Japan was at the top of my bucket list for the best part of a decade until earlier this year when we had the pleasure of spending an entire four weeks touring some of the most popular areas of the country.
It’s no secret that Japan is incredibly popular with tens of millions of tourists visiting every single year, but what makes this country so appealing? and is it really worth visiting?
Japan is definitely worth visiting thanks to its mix of fascinating ancient culture, vibrant modern cities, unique experiences, and stunning natural landscapes.
No matter what type of traveller you are, this exciting and diverse country is sure to have something to offer you.
Table of Contents
- Who Should Visit Japan?
- How Long To Spend In Japan
- Essential Things To See and Do In Japan
Who Should Visit Japan?
Japan is a fantastic destination to visit for many different types of travellers, but how do you know if it’s right for you?
You Love To Visit Diverse Destinations
Can’t choose between a city break, cultural holiday, beach trip, or immersing yourself in breathtaking natural scenery? Fortunately, Japan is a country that has it all.
From modern metropolises to historic temples and shrines, and snow-covered mountains to golden sand beaches, there’s a huge variety of amazing things to see and do across Japan.
Luckily, thanks to the country’s small size and efficient transport system, it’s easy to squeeze plenty into one trip.
Perfect if you’re somebody who enjoys a bit of everything when travelling to a new destination.
You Enjoy Anime TV shows
If manga and anime are your thing, Japan is a must-visit. Famous for the likes of Pokemon and Studio Ghibli, the country is heaven for anime lovers.
Japan’s cities are packed with exciting anime-themed attractions, including shopping centres, cafes, amusement parks, and more.
Plus, you’ll want to leave some extra space in your suitcase so you can stock up on anime merchandise before you head back home.
You Love Japanese Food
Japanese cuisine is among the best in the world and one of the main reasons many people choose to visit Japan.
Food is an integral part of Japanese culture. From sushi and sashimi to ramen and gyozas, there are loads of world-famous dishes you absolutely need to try in their home country.
And if you’re really looking to treat yourself, Japan has the second-highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (after France).
But what if I don’t like Japanese food?
Although Japanese cuisine is diverse enough for most people to find something they like, it’s not necessarily for everyone.
Thankfully, there are plenty of Western restaurants including the likes of Mcdonald’s and Starbucks in Japan too, particularly in the big cities.
You’re A Futuristic Tech Enthusiast
Known for its world-leading inventions and innovations, Japan is the birthplace of many technological advancements that guarantee to blow the minds of visitors from across the globe.
You can take a ride on the high-speed Bullet Train (or “Shinkansen”), stay in a futuristic capsule hotel, be served by robot waiters at Tokyo’s space-aged restaurants, and – of course – experience the country’s famous high-tech toilets.
You’re Looking For A Safe & Accessible Destination
Japan is one of the safest destinations in the world and has one of the lowest crime rates of any country.
In fact, you’ll often find locals leaving their front doors unlocked or leaving items unaccompanied in public – not that we’d recommend trying this, just to be on the safe side.
The locals are polite and friendly, public transport is efficient and easy to use, and you can walk around cities during the day or night without having to worry.
Plus, the majority of signs, information boards, and menus are translated into English, making it an easy country to navigate as a foreigner.
So if you’re a solo traveller, heading to Asia for the first time, or simply haven’t been abroad for a while and aren’t feeling particularly confident, Japan is a great destination to start with.
You’re Looking For A Family-Friendly Destination
With its convenient infrastructure, high level of safety, unparalleled cleanliness, and many child-friendly amenities, Japan is also a great travel destination for families.
Young visitors will love the country’s exciting neon-clad cities, unusual themed restaurants and cafes, fun family attractions, and an all-around quirky vibe.
Japan is also home to multiple theme parks that are sure to be a big hit with kids. Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Legoland all have parks in the country.
How Long To Spend In Japan
Despite its relatively small geographical size, Japan is a country you’re going to want to spend a good amount of time in. There’s far too much to see and do on a short break.
For your first trip to Japan, we’d recommend staying for at least two weeks.
This is just about enough time to explore the main tourist destinations of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Hiroshima. Although, it will be a pretty intense two weeks of travel.
However, if you’re looking to travel further afield and visit some more off-the-beaten-path destinations in Japan, you’re going to want even more time.
As such, if possible we’d recommend extending your trip to three to four weeks. With this extra time, you could head out to relax on the beautiful beaches of Okinawa Island or visit the bathing snow monkeys of Jigokudani Monkey Park.
Essential Things To See and Do In Japan
There are so many fantastic things to see and do in Japan, from exploring modern cities and visiting historical shrines, to soaking in natural hot springs and wandering through beautiful national parks.
Regardless of your interests, we’d recommend everyone does the following on a trip to Japan where possible;
- Explore the bustling metropolis of Tokyo
- Visit the historic temples and shrines of Kyoto
- Wander through the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto
- Ride on a high-speed “shinkansen” bullet train
- Participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony
- Make the most of the country’s world-class food scene
- Head out to a karaoke bar
- Watch a sumo wrestling match
- Soak in a natural “onsen” hot spring
- Photograph the snow-covered peak of Mount Fuji
- Pay your respects at the Hiroshima atomic bombing memorial site
- Feed the wild deer in Nara Park
- See the beautiful pink cherry blossom (April only)
Anime Attractions in Japan
It’s almost impossible to wander around Japan’s major cities without stumbling across an anime mega-store or themed cafe.
Tokyo in particular is heaven for anime lovers. The city has entire districts dedicated to the iconic Japanese animation style.
If you have a particular interest in anime, we recommend checking out;
- Akihabara Shopping District, Tokyo
- The Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
- Pokémon Café and Pokémon Centre, Tokyo
- J-World Indoor Theme Park, Tokyo
- Ghibli Park, Nagakute
- Fujiko F. Fujio Museum, Kawasaki
- Sanrio Puroland (aka Hello Kitty Land), Tama
Family-Friendly Attractions in Japan
Japan is a fantastic family travel destination with plenty of child-friendly (or child-at-heart) attractions to enjoy.
If you’re looking for things to do in Japan with kids, we’d suggest;
- Disneyland Tokyo and DisneySea
- Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios
- LegoLand Japan Resort
- Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park
- National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo
- CupNoodles Museum, Osaka
Cultural Attractions in Japan
As one of the oldest countries in the world, Japan has seen many empires rise and fall over the years.
Today, you can discover the country’s long history by exploring its beautiful castles and abundance of amazing traditional architecture.
All across Japan, you’ll also find countless historic shrines and temples belonging to the country’s two major religions; Shinto and Buddhism.
Many of these impressive buildings are now classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites – there are 25 in Japan in total!
If you’re looking to explore more of Japan’s incredible culture we recommend visiting;
- Sensō-ji (Asakusa Kannon) Buddhist Temple, Tokyo
- Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) Buddhist Temple, Kyoto
- Todai-ji (Great Eastern) Buddhist Temple, Nara
- Meiji Shrine, Tokyo
- Itsukushima Shrine and its “floating” Torii Gate, Hatsukaichi
- Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, Kyoto
- Himeji Castle, Himeji
- Osaka Castle, Osaka