The inside scoop on the top five things to do in Japan to help you delve beneath the surface and get a quick fix of Japan culture from our Japan Product Guru, Angela Ferres.
1. Taste Tokyo
Japan’s food culture is as complex as Tokyo is big. Enjoy sushi so fresh it’s almost flapping at the enormous Tsukiji Fish Market. Then, discover the tide of culinary equipment at Kappabashi Dougu Street with everything from bakeware to fake food. Enjoy a traditional tempura or soba noodle lunch before walking through central Tokyo. Complete your culinary delights with the highest rank A5 Wagyu Beef at a Japanese BBQ restaurant.
Enjoy sushi so fresh it’s almost flapping at the enormous Tsukiji Fish Market
2. Traditional Arts in Tokyo
Japan’s traditional arts of Bonsai, the tea ceremony and calligraphy all offer a deeper understanding of Japan’s history and culture. Dating back over 1000 years, they have become ingrained in Japanese culture. Kunio Kobayashi, a master of Bonsai for over 30 years runs the Shunkaen Bonsai Museum in Tokyo. On Sundays you can take a class to learn the art and meaning of Bonsai in Japan. Later, take part in a traditional tea ceremony, a choreographed art that requires years of study to master. In the afternoon, try your hand at the ancient art of Calligraphy. Introduced to Japan around the sixth century, uniquely Japanese forms appeared around the 10th or 11th century.
Traditional arts remain an important feature of modern Japanese society. They include tea ceremonies and calligraphy
3. Tokyo Pop Culture Anime full day tour
Anime and manga is on the cutting edge of pop-culture in Japan and has become synonymous with modern Japan. To explore this side of Tokyo, start in Akihabara. A centre of Japan's otaku (diehard fan) culture, shops devoted to anime and manga sit amongst countless electronic stores. Travel by train to Harajuku to discover streets lined with trendy shops and boutiques geared towards the fashion conscious teens. On Sunday, you’ll to see local youth dressed up in eccentric costumes, known as Cosplay. You’ll need to book well in advance for a visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum. Founded by master animator Hirao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli has produced some of Japan’s finest animation, including the Oscar-winning Spirited Away. Entitled "Let's get lost together", the museum allows you to wander through Miyazaki's imagination to a world where anything is possible and the surreal and sublime are to be found around every corner.
Pop culture – an inescapable feature of Japanesel life
4. Gardens of Kyoto half or full day
Japanese gardens are designed to display idealised landscapes. While the flamboyant stroll gardens of the Emperors and Shoguns were created for aesthetic pleasure, the austere Zen gardens found in temples are designed for contemplation and meditation. Kyoto’s abundance of gardens offer the best diversity, with every type of garden represented. Many are hidden away and spending a day with a local guide that is knowledgeable about Japan’s gardens will uncover many hidden gems. While it can be hard to know where to start, your guide can make recommendations based on your preferences and tailor the experience to your garden desires.
Kyoto during Japan’s famous Cherry Blossom, known as Sakura
5. Miyama full day tour
Just 30 kilometres from Kyoto is the remote region of Miyama. Famous for its 200-year-old thatched-roof farmhouses where people still live and work, the nostalgic atmosphere gives travellers a taste of traditional Japan. It’s a great place to try your hand at making soba noodles, or surround yourself in the area’s beautiful natural scenery with a light trek through the forest at Kajikaso.
Miyama, a little-visited retreat that showcases Japan’s traditional culture