Japan is a wonderful nation with a rich history, incredible cities, and worthwhile tourist attractions. Most tourists who visit Japan are eager to learn about the history of this once isolated island and are eager to experience the unique culture and traditions of the Japanese people. What most tourists do not realize is that they spend their vacation visiting the same popular attractions which are undoubtedly crowded, expensive, and stressful to get into.
Instead, there are numerous unconventional things to experience in Japan which can only be done in Japan. Without further ado, here are the ten best things only available in Japan.
10 Experience Mount Fuji
One of the best things to do in Japan, which can only be done in Japan is experiencing the power and serenity of Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is an active volcano that last erupted in 1707, but despite its active status, Mount Fuji attracts millions of people each year, including tourists, religious folk who worship this mountain as a sacred place. It is best to visit this magnificent mountain during the winter as the visibility of the mountain is better, and oddly enough less likely to be obscured by cloud cover. A good vantage point is Fuji Five Lake or Hakone which is a hot spring, both near the foot of the mountain.
9 Get Ramen from a Restaurant Vending Machine
Eating traditional Japanese ramen in Japan is a must-do. However, you may find the experience unusual because you’ll likely be getting it from a ramen vending machine. The machines are used by locals to get a quick and easy meal but are also used by tourists for the sole purpose of using this machine. Using these machines is easy. The vending machine is usually located at the front of a restaurant so you know if the place is full service or not. Before entering you will see a menu, so you just choose what you want, go inside, buy a voucher, then order your ramen from the vending machine.
8 Visit the Cup-O-Noodles Museum
This next place is a truly Japanese experience and is a Cup-o-Noodles lover's dream. The Cup-O-Noodles museum is located in Yokohama, Japan and features a myriad of exhibits and attractions that tourists can experience and view. The most popular activity at the museum is the Chicken Ramen Factory, where the visitors are allowed to knead their own dough and make their own chicken ramen by hand. In addition to the factory, there are also theatres in the museum that present the life of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant noodles, and the museum also features the CUPNOODLES Park, a playground for the kids not so interested in the history of freeze-dried noodles.
7 Experience Mochistsuki
Mochistsuki is a very Japanese tradition that every tourist should experience, and this requires precise timing. Mochistsuki, for starters, is a tradition in which Japanese households will make mochi or rice cakes that are made of pounded sweet rice and can be eaten as a ball and has a texture between pudding and jelly. This savory treat is available for purchase all year round, but the tradition of Mochistsuki itself is a whole other experience within itself and is begun around the start of the New Year. Preparation of the mochi takes all day, and at night, it is shared with neighbors.
6 Experience Tatami Culture
If you find yourself around Osaka, Japan, you need to experience Tatami Culture. Tatami is a specialized Japanese mat that is used to decorate living rooms across the island. The mat is made of woven straw and cloth, which comes in four sizes and is an important part of daily life and Japanese culture. In Osaka, tourists can visit the Kajino Tatami shop which has been around since 1919. Visitors can build their own mini-tatami mats that they get to take home at the end of the day. Not only is this a fun experience but also an educative one. Although highly modernized, Japan still feels the need to use these mats and the Japanese ‘smell’ they provide.
5 Shop at Itoya
Next on this list is a prime store in the middle of Tokyo for stationery and souvenir shopping. Ginza Itoya is a high-end stationery store located in the heart of Tokyo that features twelve floors of stationery and souvenirs and attracts a lot of tourists. This establishment was first established in 1904 and reopened in 2015 following renovations. Itoya has eight locations across Japan, but the Tokyo location is undoubtedly the most popular and most readily-accessible to guests. Over the span of twelve individualized floors, guests can find everything they may require from pens to diaries to crafts. it is unusual in just the sheer size of the retail outlet.
4 Visit the First Kinokuniya
For those of you unfamiliar with this brand, Kinokuniya is a Japan-based bookstore that spans over an impressive 11 nations and has over 30 locations around the world. Kinokuniya offers a great selection of books, in both English and Japanese, as well as other art forms such as CDs, DVDs, and even manga and anime. The first Kinokuniya is located in Tokyo and is open to visitors, and still functions as a bookstore to this day since its founding in 1964. The original building features nine floors, two basement levels, and even a massive hall and an art gallery.
3 Experience Street Art
An unusual thing for visitors to experience in Japan is the street art it has to offer. Although it is difficult to find in Tokyo, there is a rich street art culture in the increasingly growing city, and as with any major location such as London or New York's, Tokyo's street art is modern, personalized to the city, and indicative of where Japan is heading as a nation. It should also be noted that not all the street art found painted on the sides of walls in Tokyo is considered an act of vandalism, some murals are commissioned by the city.
2 Stay at a Robot-Staffed Hotel
The Henn-na Hotel near Nagasaki, Japan is a modern, tech-infused hotel that makes guests and visitors feel like they are truly in the future. What sets Henn-ha Hotel apart from all other hotels in Japan and the world is that it employs an unusual array of staff; they are all robots. From the receptionists to the concierge, the owner wants 90% of the staff at this hotel to be robots and offer the same amount of convenience as a regular human being. The hotel also has smart tech apart from the robots. Reviews have noted that it has a way to go before reaching the 90% robotic staff, but it serves as a certainly novel adventure.
1 Ride the Shinkansen
One of the things you can only do in Japan is ride the Shinkansen, more fondly known as the bullet train. The Shinkansen trains are accessible with the purchase of a Japan Rail Pass and provide access to nearly all parts of the island. In addition to being a convenient method of transportation, the Shinkansen bullet train is one of the fastest in the world and can only be experienced in Japan. This bullet train can reach top speeds of 200 mph and makes frequent stops at stations. Riding the train also provides an excellent view of Mount Fuji along the way.