From Tokyo’s dizzying skyscrapes and head-spinning nightlife to the stunning temples of Kyoto, you’ll never be short of things to do in Japan. And there are certain Japanese experiences that you simply can’t miss out on!
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To get you started, here’s a list of our top 5 Japanese experiences which will help you emerge in the Japanese culture
1. Experience Mnt Fuji during the Shibazakura Festival
Your trip to Mnt Fuji (one of the most popular volcanoes in the world) won’t be complete if you don’t visit during the Shibazakura Festival when thousands of pink shibazakura flowers blossom at the foot of Mnt Fuji. This is the time when the area magically transforms into a fairy-tale like oasis – pick a clear day for your visit to guarantee great views of Mnt Fuji, towering majestically over the flowers. The flowers bloom between mid April till the end of May.
2. Staying at a traditional Japanese hotel
While, sadly, it’s not possible to explore all aspects of Japanese culture in one trip, staying at a traditional hotel will bring you one step closer to experiencing the Japanese way of life. Be sure to choose a hotel with an onsen (a hot spring) where you can go for a quick dip before you wrap up warm in a yukata (a traditional cotton kimono used as a bathrobe) and get ready for a good night sleep in a tatami-lined room. Sleeping on a futon is surprisingly comfortable, not to mention it’s a fun experience! Be sure not to miss breakfast, typically consisting of various small dishes such as miso soup, steamed rice, broiled fish and pickles. It’s absolutely delicious!
A few traditional Japanese hotels that we recommend include:
3. A visit to Harajuku
When in Tokyo, you have to visit Harajuku! It’s the ultimate Tokyo experience! This mecca of all things kawaii (cute) has been the centre of youth culture and fashion for decades, and is home to the world’s most eccentric and extreme fashion trends. Stroll through Harajuku’s main street, Takeshita Dori, on a weekend to see the area bustle as girls dressed in Lolita and Goth-inspired outfits browse through endless boutiques selling all things kawaii, from tutus and Hello Kitty hairclips to ice cream-shaped handbags. Grab one of the famous crepes and embrace the kawaii madness!
4. Tea Time at a Temple
There are a few things more serene and peaceful than sipping matcha tea at a Japanese temple – a true Japanese experience! The temples are often surrounded by a beautifully luscious garden, so the only disturbance will be the delicate sound of sozu, a traditional bamboo water fountain. Some temples organise tea ceremonies which are truly magical, but even a simple cup of tea accompanied by a selection of almost too-cute-to-eat wagashi sweets will make your day!
5. Food, food and more food!
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Japanese food is a feast to all senses – from the cute, animal-shaped doughnuts to traditional meals and regional specialties, Japanese take great pride not only in making their food taste but also look delicious! In fact, Japanese cuisine follows a total of SEVEN methods of food arrangement!
To enjoy the full Japanese experiences of eating start by indulging in the street food – yakisoba (fried noodles), dungo (dumplings on a stick) and shioyaki (baked and very salty fish, also served on a stick) are some of the most popular. Don’t forget ramen and oyakodon (omlet mixed with chicken meat served on rice). The latter is one of the most popular dishes in Japan as is actually quite easy to make! The list of dinner-time meals is endless – to get the best out of the variety of options, be sure to try the regional specialties.
While there are many amazing Japanese experiences, the above are absolute must do’s while in Japan!