Japan Bucket List: Top 20 Things to Do When Visiting Japan in 2023

What are the best things to do in Japan? From ancient castles and temples to fast "shinkansen" bullet trains and fun karaoke nights, there are so many things you can try in Japan! In this article, we'll introduce the top 20 things you should add to your Japan bucket list for a truly unforgettable trip to Japan!

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

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1. Speak Japanese

A simple "konnichiwa" or "arigatou" will do. Try to greet the ryokan or restaurant's owner--the smile that you will receive is priceless.

2. Visit Temples, Shrines, and Zen Gardens

What is a trip to Japan without a trip to a temple, shrine or zen garden? The ideal city to visit all the three in a day or two would be Kyoto.

3. Visit Castles

Visiting a castle in Japan is a very good way to learn about the history in certain areas. Not only can you enjoy and admire the ancient architecture, but most of the castles do have displays and information in English along the visiting paths in the castle.

4. Go to a Sumo Tournament

A cultural event that you should not miss out on. Join the crowd and witness the sumo fighting yourself.

5. Sing Karaoke

This must be on your must-do list no matter if you are a good singer or not. You will get a private room with a full list of songs in both Japanese and English (sometimes with Korean, Chinese and Tagalog songs too), beer and food.


6. Take Picture with the Cosplay That You Love the Most

Do not be shy to go up to the manga characters that you like and ask to take a picture with them. The picture will be a good memory - after all, we know that Japanese cosplay shows in Japan are much different compared to the one you have in your home country.

Our Top Tips

JR Pass for Whole Japan

Explore Japan in the most convenient and economical way with a Japan Rail Pass! It is valid for the majority of railways and local buses operated by JR. 

7. Stay at a Love Hotel

Cheap, comfortable, spacious, clean, safe, privacy guaranteed, private karaoke, PlayStation and more. Do I need to go further to explain why a love hotel is a good choice?

8. Take a Trip on a Bullet Train

You should not miss out on the chance to take one of the fastest trains in the world while traveling in Japan.

9. Eat at a Conveyor-Belt Sushi Bar

Having sushi in Japan is a must, but do have them at the sushi bar that has a conveyor-belt.

10. Try the Games at a Pachinko Parlor

Whether you are a gamer or not, a trip to a pachinko (a type of Japanese gambling) parlour is a must. Although you will get confused on how to use those machines, who cares, just slot in the money and enjoy.

11. Visit Purikura and Take a Photo

Purikura, or photo booths, are extremely popular in Japan. The sticker pictures are cute and easy to carry around in your wallet or on your mobile phone.

12. Go to a Public Bath

This might sound a bit awkward, but yes, try bathing naked with strangers. It is a weird experience but if you do not feel comfortable, you can always leave.

Our Top Tips

Japan Shinkansen, Narita Express (N'EX) & Express Train Tickets

Plan ahead by booking your shinkansen, airport train, and express train tickets online in English. Have the tickets sent to you by mail or collect them at the station once you're in Japan.

13. Natural Hot Spring (Onsen)

There are tons of onsen available in Japan. To narrow down your choices, choose natural hot springs with beautiful views.


14. Conquer Mt. Fuji

This might not be easy for those who visit Japan in winter, but for those who visit during other seasons, the peak of Mt. Fuji is worth a visit.

15. Ski and Snowboard

For those who can't hike Mt. Fuji in winter, consider skiing or snowboarding in Hokkaido.

16. Sleep in Ryokan

Experience an authentic Japanese stay in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.

17. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum

If you have to choose only one museum to visit in Japan, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum should be the one. Step into the museum and you will be surrounded by emotional photos, objects, texts and music.

18. Eat Japanese Curry, Soba, Udon, and Yakiniku

There are a lot of local Japanese foods that you must try while in Japan. But Japanese curry, soba, udon, and yakiniku should be on the priority list.

19. Visit a Fish Market

As fish is one of the main food staples in Japan, you will find a fish market in almost all the big cities in Japan. One of the most famous ones is the Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo. Go in the early morning for the tuna auction and you can have fresh sashimi/sushi for breakfast after the market tour.

20. Try to Participate in at Least One Matsuri (Local Festival)

Matsuri or local festivals are another thing you should not miss in Japan. There are various matsuri throughout the year in different locations. Try to participate in one of the matsuri. You will never regret it.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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