1. Take a bath in Onsen Hot Springs
A significant part of Japanese culture is centered around onsen, the Japanese name for a hot spring. Due to the active volcanic area, there are thousands of hot springs in Japan, which are often used by the Japanese to relax.
The most popular onsen in Japan is in the vicinity of Nikko, at the foothills of Mount Fuji, then in the west of Shikoku Island, as well as Hakone hot springs. Also, one of the most famous onsen is located in Kinosaki, near Kyoto.
Entry into the public onsen is prohibited for persons who have tattoos. However, in private guesthouses, Ryokan often do not have the entry ban rule for tattoos.
If you enjoy relaxing in water temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), be sure to visit onsen. Keep in mind that in such warm water, you can only sit for about 10 minutes, and then you should take a break.
2. Visit the historically significant city of Hiroshima
Hiroshima is a city in southern Japan known for being hit by an atomic bomb during World War II. Although everything was destroyed within 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) of the explosion site, the city was rebuilt. Many tourists come to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum.
One of the biggest tourist attractions in Hiroshima is the A-Bomb Dome, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This building served to promote the Hiroshima industry, and as the atomic bomb exploded, it remained one of the few buildings that was not demolished.
When you are in Hiroshima, you can visit the Mazda Museum. The famous automaker has opened the museum and parts of the factory for the public. You will learn more about the history of this brand, and you will see the vehicle assembly line and popular car models.
3. Watch sumo wrestling live
Sumo is a national sport in Japan. It’s the kind of wrestling where the winner is the competitor who throws an opponent out of the ring. The match lasts briefly, just seconds.
The best opportunity to watch sumo wrestlers live is at one of the big tournaments held each year in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. Most tournaments are organized at the Kokugikan sumo stadium, located in Tokyo’s Ryogoku district. The tournaments last for 15 days each, so you can also coordinate your stay in Japan with one of these events.
4. Explore amazing Kyoto
Kyoto was the capital of Japan for a long time until 1869. That is the reason why the city has many old temples and castles. There is also a former imperial palace, one of the main tourist attractions of this city.
Gion is a famous district of Kyoto with geishas. You can find many restaurants, teahouses and shops here. Other trendy tourist spots in Kyoto are Fushimi Inari shrine, Kinkaku-Ji temple and Monkey Park Iwatayama. But, the most famous place is Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, a beautiful 4 km (2.48 miles) walking trail.
Kyoto is also the best place in Japan to admire the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossom season usually starts in March.
A fascinating place in Kyoto is the Nishiki Market. This centuries-old market features locally produced fresh seafood and Kyoto specialties. If you love to explore new flavors, this is an excellent place for you.
5. Enjoy a view of the sacred Mount Fuji
Located on Honshu Island, Mount Fuji is a volcano whose peak is covered with snow for most of the year. The last eruption was about 300 years ago, but it is still active.
For the Japanese, Mount Fuji is one of three sacred mountains. Each year, about 200,000 people climb to the highest peak at 3,776 meters (12,388 feet) above sea level.
Mount Fuji is an inspiration to many artists, and it is found in many paintings and souvenirs. There are also special tours where guides take you to unique places with the most beautiful views of Mount Fuji.
6. Discover Japan with bullet trains
Shinkansen bullet trains organize public transport in Japan very well. They are operated by Japan Railways, and the lines connect all parts of the country. Bullet trains’ speed is up to 320 km an hour (almost 200 miles an hour).
You can discover Japan via nine Shinkansen lines that connect the most prominent cities, like Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Kyoto. Tickets for bullet trains can be bought at ticket machines or offices, and online.
You are allowed two pieces of luggage with you on the bullet train. Also, trains have space for passengers in wheelchairs, as well as elevators and escalators. Trains in the Shinkansen network are safe, comfortable and arrive on time.
7. Sleep in small capsule hotels
If you are looking for low-budget accommodation in Japan, capsule hotels are an interesting option. Capsule hotels are mostly located around train stations, and some have segregated areas for men and women.
Each capsule is equipped with a mattress, pillow and blanket. Also, you can use TV, radio, alarm clock, power outlets and wi-fi internet. You can share showers, toilets and washrooms with other guests, like in a hostel.
Some of the capsule hotels provide lounge rooms, video games, libraries and machines with foods and drinks.
8. Taste the specialties of Japanese cuisine
The first association with Japanese food is probably sushi. This dish is a trademark of Japanese cuisine and the most-famous Japanese dish in the world. The combination of rice, fish and vegetables, with a beautiful arrangement, is a dish that the Japanese adore. In Japan, you can eat Oshi sushi, Nigiri sushi, Temaki sushi, etc.
The second-most-famous Japanese dish is ramen. This dish consists of soup, ramen noodles and additions like mushrooms, eggs or chicken. In addition to sushi and ramen, miso soup is often eaten in Japan. Other famous Japanese dishes you should try are shabu-shabu, katsudon, kare raisu and tempura.
When it comes to Japanese drinks, make sure to try sake. It is an alcoholic beverage made from rice. Drinking green tea, of course, goes without saying.
9. Learn more about Japanese shrines and temples
The Japanese people are very respectful of their heritage. A large number of tourists visit Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples that you can find all over Japan. The most famous shrines and temples in Japan are the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo and Todaiji Temple in Nara, as well as the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto.
You will recognize shrines by wooden torii gates. You must follow the rules of conduct when visiting shrines and temples.
Some temples are used as monasteries. Each temple also has rooms where sacred objects, like statues of Buddha, are stored. There are also lecture halls for teaching. The most famous Buddhist temples in Japan are Kinkaku-Ji, Hokoku-Ji and Kiyomizu-Dera temple.
10. Experience completely different areas in Tokyo
The capital of Japan has more than 20 million people and many areas with exciting places to visit.
Harajuku is the hub for Japanese pop culture, with many fashion shops.
The largest business and entertainment area in Tokyo is Shinjuku. It is famous for clubs and karaoke rooms, as well as bars and restaurants. Some of the most popular places there are Robot restaurant and Metropolitan Government Office, with observation decks.
Shibuya is the most-famous shopping area in Tokyo. Famous Shibuya Crossing is also located there.
If you love electronics, you will be in love with the Akihabara district in central Tokyo. There are plenty of shops with electronic gadgets. We recommend visiting the Tokyo Anime Center and Radio Kaikan.
If you want to explore traditional craft shops, Asakusa is an excellent place. Popular tourist spots in this area are Hanayashiki amusement park and Sensoji temple. Also, you can taste Japanese beer, sweets and street food here.
Another great place worth visiting in Tokyo is the Ueno park, with many museums and Ueno zoo. You will be delighted with the museum exhibitions, especially with the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the Tokyo National Museum.
Author Bio: Based in Serbia in Europe, Marija Stojanovic Petkovski worked as a journalist but realized writing about the most beautiful places in the world is something that inspires her. She is sure that a pint of good craft beer perfectly accompanies a tasty homemade lasagna. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her children and spending time outdoors with her family.