Tourists coming to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup have a lot more to look forward to other than watching the exciting matches or seeing their favorite players. Japan is known as one of the world’s top destinations for several years now, and it offers a multitude of sites and attractions that should make your trip even much more fun and memorable.
When not at games, you can spend your free time trying out some of the best things that has made so many people from around the world fall in love with Japan. Here are highly recommended activities to do on your visit:
Try sushi, ramen, and various other delicious Japanese dishes
Have you seen episodes of cooking shows or travel shows where the host goes to Japan, visits either a renowned restaurant in Tokyo or some hole-in-the-wall diner in a remote town in Hokkaido, and just can’t stop fawning over their freshly prepared local specialty? You can be like that host too, if you allow yourself to be adventurous, and seek out highly-rated authentic Japanese foods, like ramen, takoyaki, yakitori, udon, soba, Japanese curry, and katsudon, which should not disappoint.
Know what it is like to ride the superfast Shinkansen or Japanese bullet train
Did you know that the Shinkansen can travel up to speeds of 320 kilometers per hour? Pre-Shinkansen, long-distance travel in Japan took a long time. But now, because of this world-class, high-speed rail, getting from Tokyo to Osaka, two cities that are about 500 kilometers apart, only takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. This leaves you with more time for sightseeing and touring, and other activities.
See for yourself how common vending machines are around the country
Did you know that there is a country that has more than 5.5 million vending machines? No, this is not one of those myths that are just too ridiculous to be true. Japan really is home to this many vending machines where you can buy a wide selection of products, such as bottled water, coffee, tea, juice, soda, cigarettes, and ice cream. There are even ones where you can get some weird stuff, like surgical masks, underwear, eggs, bananas, and apples.
Buy affordable, great-tasting convenience store foods
Have you heard or read about the good quality meals and snacks you can buy at Japanese convenience stores? Just like vending machines, these places are found everywhere — inside and outside train stations, near hotels and hostels, or a few minutes’ walk from popular spots. They have an assortment of products available, including microwavable gyudon, instant ramen, freshly-made egg sandwich, and different locally made sweets, which cost only a few hundred yen.
Learn about Japanese history and culture
Are you aware that the largest bronze statue of Buddha in the world is found in Japan? It is housed at the Todaiji Temple in Nara, and measures about 15 meters high and 30 meters wide. If you want to see many of the most fascinating heritage sites in the world, such as centuries’ old temples and shrines, ancient original castles and gardens, and diverse national parks, Japan has what you are looking for and more.
Explore old Japanese towns in a kimono
Do you like dressing up and have always wanted to wear a kimono? In many touristy areas in Japan, you can find rental shops where you can rent a kimono for a few hours to wear while walking around some old, small town, feeling like you are taken back in time. In Kyoto, for example, there are several places that offer this kind of service in the Arashiyama and Gion areas, and they can help dress you up, do your hair, and, sometimes, also take professional photos of you at iconic landmarks around the city, like the Fushimi Inari Shrine or the Kiyomizudera Temple.
Relax in natural hot springs
Do you want to test if the things that you read about the therapeutic effects the natural hot springs offer in Japan are for real? Across the country, there are numerous hot spring or onsen towns where you can enjoy a relaxing and calming dip in 35 to 40 degrees Celsius hot onsen waters. They are highly recommended after a long hike or an entire day of walking. However, if you have one or more tattoos, you might be refused entry at many of these places because, in Japan, tattoos are associated with organized crime or yakuza. You might have to give public baths a pass, and rent private ones that you can have all to yourself or with your group for an hour or so.
Have some karaoke fun time
Do you like to sing but are not blessed with a pure and angelic singing voice? In Japan, there are karaoke establishments that rent out small rooms for people to let their hair down and belt their hearts out. Once inside, you can choose from a good selection of Japanese and English songs, and do your best to give a fun and exciting performance. From around noon to early morning the next day, these entertainment establishments welcome not only foreigners but also young and old Japanese people who want some good time with colleagues, friends, or family.
Participate in the Shibuya Scramble experience
Do you wonder why the Shibuya Scramble or Shibuya Crossing is so popular? It has been featured in various Japanese and international films, and is known for the throngs of people that start to move like waves in the ocean once the pedestrian light signal turns green. The intersection is surrounded by tall buildings with large and bright monitors that look incredible once it is dark. It is also a few steps away from the statue of Japan’s most beloved dog, Hachiko. The area just has a ton of activities to offer – whether shopping, dining, or just people watching.