The One Thing
japan

 

get a quote

Get a quote for japan

 

The Ultimate guide to all things Japan

Welcome to the ultimate guide to travelling Japan like a seasoned traveler, crafted by the knowledgeable team at 1Cover. We reveal insider tips and hidden gems that only locals know. In this blog, we uncover the one thing you should and shouldn't do in Japan. From doing karaoke on a Ferris wheel, a Go Kart Mario tour, buying dinner from a vending machine or swimming with star fish, this is the One Guide you need to visiting the wonderful and unique country of Japan So, buckle up and enjoy! 

 

Contents

  1. The one thing you should and shouldn't do
  2. Wacking things you can ONLY do in Japan
  3. Best things to do in Tokyo
  4. Kyoto's top atractions
  5. Top Things to do Osaka

Tokyo Cherry Blossoms

The One Thing you should do in Japan Is ... Go Outside your comfort Zone

The key to having an amazing Japanese experience is to step outside of your comfort zone but what does that mean? A lot of what Japan has to offer will seem completely foreign and maybe even a little strange and intimidating at first. Many places may not have English menus, traditional ryokans and accommodations will be a completely new experience where you have to sleep on the floor. A lot of the food may also be completely different.

If you were to stay within your comfort zone, you just wouldn’t do any of this stuff, you wouldn’t go to the mysterious restaurant, you wouldn’t stay at the ryokan, you wouldn’t visit the bathhouse. However, the wonderful thing about Japan is that regardless of how strange or intimidating an experience may seem, it will always probably be safe, and it will almost always be friendly. And these odd experiences will without doubt will be the best things you ever do!

The One Should Not Do in in Japan is ... Ignore Local Etiquette

Japan is a place known for many things and it’s culture and respect for others it high on the list. There is an accepted way of doing many things in Japan so try to stick to them. Many things will be obvious when you observe others, such as removing shoes when entering a house, waiting at crossings until the lights change, not eating in public places and carrying your litter around until you find a bin. 

Japanese culture is different to many others. In Japan, the good of society is placed higher than the individual concerns of its citizens. This means social and legal rules are adhered to diligently, and if you want to make a good impression over there, and ensure travellers continue to be welcomed, then you should do the same. 

The One Thing you should Eat in Japan Is ... Sushi

If you are visiting Japan, you are probably well aware of the amazing food that they have to offer. Why not try one of the most famous dishes in it’s home country, Sushi! The sushi in Japan will be some of the best and freshest you have ever tasted. Some places even offer Wagyu sushi, another delicacy orginating from Japan. Other key dishes to try include ramen, tempura, udon and miso soup which is served with most meals! 

 

Scuba Diving Japan Jellyfish

The One Activity you should do in Japan Is ... Scuba Diving

  • While Japan has heaps of great activities to take part in, scuba diving remains an undiscovered treasure. The marine environments in Japan are incredibly diverse, ranging from subarctic to subtropic zones. Okinawa and Miyako islands in southern Japan are the most popular for tourists, with their warmer waters and beautiful tropical coral reefs. 

  • If you’re feeling particularly daring, why not try ice-diving in Shiretoko Peninsula, Hokkaido? It’s a unique experience where you can swim with cold-water fish, starfish, sea anemones and even sea angels! You’ll be able to view the surreal view of the frozen ocean as the sea ice begins to break part between January and March. 

  • For a truly magical experience, don’t miss visiting Toyama Bay, home to the glowing Firefly Squid. During Springtime, you can experience this natural light display during an unforgettable night-time dive, as these tiny bioluminescent squid light up the bay! Make sure you’re covered for Scuba Diving here. 

The One Place you Should Stay in Japan is ... A Ryokan Hotel

There’s a huge collection of weird and wonderful places to stay in Japan, including love hotels, capsule hotels where you can stay in pods that feel like sleeping in a spaceship. If you prefer a traditional accommodation experience, you can stay in a Ryokan, a classical Japanese-style guesthouse. 

You’ll find Ryokans in historical onsen towns, family-run inns, and even multi-storey hotels with Ryokan-inspired rooms. These Ryokan hotels usually offer the experience of staying in traditional Japanese accommodation, with tatami mats lining the floors, sliding doors and rice paper walls. But you’ll also enjoy the convenience of staying close to larger cities and modern amenities. If you’re planning to travel to Japan, definitely consider staying in a Ryokan! 

Tokyo Cherry Blossoms

Get a Quote for Japan Japan

 

Japan is the One Place you can...

Here are our weird and wacky things you can only experience in Japan!​​​​​​

Have A Vending Machine Feast

Did you know that Japan is famous for its weird and unique vending machines? With approximately 3.97 million vending machines across the country, these vending machines offer everything from classic Japanese drinks, snacks and even “cake-in-a-can.” These cake-in-a-can vending machines, created by Okashi Gaku have become incredibly popular across Japan, and offer soft and fluffy parfait-like cakes usually with fresh fruit. 

For a quick and convenient meal, there are even restaurants filled with vending machines, offering everything from burgers to fresh bowls of ramen. These restaurants are usually unstaffed and provide a quiet and private place for you to enjoy your quick meal, as well as a fun and exciting experience! 

Visit some of the Worlds Strangest Museums

Japan has so many theme parks and museums to choose from, it can be hard to choose which ones to visit. For those who love thrills and adventure, Tokyo Disneyland is a must-visit, while the Ghibli Museum offers a fantastical experience for Ghibli fans. If you’re looking for something a little different though, Japan has a huge collection of weird and eccentric parks to choose from. 

Huis Ten Bosch is a themed park in Nagasaki that has perfectly recreated the historical buildings and iconic windmills, and during Spring the park is even transformed with fields of colourful tulips in full bloom. Or how about the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, which is a paradise for noodle lovers? And if you want to experience historical Japan, visit Noboribetsu Date Jidaimura which is a theme park that has recreated a Japanese village from the Edo period of the 17th century. You can dress up in traditional clothing, including samurai outfits, wander the village and watch live performances that recreate the past. 

Go to A scarecrow Village

Nagoro Scarecrow Village is a secluded town located on Japan’s littlest island, Shikoku. This tiny village, with a population of about 30 people, is now home to over 200 scarecrows! These dolls were made by artist Ayano Tsukimi, a long-time resident of Nagoro. 

As the population of this village dwindled, Ayano created these scarecrows to bring back memories of the past and fill the town with friendly faces. The scarecrows are displayed year-round, and if you visit on the first Sunday of each October, the village puts on a festival to celebrate Ayano’s works, with each festival offering a new theme and activities. 

In addition to the scarecrows, the village is also surrounded by scenic mountains, and the surrounding forests offer hiking and hot springs. You can also try whitewater rafting along the Oboke Gorge if you’re looking for adventure!

 

Vending Machines

Go to a Penis Festival

A festival where size matters. The Kawasaki Kanamara festival is held on the first Sunday of April near the Kanayama shrine and it is one of Japan's most popular spring festivals. The name “Kanamara Matsuri” literally translates to the Festival of the Iron Phallus. It is a sacred event born out of the wish for a festival that anyone could attend without being discriminated. 

Traditionally, the deities that the local shrine is dedicated to are both gods of blacksmithing, metalsmithing, and metal works, and are also prayed to for easy childbirth, marital harmony, and protection from sexually transmitted infections. 

Today, the festival is known as an event that fights against HIV, with profits still being donated to ongoing HIV research, also have a greater emphasis on fertility and marriage. It has become famous for its portable shrines, or mikoshi, which are giant phalli that are paraded through the streets.

Visit a Sake Onsen

If you need to relax during your time in Japan, don’t forget about visiting one of its many Onsens, or hot springs. You’ll find they come in all shapes and sizes, from private indoor spas to charming Japanese inns nestled in scenic landscapes. 

Yunessen Spa Resort Park is one of Japan’s most unique Onsen experiences. Located in the picturesque mountain town of Hakone, this resort offers a collection of famous baths that allow you to relax in wine, coffee, green tea and even sake. Soaking in Sake is not only a unique experience, it’s even known to reduce the signs of aging. This resort even has a water park and water slides if you’re looking for thrills! 

If you prefer a more traditional experience, you should visit Dogo Onsen, which is one of the oldest hot springs in Japan. Its main building was reconstructed in 1894, and its traditional, ornate architecture, with its maze of hallways and staircases, is said to have inspired the animated film “Spirited Away”. 

 

The Best Things to Do in Tokyo

Tokyo is the capital of Japan and it is the most populus city in the world with over 36 million residents and millions of tourists every year, it is a very busy city with hundreds of things to do, places to see and eat.  It is known for it’s mix of traditional Japanese culture blended with modernity being at the forefront in many technologies and robotics. This dynamic city has so much to offer but here are the One Things to try while you are there. 

Tokyo Tower

The One Shrine to Visit in Tokyo Is ... The Meiji Shrine

The Meiji Shrine is one of the most prominent Shinto Shrines in Tokyo. It is dedicated to the spirits of the emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken who were instrumental in modernizing Japan in the late 19th century. The Shrine is situated in the beautiful Yoyogi Park in the Shibuya district. While it is peaceful and tranquil to visit, it is surrounded by some of the busiest and trendiest areas of Tokyo which are not to be missed. 

The One Ward to visit in Tokyo is ... Shibuya

Tokyo is made of 23 wards and Shibuya is known as Tokyo's youth capital famous for its fashion and culture. It is probably most known for its famous crossing, which is the busiest in the world! It is also a popular shopping and entertainment area. Harajuku is district of Shibuya is the centre of Japanese fashion and is known around the world for the unique styles of the young people who live there. 

If you want to see the most of this area and you love video games and driving, why not do it in a Go Kart dressed as your favourite Mario character! This once in a lifetime experience can be booked in multiple areas in Tokyo but the most popular routes take your right through Shibuya crossing and through the light up city at night.

The One Karaoke Experience to have in Tokyo Is ... On top of a Ferris wheel

Tokyo is famous for its Karaoke and establishments range from cozy bars to multi-level complexes with multiple private rooms. Some places even offer themed experiences, such as Hello Kitty-themed rooms or light shows to accompany your singing! 

If you’re looking for something unique, you need to visit the Big-O Ferris Wheel in Tokyo Dome City. It is the world’s first Ferris wheel that allows you to sing your heart out whilst taking in the views from 60 metres above Tokyo. If you’re not a fan of heights, in Osaka you can even take a boat tour of the city's rivers that offers karaoke sessions!

 

Tokyo Shibuya

The One Animal Cafe to Visit in Tokyo Is ... The Capybara Cafe

Animal cafes have become incredibly popular across Japan, for their unique experience of being able to interact with the cutest animals whilst enjoying a delicious snack or drink. Cat cafes are the most common option, with over 150 cafes across the country. Temari no Oshiro Cat Café is one of the most famous and takes the concept of a cat cafe to a new level. Its fairytale-inspired exterior is incredibly cute, and you get to cuddle and feed more than 22 different cats. 

If you’re looking for a more unique option, Japan has cafes with all different types of animals, including Shiba Inu, a dog native to Japan, mini pigs, and even snakes. The most unique is probably Capybara cafe, located near Kichi Joji station. You can cuddle and feed Tawashi the capybara, (an animal native to South America) as well as his feline friends, all whilst sipping on a cup of coffee. 

Word of caution, whilst these animal cafes are popular, we urge you to do your research and check that the animals are treated well before you visit. There have been instances of mistreatment of animals, so make sure you go to a ethical one.

The One Mount Fuji viewing spot close to Tokyo ... Lake Kawaguchicko

Lake Kawaguchiko is the most easily accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes with trains and buses from Tokyo. It is right as the base of the Mount Fuji and the best views can be enjoyed from the lake's northern shores in the early morning and late afternoons. The area is a perfect base for climbing Mount Fuji but also has hot spring baths, museums, a panoramic ropeway and an amusement park.

 

Get a Quote for Japan Japan

 

The Best things to do in Kyoto

Kyoto is often thought as the cultural heart and soul of Japan. It is known for its tradition and natural beauty with beautiful parks, and over 2000 shrines and temples. Its historic districts are well preserved, and traditional cuisine is all around, if you are looking to experience the more traditional Japan, it is the place to go! 

Kyoto

The One shrine to visit in Kyoto Is ... Fushimi Inari Taisha

The Fushimi Inari Taisha is a significant Shinto Shrine that dates all the way back to the 8th century and is dedicated to the deity of rice, agriculture, prosperity and business. It’s most iconic feature is its network of thousands of tori gates all with inscriptions of names of families and businesses hoping for prosperity and good fortune.  Fushimi Inari Taisha is not only a place of worship but also an important cultural and historical landmark in Japan and is an iconic symbol of Kyoto. 

The One Food to eat in Kyoto is ... Nagashi Somen

If you’re looking for a fun and inventive way to eat noodles, give Nagashi Somen a try! Nagashi Somen translates to ‘flowing noodles,’ and works similarly to a Sushi train, with the Somen noodles flowing down bamboo ‘slides’ through running water for customers to catch with chopsticks. 

This dish is perfect for the hot and humid Japanese summers and is served in a cold dashi broth with a selection of delicious toppings for your noodles. Whilst Somen is a traditional dish, the idea of flowing the noodles down these bamboo slides was created by the restaurant Chiho no Ie, who wanted to make use of the pure spring water from the nearby Tamara Falls. 

 

Lucky Cat Temple Kyoto

The One Temple to visit in Kyoto Is ... Lucky Cat Temple

With two main belief systems - Shintoism and Buddhism - Japan has over 180,000 beautiful shrines and temples to discover. If you’re looking for some of Japan’s most famous temples, the Golden Pavillion in Kyoto is a must-visit. This UNESCO-protected temple was built in the 14th century! Another great spot is Fushimi Inari Shrine, which is famous for its vermilion torii gates that will lead you up Mount Inari to an unforgettable view of Kyoto. 

But if you want a more unique experience, visit Go Tokuji Temple in Setagaya, right in the middle of bustling Tokyo! This charming temple is home to hundreds of maneki-neko, or Lucky Cats who are known to bring good fortune. This temple is known as the birthplace of these cute little cat statues! According to legend, a lord in the 17th century visited the temple to seek shelter from a thunderstorm and was greeted by a cat that lived there. 

The One Park to Visit in Kyoto is ... Maruyama Park

A beloved tranquil retreat from the busy city of Kyoto. In April, it is the spot to see cherry blossoms in full bloom. It has a traditional tea house where you can experience a Japanese tea ceremony and cultural performances. 

The Best things to do in Osaka

Osaka is known as both the party capital of Japan and the nations kitchen with amazing nightlife and jaw dropping food, plus, it's home to many theme parks so its got something for everyone.

Osaka

The One Thing to Do in Osaka Is ... Eat

Osaka is renowned for its food culture, especially its street food. Wonder the streets of  Kuromon Ichiba Market and Dontonbori with it’s neon lights and enjoy local delicacies like takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers). This area is also known for its nightlife so after you indulge why not stay for a few drinks! 

The One Castle to Visit in Osaka is ... Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is one of Japan's most famous landmarks and a symbol of the area's heritage and culture. It was built in the 16th century and is a striking example of Japanese castle architecture incorporating both defensive elements and ornate aesthetics. You can explore its historical exhibitions and learn about the castles history or explore the park surrounding it which during cherry blossom season is especially popular.

Osaka

Get Travel Insurance for Japan

With all that info, you're ready to start your Japan adventure! Pack your curiosity, get ready for some adventure, expect the weird and the wacky and pack your 1Cover Travel Insurance. It's the one thing you need when one thing goes wrong. 

 

Get a Quote for Japan Japan

 

If You Only Do One Thing...

 

Find out more insider tips about other destinations: read our "One Thing" series here

The One Thing You Should & Shouldn't Do In New zealand

Milford Sound, Lake Wanaka - sure.
How about our other ideas. 

The One Thing You Should & Shouldn't Do In Sri Lanka

Exotic beaches resorts, tea production yes...but don't head to Sri Lanka without reading our tips. 

The One Thing You Should & Shouldn't Do In the USA

The Big Apple, Hollywood...or not. Maybe you'll be surprised what we suggest to do on your USA adventure.

 

 

Recommended For You

uk guide
UK Guide 

Good neighbourly tips and advice to keep you safe on your next trip to the UK.

 
secret spot
Thailand Guide

Handy tips and tricks to keep you safe on your next trip to Thailand

 
secret spot
Bali Guide

Have a fun, safe & enjoyable holiday with our guide to staying safe in Bali.

 
secret spotUSA Guide

This guide is packed full handy hints, tips and tricks from those in the know. 

 

Grace Mansfield

Grace wrote this article. She has spent the past few years travelling to over 20 countries and is always looking for her next adventure.  Learn more about Grace.