The Ultimate Japan Bucket List

Rich culture, turbulent history, skyscraper cities, picturesque landscapes – this country has all that and much more. Japan offers tourists things to see and do that they could probably never experience anywhere else in the world. And interestingly, every time a person comes back, they find something new. So if it’s you’re first time in Japan, or you’ve visited a few times, this bucket list of things truly Japanese will be great for you.

  1. Watch sumo wrestling: With a long history and many rituals and ceremonies before the actual wrestle, this makes for a fun afternoon.
  2. Visit Nara: Along with many temples, one of the largest Buddhas of the world, and several landscaped gardens, Nara is home to many friendly Sika deer who frolic around you waiting for you to feed them a cookie or two you could buy from the many vendors nearby.
  3. Stay at a Ryokan: A traditional Japanese Inn, ryokans consist of modest rooms with the typical tatami mats, low center table for dining and rollaway beds folded in the cupboards, with the hosts provided meals made from locally sourced ingredients.
  4. Take a dip in an Onsen: You could either do this as part of your ryokan stay or as an independent activity. An onsen is traditionally an outdoor hot spring, although these days it’s usually indoors. This can be especially soothing after days of long walks.
  5. Arashiyama Bamboo Forest: Take a stroll through these tall bamboo forests, close to Kyoto and take your chance to be one with nature. It’ll also probably be your most Instagrammable venue.
  6. Fushimi Inari Taisha: Another attraction close to Kyoto is the significant Shinto Shrine of Fushimi Inari. With brightly colored orange tori gates form a meditative tunnel that leads you through the forest to Mount Inari.
  7. Visit Kinkakuji: The Golden Pavilion makes for picture-perfect moments when the light reflects off the golden façade and replicates the image on the waters of the pond it stands on. Take a moment to sense the calm in the landscaped gardens around too.
  8. Hiroshima: This can be done as a day-trip from Kyoto or Osaka but it actually warrants more time. The Peace Memorial Museum will enlighten you of how the country crumbled and then rose from its ashes.
  9. Catch a sunrise by hiking up Mount Fuji: This active volcanic mountain is great for hiking in the summer months of July-August. Be prepared for some fantastic views from the peak. But even if you don’t hike up, you can easily see a beautiful sunrise in the backdrop of the magnificent mountain.
  10. Ride the Shinkansen: There’s no better place to ride a bullet train than the country where it was invented.
  11. Street food at Osaka: Osaka is the food capital of Japan. They have some of the best street food at Dotonbori with seafood being a highlight.
  12. Cross at Shibuya: This pedestrian intersection is a sight to see. When the traffic stops, nearly 2500 people cross across this junction in a perfectly orderly manner.

These are just a few of the top things that you would want to add to your bucket list when planning a trip to Japan. Once you return, you’ll probably have many more to add to this list, for your next visit.

Author’s Bio: Kalpesh Mehta is a travel consultant and has his visit to Japan nearly 2 decades ago, etched into memory like it was yesterday. He believes the country is unlike any other and would love to visit again.

 

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