Japan's Wonders: Tokyo's Bustle, Snow Monkeys' Charm

Japan is a country of rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning landscapes. This Japan Travel Guide will take you through five must-do experiences that will make your trip unforgettable. Whether you're interested in historical landmarks, natural wonders, or modern attractions, there are countless things to do in Japan that cater to every traveler's taste.

Tokyo: The Heartbeat of Japan

Tokyo The Heartbeat of Japan

Tokyo, the bustling capital city, is one of the best places to visit in Japan. It's a city where tradition meets modernity, offering a wide array of experiences for visitors. From its historical temples to futuristic skyscrapers, Tokyo encapsulates the essence of Japan in a unique blend of old and new.

Explore Shibuya Crossing

One of the top things to do in Tokyo is to visit Shibuya Crossing. Often compared to Times Square in New York, this iconic intersection is famous for its organized chaos, where thousands of pedestrians cross from all directions. The best time to visit Shibuya Crossing is in the evening when the neon lights illuminate the streets, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere. This area is also surrounded by numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants, making it a vibrant spot for shopping and dining. The nearby Shibuya 109, a fashion-forward shopping mall, is particularly popular among young trendsetters.

Discover Historical Asakusa

Another must-see in Tokyo is Asakusa, home to the famous Sensō-ji Temple. This ancient Buddhist temple, dating back to the 7th century, is a perfect example of Japan's deep-rooted history. Stroll through Nakamise Street, filled with traditional shops selling souvenirs and local snacks, giving you a taste of old Tokyo. The temple's majestic entrance, the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), is an iconic symbol with its giant red lantern. Inside the temple grounds, you can also find the Asakusa Shrine and the Five-Story Pagoda, which add to the spiritual ambiance of the area.

Experience the Futuristic Odaiba

Odaiba is a futuristic island in Tokyo Bay, known for its high-tech attractions. A visit to TeamLab Borderless, an interactive digital art museum, is one of the best things to do in Japan. The museum offers an immersive experience with its stunning light displays and interactive exhibits. Each room transforms into a different world of colors and patterns, engaging all your senses. Odaiba is also home to the iconic Rainbow Bridge, which offers spectacular views, especially at night when it's lit up. Another highlight is the life-sized Unicorn Gundam statue, which performs a transformation show multiple times a day.

Nagano: Snow Monkeys and Natural Beauty

Nagano Snow Monkeys and Natural Beauty

Nagano, located in the Japanese Alps, is renowned for its natural beauty and unique wildlife. Planning a trip to Japan wouldn't be complete without a visit to this picturesque region. Known for its winter sports and hot springs, Nagano offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.

Visit Jigokudani Monkey Park

One of the most famous places to visit in Japan is Jigokudani Monkey Park, where you can see the Snow Monkeys. These Japanese macaques are known for their habit of soaking in hot springs, especially during the winter months. This unique sight is one of the top things to see in Japan and offers a rare opportunity to observe these fascinating creatures up close. The park is located in a remote valley, surrounded by lush forests, and the sight of monkeys bathing in steaming hot springs with snow-covered mountains in the background is truly magical. Be sure to wear appropriate footwear, as the path to the park can be slippery in winter.

Explore Zenko-ji Temple

Zenko-ji Temple, one of the oldest and most important temples in Japan, is another highlight of Nagano. Founded in the 7th century, this temple is a pilgrimage site and houses the first Buddha statue ever brought to Japan. Walking through the temple grounds, you can feel the spiritual ambiance and learn about the rich history and culture of Japan. The temple's main hall, designated a National Treasure, is an impressive structure that enshrines the hidden statue of the Buddha. Visitors can participate in a ritual called "O-kaidan Meguri," a pitch-dark passage beneath the main hall, symbolizing a journey to enlightenment.

Enjoy Winter Sports in Hakuba Valley

Hakuba Valley, located in the Japanese Alps, is a premier destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Hosting several events during the 1998 Winter Olympics, Hakuba Valley offers world-class skiing and snowboarding facilities. The pristine snow and breathtaking mountain views make it one of the best places to visit in Japan during winter. With over 10 ski resorts in the area, including Happo-One and Tsugaike, Hakuba caters to all skill levels. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, hot springs, and vibrant après-ski culture. The picturesque villages in Hakuba also offer a glimpse into traditional Japanese mountain life.

Kyoto: The Cultural Capital

Kyoto The Cultural Capital

Kyoto, known as the cultural capital of Japan, is a city that beautifully preserves its historical heritage. There are countless things to see and do in Kyoto, making it a must-visit destination. From its exquisite temples and shrines to its traditional tea houses and gardens, Kyoto offers an authentic Japanese experience.

Visit Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine is one of the most iconic Japan tourist attractions. Famous for its thousands of red torii gates that create a pathway up the mountain, this shrine is dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice and agriculture. Walking through the torii gates is one of the best things to do in Japan, offering a serene and spiritual experience. The hike up to the summit of Mount Inari takes about 2-3 hours, providing beautiful views of Kyoto along the way. The shrine complex is also dotted with smaller shrines and statues of foxes, believed to be Inari's messengers.

Explore Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

The Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is another highlight of Kyoto. This enchanting forest of towering bamboo stalks creates a peaceful and otherworldly atmosphere. A visit to the bamboo grove, along with the nearby Tenryu-ji Temple and the Togetsukyo Bridge, makes for a perfect day trip in Kyoto. The sound of the wind rustling through the bamboo leaves is incredibly soothing, making it a perfect spot for meditation and reflection. The area also features the Iwatayama Monkey Park, where visitors can observe wild monkeys in their natural habitat, and the scenic Sagano Romantic Train ride along the Hozu River.

Experience Traditional Tea Ceremony

Participating in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony is one of the top things to do in Kyoto. This ancient ritual, known as "sado" or "chado," involves the ceremonial preparation and consumption of matcha (green tea). The tea ceremony is a beautiful expression of Japanese culture and hospitality, providing a unique insight into the country's traditions. The ceremony is conducted in a tranquil tea room, where every movement and gesture is performed with grace and precision. Learning about the philosophy and etiquette behind the tea ceremony enhances the experience, making it a memorable part of your visit to Kyoto.

Hiroshima: A City of Peace and Resilience

Hiroshima A City of Peace and Resilience

Hiroshima, a city with a poignant history, is a testament to peace and resilience. Visiting Hiroshima is a powerful and educational experience, offering important lessons about the past. The city's dedication to promoting peace and its recovery from the devastation of World War II is truly inspiring.

Explore Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is one of the most significant places to visit in Japan. The park is dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombing in 1945 and serves as a reminder of the importance of peace. The A-Bomb Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as a symbol of the city's resilience. Visiting the park and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is one of the most profound things to see in Japan. The museum provides a detailed account of the bombing and its aftermath, with personal stories and artifacts that highlight the human impact of the tragedy. The park also features the Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims, the Flame of Peace, and the Children's Peace Monument, each telling a part of Hiroshima's journey towards peace.

Visit Miyajima Island

Just a short ferry ride from Hiroshima is Miyajima Island, known for its iconic floating torii gate of Itsukushima Shrine. This scenic island is one of the best places to visit in Japan, offering beautiful landscapes and historical sites. The torii gate appears to float on the water during high tide, creating a magical and serene view. Miyajima is also home to several other attractions, including the Daisho-in Temple, a picturesque complex with numerous Buddha statues, and the Momijidani Park, known for its stunning autumn foliage. The island's deer, which roam freely and are considered sacred, add to the charm of this tranquil destination.

Enjoy Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki

Trying Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, a savory pancake made with layers of ingredients, is a must-do experience in Hiroshima. This local delicacy is cooked on a griddle and typically includes cabbage, noodles, pork, and topped with a special sauce. It's one of the best things to do in Japan for food lovers, offering a delicious taste of the region's cuisine. The Okonomimura, a building dedicated to okonomiyaki restaurants, is the perfect place to try this dish. Each restaurant has its own variation, allowing you to experience different flavors and styles. Pair your okonomiyaki with a glass of local sake for an authentic Hiroshima dining experience.

Okinawa: Tropical Paradise

Okinawa Tropical Paradise

Okinawa, a tropical paradise in southern Japan, offers a different side of the country with its beautiful beaches and unique culture. It's one of the top Japan places to visit for those looking for a relaxing and scenic getaway. The island's distinct Ryukyu heritage, combined with its stunning natural beauty, makes it a unique and captivating destination.

Visit Shurijo Castle

Shurijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most important historical sites in Okinawa. This Ryukyu Kingdom palace showcases a blend of Japanese and Chinese architectural styles. Exploring the castle and its grounds provides insight into Okinawa's rich history and cultural heritage. The castle, originally built in the 14th century, was the political and cultural center of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Although it was destroyed during World War II, it has been meticulously reconstructed, allowing visitors to appreciate its historical significance. The castle grounds also host various cultural events and performances, offering a glimpse into traditional Ryukyu arts and customs.

Enjoy Snorkeling and Diving

Okinawa is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life, making it a top destination for snorkeling and diving. The Kerama Islands, part of the Okinawa archipelago, are particularly famous for their beautiful coral reefs and abundant marine species. Snorkeling and diving in these waters are some of the best things to do in Japan for nature enthusiasts. The Blue Cave, located on the main island, is another popular spot for underwater exploration, known for its striking blue hues created by sunlight filtering through the water. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced diver, Okinawa offers a variety of diving sites that cater to all levels.

Relax on Emerald Beach

Emerald Beach, located in the northern part of Okinawa, is a pristine beach known for its white sands and turquoise waters. It's one of the best places to visit in Japan for a relaxing day by the sea. The beach is part of the Okinawa Ocean Expo Park, which also features attractions like the Churaumi Aquarium, home to whale sharks and other marine creatures. The park's Oceanic Culture Museum and the Tropical Dream Center, with its extensive collection of orchids and tropical plants, add to the appeal of this family-friendly destination. Enjoying a day at Emerald Beach, followed by a visit to these attractions, provides a perfect blend of relaxation and education.

Questions and Answers

Q: What is the best time to visit Japan?

A: The best time to visit Japan is during spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is mild, and the landscapes are beautiful. During these seasons, you can experience the cherry blossoms and autumn foliage, which are some of the most picturesque sights in Japan.

Q: Do I need a visa to travel to Japan?

A: Citizens of many countries, including the United States, do not need a visa for short-term stays in Japan. It's best to check the latest visa requirements before planning your trip. Typically, tourists can stay up to 90 days without a visa, but longer stays or certain activities may require one.

Q: What is the currency used in Japan?

A: The currency used in Japan is the Japanese Yen (JPY). It's advisable to carry some cash, as smaller establishments and rural areas may not accept credit cards. ATMs are widely available, especially in convenience stores, where you can withdraw yen using your international debit or credit card.

Q: Is Japan a safe country to visit?

A: Yes, Japan is considered one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and efficient public services. The Japanese are known for their hospitality and politeness, making it a welcoming destination for travelers. However, it's always wise to take common precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

Q: What is the primary language spoken in Japan?

A: The primary language spoken in Japan is Japanese. However, English is commonly understood in major cities and tourist areas. Many signs, especially in transportation hubs and tourist spots, are also in English, making it easier for non-Japanese speakers to navigate.

Q: What are some traditional Japanese foods to try?

A: Some traditional Japanese foods to try include sushi, sashimi, ramen, tempura, and okonomiyaki. Each region has its own specialties, such as Hida beef in Takayama, Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, and Kyoto's kaiseki cuisine. Don't miss trying street food at local markets and festivals.

Q: How do I get around in Japan?

A: Japan has an excellent public transportation system, including trains, buses, and subways. The Japan Rail Pass is a convenient option for tourists traveling between cities. In cities, subways and buses are efficient, while taxis and rental bicycles are also available. For rural areas, renting a car might be the best option.

Q: What is the electric voltage used in Japan?

A: Japan uses a voltage of 100V with a frequency of 50/60Hz, and the plug type is A/B. If your devices are not compatible, you may need a voltage converter and plug adapter. It's best to check the specifications of your electronics before traveling.

Q: Can I use my credit card in Japan?

A: Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and tourist areas, but it's advisable to carry some cash for smaller establishments and rural areas. Japan is still a cash-oriented society, and you may find some places that do not accept cards.

Q: What are some unique souvenirs to buy in Japan?

A: Unique souvenirs to buy in Japan include traditional crafts like ceramics, kimonos, tea sets, and Japanese sweets. Regional specialties such as Hida beef jerky, Kyoto yatsuhashi (sweet rice cakes), and Okinawan pottery make excellent gifts. Look for handmade items and local products that reflect the cultural heritage of the area you're visiting.


Japan is a country that offers a diverse range of experiences, from the bustling streets of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, the natural beauty of Nagano, the historical significance of Hiroshima, and the tropical paradise of Okinawa. With so many things to see and do in Japan, this travel guide provides just a glimpse of what awaits you. Whether you're planning a trip to Japan for the first time or are a seasoned traveler, these must-do experiences will ensure you have an unforgettable journey.

As you explore the best places to visit in Japan, remember to immerse yourself in the culture, savor the local cuisine, and appreciate the natural beauty that makes Japan a unique and captivating destination. From the vibrant city life to the tranquil countryside, Japan promises a journey filled with wonder, discovery, and lasting memories.

Discover the wonders of Japan with Let's Journey, your ultimate guide to exploring iconic destinations like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Mount Fuji. From insider tips on navigating bustling city streets to recommendations for experiencing the charm of snow monkeys, Let's Journey provides invaluable insights for planning an unforgettable trip to Japan. Dive into the cultural richness and natural beauty of this fascinating country with Let's Journey as your trusted travel companion.