Unique Experiences when traveling in Japan

Unique Experiences when traveling in Japan

Sleep in a Japanese Temple

One of Japan’s most important religions is Buddhism, which is why you will find a lot of temples throughout the country. Some – called Shukubo – are even able to host tourists and pilgrims for a night. You don’t have to be a buddhist in order to spend the night! The monks will introduce you to their lifestyle, you will be provided excellent vegetarian meals and you can even watch or be a part of activities such as meditation and prayers if you like. You will sleep in a traditional japanese bedroom with tatami mats on the ground, and sleep in a futon provided by the temple. Some of them speak english and can be booked by a tourist association. Their price is usually between 6 000 and 10 000 yen per person.

Robot restaurant in Tokyo

This famous restaurant in Tokyo is not known for its food but rather for the show and environment in which you eat your meal. Expect to see dragon fighting, dancing robots, and so much more. You will be blinded by the neon lights, shows and music throughout your meal. You will first take your snacks and drinks in the upper room while enjoying a singing show before going downstairs where the real shows will take place. There will usually be 3 shows of 30 minutes each. This experience is truly unique and is typical of the buzzing side of Japan.

Sumo match

Being Japan’s national sport, you can’t miss this opportunity while in Japan! This impressive wrestling match is a sight to behold. The ring is elevated and made of clay covered in sand. If a contestant falls or exits the ring, he loses. This might sound easy, but here, there is no weight class. This is why the bigger you are the better chance you have of winning, hence the importance of gaining weight. If you want to attend a sumo match, let here’s some useful information. First, there are six big tournaments per year, held in Tokyo (3), Fukuoka(1), Nagoya (1) and Osaka (1). They are held in January, March, May, July, September and November.  Each tournament lasts 15 days. You can buy your tickets at the stadiums, convenience stores, on the official website directly http://sumo.pia.jp/ (only in japanese) and this website https://buysumotickets.com.

Okunoshima

Also called Rabbit’s island, this place will melt your heart. This small island of the Hiroshima prefecture used to be a secret base for the Japanese Imperial Army where chemical weapons were created during WWII.It was also a fortress during the war with Russia. Now it is an abandoned island full of ruins and rabbits. You can buy food before hopping on the ferry for Okunoshima to feed the rabbits. They are used to humans and come close to receive a treat. You will find them everywhere on the island, even the beach! It is forbidden to feed them anything apart from the food sold before the ferry. On the island you will also find a small museum about the island’s past, a hotel, bike rental, and a bus.

Yunessun Spa Resort

This onsen resort is located in Hakone, a famous onsen town near Tokyo. If you want to relax in an onsen but also enjoy an amazing experience we recommend this onsen resort. Yunessun is special because of the type of water you can bathe in. Indeed, it is drink-themed, which means that you can relax in a bath of wine, sake, green tea and even noodle soup or coffee ! The actual drink is mixed with water and into the onsen, which means that it is drinkable, even though we would advise some restraint. You will also be able to enjoy the pouring ceremonies (only for the coffee and wine)!

Shimanami Kaido - Islands Hopping

Whether you are an outdoor lover or scenery aficionado, you will  love this bicycle circuit! This circuit is 60km long and connects two main Japanese islands: Honshu and Shikoku. This bicycle adventure starts in Onomichi (45 min away from Hiroshima) and ends in Imabari in Shikoku Island. You will ride on 6 different islands and many bridges on this journey. The route was created specifically for cyclists, hence its popularity amongst bicycle lover. The bike rentals there have many stops along the way, so that you can choose to do the entire routes smaller part, or give up if you’re tired at any time. The Seto Inland Sea offers beautiful scenery with its clear blue waters. It can be done in one go if you rush it, though we would recommend doing it in two days to fully enjoy the landscapes and small attractions along the way. You will find many campsite along the way to rest and stay the night!

Tea Ceremony

The best place to join a traditional tea ceremony would be Kyoto, the cultural city as well as the former capital of the country.  Tea ceremonies are very complex and are considered an art, lasting about 45 min. It can be performed by a Maiko (a Geisha in training), by a Geisha or a a member of one of the three main tea ceremony schools of the city. Traditional tea ceremonies (apart from the demonstration for tourists) are usually done to celebrate season changing, or during social events. Some places will allow you to try it for yourself, teach you the basics, rent a kimono and take pictures.

Snow Canyon

Mount Tateyama near Nagano is one of the Three Holy Mountains in Japan.  When it experiences heavy snowfalls in winter, roads are cleared (by bulldozer) to allow traffic, forming a snow canyon of up to 70 feet!  This impressive sight is something to behold and would even make the tallest ones feel small.

Drift ice cruise

Hokkaido (northern Japanese island) has a lot of snow during winter, experiencing ice drifts near its shore on the northern part of the island. That said, you can see them closely on the Aurora icebreaker in the city of Abashiri. Apart from enjoying marvelous sceneries you will also spot northern wildlife such as seals, ezo red fox, yezo deer and sea eagles.

Buddha’s nostrils

This experience is in Nara, close to Kyoto (mostly known for it deer park), which has one of the world’s biggest brass Buddha statue. In the Todai-ji temple there is a very special pillar with a hole inside, big enough for a human to go through. This hole is called “Buddha’s nostril” and is supposed to give enlightenment in the next life for any worshipper who would fit through it. Why don’t you give it a try?

Camel riding on sand dunes

Yes you read it right, you can go camel riding in Japan. It might not be something traditionally japanese but it is a unique experience nonetheless! You will be able to ride on the largest sand dunes in Japan on a camel’s back in Tottori. This city is located on the coast of the Sea of Japan, in Western Japan. They are 30 km2 large and up to 50m high. If camels are too exotic for you, horses are available to enjoy this beautiful scenery. 

Sand bath

Japanese onsen (public bath) are famous all over the world for being relaxing, with volcanic water filled with minerals which supposedly relieve pain and stiffness. However, the southern island of Kyushu is not only known for being one of the best spots for onsen (due to its active volcanic activities and hot spring water), but also for its sand bath experience. In a completely different environment and atmosphere than onsen, sand baths also offer relaxation and restoration of the body They are heated by the nearby hot springs of the region.  The experience usually lasts about 10 to 20 min (to avoid any dizziness) while wearing a yukata (traditional japanese clothes); you then get out of the hot sand to hop into an onsen for a final relaxation and to rinse off the sand. Once you are done with the onsen you shower with soap to clean yourself. The three most famous locations for sand baths are the towns of Ibusuki, Beppu and Kagoshima.

Ninja Akasaka

This restaurant in Tokyo will turn your dinner into a unique experience. The whole place is filled with long dark corridors, secret passageways, and the staff are trained as ninjas, to provide the best possible experience. From their outfit, their ability to disappear into the darkness and reappear silently, to their sword show and martial art demonstration, you will hold your breath the entire time! Even the food will surprise you, either because it served on a sword, or because it is lit on fire – be prepared to have the dinner of your life!

Snow Monkey Park

Japan is home to its very own monkey species – Japanese macaques – also called snow monkeys. You might have seen pictures of them bathing in hot spring in winter to relax and warm themselves as well as relieve their stress. They are originally from Nagano, known for being a snowy region in Japan. But nowadays you will also find them deep in the south in Beppu – a famous area for hot springs. Japan has a lot of monkey parks, where the primates wander around freely without being caged and can enjoy the relaxing hot spring waters.

Mount Fuji

Last but not least,  the sacred japanese mountain, Mount Fuji, is the highest in Japan (3776m) and identifies as the country’s pride. This worshipped volcano is still active. The best views of Mount Fuji are in winter with the clear blue skies of the season. One of the best spot would be Hakone, a city close to Tokyo in the mountains, with a splendid lake and ropeways to enjoy the beautiful sulfuric scenery. It is possible to climb the beast but only from early july to early september, as the mountain is “closed” the rest of the year (it’s too dangerous to climb because of the extreme wind and weather conditions). Most people choose to start climbing during the night to arrive at the top on time to see the sunrise. There are ten stations from the bottom to the top of the mountain. Note that paved road are available only until the fifth station. Most people start their adventure on foot from one of the five stations, and it usually take from 5 to 7 hours to reach the top. You can sleep in one of the mountain huts there and continue your journey the next day.

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