Intriguing? Yes. Bizarre? You betcha. Unique? Definitely! There are just so many things to do and experience in Japan that you simply cannot find anywhere else.
There are so many “only in Japan” experiences, in fact, that we could list them all until the Japanese snow monkeys come home, and we’d still have more to mention.
So, for purely time constraints, we’re just going to focus on eight.
Here are eight totally unique experiences that you can only have in Japan:
1. Sleep in a capsule hotel
Don’t leave Japan without facing your fears of confined spaces and staying at least one night in a capsule hotel. Capsule hotels can be found throughout most major cities, including Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto.
2. Soak in an onsen
Let the day’s stresses melt away in a Japanese hot spring, undoubtedly one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things to do in Japan.
3. Watch a sumo match
Japan’s national sport is an absolute must-do in Japan. Sumo tournaments are held at certain times throughout the year in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
4. Stay at a ryokan
Found in traditional areas, such as the Asakusa district in Tokyo and all over Kyoto, these traditional Japanese hotels are usually found near onsen or even with a natural spring feeding the hotel’s main bath.
5. Ride the shinkansen (bullet-train)
All aboard! Zoom all over Japan on one of the country’s shinkansen (bullet-trains) – a quintessential Japanese experience. Perhaps you could ride the new Hokkaido shinkansen, which launched earlier in March this year? Don’t forget your Japan Rail (JR) Pass!
6. Climb Mt Fuji
Take one step, and then another, and then another as you climb Japan’s iconic mountain. Bonus points if you hike through the night to catch the sunrise from the peak. Climbing season is during summer (June to August).
7. Meet a maiko or geisha
Be charmed by some of Japan’s traditional female entertainers by meeting a real geisha or maiko (an apprentice geisha) in Kyoto and Kanazawa. Geisha and maiko entertain their guests by performing songs, dances, and tea ceremony; and playing instruments like the shamisen (traditional Japanese guitar) or the koto (Japanese harp).
8. Get dressed up as a maiko or geisha
If simply meeting a maiko or geisha isn’t enough, and you’d like to take things a step further, head to Kyoto or Edo Wonderland in Nikko and get made over as a real maiko or geisha for a photoshoot. You’re never too old for dress ups!