There is no surprise why Japan is one of the top travel destinations in Southeast Asia.
For one, it boasts a wide myriad of food—from freshly sliced sashimi to crispy tonkotsu, wholesome bowls of soupy ramen and more. The culture is also a very unique one, and the Japanese are easily the most cultured and friendliest people around.
We simply cannot get enough of Japan; there’s just so much to see and do and experience. If you still haven’t taken a first trip to Japan, you’re completely missing out. Here are the 24 Unique Things You Can Only Experience In Japan.
#1 VENDING MACHINES ARE APLENTY
You will be surprised by just how many vending machines you can encounter when strolling down a street. Every vending machine is different, and you will find a huge variety of drinks that come in the most colourful packaging!
Photo Credit: Japan Guide
#2 WATCH A SUMO WRESTLING MATCH
Dating all the way back since ancient times, sumo wrestling has always been considered as entertainment and it is the country’s national sport. You can catch a glimpse of all the action when you attend a sumo tournament by purchasing tickets from an official vendor, through their convenience stores, or from this website.
#3 SPEND A NIGHT AT GRAN CYBER CAFÉ @BAGUS
Japan is known for having the most unique hotels and one of them is a manga cafe, which is also known as a kissa cafe to the locals.
At Gran Cyber @Bagus Cafe, guests are provided with facilities such as a shower room, comfortable private cubicles for sleeping and the best part—free food!
@Bagus Gran Cyber Café
3F Adhoc Shinjuku Building
Tel: +81 3-5363-6253
Daily: 24 hours
Nearest Station: Seibu-Shinjuku
Photo Credit: Travel with Rhys
#4 TOUR SHIBUYA ON A GOCART WHILE DRESSED AS A MARIO CHARACTER
What better way to tour one of Tokyo’s busiest shopping districts than on a GoCart, and dressed up as a Mario character?
The MariCar SuperHero Go Cart Tour in Shibuya allows you to drive licensed GoCarts on public roads. Along the two-hour drive, you will get to see a couple of Tokyo’s most popular attractions along the way—including the iconic Tokyo Tower!
Tel: +81 3-6712-8275
Daily: 10am – 10pm
#5 TASTE FRESH SASHIMI AND SUSHI AT TSUKIJI FISH MARKET
If you have not heard about Tsukiji Fish Market by now, you are probably living under a rock. Feast on the freshest sashimi that you will ever taste from several restaurants at the market, including Sushi Zanmai, Ryu Sushi, and the more popular Sushi Dai and Sushi Daiwa.
Tsukiji Fish Market
5 Chome-2-1 Tsukiji, Chou
Daily: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10pm
Nearest Station: Tsukiji Shijo
#6 GET THE BEST VIEW OF SHIBUYA CROSSING AT QFRONT BUILDING
If you are looking to get a good shot of the famous Shibuya crossing, a window seat at QFRONT Building’s Starbucks is your best bet to catch all the action. Watch locals and tourists hurrying across the intersection while you enjoy a cuppa or two.
21-6 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya
Tel: +81 3-3770-2301
Daily: 6.30am – 4am
Nearest Station: Shibuya
#7 VISIT A POKÉMON CENTER
Do you really need a reason to visit any of the Pokémon Centers that can be found all over Japan?!
You will be able to find limited edition plush toys, Pokémon-themed stationaries, Pokémon printed t-shirts, and just about any other merchandise under the sun. The biggest Pokémon Centre is supposedly the one in Ikebukuro, Tokyo.
Pokémon Center MEGA TOKYO
2F, Sunshine City alpha
3-1-2 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku
Tel: +81 3-5927-9290
Daily: 10am – 8pm
Nearest Station: Ikebukuro
Photo Credit: Rakuten Travel
#8 FEED DEER AT THE NARA DEER PARK
Nara Deer Park is one of the more well-known attractions in Nara; it is home to hundreds of tame, free-roaming deers. You can purchase deer crackers around the park to feed the creatures. Some of them even know how to bow for food—how adorable is that?!
Photo Credit: Bored Panda
#9 PET FOXES AT THE MIYAGI ZAO FOX VILLAGE
Located in the mountains near Shiroishi, the Miyagi Zao Fox Village might be a little out of the way, but it is totally worth the commute. Just as its name suggests, this is where you can feed and even cuddle tame foxes that roam around freely.
Miyagi Zao Fox Village
Tel: +81 224-24-8812
Mon, Tue & Thu to Sun: 9am – 4pm
Nearest Station: Shiroishi
#10 GO FOR AN ONSEN EXPERIENCE
Gone are the days when onsens are traditional stone baths located far up a mountain. Present-day onsens are much more convenient since they are usually housed in mini resort facilities and come with additional services.
Think massages, aromatherapy, and even restaurants within the onsen’s grounds for a quick meal. Check out our post on some of the best onsens in Tokyo.
#11 TAKE A PEACEFUL, QUIET TRAIN RIDE
The Japanese are really considerate people and this is something that is often reflected in their public transports. It does not matter whether you board a relatively empty train or one that is packed full during peak hours—everybody onboard is usually very quiet.
Take a peaceful train ride while reading that book you have been wanting to start on, or listen to your favourite music playlist during the journey; you will be surprised at how enjoyable a train ride can be.
Don’t freak out when you see the word ‘hike’. The trek up Mount Takao is relatively manageable, and even if you prefer not to, there are cable car services to take you up the mountain.
The mountain welcomes more visitors during the Autumn season when the leaves turn into beautiful shades of red, yellow and orange.
#13 THE CONVENIENCE STORES BOAST A DELECTABLE RANGE OF MICROWAVEABLE FOOD
No other country does it like Japan when it comes to their impressive array of instant food options. Their convenience stores carry everything from cream pasta, to bento meals, soupy noodles and even omurice. The options are endless and we certainly aren’t complaining!
#14 BITE INTO THE FLUFFIEST PANCAKES EVER
The Japanese are known for their delicious desserts, and they somehow never fail to make anything look visually appealing. If you are a fan of pancakes, the ones at Gram Pancakes are so fluffy and soft that they jiggle when you shake the plate. Totally perfect for an Instagram boomerang!
Tel: +81 3-6804-3399
Daily: 11am – 9pm
Nearest Station: Harajuku
#15 DINE AT A VENDING MACHINE RESTAURANT
In Japan, having a meal outside without any human interaction is completely possible. Besides having ramen at Ichiran, you can visit Jihanki Shokudo, a vending machine restaurant in Gunma Prefecture. The machines carry tempura udon, hamburgers, ramen and more.
293-3 Tomizukach?, Isesaki-shi
Gunma-ken 372-0833, Japan
Photo Credit: Inside Kyoto
#16 DRESS UP AS A GEISHA IN KYOTO
The best place in Japan to see geishas is in the Gion district in Kyoto. For the uninitiated, geishas are skilled high-class entertainers; their dressing and practices are considered a form of art.
Even if you do not get to catch a glimpse of the geishas in Kyoto, you can still dress up in an exquisite kimono and learn a bit more about their culture.
#17 EVERYTHING IS ABOUT THE AESTHETICS
The Japanese hold very high standards when it comes to the aesthetics of the food they serve. Everything looks almost too good to be eaten and we simply cannot resist the beautiful packaging!
#18 HAVE A GO AT A GACHAPON MACHINE WHILE YOU EAT SUSHI
The Japanese sure know how to put a creative spin when it comes to dining. At Kura Sushi in Ikebukuro, you can have a go at the in-built gachapon machines located above your seat with every four plates ordered. Oh, and did we mention that everything on the sushi menu is priced at just ¥100?
Toshima-ku, Tokyo Minamiikebukuro
1-19-5 G Building Minamiikebukuro 01 B1F
Tel: +81 03-5960-1810
Mon to Fri: 11am – 12am
Sat and Sun: 10.20am – 12am
Nearest Station: Ikebukuro
Photo Credit: Travelin’ Boots
#19 HAVE A PICNIC AT YANESEN CEMETERY DURING THE CHERRY BLOSSOM SEASON
The Japanese do not treat cemeteries as an inauspicious place. In fact, the locals regularly pay cemeteries a visit either to pray, or pay respects to the dead.
During the cherry blossom season, you can pop by Yanesen Cemetery for a picnic amongst the breathtaking pink blooms.
Photo Credit: Osaka Info
It is safe to say that cup noodles is everyone’s guilty pleasure. But have you ever wondered have they have been made, or how long instant noodles have been around for?
Visit the Momofuku Instant Ramen Museum located in Osaka, and immerse yourself in everything related to instant noodles. You can even customise your own cup noodles as a personal souvenir!
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum
8-25 Masumicho, Ikeda
563-0041, Osaka, Japan
Tel: +81 72-752-3484
Wed to Mon: 9.30am – 4pm
Closed on Tuesdays
Nearest Station: Ikeda
If you are into wildlife and nature, nothing beats watching these cheeky, yet adorable monkeys bathing in the hot onsen during winter. Situated in Yamanouchi, Nagano Prefecture, Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park lies in the valley of the Yokoyu River and it is home to over 160 Japanese Macaque monkeys.
The hike up to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park takes about 30 to 40 minutes but trust us when we say that it is worth all the effort when you get up close with the wild animals.
The Naruto Whirlpools are tidal pools that occur along the Shikoku coast of the Naruto Straits and these tidal pools were the very ones who inspired the famous cartoon character, Uzumaki Naruto.
A true wonder of nature created from the clash of tides from the Seto Inland Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the views Naruto Whirlpools offer are so magnificent that they alone would justify a trip to Tokushima. You may book a boat tour at Naruto Sightseeing Steamship Co. which will take you on a vessel to admire these natural wonders.
Noh is a classic stage art and one of Japan’s oldest and proudest art forms where performers don a variety of masks and traditional costumes depicting different characters. The stories are told through not just dialogue, but also via singing and musical accompaniments.
Today, Noh theatre performances only happen 10 times a year but if you get the chance to see one in Japan, we highly recommend it. Where else would you get such an authentic experience?
Awamori—a type of sake unique and indigenous to Okinawa, Japan—is a distilled rice liquor which has clear distinctions from the popular Japanese shochu in several ways. Chuko Distillery is Okinawa’s oldest and most established distillery and this is where you can even buy unique hand-made jars to store and age your awamori.
Should you be in Okinawa, make sure to sign up for a free tour of the distillery which comes followed by a tasting session. It is a must to check out the cool hand-made earthenware jars and you might even catch one of the craftsmen at work when you are there!
Address: 132 Nakachi, Tomigusuku City, Okinawa