Fresh Sushi At Toyosu, Onsen Ski Resorts & Other Things You Need To Experience In Japan
Are you thinking of making a trip to Japan? <3
Japan is a holiday destination unlike any other. From quaint countrysides and snowy mountains to the bustling neon-lit streets, it has something to offer everyone, no matter what kind of traveller you are.
And don't get us started on the food — sushi, ramen, tempura, katsu, yakitori — it would take multiple foodie trips for you to even scratch the surface of what they have to offer.
It's safe to say that one holiday in Japan won't be enough to cover everything. However, if you're looking for a taste of Japan and its culture, there are a few truly unique experiences that you ought to try.
In collaboration with the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), we've come up with a list of must-visit places when you're in Japan:
1. Eat sushi, street food, and local produce at Japan markets
Local markets in Japan are a haven for foodies. While Tsukiji's inner market relocated to Toyosu in 2018, the Tsukiji Outer Market is still filled with vendors selling rolled omelettes, broiled seafood, and jumbo-sized rice balls, among other snacks.
For those who want to see the famous tuna auctions, head over to Toyosu Fish Market, the biggest fish market in the world. Here, you can buy cuts of bluefin tuna sashimi and enjoy sushi at one of the famous restaurants (after queuing up for a couple of hours, hehe ;P).
Both markets mentioned above are located in Tokyo. But if you're visiting Kyoto, the narrow passageway of Nishiki Market houses 130 vendors selling all kinds of delicacies. Additionally, the Kagoshima Fish Market in Kyushu Island features energetic auctioneers hawking their catch and a cafeteria serving up freshly caught seafood. For those who enjoy juicy fruits and fresh veges, visit the Miyagawa Morning Market in Takayama.
2. Relax like never before by staying at onsen towns and resorts
Japan is known for its onsen baths, and there are numerous natural hot springs scattered across the country. For instance, Kusatsu Onsen has the largest amount of naturally occurring hot spring water in Japan, and is located 1,200 metres above sea level in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture.
There is also the 3,000-year-old Dogo Onsen—the oldest hot spring in Japan that is believed to have inspired the bathhouse in Spirited Away, as well as Ginzan Onsen that features traditional onsen inns lining the Ginzan River.
For those who love skiing on snowy mountains, you can even enjoy the best of both worlds at onsen ski resorts like Nozawa Onsen Snow Resort in Nagano or Zao Onsen Ski Resort in Yamagata.
3. Immerse yourself in Japanese shopping culture, from streetwear and kawaii, to handcrafted and luxury
Head over to Takeshita Street in Harajuku for a one-of-kind shopping experience. Along the row of colourful stores, you'll find everything, from classic crepes and giant-sized rainbow cotton candy to quirky fashion brands and trendy streetwear.
The Ginza and Yurakucho shopping districts, on the other hand, are full of world-renowned department stores and upmarket shops featuring luxury goods.
For thrifting enthusiasts and those looking for unique items, check out Shimo-kitazawa, with narrow shopping streets packed with thrift stores, record shops, boutiques, and mom-and-pop spots.
If you're visiting Osaka, their shopping arcades (shotengai) are one of the city's defining characteristics—stock up on kitchenware and utensils at Sennichimae Doguya-suji Shopping Street.
4. Experience a blast to the past in historical Japanese districts
If you enjoy taking in tradition and culture, Kyoto is a great place to start. Head over to the Higashiyama District, one of the city's best-preserved historic areas, where you'll find narrow lanes, wooden buildings, and traditional merchant shops — it's like you're in old Japan.
For samurai fans, visit the Nagamachi Samurai District in Kanazawa. Here, you'll find well-preserved bukeyashiki, which are traditional residences where samurai and their families used to live during the Edo period.
Another place worth checking out is UNESCO-listed Gokayama in Toyama. Full of charm and simplicity, Gokayama is one of two places in the world where you'll get to see gassho-style villages, featuring gassho-zukuri buildings — houses with steep thatched roof that look like prayer hands.
5. Take a walk at one of Japan's impressive gardens
Japan does many things exceptionally well, and one of them is their Japanese gardens. Not only are the gardens massive, they're also well-kept and look just like a work of art. Relax and savour the beautiful landscapes of Korakuen Garden in Okayama, one of Japan's three great gardens and located beside Okayama Castle.
An interesting garden is the Adachi Museum of Art, which has 165,000 square metres of greenery and an indoor museum with windows overlooking the gardens outside. These windows of different sizes act as frames for visitors to view the 'living paintings' of the garden outside.
In the midst of the high-rise buildings and metropolis of downtown Tokyo, you'll find Hama-rikyu Gardens, a scenic green oasis where you can unwind. It is also home to the only seawater pond left in a garden from the Edo period in Tokyo, and has a teahouse serving up matcha and traditional sweets.
These are just a few unique things about Japanese culture that we think are worth experiencing. Plan your itinerary and explore other attractions on JNTO's website today!
Got some cool brand news to share?