If you think of travelling to Japan, you are probably aware that it is a very special destination. There is a high probability that you will encounter both its uniqueness and craziness. Nowhere else will you see a girl dressed in kimono being served by a robotic sales assistant.
Japan has it all, sacred temples, mysterious mountains, sushi, manga, extraordinary street fashion, and people, lots of people everywhere 😉 And besides the obvious and touristy stuff, you will be pretty much shocked and amazed all the time.
I have been to more than 40 countries, but so far Japan is the most surprising and unique of them all. To make it easier for you to plan your Japanese adventure, here’s my list of 10 most unforgettable experiences.
Top 10 of Japan travel experiences
This is by far the best Japan has to offer. Sakura is not just cherry blossom on the trees. It is a particular time of the year when Japan turns pink, and life tastes like cherry. You can enjoy hanami (cherry blossom picnic) in most of the parks or participate in sakura festivals, for the best locations check out my sakura guide.
2. Dress in kimono
In Kyoto, you can see quite a lot of Japanese wearing kimonos on a regular day, both men and women. They look absolutely gorgeous, and the good news is that you too can rent a kimono! Many shops around the city offer this experience, and it costs only about 30 USD for the whole day. The crazy part is that it took me almost an hour to get dressed with professional help.
3. Flying sushi
In Japan, you can find sushi on pretty much every corner, and it is simply delicious. Even some cheap sushi I bought at a metro station tasted like in a pricey restaurant in Europe. And because it is so common, there are some restaurants that want to make your sushi experience unforgettable. Try Uobei restaurant in Tokyo where the food you order just flies right to your table. It is not the typical floating sushi; there is a highly automated process that allows specific order be delivered to you without any waiter.
4. Stay in ryokan
When you travel to Japan, it is an absolute must to stay at least one night in Ryokan – a traditional Japanese inn. It is truly memorable to experience traditional Japanese hospitality, homemade food and tatami rooms. When you enter a ryokan, you fill like visiting a distant relative that you haven’t seen for years. At first, you might be a bit nervous as you don’t know what to expect, but after 5 minutes you are truly overjoyed. Normally ryokans are inhabited by the owner, so house rules apply, I was asked to take off shoes at the reception, and then I was given separate shoes for the bathroom. You will find best ryokans in little towns close to Mount Fuji, where you will enjoy great views and nature.
5. Get naked in onsen
If you decide to stay in Ryokan, look for one that has a private onsen, which stands for a traditional Japanese spa. If it’s a public onsen, then you will not be allowed to enter as a couple. Men and women have separate nudity areas, but many onsens provide common areas like tv room, cafeterias or sleeping room. That’s right! You could spend the whole day in an onsen, some people take advantage of the sleeping option and spend the night in the spa instead of a hotel.
6. Go to Robot Restaurant
The name is quite misleading as this place offers just some snacks and drinks. However, the reason it is one of the top attractions in Tokyo is that of the robot show. It is hard to describe it; you just have to see it. Basically, there are people dressed as robots who dance sing and fight. It is entirely ridiculous, entertaining, kitsch and funny.
7. Have fun in Akihabara
Even if you are not a nerdy gamer, you simply have to go to a game arcade. It is an excellent way to relax and have some fun in the evening or night. You will find there any game ever invented, plus there are photo booths that allow you to edit the pics in kawaii way and tonnes of claw machines with a myriad of available prizes.
8. Sing karaoke
When Japanese go out with their friends, it is very common that at some point they end up singing karaoke and having some drinks at a karaoke club. What’s great about it is that you rent your room and choose the songs you like. I am not a karaoke pro so it is great that I could embarrass myself in private 😉
9. Ride the bullet train
Need for speed? Try the most comfortable way of transport in Japan! Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) connects all the major cities in Japan, and it’s widely known for its punctuality, safety and comfort. Buy the Japan Rail Pass (JP Railpass) and take a full advantage of this means of transportation! Plus you will save a lot of money comparing to buying separate train or bus tickets).
10. Attend tea ceremony
Participating in a tea ceremony in Japan was one of the most spiritual things I did in Japan. Drinking matcha tea is a cultural activity where the host of the ceremony concentrate’s guests’ attention into the predefined movements. Surprisingly, it is not about drinking the tea. It is about pouring it from the heart and showing the hospitality. Attend tea ceremony, and you will learn so much about Japan’s culture and tradition.