There are far too many things to do in Japan to include on a single list, but I'd like to try anyway.

I spent a year in Japan, way back in high school, and I'm going back twice over the next year: first to work, then to go to school. So I want to make sure that I do everything that I might, in the future, regret not having done. As I do things, I will mark them accordingly, and perhaps node a full account.

I'm sure many noders will have ideas to add, and I will gladly tack them onto this list and credit contributors accordingly. Onward!

In general

  • Visit a Buddhist temple in the middle of nowhere; revel in its peace. (Done!)
  • Stay in an excessively tacky love hotel.
  • Stay in an excessively tiny capsule hotel.
  • Stay in an excessively swanky ryokan, preferably with an outdoor rotemburo bath and one or more hot members of the opposite sex. (gn0sis did this and compels me to follow suit)
  • Even if you can't get a hot member of the opposite sex to do that, at least do yourself the favor of visiting an onsen or sento somewhere, and basking in your own warmth and nudity. (Done many times over)
  • Try a bowl at Yoshinoya, or a strange sandwich at Mos Burger. (Done!)
  • Get squid pizza from Domino's.
  • Eat basashi (horse). (Done! It did not taste like chicken.)
  • Eat Kobe beef, preferably on someone else's tab. (Done!)
  • Visit a kaitenzushi restaurant and pick your favorite sushi from a revolving conveyor belt. (Done!)
  • Play the latest Dance Dance Revolution incarnation at a video arcade.
  • Sticker machines. (Done! Way, way too much.)
  • Take pictures of nationalist speaker trucks; see if you can get shot by the yakuza in the driver's seat. (Done; not shot.)
  • Scam a train. (Done more times than I would care to admit)
  • Watch women weigh their breasts on a game show.
  • Ring in the new year at a temple. (Done!)
  • Con a Japanese contact into getting you tickets for a sumo tournament.

Things to do in specific locales


  • Check out the Sapporo Ice Festival.
  • If you're white, try to be mistaken for a Russian sailor in a northern fishing town. (Done, unsuccessfully)
  • Visit the star-shaped fort at Hakodate.

Northern Japan

Tokyo region

Chubu region (Nagoya, Nagano, Niigata)

Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara)

Western Japan


  • Visit the 88 pilgrimage sites associated with Shingon Buddhism. (For the hardcore: Walk the 1,600 km pilgrimage route on foot.)
  • See a performance at Japan's oldest kabuki venue, Kitohira.
  • Walk around the Ritsurin Gardens in Takamatsu.


  • Visit the European cathedrals and houses in Nagasaki.
  • Stay at a garish onsen resort in Beppu.


  • Get a bottle of sake with a dead habu in it.

Things to buy


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