10 Best Activities in Japan

Unique tours and experiences you can take part in Japan

japan activities

Are you planning on visiting Japan, but not sure what to actually do during your stay? Japan has so much to offer as a country when it comes to tourism, so much so that it can become a problem to decide what to do when you arrive.

Some people like to travel as efficiently as possible, and for those people, I would like to share some great options for things to do. The activities that we will be sharing in this article are either English-speaking unique tours or English booking sites for some activities or amusement parks.

These are our picks for the 10 best activities in Japan.

*Please note that this article contains affiliate links.

1. Bar Hopping

bar hopping tour osaka
Photo by Magical Trip

The first activity we would like to recommend is one for adults. Trying out Japanese food in Japan is, of course, a must. Add to this, Japanese alcoholic beverages as well as an English guide that will explain the food, the pairing beverages, and the location. This is exactly what bar hopping tours provide to you. You can learn as you enjoy some Japanese foods you wouldn’t even think to try out if it wasn’t during a tour.

Bar hopping tours are held all across the country, but in this case, I would like to recommend to you tours held in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Japan Wonder Travel offers a Shinjuku Biggest Drinking Town Izakaya Hopping Tour that will take you through some of the main drinking alleys in Shinjuku.

On the other hand, when it comes to the Kansai region, Magical Trip offers the Kyoto Bar Hopping Nightlife Tour in Pontocho as well as the Osaka Bar Hopping Night Tour in Namba. Both Pontocho in Kyoto and Namba in Osaka are popular drinking areas with lots of great restaurants and a lot of history.

▶Shinjuku Biggest Drinking Town Izakaya Hopping Tour

▶Kyoto Bar Hopping Nightlife Tour in Pontocho

▶Osaka Bar Hopping Night Tour in Namba

*Note: The legal allowed drinking age in Japan is 20. Be sure that you’re above the allowed age before drinking alcohol in Japan.

2. Food Tours

food tour tokyo

In the case that you can’t take part in the previous tours because of the age restriction or if you just don’t drink alcoholic beverages, then you can still participate in Food tours. Food tours, as you may imply, are completely focused on tasting local foods while learning about the food itself as well as the history behind the location. English-speaking, knowledgeable guides will provide great insight that will surely make the food-tasting experience that much richer.

Like bar hopping tours, Food tours are also popular, especially in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. In the case of Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan Wonder Travel offers great food tours. The Tokyo Fish Market Food and Drink Tour at Tsukiji takes place in one of Tokyo’s most traditional locations when it comes to sushi. The Kyoto Food and Drink Tour at Nishiki Street & Gion also does this but in Kyoto.

Then there is also the Osaka Local Foodie Tour in Dotonbori and Shinsekai by Magical Trip which takes you to the mecca of west Japan’s food spots. Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, Kushikatsu, etc… it’s a delightful Japanese food experience.

▶Tokyo Fish Market Food and Drink Tour at Tsukiji

▶Kyoto Food and Drink Tour at Nishiki Street & Gion

▶Osaka Local Foodie Tour in Dotonbori and Shinsekai

You can see more various food tours across Japan here!

3. Cooking Class

sushi making experience

Another Japanese food-related activity would be to actually learn how to prepare your own Japanese food. Wouldn’t it be awesome to learn how to prepare your own sushi in the comfort of your home? This is exactly what you can do in these cooking classes you can find in Japan Wonder Travel.

First, there is the Tokyo Sushi Making Experience+ Tsukiji Fish Market Explore Tour is an activity where you can explore the Tsukiji outer market which contains many long-running shops and restaurants. This is followed by the sushi preparation experience. Then, there is the Toyosu Market Explore and Sushi Making Special Tour which also teaches you how to prepare your own sushi, but in this case, you are taken around the new and current largest fish market in Japan.

▶Tokyo Sushi Making Experience+ Tsukiji Fish Market Explore Tour

▶Toyosu Market Explore and Sushi Making Special Tour

4. Pop Cultures (Maid Cafe, Samurai Restaurant, Anime Shops)

maid cafe experience
Photo by Magical Trip

For those more interested in the so-called “otaku” culture, plenty of activities are available across Japan. Manga, anime, gaming, maid cafes, etc… Many international visitors’ main reason for wanting to visit Japan has to do with one of these Japanese pop cultures.

Rakuten Travel Experiences brings you the Maidreamin Maid Cafe Reservation in Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya, which allows you to book maid cafes in these Japanese main cities. Get to experience something you have only seen in anime or movies. There is also the brand new Samurai Restaurant that just opened in October 2023. This is the new show brought to you by the same company that produced the highly popular Robot Restaurant. This over-the-top experience is one you don’t want to miss out on.

Magical Trip also offers great Japanese pop culture activities, in this case, in Tokyo. The Akihabara Anime & Gaming Adventure Tour will take you to the Mecca of Japanese Otaku culture. In contrast, the Harajuku Kawaii Fashion & Pop-culture Tour will take you to the completely unique Harajuku area where you can see so many “kawaii” shops and cafes.

▶Maidreamin Maid Cafe Reservation in Tokyo, Osaka, or Nagoya

▶11% OFF vs Door Price! Samurai Restaurant Show Reservation in Shinjuku Tokyo

▶Akihabara Anime & Gaming Adventure Tour

▶Harajuku Kawaii Fashion & Pop-culture Tour

5. Traditional Culture (Tea Ceremony, Kimono Geiko, Maiko)

sumo watching

In contrast to the previous point, if what you’re looking for is a more traditional Japanese experience, then there are also a wide variety of activities that you can find. Some of these activities may include Japanese tea ceremonies, sumo wrestling watching, Kimono fitting, and even a Geisha show. You can get to experience firsthand some of these completely unique Japanese activities in places like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

If Sumo wrestling is what you’re looking for, then the Tour to Sumo Stable and Watch Sumo Morning Training by Japan Wonder Travel is what you’re looking for. You can get to watch closely how Sumo wrestlers practice in the morning.

If Kimono fitting and the Japanese tea ceremony are your thing, MAIKOYA offers exactly that. You can get to wear a kimono and assist a tea ceremony in cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. If you are interested only in the tea ceremony, they also offer a casual tea ceremony option.

A slightly lesser-known tradition is “Kintsugi”, which is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, celebrating imperfections, and embracing beauty in flaws. Klook offers you a Kintsugi experience in Tokyo. This is another must-do experience!

MAIKOYA also offers Geisha Experiences in Kyoto which have a wide variety of options: from a casual online private meeting with a Geisha (Maiko) to a formal private Geisha (Maiko) dinner show.

And lastly, if you love anything related to Samurai or Ninjas, then you should definitely visit the Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum. Not only can you simply visit, but you can also book an English-guided tour with Samurai/Ninja experiences!

▶Tour to Sumo Stable and Watch Sumo Morning Training

▶Tea Ceremony in Tokyo

▶Tea Ceremony in Kyoto

▶Tea Ceremony in Osaka

▶Japanese Traditional Kintsugi Experience in Tokyo

▶Geisha Experiences in Kyoto

▶Kyoto Samurai and Ninja Museum

6. Unique Museums

team lab
© teamLab

Museums are a must for many who travel to a new country, and in the case of Japan, there is a large list of great museums from which to choose: From traditional museums such as the “Tokyo National Museum”, “Nagoya City Science Museum”, and “Otsuka Museum of Art”, or you can choose to visit some of the more unique museums, which are also abundant in number all across the country.

One museum in particular that we recommend is the teamLab Planets TOKYO located in Toyosu, Tokyo. Here, you can have a “body immersive” experience filled with digital art technology that’s unique and state-of-the-art. There’s no doubt this place will completely flip your perception of the word “museum”. You can get admission tickets via Rakuten Travel Experiences.

▶teamLab Planets TOKYO DMM Admission Ticket

7. Amusement Parks

tokyo disneyland

Another thing that is highly popular among international visitors when coming to Japan is going to some of the amusement parks. Japan has a large list of great and unique amusement parks across the country. The three most popular ones are without a doubt Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Universal Studios Japan. These are not just the most popular amusement parks in Japan but also rank as some of the most popular amusement parks in the world.

You can book your entrance to Tokyo Disneyland and/or Tokyo DisneySea from Rakuten Travel Experiences.

▶Tokyo Disneyland Tickets (Maihama Station Pickup)

▶Tokyo DisneySea Tickets (Maihama Station Pickup)

Check out more about Tokyo Disney Resort in the following articles!

You can also book your entrance to Universal Studios Japan Osaka from Rakuten Travel Experiences.

▶Universal Studios Japan Osaka Studio Pass E-Tickets

Check out more about Universal Studios Japan Osaka in the following articles!

8. Observatories

tokyo tower at night

Japan is also known for having great night views due to having large cities and tall buildings from which you can enjoy these wonderful views uninterruptedly. Pretty much all large cities in Japan have their own best observatory spots. Sometimes these spots are skyscrapers located within the city while some other cases have these spots in nearby mountains.

In the case of Tokyo, which will provide you with a view of the largest city in the world, the two best observatory spots are Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree. You can get tickets to the observatory decks of these towers via Rakuten Travel Experiences. Getting tickets here will save you from having to wait in line to get same-day tickets, and it is more economical as well.

▶Tokyo Tower Observatory Admission Ticket

▶Tokyo Skytree Tickets (Skip the line)

And for more information about the best observatories in Japan, be sure to check out the following articles!

9. Marine Experiences

marine sports

A lesser-known, but still popular thing to do when visiting Japan is to do marine-related activities. These activities may include visiting some of the most beautiful aquariums or actually going to a beach to do marine sports. When thinking about marine activities, the first place that comes to mind will surely be Okinawa. Okinawa is not only where you will find the most beautiful beaches in Japan, but you can also find some of the greatest aquariums as well.

When it comes to aquariums, the Churaumi Aquarium and the DMM Kariyushi Aquarium are the two main ones. You can book both of these aquariums via Rakuten Travel Experiences.

▶DMM Kariyushi Aquarium Admission Ticket

▶Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium Tickets

You can also book other marine experiences and activities via Rakuten Travel Experiences. Snorkeling, scuba diving, SUP, canoeing, etc… All of these great experiences can be had at breathtaking beautiful Okinawa beaches.

▶Okinawa Blue Cave Snorkeling

▶Okinawa Blue Cave Diving

▶More activities in Okinawa

10. Onsen


And lastly, on our list, we have the Onsen guide. I know some international visitors are not so interested in bathing in Japanese-style hot springs, but this is an experience that you should definitely take into account. The onsen experience is not just about getting into a hot spring, but also enjoy great food at nearby restaurants or Ryokan, visiting nearby tourist sites such as shrines or temples, and getting to relax in these onsen towns that are usually peaceful.

If you feel uncomfortable about the whole “entering the hot springs with strangers present” thing, then there are ryokan that offers personal onsen within your room. Of course, this is more costly, but this is one way you can still enjoy the Onsen experience.

For more information about great onsen locations in Japan, check out the following articles!

+Unique Tours

I know I mentioned that we were going to introduce 10 activities, but let me also share with you one more thing. If you checked all the previous 10 activities but still feel like you would like something different, then there are unique tours you can take. When we talk about unique tours, we can refer to two different things.

One is tours that include unique content such as locations that you wouldn’t usually think about visiting. One good example is the 2-day tour to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant by Japan Wonder Travel. It has been over a decade since the horrific accident, and you can see how the accident affected the surrounding areas as well as see for yourself how these areas are recovering.

▶Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Visit 2-Day Tour from Tokyo

Also, you can book private, personalized tours that can be adjusted exactly to your needs. These personalized tours usually are for a full day and although more costly than regular tours, in the end, it’s going to be a good deal because the tour will be specially tailored to your interests. You can make your personalized tour with professional guides in Tokyo and Kyoto by Japan Wonder Travel.

I hope this article is helpful for you when you start planning your trip to Japan. As I previously mentioned, Japan has so much to offer when it comes to things to do. If you want to use your limited time in an efficient manner, then I believe these kinds of tours and activities are a good option.

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Written by

Born and raised in Costa Rica, I started living in Tokyo from college. I love traveling within Japan & around the world. Since I wasn’t born in Japan, I know the cultural impact that you can get when visiting Japan for the first time and what you might be worried about before your trip. And I’ve lived long enough to somewhat understand the nuances of the Japanese culture that make this country such an attractive place to visit. Hopefully I can provide to you both the information you’re looking for and the information you didn’t know you needed to know.