20 Reasons Why Japan Is Awesome and You Should Visit Right Now
Millions of travelers flock to Japan for their vacation every year, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the world. And no wonder - Japan delights its visitors with its multifaceted charms, giving them experiences that they would not be able to find elsewhere. From its people to its culture, here are 20 reasons why Japan is awesome and why you have to visit it for yourself.
Jan 31 2023 (Feb 07 2023)
1. Beautiful Cherry Blossoms
Japan has something to offer year round: flowers in spring, fresh verdure in summer, vivid red foliage in autumn, and powder snow in winter. But the main sight that draws thousands from all over the world is, without a doubt, its cherry blossoms.
Around late March to April every year, thousands of cherry blossom trees burst into full bloom, feasting your eyes with vivid hues of red and pink and imbuing Japan with a vibrant mood. People all over Japan make merry, holding picnics at parks to admire the cherry blossoms and enjoy one another's company.
If that sounds like a good time to you, check out our cherry blossom forecast (updated every year) as the blossoms bloom at different times in different parts of Japan. Be sure to pack your bento boxes and beverages and enjoy your picnic under the comforting canopy of cherry blossom trees!
You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!
2. Japan Is a Subculture Paradise
What are you into? Anime? Trains? "Kawaii" or cute things? Regardless of what it is, you're bound to find your place in Japan.
Anime and manga fans are bound to go wild when stepping into Akihabara or Ikebukuro in Tokyo for the first time. It's not just about the multitude of stores catering to their interests, but seeing so many other people like them gathered in one place. Similar can be said for old-time record fans, who will no doubt find their home (and new treasures!) in nooks and crannies of Tokyo like Shimokitazawa.
Let's not forget about one of the most mainstream subcultures: the "kawaii" subculture. In Japan, it is not just a word used to describe cute things, but a way of life. Be prepared to be bowled over by the sheer number of adorable things during your trip. From Harajuku fashion to even the designs of public buses, there are many ways for you to enjoy this popular subculture in Japan.
3. The Amazing Food
One of the biggest reasons to visit any foreign country is the food, and that is doubly so for Japan.
Take traditional Japanese food, or in Japan, "washoku." It has such historical and cultural value that in 2013, UNESCO registered it as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Whether you opt to try the traditional Japanese breakfast "ichiju sansai" or sit down at a "ryokan" inn to indulge in a fancy "kaiseki" course dinner, it is an experience that ought to be lived at least once.
Then there's the more "modern" foods that people all around the world know today - sushi, donburi, even ramen. While you can certainly indulge in them overseas, the reason why you should come to Japan to try them is because of their regional variations. You'll unearth the dietary practices of the locals as well as the signature homegrown ingredients of each prefecture. For instance, Hokkaido people love miso ramen that is delectably topped with sweet corn, onsen eggs, and char siu, whereas Kyushu people swear by their frothy tonkotsu ramen that comes with fragrant black garlic oil, char siu, leek, and bamboo shoots. Doesn't that seem like a great way to learn more about the individual regions of Japan?
4. There Are Festivals and Events All Year Long
No matter when you decide to make that trip to Japan, it will have some type of festivity for you to indulge in.
Spring is the season of flowers and new beginnings, so tourists will be greeted by flower festivals and garden light-ups at night. Summer may be hot and humid, but it is also when some of the loudest festivals take place, such as the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and the Aomori Nebuta Festival in Aomori, and let's not forget about the numerous fireworks festivals in July and August!
As the days start getting colder and Japan enters fall, the trees turn into vibrant shades of red and gold - an occasion which the Japanese celebrate with yet another festival or nighttime illumination. And finally, once the winter truly begins to set in, Japan revels in this change with even more light displays and all sorts of festive cheer.
Do yourself a favor and plan your itinerary before coming so that you can join in the revelry with the locals!
5. Historic Temples and Shrines
Since ancient times, the Japanese people have practiced Shintoism and Buddhism, and many of the shrines and temples that people prayed at are still wonderfully preserved today.
They come in all shapes and sizes: some of them like Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Kyoto) are world-renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while others are tiny and tucked away in a nondescript part of a local neighborhood. Some temples like Yamadera Temple (Yamagata) are situated high up in the mountains, and others like Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima) are located out at sea.
Regardless, all of them emanate a regal and serene atmosphere that will recharge your soul. Visiting Japanese temples and shrines is thus a wonderful way to receive some calming energy and create lasting memories.
6. You Can Sing Your Heart Out All Day Long
As the country that invented karaoke machines, there's no better place to sing your heart out than Japan.
Karaoke establishments are located strategically in many shopping streets across the country, so you can easily book a room with your friends (or by yourself!) and sing all your favorite tunes loudly without a care in the world. Some rooms even come with microphone stands and disco lights, so it's easy to pretend to host your own concert. Most karaoke places also sell finger food, snacks, and drinks - all the better to sustain your energy for a karaoke marathon!
For more tips and features on karaoke in Japan, check out this article: Sing the Night Away! A Beginner's Guide to Going to Karaoke in Japan
7. The Futuristic Technology
OK, sure, Japanese people still use fax machines. But there's many other ways where Japan showcases its technological prowess.
Case in point: Japanese toilets. With so many features and functionalities, often marked with pictograms so that you can easily figure out how to use the different buttons, it is not hard to understand their appeal. Japanese toilets are especially a godsend in winter because the seats are warmed, providing a welcomed respite from the cold outdoors. You must try the washlet spray function - there's nothing quite like having your bottom cleaned by warm water!
Here's another one: ordering at restaurants. While there are still plenty of restaurants where you have to read a paper menu and wave down the server, more and more places are starting to introduce fancy technology to make ordering easier and smoother for both the customer and store. You can now order through a tablet, which will more often than not display the menu in several languages. Even if they don't have a tablet, they will often have buttons that you press to get the server to come take your order. And in some stores, they even have robots deliver the food to your table!
Spend some time in Japan and you're sure to discover the multitude of other ways technology has made the lives of both locals and tourists just that much easier.
Soaking in piping hot waters is a quintessential part of Japanese culture, especially in the winter. And with about 28,000 hot springs scattered all over Japan, you are spoiled for choice.
Some popular options are the hot spring towns of Noboribetsu, Hokkaido; Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture; and Beppu and Yufuin in Oita Prefecture. But even the most urban cities and smallest towns are bound to have options for you to soak in. Not all are communal either, so you can relax and enjoy the hot water peacefully out of view from others if that's what you wish.
Many of the hot springs also contain beneficial minerals that can beautify the skin and sometimes even relieve pain. While the act of getting into a hot bath by itself can do a lot to relieve the body and mind, the extra help certainly won't hurt!
Onsen Inns in Hakone: Hakone Yutowa
9. The Fashion Capital of Tokyo
Japanese people tend to be well dressed even for casual outings, especially in Tokyo, one of the fashion capitals of the world. No matter how you like to dress or what your budget may be, you're bound to find something to add to your wardrobe in Tokyo. Best of all, travelers don't have to pay consumption tax as long as they're staying for less than six months, making it that much cheaper to pamper yourself with some great finds!
Ready to go shopping? Hit the streets of Shibuya, Ginza, and Omotesando for the high-end brands. If you're more interested in vintage finds, take a peek at the line of secondhand stores in Harajuku and Shimokitazawa. Even outside of Tokyo, you'll stumble across towns and cities famous for specific kinds of clothing, such as Kurashiki and its denim.
10. National Parks That Offer More Than Just Nature
While national parks do exist outside of Japan, most of them are left relatively untouched by civilization. Japan, on the other hand, is home to over 30 national parks which all feature verdant forests and majestic mountains surrounding little pockets of civilization, each with their own unique traditions and culture. A trek through any of these national parks thus offers more than just gorgeous landscapes and fascinating flora and fauna. It's a journey into Japan, exploring the cultures, cuisines, and histories of regional towns and cities, and seeing how they've been shaped by the surroundings they live in.
Jaunt through Nikko National Park and unearth a multitude of historic sites that make up the Shrines and Temples of Nikko, designated as a World Heritage Site. Or spend some time in the fishing towns of Sanriku Fukko National Park, gobbling down their fresh seafood cuisine. With the sheer size of some of these national parks, there's plenty to explore.
11. Unparalleled Hospitality
In Japan, there is a deep-rooted culture called "omotenashi" which translates to hospitality, but is actually far more than that. Travelers will often see the spirit of omotenashi in the country's service workers, who are unfailingly polite and kind to all who pass their way. However, it is also seen in the small things, such as how you're greeted when you enter a store, with no need for reciprocation. You will feel welcomed no matter where you go, even if you can't speak Japanese.
12. An Effortless Blend of Nature and Urbanity
Mention Japan, and people tend to think of towering skyscrapers and buildings. But nothing can be further from the truth! Green spaces are strategically located even within the country's bustling concrete jungles, enabling the locals to take a breather from the stresses of urban living. You can see what that looks like for yourself by visiting parks like Ueno Park in Tokyo and Osaka Castle Park in Osaka. And if you go a little further away from the big city, rivers, valleys, islands, forests, and more nature await!
13. The Reliable Japanese Public Transport System
Traveling in Japan can yield plenty of memorable experiences, and for many, the public transport system is one of them. Even in more remote areas, you can somewhat easily find at least one method of public transport to take you around, and sometimes they can be faster than a taxi or private car! Furthermore, as per the Japanese’s penchant for punctuality, they are almost never late. Some buses and trains are also tourist attractions, designed based on a theme such as a Hello Kitty shinkansen or Pokemon bus. Don't forget to snap a photo if you see one!
14. One-of-a-Kind Cafes
Cafe hopping is a favorite pastime for people in many countries, and there’s no reason why you can’t do likewise in Japan. No matter what you're looking for, you're guaranteed to find a cafe that offers it.
For those of you who crave for some peace and quiet, you can opt to patronize book cafes where you can kick back with a good book and sip a cup of coffee. Some book cafes even sell beer! And of course, who can leave out the maid and butler cafes at Akihabara?
There are many other themed cafes out there that you won't see outside of Japan. Wander around and have a look!
15. The Unique Accommodations
Only in Japan can you spend a night in a pod that will not look out of place in a science fiction movie! Originally intended for Japanese salarymen who needed a place to stay for the night when they missed the last train home, capsule hotels offer many great amenities like a public bath, massage chairs, and lounge at amazing prices.
They are, however, not the only unique accommodations Japan has to offer. For example, some temples in the country actually allow overnight stays. And though most castles function as museums or historic relics to be admired from afar, there are a select few such as Hirado Castle in Nagasaki Prefecture that have been partially renovated to allow overnight guests. Japan even has some of the world's most luxurious sleeper trains, such as the famous Seven Stars in Kyushu!
Your accommodation doesn't just have to be the place where you sleep for the night. In Japan, it can be so much more if you let it.
Capsule Hotels in Tokyo: Rembrandt Cabin Shinjuku Shin-Okubo
16. Japanese Performing Arts
Noh, kabuki, bunraku, rakugo... Each of these performing arts carries a piece of Japanese history and culture, passed down through the generations. Though in the past, only those fluent in the language could appreciate them in their entirety, globalization and improved technology now makes it easier for even those who don't know Japanese to understand them fully. Watch a formal show at a fancy theater like the Kabuki-za Theatre in Tokyo, or simply drop by a summer festival to see taiko and dance performances in full swing. Culture and history are alive and vibrant in the performance arts of Japan.
17. One of the Safest Places to Travel
Pretty much everyone agrees that Japan is one of the safest countries to travel in the world. Rest assured that your trip is very unlikely to be spoiled by pickpockets and snatch thefts. And even if you are unlucky enough to misplace your belongings, chances are that they will be returned to you in record time. Neighborhoods in Japan are also very safe to navigate around at night, so it's not uncommon to see women out alone even past midnight. That said, we still recommend you do your due diligence in order to keep yourself and your belongings safe, but the likelihood of something unfortunate happening to you is, for many people, far lower than back home!
18. Convenience Stores That Are Truly Convenient
Japanese convenience stores are in a different league of their own. Be prepared to be awed by their wide selection of not just goods, but services, too! You can withdraw money, pay utility bills, print or scan anything, and even send mail and packages through any convenience store. They also stock basic grocery essentials in case you feel like cooking but don't want to go all the way to an actual supermarket. Even more delightfully, many of them are open 24/7, so you can patronize them anytime! Don't they sound convenient?
19. The Clean Streets
Japanese people are raised from a young age to be respectful of their surroundings and clean up after themselves. From elementary school, they help clean the classrooms and school corridors. Even at work, many are expected to help clean the office and throw out the trash instead of leaving the work up to janitors. Thanks to this, even though many public spaces in Japan don't have trash cans anymore, the streets are kept far cleaner than most dense cities. When you visit, make sure you do your part by following the Japanese and keeping your garbage with you until you find a proper place to dispose of it.
20. Great Options No Matter Your Budget
Japan is often stereotyped to be an expensive country to visit. However, those who actually visit will realize that Japan is full of fun things to do even on a shoestring budget.
Many tourist attractions, including museums and light-up installations, can be experienced for free. There are also plenty of cheaper accommodation options, such as the aforementioned capsule hotel. As for food, the country has a deluge of inexpensive eats, ranging from the ubiquitous ramen to Japanese convenience store food, which is often far healthier than what you might find in a regular convenience store overseas. And if you like shopping, there's nothing more enjoyable than dropping by a discount store like the famous Don Quijote!
In short, there's no need to let your budget stop you from traveling to Japan, as there's great options on all fronts for any budget.
Visit Japan Now!
Japan has a lot to offer as a traveler’s destination. Straddling the old and new with finesse, it preserves its historical buildings while breaking new ground with novel technologies. Its people are also some of the most hospitable people in the world. Have a blast of a time in Japan!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.