There are quite a number of things to do in Japan, but we have consolidated the ten things that to add on your Japan bucket list. This will hopefully help you to strategically plan your trip.
To give you a brief context, the theme of our travel this year is “Once Japan a Time”. On this trip, we aimed to experience the rich cultural heritage of Japan through the lens of charm, wander, magic, and fun and share it to the world.
So here we go, we’ve consolidated the top ten things that you must add on your bucket list for Japan.
Re-live your childhood and book a ticket to Disney Sea. There is no limit to how much you can dream and believe in the power of possibilities. Unleash your inner child and explore the colorful attractions in the park, be lost in the exhilarating rush of the multiple rides, and be mesmerized at the night time shows that feature fireworks, water effects, live actors, pyrotechnics, lasers, music, and sound.
Pro Tip: Wear your best #OOTD when you visit the park as there are many photo worthy spots inside where you can capture your memorable moments.
Access: You can take the Disney Resort Monorail to Tokyo Disney Sea Station from Maihama Station (10 minutes, 260 yen). It is also accessible by foot from Maihama Station in about 20 minutes.
Admission: 7400 YEN
Operating Hours: Typically from 08:00 AM to 10:00 PM (admission is until 1 hour before closing)
Mt. Fuji does not just show to anyone, anytime. It is an elusive mountain that is hard to predict and entails patience to see. But this is one of Japan’s pride that you should never let go when you visit this country. Believe us, we were really in awe when we saw it for the first time. It was like seeing a mountain of milk slowly peeking from the sea of clouds and showing us its grandeur.
Pro Tip: Mt. Fuji is best seen at a cloud forecast less than or equal to 10%.
Charmed. This is the word to describe my amazement when I saw this flower for the first time. Although, we went to Japan in Spring, seeing sakura or cherry blossoms in full bloom was an answered prayer. The prediction for 2017 is for most sakura to be in full bloom around last week of March to early April. Happy birthday to me and my bestfriend indeed (we share the same birthday month by the way so this is also a birthday trip for us).
One of the things you can do to immerse in Japan’s culture is to try their traditional costume – the kimono. There are so many designs and colors that you can choose from. Males also have varying options for their attire.
Pro Tip: Kimono rental comes with an 8% VAT (as of Mar 2017) in Japan. It is best then to clarify with the kimono shop if the rent is already inclusive of VAT when you make a reservation.
5- Experience the Magical World of Harry Potter in the Wizarding World
Harry Potter is like “my childhood”. Seeing the castle for the first time felt like the wizarding world coming into life: everything around the castle is magical and promises adventure. And oh yes, the rides are unforgettable!
Pro Tip: If you are early in USJ, head first to the Harry Potter Castle so that you can explore the place as much as you want. At a certain time of the day, when the place becomes crowded, going to the the castle will be on a “timed entry” which you will have to secure at a machine booth inside USJ.
Access: The Universal Studios Japan Gate is a five minute walk from the Universal City Station on the JR Sakurajima Line. This is around 180 YEN from Osaka Station.
Admission: 7600 YEN (12-64 years old); 5100 YEN (4-11 years old); 6830 YEN for 65 years old
Express Pass: This is a separate pass from the entrance. This allow holders to skip lines for selected rides inside USJ.
– 4 rides is around 4500 to 8100 YEN
– 6 rides is around 6900 to 13200 YEN
Operating Hours: Typically at 09:00 AM to 07:00 PM depending on the season. Please refer to USJ’s website for accurate time
I never thought that my first Safari adventure would be in Japan. I was initially just eyeing for Mt. Fuji which I later on learned that I can also catch while doing Fuji Safari. Hence, this adventure being added on our itinerary.
Access: Book a bus from Tokyo Station to Gotemba Premium Outlet. Then, ride a free shuttle bus from Gotemba Premium Outlet to Gotemba Station (15 minutes). From the Station, you can ride a Fujikyu bus going straight to Fuji Safari Park (35 minutes).
Admission: 2700 YEN for adults; 1500 YEN for children (4 y.o. to junior high school); 2000 YEN senior (65 y.o. up)
From Mar.16 to Sep.30 9:00 to 17:00
From Oct.1 to Oct.31 9:00 to 16:30
From Nov.1 to Mar.15 10:00 to 15:30
7- Go on a macha quest
Macha lovers, Japan is the place for us! For your trip, you can go on a macha quest and try different food in macha flavors. Our macha quest is sandwiched inside our #EatsJapan adventure where we tried different Japanese food during our trip.
Macha soft serve in Nishiki Market
This macha soft serve on the street of Kiyomizudera is so deliciously good!
Fluffy macha cake with light cream and macha sauce that is just so right for my liking
Grilled Macha Dango
My eyes and tummy were feasting in the abundance of macha in Kyoto and Japan in general.
Life of a Geisha was made popular when the film: “Memoirs of a Geisha” was released in public in 2005 featuring several key spots in Kyoto like Fushimi Inari and Kiyomizu temple. Geisha are traditional Japanese female trained in the art of classical music, games, dance, and conversation to entertain male guests. Maiko on the other hand is a trainee so they are relatively younger than a Geisha. But how do we differentiate a Geisha from a Maiko? Here is a link to a great read that you might find helpful.
Do you know that in Kyoto alone, there are 2000 temples and shrines that you can visit? And in these 2000, the view is different in each season. So if you are aiming to visit one temple per season per day, then you can do the math and count how much time you will have to devote to complete visiting all of these shrines and temples! Hence, our best tip is for you to list and map out all UNESCO Heritage Sites first and identify unique temples to be included on your first visit to Japan.
Daigoji temple is a UNESCO Heritage where you can find the 38 meter tall Pagoda which is known to be Kyoto’s oldest verified building.
Head to Yasaka Shrine after your Geisha sight seeing in Gion
10- Go on a ramen quest
What else could be an interesting thing to do than to try the ramen in the land where it is popularized. There are plenty of Michelin starred ramen houses to choose from in Japan and it is up to you how you are going to get started with your quest.
We know that you also have your own unique experience while in Japan or a dream that is listed on your bucket list just waiting to be realized.
Share this post to the one whom you want to travel to Japan with!
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