So this post was a little spur of the moment but I’m super excited that I got to write it. A couple of days ago I got an out of the blue text from one of my very best friends, telling me that she was planning a trip to Japan for her upcoming vacation and I could not be more stoked for her. We spent a little time discussing all the fun things to do over there and I got inspired to write a list of things to do in Japan that should not be missed!
This list isn’t in order of awesomeness. All of the following activities are equally awesome. ;)
1. Stay in a Capsule Hotel
Fare warning, if you’re claustrophobic, this is definitely not for you and you should skip to #2. If you’re fine with small spaces, keep reading. ;) Unfortunately, I never got to stay in one of these teeny tiny rooms. I lived over there and never needed to have a hotel room, but if I were to go back for a visit I would totes book a tube for a night. They were originally created for men only, but no worries ladies! Gender mixed hotels have been popping up!
2. The Observatory Deck in Yokohama Tower
This was one of my favorite places! It has a hotel, offices, restaurants, and shops, which is all fine and dandy, but the best thing (in my opinion) is the observation deck. “It’s just an observation deck, why is it so awesome?” Glad you asked. First off, the ride to the top. You get in an elevator and takes less than 40 seconds to get to the deck. It’s quite a rush. Second, the view. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji. Speaking of…
3. Climb Mt. Fuji
This was one thing that I never got to do but always wanted to. If I ever go back, this is at the top of my list of things to do. Before you climb, you should buy a walking stick. Mt. Fuji has 7 – 8 levels and at each level, you get a stamp engraved in the stick. It’s probably the greatest travel souvenir you could have. My dad still considers his one of his most prized possessions.
This was me and my friends’ FAVORITE thing to do! No matter where you are, you will probably have a 99% chance of passing a purikura photo booth. Take 5 minutes and go in. Trust me. You can change the backgrounds, stand in silly poses, and at the end edit them with stickers and text. It makes for another great souvenir!
Japanese arcades are quite a site. It’s not some small hole in the wall like you would find over in our malls. No, no. Their arcades are typically multi floored and have some of the most interesting games you can imagine. My favorite game was a taiko drumming game that had the same concept as DDR. So much fun!
6. Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum
If you want an unforgettable experience, visit this place. It’s in the southern part of Japan so it may be a little out of the way of the other activities you have planned but it’s 100% worth it. Hiroshima was the site of the A-Bomb that was dropped during WWII. The museum is a little graphic and depicts what happened to the people during the bombing. Fare warning, you will get super emotional. I was tearing up the entire way through. When I went though, something happened that day that I will never forget. At the end of the museum tour, a survivor of the bombing was talking to us and sharing his story. Cue the waterworks.
7. Cherry Blossom Festival
If you can, schedule your trip when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. The site is breathtaking and the festivals celebrating them are so much fun!
Probably the tangible item that I miss the most. The food over there is incredible. Let’s start with sushi. There’s a huge difference between the stuff we get over here versus Japanese sushi. Once you have the real stuff though, it will be very hard to go back! Their ramen and curry are also incredible. Typically the best is found in little hole in the wall places. Want dessert? Check out their crepes. Not in the mood for dessert? That’s ok! They have dinner crepes too. The strangest one I ever saw was filled with mac ‘n’ cheese and hot dog pieces. I was never brave enough to try it. Will you be?! Then, of course, their snacks are amazing. My favorite things were Corn Potage Umaibo sticks, Coolish icecream pouches, and Hi-Chew candy (which can now be found at Target!). You’ll also find new renditions of American snacks, like soft Oreos and green tea KitKats. Want a monthly dose of Japanese snacks delivered to your home? Check out SkoshBox!
9. Bullet Train
If you’re a thrill seeker, take a ride on the bullet train! Shinkansen trains can reach speeds of 320 km/h. That’s almost 200 miles per hour! It’s also incredibly comfortable inside.
10. Kamakura Buddha
Regardless of religion or beliefs, this is definitely something that you need to check out. The Great Buddha has been at this temple since 1252 and Buddhism has been a huge influence in Japanese culture.
Want to have an authentic Japanese experience? Dress up in yukata! It’s inexpensive and relatively easy to wear. When the lady was dressing me up, she tied everything just a little too tightly and I could barely breathe. If you attend a Japanese summer festival or fireworks show it’s highly recommended to wear yukata.
Whether it’s in fancy malls or shotengai, you need to be sure to do some shopping while you’re there! Shotengai are shopping streets that are filled with tiny mom-and-pop-like shops. You’ll find some really unique things there. But you’ll also find really unique things in their malls too! But be careful, most stores are connected with no indication that you’ve crossed over into the next. I can’t tell you how many times I almost unintentionally stole something because I wandered off into the neighboring store. ;)
13. 100 ¥ Store
100 ¥ is equivalent to $1 (dependent on the currency rate) so the 100 ¥ store is basically a dollar store but 1 billion times better! Seriously. More choices, cuter stuff.
Shibuya’s known for it’s tech-savvyness, fashion, and nightlife. It’s also home to Shibuya crossing, one of the largest cross walks in the world, and the Hachikō Statue, the dog who waited at the train station for his owner everyday until he died.
15. Kyoto Temples and Shrines
Japan has around 85,000 temples and 95,000 shrines and the city of Kyoto houses thousands of them. The architecture, nature, and culture are awe-inspiring.
16. *BONUS* Tokyo Disney Sea
If you love amusement parks and are a Disney lover like I am, skip the traditional Disneyland resort and head to Tokyo Disney Sea! It’s unlike any Disney park you will ever go to, I promise you that!
What would be the one thing you would absolutely love to do in Japan?
I’m linking up to these great parties!