a sesame ball the size of my head at Maradaigaku Sichuan Eatery (麻辣大学)
  • Nibble on variety of beautiful and edible flower dishes at Aoyama Flower Market Tea House (青山フラワーマーケット ティーハウス)
  • Splurge a little on a refined kaiseki experience (松川 / Matsukawa)
  • Discover the flavors that have made Ono-san world renowned (すきやばし次郎 / Sukiyabashi Jiro)
  • Experience tempura that is cooked to perfection (てんぷら 深町 / Tempura Fukamachi)
  • Discover what it feels like to eat like a Japanese elementary school student (給食当番 / Brasserie Kyushoku Toban)
  • Check out what the board game cafe scene looks like at Dear Spiele (ディアシュピール)
  • Wander around one of the best older neighborhoods in Tokyo (谷根千 / Yanesen Neighborhood)
  • Try to escape from one of the best escape rooms in the country (脱出ゲーム「なぞばこ」東京浅草 / Escape Game NAZOBAKO Tokyo Asakusa)
  • Experience sushi made by the “Sushi God of Tokyo” (はしぐち / Hashiguchi)
  • Play a few games of one of the most popular, unsanctioned activities in Japan in a smoke-free environment (マルハン / Maruhan Pachinko)
  • Enjoy a quirkier side of Japan with an ikazaya experience at Kagaya (加賀屋)
  • Check out more amazing fruit and fruit dishes (タカノフルーツパーラー本店 / Shinjuku Takano Fruit Bar)
  • Get lost in the anime, video game, and electronic culture in Akihabara (秋葉原)
  • Discover what it’s like to eat a meal in a ninja castle at Ninja Akasaka (ニンジャ アカサカ)
  • Experience how fruit have been elevated to a whole new level at Katjisuen Libre (果実園リーベル)
  • Score the chance to enjoy a meal at Japan’s most exclusive restaurant (壬生 / Mibu)
  • Try salamander while exploring an infamous alley that, thankfully, no longer smells of urine (思い出横丁 / Memory Lane)
  • Check out the Chocobo, Moogle, and Kingdom Hearts stuff… oh and food too (スクエニ公式カフェ / Square Enix Café)
  • See the owls, stay for snack at Akiba Fukurou (アキバフクロウ)
  • Play something unique at one of the best arcards in Japan (秋葉原「Hey」 / Taito Hey Akihabara Arcade
  • Experience the new world of Tongari Island and the attractions the Straw Hat Crew have created (Tokyo One Piece Tower)
  • Check out Japanese board games at Yellow Submarine (イエローサブマリン) and Role & Roll Station (Role & Rollの直営店)

Tottori-Ken

  • Enjoy the Michelin-rated ramen at an old gas station (ホット・エアー / Hot Air)

Toyama-Ken

  • Bask in awe at the ice wall known as the “Roof of Japan” (立山黒部アルペンルート / Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route)
  • Enjoy the world famous black ramen from Taiki’s Ramen (西町大喜)
  • Watch the glowing Firefly Squid in Toyama Bay

Photo by xiquinho

Wakayama-Ken

  • Learn about the history of the largest cemetery in Japan (奥の院墓地 / Okunoin Cemetery)

Yamaguchi-Ken

  • Stroll along the bridge that inspired generations of artists (錦帯橋 / Kintai Bridge)
  • Visit the 123 torii that lead to a view of the Japan Sea (元乃隅神社 / Motonosumi Inari Shrine)
  • Enjoy fugu from the top restaurant in the “Blowfish Capital of Japan,” Shimonoseki (ふく料理しのだ / Fuku Ryori Shinoda)

Across Japan

  • Fish for dinner and have it prepared raw (ざうお / Zauo)
  • Meet an Internet famous obaachan (おばあちゃん)
  • Play the gachapon (ガチャポン) while eating sushi
  • See an Egg of the Sun Mango (太陽のたまご) and other “luxury fruit”
  • Buy gifts and treats at Don Quijote (株式会社ドン・キホーテ)
  • Buy a fun drink from a vending machine (自動販売機)
  • Learn how to cook a unique Japanese dish
  • Experience life on a farm via a homestay
  • Take a picture with one of the most popular Japanese mascots, Kumamon (くまモン)
  • Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony with kaiseki
  • Come away with a really cute or useful gacha (ガチャ)
  • Enjoy tamago senbei (卵せんべい) at a night market
  • Learn sushi making techniques from a pro
  • Stay in a tatami room at a ryokan
  • Experience a sport that mixes modern and traditional Japanese culture, Spochan
  • Take a photo of Mount Fuji (富士山)

In case you wanted to visually see where everything is, here’s a map!

Hope you enjoyed this collection of my top things to do in Japan. Super excited to start checking these items off my list. If you’ve done any of these and/or have experiences in Japan that you think I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Updates

  • Experience “The Ultimate in Efficiency” at a robot-staffed hotel (Henn-Na Hotel)

Apparently, the hotel chain decided recently to reduce the number of robots by half after they were caught increasing the overall amount of work. We’re still years from robot-run businesses it seems.

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