Unmissable Japan

Koinobori flags, flying to celebrate boys’ day

Fish flags like these are flown all over Japan to celebrate boys’ day on May 5th each year, one for each boy in the family

Japan’s Best Events

A dance performance at Design Festa in Tokyo While you’re in Japan, why not join the Japanese in taking part in one of the many unique events that take place across the country? The range of offerings is huge, from traditional festivals and sports to modern conventions and exhibitions. And many of these events happen in Japan on a scale not seen anywhere else in the world. Here are the events that we rate as truly ‘unmissable’.

Unmissable Tokyo

Tokyo skyline Tokyo is so big and full of life that there’s enough to see to last anyone a lifetime – but because most of us can’t dedicate our whole lives to exploring just one city, we’ve picked out the best bits so that you can enjoy as many aspects of Tokyo life as possible in the time you have available. You’ll see how Tokyo manages to pack a myriad of stark contrasts into one smoothly functioning whole: noise and bright lights sit happily alongside quiet oases of calm, ancient tradition meshes seamlessly with state of the art technology, and beautiful gems are hidden within a grotesque concrete jungle.

Sleeping Experiences

Futons on the floor of a ryokan Our guide to where to stay at night if you want to make your trip as memorable as possible. We cover accommodation options to suit all budgets – and all levels of comfort. So whether you want to sample the life of a Buddhist monk in a Zen temple, reinvigorate yourself in a hot spring inn, or find out how to stay at the centre of Japan's giant metropolises without blowing the budget, check this out. You'll find that sampling all the different kinds of accommodation in Japan would be an adventure in itself.

Unmissable Underground

A statue of the Buddha in Iwaya Caves Japan has so many great things hidden underground that we decided to dedicate a whole section to subterranean tourism. It includes tunnels, caves, temples and even a storm drain. Read on to discover what adventures await beyond the reach of daylight.

Visit a Volcano

Mount Aso’s crater lake Japan is home to ten percent of the world’s active volcanoes, so it’s a great place to experience one of these living mountains first-hand. Where else could you see an eruption in progress, a bubbling crater lake, buildings half-buried in lava, and mountain peaks that didn’t even exist just a few years before? You’ll come away with a new found respect for the immense natural power that lies beneath our feet.

Everything Else

A Japanese moss garden This is where I put everything I have to tell you about Japan that doesn’t seem to fit into one of the other categories. Even if you don’t want to read any of the articles, I promise you it’s worth clicking through just to take a look at the photo on the first page – it’s of a man who must surely be the foremost fashionista of his generation.

Book a Cheap Ryokan

A stone lantern in a Kyoto ryokan garden So you want to visit Japan but you don’t have an unlimited budget? Or do you want your accommodation to be a special part of your trip – as much of an adventure as the rest of the country? Staying in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) can achieve both of these goals at once. We’ve tracked down some of Japan’s best travel bargains for your convenience – all of which can easily be booked online. So, whether you’re looking for a convenient base for sightseeing in the heart of Tokyo, or an idyllic hot spring inn in a quiet mountain valley, we have a ryokan that’s just right for you.

Traditional Marriage Customs

A Japanese bride arrives at the groom’s house Here is a chance to look back in time and glimpse the Japan of days gone by. We’ve obtained a set of photographs that were originally produced to illustrate the rituals and traditions associated with marriage in Japan – and which now serve as a fascinating historical record. What is perhaps most surprising for a country that underwent so many radical transformations in the last century, is that so many of these practices have survived to the present day.

Books about Japan

A Geisha’s Journey by Komomo Did this website leave you wanting to know more about Japan? Well, if you can’t make it there quite yet, you might want to make a literary visit first. Even if you’re in Japan right now, each one of these books will let you delve deeper into a different facet of the Japanese nation – the closest any traveler is likely to come to experiencing many of the wildly different lifestyles that make up modern Japan.

Free 2017 Unmissable Japan Calendar

Asakusa Kannon Temple in Tokyo

This Buddhist temple in Asakusa is Tokyo’s oldest, and is popular with locals as well as visitors from overseas. The surrounding area has a cheerful leisurely feel to it, and is crammed with shops selling traditional Japanese snacks and souvenirs.
Six boys in school uniforms, and with matching hairstyles pose for a photo

These super-cool high school students seem very pleased to have been asked to pose for a photo. Don’t be offended by the two-finger gestures – in Japan raising two fingers expresses happiness.
A giant replica of Ultraman stands in front of the Nippon Maru sailing boat and Landmark Tower in Yokohama

Three icons of 20th century Japan: A giant replica of Ultraman, Japan’s original superhero, stands before the Nippon Maru sailing ship moored in Yokohama harbour, with Landmark Tower, Japan’s tallest skyscraper, in the background.
Moss covered stone lanterns in Nara’s Kasuga Taisha Shinto Shrine

Just a few of the thousands of stone lanterns at Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara. During the Setsubun Mantoro (February, 2-4) and Obon Mantoro (August, 14-15) festivals, all 3,000 lanterns in the shrine are lit at once, producing a spectacular display
Three girls wearing yukata at a beach-side fireworks display in Shizuoka City

Young people often wear Yukata (informal kimono) to summer festivals, like these three girls at a fireworks display in Shizuoka City. You'll sometimes even see couples, the boy and girl both dressed in yukata, out around Tokyo shopping, or in bars and nightclubs, but only ever in summer
The lighthouse in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture

This lighthouse in Omaezaki dates from 1872, and is a well-known landmark on the coast west of Tokyo. Visitors can ascend the tower for a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean. Strong winds from the sea have made Omaezaki into Japan’s favourite windsurfing destination, and the extensive beaches are much less crowded than those nearer to Japan’s major cities.


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Our favourite Japan-related websites

Buy direct from Japan at Takaski.com.

Find the best way to get anywhere in Japan with Train Route Finder.

Make your own free Japan E-postcards using Japan.CustomCards.biz.

Hear Japanese migrants’ life stories at Japanese on the Move.