Nicknamed “The Land of the Rising Sun”, the wondrous country of Japan should be a must-see for every avid traveler out there. From spectacular shrines to interesting geisha districts and ancient Buddhist temples, it is not difficult to conclude that Japan is a country which can boast with its abundant cultural ancestry and antiquity.
Whether it is exploring the sovereign Kyoto or touring the streets of its capital, Tokyo, there are heaps of activities passionate travelers of all ages and interests can engage in when staying in this truly spellbinding country. If the expensive lifestyle is shunned to the side (transportation and accommodation might prove to be costly for the average traveler), Japan can be one of the most fascinating and rewarding countries which finds itself on most people’s bucket list. Here are some of the top seven activities in Japan for the most amazing and memorable experience.
1. Find out everything about Japanese culture at Naoshima
If you are the type that likes to expand their mind and visit museums, then the island of Naoshima is your very first stop. Located in the midst of the Seto Inland Sea, this place is a true haven for Japanese modern art museums, sculptures and authentic architecture. Also, visitors have the chance to lounge on the gorgeous island’s sandy beaches and enjoy the lovely Mediterranean vibe. Some of the museums’ tourists have the ability to visit include the Chichu Art Museum as well as the Lee Ufan Museum. In addition, Naoshima is traditionally the main venue of the Setouchi Triennale, the famous contemporary art festival held over three sessions. Also dubbed “Ando Island”, most of the structures on Naoshima were designed by the esteemed architect Tadao Ando. However, visitors are urged to make reservations for accommodation as soon as possible, because the number of visitors on the island is limited.
2. Play around with baby foxes at the Zao Fox Village
Did you know that fox themed zoos are an actual thing? Well, if you do not believe it, then head to Zao Fox Village near Sendai and see it for yourself. As a matter of fact, it is a popular spot where over than 100 foxes are kept roaming around in the gardens. Also, smaller fluffy animals such as rabbits can be spotted and cuddled in the area. Even though it is accessible all year round, locals suggest visiting the zoo during spring times; this is the season when it is allowed to hug a baby fox. Of course, there is no need to worry about diseases; the foxes in the Zao Fox Village are all checked for parasites so even small children can safely play around and have fun!
3. “Catch ’em all” at Pokemon Center DX in Tokyo
Known as the most famous and popular series for kids and adults likewise, Pokemon is huge in Japan. Due to its rising fan base, the Pokemon Center opened in 2018 in the city of Tokyo, attracting tons and tons of die-hard Pokémon lovers from all over the world. As you enter the Pokemon Center DX, the sight of some of the most beloved characters is there to welcome you; say hello to Snorlax, mew and of course, Pikachu! Venturing further into the complex, visitors have the opportunity to sit down at one of the unique parts of the Pokemon Center DX-the Cafe. The main focal point of the cafe is, of course, Pokemon. From mouth-watering Pokémon themed meals to fancy drinks, open up the menu and be amazed at the level of creativity. Of course, parents can get cute Pokémon stuffed toys for their little ones, as well as other adorable merchandise.
4. Explore the haunted side of Tokyo
Japan is not all matcha tea, rice cakes and geisha districts. In fact, those travelers who are interested in the paranormal and the spooky side of the world have the chance to take part in the guided ghost tours held in Tokyo. Also, were you aware of the fact that the Roppongi Hills skyscraper is considered the biggest haunted building in the whole world? Plus, have you heard the frightening urban legend tied to the Shinjuku Station (also called the Bermuda Triangle of Tokyo)? Tourists who are fans of the eerie and bizarre have a one in a lifetime chance to embark on a ghost tour adventure and find out all about the myths and legends connected to Tokyo.
5. Learn to ski and snowboard in Hakuba Valley
The Japanese Alps is the home of some of the best and most popular ski resorts in the whole world, and it is quite easy to realize why. For instance, the snowfall in Hakuba tends to be so intense that it annually covers up to 11 meters. Of course, tourists who are completely new to the amazing winter sport should reach out to professionals at Hakuba ski resorts for expert advice. Most importantly, there are options and packages the visitors can freely choose from depending on their wants and specific needs. In addition, many of the slopes are catered to children as well, so even the youngest member of the family will be able to have endless fun! Various other skiing and snowboarding spots in Japan include Shiga Kogen, Furano and Niseko.
6. Visit Cat Island
If you thought a Zoo full of foxes was an unusual idea, then consider this- the cat population in Tashirojima is so high that locals started calling it “Cat Island”. Known for being overpopulated by felines of all sizes and types, this furry animal is truly treated like royalty by the locals as well as the tourists who decide to visit the island when staying in Japan. Of course, dogs are strictly forbidden on Cat Island! Since the cats are thought of as bearers of good luck, the locals who reside on Tashirojima consider them highly important; there is even a cat shrine built to honor any cats which have been accidentally killed. However, tourists should be aware that Tashirojima is not the only island of this type. In fact, Aoshima Island is another famous spot which is the home to over 150 cats.
7. Travel to Mount Fuji’s Suicide Forest
If you thought things could not get any more bizarre, check out the next most interesting location when visiting Japan. Located in Mount Fuji’s shadow is the world’s third most famous suicide spot. Also called “the perfect place to die”, the Aokigahara forest has been notoriously known as one of the most mysterious places in the country. In fact, ever since the 1950s, people have been wandering into the depths of the forest never to return again. However, the record number of dead bodies discovered was in 2003, with a whopping number of 105! Japanese spiritualists believe that the forest is the home to malicious spirits and demons which seeped into Aokigahara’s trees. Another creepy fact is that signs reading “Your life is a precious gift from your parents” and “Please consult the police before you decide to die” are scattered all around the forest in hopes of trying to reduce the number of people who end up dead. Travelers’ who are interested in taking a hike should remember to stay respectful.
In summary, Japan is a true gem and a traveler’s favorite; it has more than enough bucket list worthy things to see and do. Whether it is visiting Cat Island, skiing in Hakuba or enjoying a delicious Pikachu themed meal in the Pokemon Center, avid travelers will surely come back for more!