So, you’ve stumbled across this website and you’re probably searching for the ‘Top 10 Things To Do In Japan‘…
…You’ve come to the right place!
I recently flew to the other side of the world to visit Japan for 14 days and it really is a wonderful country!
If you have been following my Instagram, you would have probably seen my travel diary of places I would recommend. However, if you’re new, my Instagram is @jenniferwl_ and you can follow me on my blogging journey!
Top 10 Things To Do In Japan
New Palace, Who This?
The first of my ‘Top 10 Things To Do In Japan’ is the Tokyo Imperial Palace in Chiyoda, Tokyo. It is one of the most visited places in Tokyo and is home to Japan’s Imperial Family. It is a far cry from the hectic buzz of the neighbouring streets with its beautiful architecture and spacious park land (Imperial East Garden).
Although the Inner Grounds of the Palace aren’t open to the public, you can still get a good view of the Inner Grounds. You can see the Nijubashi Bridge (Double Bridge) from the Kokyo Gaien (plaza in front of the Palace), which forms the entrance to the inner grounds of the Palace.
If you are considering a guided tour of the Palace, click here.
If you go to Tokyo and you don’t go out and experience the bustling nightlife of Japan, where have you been? Tokyo transforms into a city of lights as soon as the sun goes down. The streets get busier as the time ticks on.
I was lucky enough to stay in Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima, so I was only a 10-minute walk from the main district of Ikebukuro. It is home to big department stores and streets filled with restaurants and cafés.
I’d highly recommend going into Round 1, which is an amusement centre to experience how the younger locals pass the time. There are many activities that you can partake with friends, family or partner, such as bowling, karaoke (very popular amongst the Japanese culture), snooker, ping pong and many more. You can find out more here.
The cafés in Japan are also on another level to other cafés around the world. We visited the Milky Way Café, and I’d highly recommend it for its panoramic night-time views of Ikebukuro and its to-die-for menu!
“Take me down through the streets of Chinatown”
As I’m Chinese, it’s only natural for me and my family to always seek out the nearest Chinatown wherever we travel in the world. We found out about Yokohama, which is home to the largest Chinatown in Japan. So, how could we turn down the opportunity?
There are more than 600 shops, which means there are plenty of restaurants to choose from in a small region of Yokohama and it was definitely worth the 1hr30 drive!
It’s better to go earlier than later (before 9pm), as a lot of restaurants and shops close early.
We went to a small restaurant and chose a set menu, which had all of our favourites and the food was very beautifully presented!
I’d recommend checking out the stalls on the streets, as they sell the classic Japanese sweet treats, such as mochi, matcha ice cream, etc.
Whilst in Yokohama at nightfall, I’d definitely recommend stopping by the Yokohama Port, as the night scenery is something out of a postcard.
Fish Are Friends, Not Food…Or Are They?
If you’re residing in Tokyo and you don’t take a trip to the Tsukiji Fish Market, you would definitely be missing out!
It is one of the world’s largest and busiest fish markets, which has a large array of small restaurants and stalls that cater the most freshest fish you have ever tasted!
Tsukiji Fish Market is expected to be moving locations to make way for the 2020 Olympics, so be sure to add this to the top of your list to visit!
My Mum is a massive sushi fan, so I decided to treat her to one of the famed sushi restaurants in the Market. It does come with a pricey tag for a small platter of sushi (5000¥, crazy right?), it was worth it for the most freshest sushi made by the best local sushi chefs. The sushi is made right in front of you, so it added to the authentic Japanese experience.
On the way to enlightenment…
You’ve got to Number 5 on my ‘Top 10 Places to Visit in Japan‘ and the best is yet to come!
When stopping off in Japan, you must stop off at one temple at least on your travels. Kōtoku-in is a Buddhist Temple in Kamakura city and is home to the Daibutsu (Giant Buddha).
The Kamakura Daibutsu is the second largest Buddha statue in Japan. People from all over Japan visit this statue, as it has a lot significance due to how long-standing it is and the many natural disasters it has survived.
You can pay a very small fee to view the interior of the statue. You will find a booth just behind the Daibutsu that take the donations, so that you can venture inside and find out more about how it was built.
The Stairway to the Shrine
Staying in the Kamakura region, I’d recommend also stopping off at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shinto Shrine.
It is a beautiful, prestigious-looking Shrine that waits for you at the top of the many steps to explore.
This Shinto Shrine is dedicated to the ‘God of War’ and is a sacred destination for spiritualists. It is very well-designed and has the most beautiful lotus pond with Koi fish swimming around.
Whenever you see a Torii (Japanese gate) it normally marks the entrance of a Shinto Shrine, so make sure you watch out for the little Torii icon on road signs!
Just outside where you see this Torii, there are many crossings. Take a stroll down this street as you will find many local shops and cafés to explore!
Lighting up the Electric Town
So, for all of the anime, manga and electronic fans, you were probably waiting to hear about this destination…
…You guessed it! It’s Akihabara (a.k.a. Electric Town)!
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, Akihabara is the central hub for Otaku Culture (devoted fans of anime/manga) and therefore lots of stores are dedicated to this culture and you can find a lot of electronic stores here too.
I’d visit Akihabara at night, as opposed to daytime, as the Electric Town lights up and turns into a very lively and eye-catching place to be in.
Christmas came early!
I always hear about the famous ‘Bowing Deer’ in Nara Park in Kyoto, but unfortunately for us, Kyoto was just too long of a drive. So, instead I tried to seek out these famous Japanese deer somewhere closer to home.
This is when I found out about Kashima-Jingu Shrine!
It took over 4 hours to find this place, as the Sat Nav was very deceiving and took us to the middle of nowhere. If you visit here, I would follow the Sat Nav to Kashima. When you get to the centre of Kashima, there should be signs that have the Torii sign that you can follow to find the Shrine.
If you’re not driving, there is a train station in Kashima or you can book a guided tour with excursion companies.
The Shrine itself was a beautiful and tranquil place compared to all of the other Shrines and Temples I have visited. It was quieter and not many people knew about the deer, as they have their own enclosure, so you had front row seats to have a look at them! They are the most majestic-looking creatures and was definitely worth the visit!
Public Park or Zoo? Or Both?
This next destination has the best of both worlds, you can visit the largest public park I’ve ever been to in my life and also stop off at their zoo for 600¥ (approx. £4.25 at time of publishing)!
This destination is Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo!
This location is relatively easy to find and you can park in an underground carpark. If you get the train, it is even more convenient, as you step outside the station and the Park is only behind the station!
You can practically spend an entire day here with how large this place is!
There are many different activities and places to see here, such as the Peony Garden, Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature & Science, Kaneiji Temple, Shinobazu Pond, Kiyomizu Kannon Temple and so many more! Visit here if you want to learn more.
The Ueno Zoo is home to the famous Pandas, so it is definitely worth visiting. Also, for 600¥ you definitely get your moneys worth, as the Zoo has so much to see!
Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls…
I’ve saved the best to last!
This last destination of my ‘Top 10 Places to Visit in Japan‘ has to be the road trip to Mount Fuji, seeing my first waterfall and taking in the views of a tranquil lake.
The first stop on the 4-hour journey was the Shiraito no Taki Waterfall in Fujinomiya. This majestic beauty that Mother Nature created was really quite a sight to behold! We spent a lot of time here soaking up the views.
On a sunny day, you can see Mount Fuji from viewing points around Shiraito Falls. However, we were unlucky with the weather, so we didn’t manage to see anything.
This is a great place to get souvenirs for people, as there are a few shops to buy from!
We then continued our journey and drove through forests around Fujinomiya to try and find some viewing points of Mount Fuji and it took us to Lake Motosuko.
Lake Motosuko is one of the five lakes that you can view Mount Fuji from. The Lake was absolutely stunning, although it was a little disheartening as it was too cloudy to see Mount Fuji.
TRAVEL TIP: Make sure to visit Mount Fuji on a clear, sunny day!
You’ve Reached The Finishing Line!
So, that’s the end of my ‘Top 10 Things To Do In Japan‘, so I hope you enjoyed the destinations I picked out!
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