Are you planning a trip to Japan and looking for the absolute best things to do? This Japan Bucket List features over 230 incredible experiences and must dos in Japan covering all regions. There’s even a list of the best food experiences to be had in Japan!
If it’s your first-time visiting Japan then you’re in for a real treat. Japan is one of the most beautiful countries in the world to explore.
We usually recommend first time visitors focus their time in these 5 destinations, however there are actually many more must do Japan experiences that you should not miss out on.
This Japan bucket list features loads of must-dos in Japan, covering not only the main tourist destinations such as Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hiroshima, but it also has oodles of fun things to do in off-the-beaten-path locations that the vast majority of visitors tend to skip.
While you probably won’t be able to tick off all 230+ of these epic Japan experiences during your first visit, this list is designed to highlight the very best of Japan, so you can pick and choose which experiences you would like to do, depending on the regions you want to visit.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in…
Here are the best bucket list things to add to your Japan itinerary!
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The Ultimate Japan Bucket List
10 Must do Japan Experiences
- Take a ride on the world-famous Shinkansen bullet train.
- Visit a traditional Japanese hot spring (onsen) and relax in the natural mineral-rich waters.
- Take a stroll through one of Japan’s many beautiful gardens.
- Witness the skill of sumo wrestlers at a sumo tournament or training stable.
- See the beauty of Japan during Sakura (cherry blossom season).
- Go skiing in the Japanese Alps.
- Attend a traditional tea ceremony and learn about the art and culture of tea in Japan.
- Watch a kabuki performance – a traditional form of Japanese theater.
- Take a cooking class and learn how to make traditional Japanese dishes like sushi or tempura.
- Experience Japan’s obsession with karaoke.
Japan Bucket List by Region
Tokyo & Kanto Region
- Visit the iconic Tokyo Skytree tower for panoramic views of the city.
- Explore the historic Asakusa district in Tokyo, home to the famous Senso-ji temple.
- Take a stroll through the stunning gardens at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
- Visit the Meiji Shrine, a peaceful oasis in the heart of Tokyo’s bustling Shibuya district.
- Check out the trendy Harajuku district in Tokyo for unique fashion, street food, and shopping.
- Take a day trip to the beautiful city of Kamakura, home to many ancient temples and shrines.
- Explore the charming town of Hakone, famous for its hot springs, onsen, and stunning views of Mount Fuji.
- Wander down Memory Lane (Omoide Yokocho) in Shinjuku
- Take a cruise on Lake Ashi and admire the stunning scenery.
- Visit the breathtaking Tokyo Tower for amazing views of the city.
- Visit the Nikko Toshogu Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Japan’s most ornate shrines.
- Experience Tokyo’s bustling nightlife in the vibrant neighbourhood of Shinjuku.
- Try the freshest seafood at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.
- Check out the cutting-edge contemporary art at the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills.
- Take a stroll through the beautiful gardens at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Tokyo.
- Visit the breathtaking Akihabara district in Tokyo, famous for its anime, manga, and electronics.
- Explore the charming town of Kawagoe, known as “Little Edo” for its well-preserved traditional architecture.
- Go shopping in the Ginza district, known for its luxury boutiques and department stores.
- Visit the Tokyo National Museum for an in-depth look at Japanese history and culture.
- Try delicious street food at the Yurakucho Yakitori Alley in Tokyo.
- Visit the quirky Robot Restaurant in Shinjuku for an unforgettable dinner and show.
- Experience the bustling energy of the Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the world.
- Check out the Yokohama Chinatown, the largest Chinatown in Japan.
- Take a relaxing hot spring bath at the Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture.
- Visit the Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture for its stunning seasonal flowers and panoramic views.
- Explore the scenic hiking trails at the Takao-san mountain in Tokyo.
- Take a tour of the Kirin Beer factory in Yokohama.
- Visit the Hasedera Temple in Kamakura for its stunning ocean views and ancient Buddhist statues.
- Go on a scenic train ride on the Hakone Tozan Railway.
- Take a relaxing boat ride along the Sumida River.
- Explore the vibrant Nakameguro district, known for its cherry blossoms in spring.
- Visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum for an in-depth look at the city’s history and culture.
- Visit the beautiful Kiyosumi Gardens, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.
Kyoto, Osaka & Kansai Region
- Visit the iconic Osaka Castle, one of Japan’s most famous landmarks.
- Explore the historic Nara Park and feed the friendly deer.
- Take a stroll through the beautiful gardens at the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto.
- Visit the impressive Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Explore the vibrant Dotonbori district in Osaka, known for its nightlife, food, and shopping.
- Visit the beautiful Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto during autumn to see the stunning fall foliage.
- Take a day trip to the charming town of Arashiyama, known for its Bamboo Grove and Monkey Forest.
- 35. Take a tour of the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, known for its world-class whisky.
- Dress up in a kimono and wander through the historic Higashiyama district in Kyoto.
- Visit the stunning Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Take a relaxing boat ride along the scenic Hozugawa River.
- Visit the beautiful Kinkakuji Temple, also known as the Golden Pavilion.
- Check out the vibrant nightlife in the Nakazaki-cho and Ura Namba districts in Osaka.
- Explore the stunning gardens at the Ritsurin Koen in Takamatsu.
- Visit the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, known for its thousands of torii gates.
- Take a day trip to the charming town of Hikone, known for its impressive castle and scenic views.
- Hike the famous Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trail.
- Visit the beautiful Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara, known for its thousands of stone lanterns.
- Explore the trendy Amerikamura district in Osaka, known for its unique fashion and street culture.
- Take a stroll through the picturesque town of Kinosaki Onsen, known for its hot springs and traditional atmosphere.
- Visit Japan’s most famous Moss Garden, Sahio-Ji in Kyoto
- Visit the beautiful Nijo Castle in Kyoto, known for its stunning architecture and gardens.
- Check out the vibrant nightlife in the Shinsaibashi district in Osaka.
- Wander along the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto during Sakura
- Take a day trip to the scenic Koyasan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to many temples.
- Visit the stunning Hikone Castle, one of Japan’s best-preserved castles.
- Take a relaxing bath at one of the many hot springs in the Arima Onsen district in Kobe.
- Visit the beautiful Byodoin Temple in Uji, known for its stunning architecture and gardens.
- Explore the historic town of Tsumago-juku, one of the best-preserved post towns on the Nakasendo trail.
- Take a day trip to the scenic Amanohashidate, known for its stunning sandbar and views.
- Visit the stunning Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto, known for its beautiful views and architecture.
- Visit the beautiful Ishiyama-dera Temple in Otsu.
- Visit the Shinto shrine of Izumo Taisha in Shimane Prefecture, known as one of Japan’s most important shrines.
- Explore the beautiful Wakayama Castle.
- Go hunting for Giesha or Maiko in Gion, Kyoto.
- Explore the vibrant nightlife and food scene in the port city of Kobe.
- Visit the historic Silver Temple (Ginkaku-Ji) in Kyoto
- Sample traditional Japanese delicacies at the Nishiki Market in downtown Kyoto.
- Tour the stunning grounds of Kodai-Ji temple in Kyoto.
- Take a wander down the Sanneizaka and Nineizaka Paths in Kyoto.
- Wander the grounds of Daigo-Ji temple in Fushimi Ward during Autumn.
- Visit the beautiful Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan, and explore its surrounding towns and attractions.
- Visit the scenic Ise-Shima National Park, which is known for its beautiful coastline and traditional seafood cuisine.
- Visit the historic city of Takayama and explore its traditional streets and temples.
- Hike the beautiful Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which features stunning scenery and a variety of transportation options.
- Visit the iconic Matsumoto Castle, one of Japan’s most beautiful castles.
- Explore the charming city of Kanazawa, which is known for its traditional crafts and beautiful gardens.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Shirakawa-go, a picturesque village with traditional thatched-roof houses.
- Visit the impressive Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa, one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan.
- Hike the beautiful Kamikochi Valley, which is located in the Japanese Alps.
- Explore the charming town of Tsumago, which is located on the Nakasendo historic trail.
- Take a scenic train ride on the Oigawa Railway, which runs through beautiful mountain scenery in Shizuoka Prefecture.
- Explore the historic town of Gujo Hachiman, which is known for its traditional waterways and dance festivals.
- Take a day trip to the stunning Izu Peninsula, known for its hot springs, beaches, and scenic hiking trails.
- Visit the stunning Takato Castle Park in Nagano Prefecture, which is famous for its cherry blossom festival.
- Explore the historic town of Inuyama, which features a beautiful castle and traditional streets.
- Take a scenic train ride on the Iseji line, which runs along the coast of Mie Prefecture.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Iwami Ginzan Silver Mine, which is located in Shimane Prefecture and features historic mining facilities and beautiful scenery.
- Take a trip to the Kiso Valley, which is known for its traditional post towns and scenic hiking trails.
- Visit the iconic Nagoya Castle, one of Japan’s most famous castles.
- Explore the city of Nagano, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1998 and is known for its many outdoor activities and hot springs.
- Visit the impressive Gujo Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in Japan, located in Gifu Prefecture.
- Explore the historic city of Gifu, which is known for its traditional cormorant fishing on the Nagara River.
- Take a trip to the stunning Kurobe Gorge, which features beautiful scenery and a scenic train ride.
- Explore the city of Toyama, which is known for its rich cultural heritage and beautiful scenery.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Fujisan, located in Yamanashi Prefecture, and hike or climb Mount Fuji.
- Explore the historic city of Kanonji, which is located in Kagawa Prefecture and is known for its many temples and shrines.
- Visit the beautiful Lake Suwa, located in Nagano Prefecture, and explore its surrounding towns and attractions.
- Check out the unique art installations at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field in Niigata Prefecture.
- Take a trip to Sado Island, Japan’s stunning “Butterfly Island”.
- Go on a thrilling roller coaster ride at the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park.
Hiroshima & Chugoku Region
- Visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum
- Explore Miyajima Island and its iconic torii gate
- Take a scenic drive through the Seto Inland Sea
- Visit the Kintaikyo Bridge in Iwakuni
- Hike the trails of Mount Misen on Miyajima Island
- Visit the historic city of Hagi and its samurai district
- Take a scenic train ride on the Sanin Main Line
- Visit the Okayama Korakuen Garden
- Visit the stunning Tottori Sand Dunes in Tottori Prefecture, one of Japan’s largest sand dune systems.
- Explore the castle ruins of Okayama Castle
- Visit the Mazda Museum in Hiroshima
- Go to the Hiroshima Food Market and try Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki
- Take a day trip to the island of Naoshima, famous for its contemporary art museums
- Try the local specialty of Hiroshima-style tsukemen (dipping noodles)
- Visit the Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane Prefecture for its stunning gardens and Japanese art collection.
- Go on a sake brewery tour in the town of Saijo
- Visit the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island and see the traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies.
- Visit the Akiyoshi Cave and limestone plateau in Yamaguchi
- Explore the historic streets of Kurashiki Bikan district in Okayama
- Take a boat ride to see the floating torii gate at Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Yamaguchi
- Visit the Hiroshima Castle and its surrounding park
- Go on a cycling tour around the Setouchi region, including islands such as Shodoshima and Oshima.
- Walk the 88 Temple Pilgrimage Trail that circles the island, visiting the many beautiful temples along the way.
- Visit the Ritsurin Garden in Takamatsu, one of the most famous gardens in Japan.
- Explore the Iya Valley, known for its natural beauty and historic vine bridges.
- Take a dip in the famous outdoor hot springs of Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama, the oldest hot spring resort in Japan.
- Hike the beautiful Mount Ishizuchi, the highest mountain in western Japan.
- Visit the Naruto Whirlpools in Tokushima, one of the most famous natural attractions in Japan.
- Take a boat tour of the Oboke Gorge, a scenic area of rapids and steep cliffs.
- Explore the historic city of Kochi, with its castle, museum, and beautiful coastline.
- Visit the stunning Kotohira-gu Shrine, also known as Konpira-san, which has been a popular pilgrimage site for over 1,000 years.
- Explore the historic town of Uchiko, which has many well-preserved Edo-era buildings.
- Visit the Tsurugisan Quasi-National Park, which is home to the beautiful Tsurugi-san mountain and other natural wonders.
- Try the local specialty of Sanuki udon noodles in Kagawa prefecture, which are famous throughout Japan.
Okinawa & Kyushu Region
- Visit the Nagasaki Peace Park and Atomic Bomb Museum
- Take a dip in the famous hot springs of Beppu
- Explore the historic city of Kumamoto and its castle
- Visit the unique sand baths of Ibusuki
- Take a scenic train ride on the Yufuin no Mori train
- Visit the active volcano of Mount Aso
- Explore the historic city of Nagasaki and its Glover Garden
- Take a day trip to the beautiful island of Yakushima
- Visit the impressive Takachiho Gorge and its waterfalls
- Try the local specialty of Kumamoto ramen
- Visit the stunning Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine in Fukuoka
- Explore the hot springs and sand dunes of Amami Oshima
- Visit the Huis Ten Bosch theme park, which is modeled after a Dutch town
- Take a boat tour to see the beautiful Hashima island in Nagasaki
- Try the famous beef from Miyazaki prefecture.
- Snorkel or dive in the crystal clear waters around the Kerama Islands
- Visit the Shurijo Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the former palace of the Ryukyu Kingdom
- Explore the Churaumi Aquarium, which is one of the largest in the world and home to many rare marine species
- Take a walk on the beautiful white sand beach of the tropical island of Ishigaki
- Visit the Okinawa World theme park to see the Gyokusendo Cave and experience traditional Okinawan culture.
- Visit the Sapporo Beer Museum and try Hokkaido’s famous beer
- Go skiing or snowboarding in Niseko or Rusutsu
- Relax in the natural hot springs (onsen) at Jozankei or Noboribetsu
- Visit the Sapporo Snow Festival in February
- See the famous red-crowned cranes at the Kushiro Marshland
- Take a scenic drive along the coast in Shakotan or Otaru
- Visit the stunning Blue Pond in Biei
- Go whale watching in Rausu
- Visit the stunning Shiretoko National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Take a ride on the Hakodate Ropeway and see the stunning night view
- Visit the Asahiyama Zoo and see the adorable penguins and polar bears
- Go horseback riding through the fields in Furano
- Visit the Ainu Museum in Shiraoi and learn about the indigenous people of Hokkaido
- Go hiking in Daisetsuzan National Park, Japan’s largest national park
- See the colorful flower fields in Furano and Biei during the summer months
- Try Hokkaido’s famous seafood, such as king crab and sea urchin
- Visit the Otaru Canal and explore the historic buildings and shops
- Go kayaking or canoeing on the Shiretoko Five Lakes
- Visit the Shikotsu-Toya National Park and see the stunning caldera lakes
- Take a relaxing boat ride on Lake Akan and see the Marimo, a rare and protected algae
- Visit the Sapporo Clock Tower, a symbol of Hokkaido’s history and culture.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hiraizumi, which features historic temples and gardens.
- Explore the city of Sendai, which is the largest city in the Tohoku region and is known for its cultural attractions and seafood cuisine.
- Visit the scenic Oirase Gorge, located in Aomori Prefecture, which features beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails.
- Explore the historic town of Hirosaki, which is known for its beautiful cherry blossom festival in the spring.
- Visit the iconic Zao Fox Village, located in Miyagi Prefecture, which features a large number of foxes in a natural habitat.
- Take a scenic train ride on the Aoimori Railway, which runs through beautiful coastal scenery in Aomori Prefecture.
- Visit the stunning Matsushima Bay, which is known for its beautiful scenery and historic temples.
- Explore the city of Yamagata, which is known for its hot springs and skiing opportunities in the winter.
- Visit the beautiful Oga Peninsula, which is known for its traditional festivals and beautiful coastline.
- Explore the historic town of Kakunodate, which features many traditional samurai houses and is known for its autumn foliage.
Japanese Food Bucket List
- Sushi – fresh and flavorful seafood served on bite-sized portions of vinegared rice.
- Ramen – a hearty noodle soup made with a rich, savory broth and various toppings like pork, egg, and vegetables.
- Tempura – crispy, deep-fried seafood or vegetables in a light batter.
- Okonomiyaki – a savory pancake made with cabbage, flour, eggs, and various toppings like pork, shrimp, and cheese.
- Yakitori – skewered and grilled chicken, often served with a variety of sauces and seasonings.
- Tonkatsu – deep-fried breaded pork cutlet, served with a tangy sauce and rice.
- Udon – thick and chewy wheat flour noodles in a flavorful broth, often served with various toppings like tempura or eggs.
- Takoyaki – small, ball-shaped snacks made with batter and diced octopus, often topped with sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes.
- Mochi – soft and chewy rice cakes, often filled with sweet bean paste or fruit.
- Shabu-shabu – a hot pot dish featuring thinly sliced beef or pork, vegetables, and noodles cooked in a flavorful broth.
- Soba – thin and nutty buckwheat noodles, often served cold with dipping sauce or hot in a broth.
- Onigiri – rice balls filled with various fillings like pickled plum, tuna, or salmon.
- Oden – a hearty stew featuring various ingredients like boiled eggs, daikon radish, and fish cakes simmered in a flavorful broth.
- Katsu curry – breaded pork cutlet served with Japanese-style curry sauce and rice.
- Matcha – finely ground green tea leaves, often used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and used to flavor desserts and drinks.
- Kobe beef – premium, high-quality beef known for its marbling and tenderness.
- Miso soup – a flavorful soup made with fermented soybean paste and various ingredients like tofu and seaweed.
- Kaiseki – a traditional multi-course Japanese meal, featuring beautifully presented small dishes made with seasonal ingredients.
- Sashimi – thinly sliced raw seafood served with soy sauce and wasabi.
- Tonkotsu ramen – a rich and creamy pork bone broth-based ramen, often served with chashu pork and marinated soft-boiled eggs.
- Gyoza – pan-fried or steamed dumplings filled with minced pork, cabbage, and other ingredients.
- Yakiniku – Japanese-style grilled meat, often served with dipping sauces and side dishes like rice and vegetables.
- Taiyaki – fish-shaped cakes filled with sweet red bean paste or other fillings like custard or chocolate.
- Anago – grilled or simmered saltwater eel, often served with a sweet and savory sauce and rice.
- Katsuobushi – dried and smoked bonito fish flakes, often used to flavor soups and other dishes.
- Nikujaga – a hearty stew made with beef, potatoes, and onions in a sweet and savory sauce.
- Mitarashi dango – skewered rice dumplings brushed with a sweet soy sauce glaze.
- Ichigo daifuku – mochi filled with sweet red bean paste and a fresh strawberry.
- Ochazuke – a comforting dish made with rice, tea, and various toppings like salmon or pickled plum.
- Kakiage – a type of tempura made with mixed vegetables and seafood, often served as a topping for udon or soba noodles.
- Chirashi sushi – a colorful and flavorful dish made with sushi rice and various toppings like raw fish, egg, and vegetables.
- Oyakodon – a savory rice bowl dish made with chicken, egg, and onions in a sweet and savory sauce.
- Hiyashi chuka – a refreshing cold noodle dish topped with various vegetables, meat, and a sweet and tangy sauce.
- Melonpan – a sweet and crispy bread bun topped with a cookie dough-like crust.
- Karage – bite-sized pieces of deep-fried chicken, often served as a snack or appetizer.
- Dango – small round rice dumplings served on a skewer with various toppings like sweet soy sauce or sesame seeds.
- Zaru soba – chilled buckwheat noodles served with a savory dipping sauce and various toppings like wasabi and green onions.
- Wagashi – traditional Japanese sweets made with ingredients like mochi, bean paste, and fruit, often served with tea.
Have we missed a spot? Can you recommend any other great Japan Bucket List ideas for other readers to check out, let us know in the comments below!
Map of Must dos in Japan
Are you planning a trip to Japan soon? We’ve created a handy Japan Bucket List Map that you can download for your trip. This map uses Google Maps so you can save to your phone and access it on-the-go using the Google Maps App.
This Japan Map below features all the top must do things in Japan that are listed in this article, plus many more. To get free access to this map to use on-the-go, click here to sign up to our Travel Resource Library.
Ready to Book Your Trip to Japan?
Japan is one of the world’s top Bucket List Destinations and one we highly recommend everyone visits at least once in their lifetime. We hope this Japan Bucket List has given you some inspiration to start planning your own trip to Japan!
To help you with your planning, we have a ton of other Japan travel blog articles featuring loads of handy tips and tricks. We recommend starting here:
Last but not least… Have a great trip to Japan!
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