10 Must do things in Japan

by - Tuesday, July 18, 2017


      To be fair, everything in Japan is a must! I can't mention any other country that impressed us this much with all that it has to offer, from the amazing and friendly people, to the delicious food and incredible culture! Below are a few of the things that you cannot miss if you want to have the complete Japan experience!

1. The food (especially the sushi)
It’s an understatement to say that the sushi in Japan is the best in the entire world! But besides sushi there are so many interesting dishes or street food to try, that you might feel like eating the whole time!
My personal favorite (besides sushi): gyozas!
I wrote more about food in an earlier post, so you can check that out here if you are curious.
2. Attend a sumo match
We were lucky enough that during our trip, there was a sumo tournament held in Himeji, a small town close to Osaka. We decide to go giving us also the opportunity to visit the Himeji castle.
We bought the tickets from here.The site is very reliable and we received the tickets via post mail a few days later.
It was a very interesting experience attending a sumo match, mostly due to all the rituals they have before every match. I most definitely recommend it!

         3. Play an arcade game. Or 2. Or 3…
Beware…they are addictive! Japanese people love playing arcade games, therefore you will find an arcade place at every corner in Japan. Taito station I believe is the most famous in Tokyo.

We had our share of fun playing some games, not to mention I put Chris to shame at Dance Dance Revolution. 
Pachinko is their most famous game, however we had a hard time figuring it out.

         4. Win a souvenir at an arcade game
They make it look so easy, but after some tries and team effort we managed to win Angelina here. Isn’t she pretty?

5. The Ryokan experience
A ryokan is a type of traditional Japanese inn that features tatami-matted rooms, futon beds, communal baths and other public areas where visitors may wear yukatas (which we did :D).
We chose a ryokan in the heart of the mountains in Takayama. Our main criteria was the possibility to have private onsen (to be detailed at number 6).
We had breakfast and dinner included, and the dinner was the traditional kaiseki type (where you have many small dishes along with one main dish).
The price for a ryokan stay can vary a lot, but a good one that offers the complete experience will cost you around 200 euros/night.
Our spacious room
Kaiseki dinner
Kaiseki breakfast

 6. The Onsen experience
An onsen is a Japanese hot spring and the bathing facilities and inns frequently situated around them, aka the ryokan earlier.
The ritual before taking an onsen is a long and interesting one and it sets it apart from a simple bath. You can read more about it here (click me, I don't bite) .
One important thing to know is that the onsens are usually public baths, separated for male and female, which can be a bit uncomfortable to expose yourself completely to strangers. Also tattoos are a big no no when it comes to public onsens, this is why we opted for a ryokan that offered the possibility of a private one, this was ideal as it combined both privacy and the great onsen experience.
The private outdoor onsen
The private indoor onsen
The shower area for the public onsen
The public outdoor onsen
          7. The Geisha experience
The best place to rent a kimono is in Kyoto, this way you get to have the whole experience of a Geisha walking the streets of Gion.
There are a lot of shops renting kimonos and they offer the whole experience, the entire Geisha outfit plus the hair and make up if you feel like paying extra.
The prices vary based on the quality of the kimono. You will see a lot of advertising with kimono rental for 30 euros/day, but that applies to the simple and monochromatic ones.
A geisha will be perceived as more beautiful based on how colorful her kimono is. The very colorful ones are worn by young geishas, while the older a geisha is she will choose simpler patterns and not that flashy. They also have men kimono’s which are simpler and in darker colors, so if you travel as a couple you can opt for the couple package. This is somewhere at around 100 euros.
For us it was an amazing experience to walk the streets of Gion dressed in kimonos. Japanese people kept smiling at us and wanted to take pictures. You don’t see a blonde geisha every day, do you?

          8. Take a ride on the Shinkansen
Traveling by train at 300 km/h. Do I need to say more? Try not to look through the window, it always made me dizzy.
If you plan on visiting more of Japan, I would recommend the Japan Rail Pass, it will save you a lot of money.

The USS Enterprise 

9. Take a purikura photo
Purikura was trending big while we went to Japan. It is more popular with girls, but it can also be fun for couples. It’s basically a photo sticker booth with a little extra ;).

10. Feed a deer in Nara
One of the most amazing experiences in Japan was to feed the deer in Nara city. The deer are roaming free around the park and they are extremely polite! They will bow to you for food, also if you bow to them they will bow back!
You can buy special deer crackers at every corner that are very cheap and the deer love them!

Arigatou gozaimasu!


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