8 Unique Things To Do While In Japan

Japan: a land of contrasts where a powerfully rooted culture is constantly learning to coexist with new trends. Visitors to Japan will experience diverse customs and traditions while also being offered the chance to embrace new technologies and innovations…there’s really no place like Nippon!

I found the nation of Japan to be as welcoming as any other country I have ever visited. There’s a high level of respect in every part of life; no matter how small or trivial, the pride in food, design, fashion, technology, gardening, building, you know it, it’s all meticulously done. If you ask someone for directions they won’t just describe the best way to get there, if it’s close they will take you personally. Looking for the best food in town, if they aren’t sure about it they’ll find someone who knows. – Matthew, Buckets&Spades

If you are planning to travel to the land of the rising sun and aim for a different experience, rather than just passing by those popular attractions checked by thousands of tourists every day, you might want to add these unique things to do in Japan to your itinerary:

1. Sleep At A Capsule Hotel

Standard capsule hotel room in Japan. / Photo by Francisco Javier Rodriguez Perez

Take your nighttime ritual to a whole new level and try out Japan’s brand new innovative concept: sleeping in a capsule hotel. Spend your night in a capsule, long enough to fit your body, but not wide enough to be able to move around. Not the best idea for claustrophobics, but definitely worth a try. Plus, it’s way cheaper than your ordinary hotel room.

What made Japan so interesting were the everyday bizarre discoveries, ranging from the eye capturing Tokyo street fashion, to strict bathing etiquettes, capsule hostels, and vending machines selling literally everything from books, french fries and fish-shaped cakes. -Ása, From Ice To Spice

2. Watch A Live Tuna Auction

Live tuna auction at the Tsukiji fish market. / Photo by Ran Takeda

Everyone knows that auctions and luxury go hand in hand, but don’t forget one thing: you’re in Japan, the place where anything is possible, even a tuna auction. Wake up early in the morning and make sure you reach the Tsukiji fish market before 4 AM. Enjoy a live show of loud fast overlapping voices between bidders and the auctioneers trying to get the best deal for their goods.

3. Step Over the Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Intersection at rush hour. / Photo by Derrick Chin

Home to 13.6 million people, Tokyo is not only one of the best cities to visit in Japan, but also one of the most crowded places on the planet. If we were to pinpoint a specific location within this town, the Shibuya Intersection would be by far, its most chaotic spot.

Every day millions of people moving in different directions are rushing to cross this intersection. Blend with the moving crowds to snap a photo and then head to the 3rd floor of the Starbucks building nearby for the ultimate view of this urban landscape, one that is sure to take your breath away.

4. Eat In Sapporo’s Strictest Restaurant

Worldwide known for the strong values it holds, Japan is giving travellers a powerful lesson about food. If you find yourself wandering through Sapporo, the Hachi-Kyo restaurant is a wonderful place to enjoy delightful Japanese traditional meals. However, there is one thing you need to remember while in there: don’t waste food! Not even a single grain of rice, or else the fine you will get is to be calculated per grain of rice wasted.

I loved Japan – don’t miss out on the grocery stories below the malls. They have the best over the top packaging for their food that I love! – Jennifer, See & Savour

5. Watch Crying Babies

Crying babies at the Naki Sumo Festival. / Photo by Juan Salmoral

Ready for another round of weirdness during your adventure in Japan? A crying baby will usually cause his parents to panic, but during the Naki Sumo Baby Crying Festival, things are quite different. Sumo wrestlers  hold the babies to intentionally get them to cry in order to rid the child of any demons that may be surrounding them.

6. Have A Break, Have A Kit Kat

I liked it a lot. But I like anything that's sweet :/
Wasabi flavoured KitKat. / Photo by Karl Baron

Who doesn’t love chocolate right? How about KitKats? Well in Japan you never have to worry about getting bored by the one flavour of KitKat you may have at home. Take your pick of 15 flavours you will find throughout the country! Fancy a strawberry or a lime infused KitKat? Go wild with the purple sweet potato flavour or the red bean sandwich. Bottom line: there’s not much left out in the flavour department!

7. Read And Sleep At A Manga Cafe

Typical Manga Cafe featuring a large library. / Photo by Lowen Fan

A true manga reader who finds himself in the heart of Japan has to get off track for a night, or even a few hours, to crash into a Manga Kissa. These worldwide famous cafes boast tons of manga (Japanese comic books) falling off of shelves. And there’s more! You can also play video games or if you are too tired, you can even get some sleep in a comfy bed. This experience costs only about 2500Y, just a bit under 1USD. 

Japan is a country that will resonate with you long after you have left. You will miss the deafening quietness of the cities and the cleanliness of the streets and the ease of public transport. You will long for the politeness of the people and the tantalizing tastes of the dishes, as well as the prospect of exotic cultural experiences around every corner. – Lindsey, Have Clothes, Will Travel

8. Wear Toilet Slippers

Toilet slippers to be worn at home. / Photo by Lars D.

The Japanese are very practical when it comes to designing and maintaining their homes. Besides the fact that they tend to go for a minimalist style above everything, the Japanese will also do anything in their power to impede dirt entering their houses. Not only will you need to remove your outdoor shoes upon entering a home, but you can also expect to find a separate pair of slippers outside every bathroom. These are meant to be worn while in the toilet and left in the same place when you get out. Japan brings cleanliness to a whole new level!

One of the things that surprised and fascinated me the most about Japan was the eclectic mix of the old and the new, the contrast between the two visible particulalry in Tokyo. Here, hudrend years old traditions mix with ultra modern skyscrapers, not to mention the youth culture – one moment you can be strolling down Harajuku, the next you’re sipping matcha at a temple.. I absolutely loved that about Japan. – Marta, A Girl Who Travels

Visit Japan and see for yourself what it’s like to enter a Manga cafe or what that live tuna auction is all about. Unique, one-of-a-kind things to do and to places to see are waiting for you in Japan. Get ready to be blown away by weirdness, by the unimaginable and by fantasy turned into reality.

There are not many places that would provide such peculiar and unexpected forms of entertainment, but Tokyo is a city of many colorful facets. It is a destination where you can attend a lively tuna auction hours before daybreak, eat skewers of yakitori in the seedy Piss Alley or scramble across one of the biggest intersections in the world with hundreds of others. In other words, Tokyo is freakin’ fabulous. – Annette, Bucket List Journey

Featured image by Toshihiro Oimatsu

Antonia is a passionate writer and an avid reader. Eat well, travel often - are some of the words she lives by. When she's not writing or reading, she loves getting out in nature, hiking or losing herself in unknown cities.

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