6 Deep Cultural Experiences to Have in Japan

  • Japan is a storehouse for cultural, social and entertainment related experiences. From its amazing history and heritage to the recent modern technological developments, it offers a lot of recreational opportunities to people of all ages. Relax in an Onsen! Meditate in zen gardens! Study in manga cafe or try your luck at pachinko shops! The to-do lists and experiences to have in Japan are endless. Read this top “must do/visit” list while visiting Japan.

    1. Onsen

    The hot springs which come in many shapes and sizes, both outdoor and indoor, are the major tourist attraction spots for international and domestic tourists alike. Initially used as public bathing facilities, now they are the centers for unwinding and relaxing in the natural hot water.
    Another type of communal bath houses is Sento, that run on heated tap water and are artificially created, unlike natural onsen. So look up the nearest onsen site and go soak in the serenity to break away from the daily chores and stress of the modern life.

    Try, for example, the Takaragawa Onsen in Minakami, Gunma Prefecture.

    P.S: it is imperative to enter an Onsen/Sento completely naked!
    Some places don’t allow people tattoos!

    2. Zen Garden

    The Japanese rock gardens or the Zen gardens, as they are popularly called, are gardens of Buddhist origins. They provide the essence and feeling of a natural landscape but are created from rocks, mosses, water features and such as an aid to meditation in search of the true meaning of life.
    In the heyday of Muromachi period, Zen Buddhist temples of Kyoto saw many constructions of classic zen gardens.
    Step into Ryoanji or Tofukuji, out of the many zen gardens in Kyoto or Shitennoji in Osaka and feel the vibes of positivity surrounding you. Be stunned by the “art of the gardens which depicts the highest degree of intellectual refinement that was possible to attain in that historical time.

    3. The Buddhist temples or the “O-tera”

    The names of Buddhist temples or “O-Tera” often end with ‘-ji’ or ‘-in’ or ‘-dera’. Like the Shinto shrines, the Buddhist temples also feature the gate called ‘tori’ and the entrance is marked by ‘romon’, some also have pagodas.
    These are not primarily places of worship, but are mostly constructed to keep sacred objects safe and are not open to the worshippers. The structure of these temples is magnificent and absolutely mesmerising. Step into Kiyomizudera in Kyoto or Kotoku-In in Kamakura to be enchanted by their beauty, brilliant architecture and the divine feeling which will get hold of you inside.

    Kiyomisudera Access

    4. Manga cafe or Mangakissa

    The birthplace of anime and Manga. Japan, also has a unique concept of manga cafes where one can enter and read a manga, get food and drinks and also can get additional entertainment like video games, television, internet services etc. It is common for manga lovers to go there in groups of friends and sit for hours devouring their favourite manga comic, enjoying food, watching anime and talking about their beloved characters stories and much more.
    This is such an interesting experience that now Europe is also following the footsteps and has started to open manga cafes for the anime lovers.

    5. Pachinko


    Though gambling is considered illegal in japan, Pachinko is regarded as a popular amusement activity. Pachinko is a mechanical recreational arcade game that can be compared to its western counterpart “slot machines”. The hot and happening areas of all mega cities in Japan like Tokyo and Osaka are lined with brightly lit neon sign boards of the pachinko shops. Experience “las Vegas” and try your luck at the pachinko!

    P.S: only go there if you are above the legally eligible age

    6. Sumo Wrestling

    You definitely cannot miss Sumo wrestling while in Japan!
    The world famous wrestling sport’s kanji characters literally mean “striking one another”. The Rikishi or the professional Sumo wrestlers symbolise strength, power and undergo a lot of physical training to be able to compete in the ‘dohyo’ or the circular ring. Book your place at the grand sumo tournament which are annually held in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Nagoya.

    Nihon Sumo Kyokai Official Grand Sumo Home Page

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