11 Things To Do In Japan From Cherry Blossoms To Fresh Fish Markets To Capsule Hotels

Things to do in Japan

Yoshi! Now that Japan has permitted visa-free and individual travel, we don’t have to live vicariously through Don Don Donki or watch in vain as new attractions emerge all over the country anymore. The land of sushi has resumed visa-free tourist travels and removed daily limits on arrivals since 2022.

It’s been a few years since the onset of the pandemic, and Japan has plenty of new attractions even for repeat visitors  – from teamLab exhibitions to anime-inspired theme parks, new Japanese foods to try and displays of Japanese culture.

So if you’re travelling to Japan soon, check out this Japan travel guide on 11 new things to do so you can get cracking on your itinerary and experience Japan afresh.

For more travel ideas:

– Tokyo –

1. teamLab Planets – Walk through water at this immersive exhibition

Image credit: teamLab Planets

No shoes, no problem. At teamLab Planets, you can ditch your footwear and immerse yourself in 4 exhibitions and 2 gardens that challenge the boundary between man and nature.

Capture a fantastical moment at the Floating Flower Garden, a floor-to-ceiling installation filled with dangling orchids that exude an exotic floral bouquet. The floor is also a giant mirror, so make sure you’re not going commando when you visit.

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There’s also a bunch of water-based attractions to wade through, including a knee-deep pool where you can interact with rainbow-hued visual projections. Don’t worry if you forget to wear clothing that can be rolled above the knee, the museum will lend you a pair of free shorts.

When the soles of your feet are weary from all the walking, fill up on some plant-based ramen at the in-house restaurant, Vegan Uzu.

This intimate and immersive art experience is only available till the end of 2023, a generous year’s extension from their previously announced closing date – so make haste! 

Book tickets for teamLab Planets.

Admission: ¥3,200/adult (~S$31.22), ¥1,000/child (~S$9.76) | Free for children under 3 years old
Address: 6-chōme-1-16 Toyosu, Koto City, Tokyo 135-0061, Japan
Opening hours: Mon-Wed & Fri 9am-9pm | Thu 9am-6pm | Sat-Sun 9am-10pm
Contact: teamLabs Planets TOKYO website

2. Shibuya Sky – The highest point of Shibuya

When in Shibuya, a visit to the iconic scramble crossing is a must. But if you’re not too keen on joining the helter-skelter, you can still catch a glimpse of the action some 230m above ground. Come on up to Shibuya Scramble Square’s newest observatory deck, Shibuya Sky, to soak up the sickest views of the city from its highest point. 

Check out this deal for SHIBUYA SKY Observation Deck Ticket in Tokyo.

Take the lift or “Transition Pod” from the Sky Gate up to 46th floor, where you’ll find the Sky Stage. It’s an outdoor viewing platform with helipads, hammocks, and a vista of major landmarks that you can experience in Japan such as the Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Stadium, and Mount Fuji.

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Shibuya Sky

When the sun goes down, sit back and sip on a Paradise Lounge cocktail at the indoor Sky Gallery, as you admire a dance of 18 light beams in the night sky. 

Shibuya Sky has a limited capacity for visitors each day and an extra fee for same-day over-the-counter tickets, so remember to book your tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. 

Admission: ¥1,800/adult (~S$17.56), ¥900/child (~S$8.78)
Address: 2 Chome-24-12 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan
Opening hours: 10am-10.30pm, Daily
Contact: +81 3 4221 0229 | Shibuya Sky website

3. Toy Story Hotel – Themed rooms with Pizza Planet gift shop

Image credit: Disney

Considering how the Toy Story franchise has entertained us across a good 2 decades, it’s no surprise that fans are often parent and child. And a Pixar-perfect family vacation sounds like a stay at the newly-minted Toy Story Hotel in Tokyo Disney Resort, near Disneyland and DisneySea.

The hotel is extremely loyal to its theme, with a game-board inspired ceiling at the foyer and guest rooms decorated to resemble Andy’s bedroom. There’s even a souvenir shop modelled after Pizza Planet, Andy’s favourite fast food joint from the films.

Image credit: Disney

Breakfast and dinner buffets are also served at the Lotso Garden Cafe, which is a direct reference to the Sunnyside Daycare centre and characters in Toy Story 3.

Book a stay at Toy Story Hotel.

Rates: From S$376/night
Address: 〒279-8511 Chiba, Urayasu, Maihama,1 番地 47, Japan
Contact: +81 47 305 5555 | Tokyo Disney Resort Toy Story Hotel website

– Osaka –

4. Universal Studios Super Nintendo Park – Mario Kart IRL

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a game walkthrough IRL, Super Nintendo World is the splitting image of the Super Mario games we used to play on our consoles. Enter via a Warp Pipe into a kingdom of piranha plants and reward blocks. Don’t forget to look out for Princess Peach, Mario, Luigi, and Toad.

Over here, you can score a ride on Yoshi’s back in Yoshi’s Adventure or have a duel with Bowser Jr. in Bowser Jr. Challenge through a series of mini-games. For something a little more hardcore, turn to Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge where you can launch turtle shells while steering a go-kart, thanks to some nifty AR technology.

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To enhance your experience, consider purchasing Power-Up Bands (¥3,200, ~S$31.34) to interact with special game-inspired elements around Super Nintendo World. These include collecting coins from coin blocks, receiving stamps from completing missions and ranking you on a leaderboard.

Check out this deal for Universal Studios Japan Express™ Pass 4.

Admission: ¥7,637/adult (~S$74.91), ¥4,910/child (~S$48.16)
Address: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-0031, Japan
Contact: +81 570 200 606 | Universal Studios Japan

5. Peanuts Cafe Osaka – Snoopy’s favourite food & school bus

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Just this May, Snoopy and his gang from the Peanut comics arrived at Osaka’s Lalaport Expocity. They’re not just serving up happy childhood memories, but a whole menu of inspired dishes from their newest Snoopy Cafe.

Look forward to pancakes and whole-grain pizzas, the latter being the comic beagle’s favourite food. For dessert, try Charlie Brown’s Chocolate Banana Milkshake (¥900, ~S$8.83) or the Peanut Butter Cheesecake (¥870, ~S$8.83) which have garnered good reviews.

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Peanuts Cafe Osaka

After woof-ing down your plate, check out the big yellow bus parked right next to the cafe. It, and its reference to the school bus in the comics, is pretty hard to miss. You may also take home some exclusive tableware, pillow covers, tote bags, and sweets at their gift shop to remember your trip by.

Address: 〒565-0826 Osaka, Suita, Senribanpakukoen, 2−1, Mitsui Shopping Park LaLaport EXPOCITY, 1F, Japan
Opening hours:  Mon-Fri 11am-9pm | Sat-Sun 11am-10pm
Contact: +81 6 6155 6634 | Peanuts Cafe Osaka website

6. teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka – Glow-in-the-dark forest

Botanical Garden Osaka is yet another new rendition of teamLab attractions in Japan, flaunting an otherworldly nighttime installation at the expansive Nagai Park

This glow-in-the-dark exhibit features a garden of egg-shaped lamps that light up when you touch them, and a lake filled with floating lamps that resonate in tones. Since many of their displays are seasonal, rest assured that there’s always something new and exciting along the horizon.

Plus, unlike its counterparts in Tokyo, the Botanical Gardens will be a permanent exhibit in Osaka. You are also encouraged to wear sneakers and long pants to beat the forested terrain and its mosquito inhabitants.

Book tickets for teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka.

Address: Nagai Park, 1-23 Nagaikoen, Higashisumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, 546-0034, Japan
Opening hours: 7pm-9.45pm, Daily
Contact: +81 6 6699 5120 | teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka website

– Kyoto –

7. Marufukuro Hotel – Former Nintendo office

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History buffs and video game aficionados, here’s a rare opportunity to stay in the same building where the Nintendo legacy started. Nintendo’s old headquarters, which was deserted in 1959, has been recently updated into a modern, museum-like hotel now open for guests.

The Marufukuro Hotel consists of 4 buildings, 3 of which were once Nintendo’s main office, warehouse, and the Yamauchi family’s residence. The new annex also features natural lighting and classical Japanese furniture, leaving much of its original layout and structures untouched. 

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Marufukuro Hotel

When booking your stay, there are several options of suites and rooms to choose from, and an in-house restaurant, spa, lounge, and gym to sweeten the deal. There’s even a library stocked with Nintendo paraphernalia and interactive artworks that expand on the history and identity of the brand. 

Check availability at Marufukuro Hotel.

Rates: From S$375/night
Address: 〒600-8126 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Kagiyacho, 342番地, Japan
Contact: +81 75 353 3355 | Marufukuro Hotel website

8. Shijo Kawaramachi Onsen Hotel – Infinity onsen pool overlooking city

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Soraniwa Onsen Terrace Kyoto

At Shijo Kawaramachi Onsen Hotel, you can dip into an infinity onsen pool as you take in a panoramic view of Higashiyama district. The hotel is split into 2 guest buildings: the elegant Japanese-style Soraniwa Onsen Terrace Kyoto, and the luxurious Bettei Kamogawa which comes with private open-air baths. 

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Soraniwa Onsen Terrace Kyoto

Guests from either side are welcome to patronise the infinity hot spring bath, as well as the Soraniwa Terrace, which boasts a breathtaking view of Kamogawa and its surrounding mountains. 

Up here, feel free to kick back with a foot bath and lounge around the sofas. Cozy bonfires will be lit during colder months like December. 

Check availability at Shijo Kawaramachi Onsen Soraniwa Terrace Kyoto.

Rates: From S$112/night
Address: 324 Inaricho, Kyoto, 6008022, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Contact: Bettei Kamogawa website | Soraniwa Onsen Terrace Kyoto website

– Other parts of Japan –

9. Ghibli Park – Ghibli’s grand warehouse & Totoro forest

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Ghibli Park

The long awaited Studio Ghibli Theme Park will be opening on 1st November 2022 at Aichi Earth Expo Memorial Park in Nagoya. Ghibli Park is slated to feature a ton of real-life references to popular studio films like My Neighbour Totoro, Whisper of the Heart, and The Cat Returns.

For the best experience, visit all 3 themed-spaces, namely Hill of Youth, Dondonki Forest, and Ghibli’s Grand Warehouse – the latter of which has on-site merch, restaurants, playgrounds and a 170-seater theatre.

Artist’s render of the Mononoke Village.
Image credit: Ghibli Park

Still to come, the ride-less theme park will spot the likes of Castle in the Sky, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and The Secret World of Arrietty with 2 brand new zones. You can look forward to wandering around Mononoke Village, or exploring the Valley of Witches in 2023.

Address: Aichi Expo Memorial Park (Morikoro Park), 1533-1 Ibaragabasama, Nagakute City, Aichi Prefecture 480-1342, Japan
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm | Sat-Sun 9am-5pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
Contact: Ghibli Park website

10. Gundam Park & Statue – Theme park with 24.8m Gundam statue

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To the untrained eye, this newly-opened park seems like a mechanical mecca for robot giants. But these robots are in fact unique Japanese anime characters from Gundam, a famous local anime that has captured the hearts of fans from all over the world.

You’ll find Gundam Park Fukuoka in the shopping mall complex of LalaPort Fukuoka, with multiple activity and exhibit areas within. Visit Gundam Side-F to take pics with the Gundam universe and construct model figurines, or Variety Sports (VS) Park for some Gundam-based video game action. 

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There will also be a slew of fun arcade games at the Namco hall, where you can try your hand at piloting a mecha. 

And finally, standing tall and proud outside the shopping centre is a 24.8m-tall life size monument of the Nu Gundam mecha. 

Address: 6 Chome-23-1 Naka, Hakata Ward, Fukuoka, 812-0893, Japan
Opening hours: 10am-9pm, Daily
Contact: Gundam Park website

11. Atoa Aquarium – Digital art and fish

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The name “átoa” is a blend of the words “aquarium” and “art” in Japanese, and a fitting way to describe the new aquatic museum in Kobe. The Atoa Aquarium showcases the beauty of sea creatures and allure of the ocean through digital art and light shows.

Gaze at a fluttering stingray at The Fluctuation of Life section, or admire teams of Nishikigoi carp as they literally swim under your feet at the Light and Shadow exhibit.

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Don’t forget to factor in a photo op at the Encounter of the Miraculous Planet, which contains a planet-like orb of cherry bass and coral reefs, 3m in diameter.

Address: 7-2 Shinkocho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0041, Japan
Opening hours: 10am-9pm, Daily
Contact: +81 78-771-9393 | átoa Aquarium website

Visit these tourist attractions in Japan today

And there you have it. 11 fun and fresh things to do in the land of the rising sun for your Japan itinerary. From bullet trains to bamboo forests and to Mario Kart IRL, we’re almost glad we waited this long to travel to Japan. Being able to enjoy cherry blossom season, authentic Japanese cuisine, local Japanese snacks and street food will surely make you go ‘Oiishi‘! 

So take note of these travel tips if you’re visiting Japan, book your flight tickets and Japan Rail Pass. P.S. You might want to start planning your travel in Japan with the upcoming March school holidays too. You can even check out our 8D7N Japan itinerary from Osaka to Tokyo if you need more travel inspo. Sayonara!

More must-see spots for your trip to Japan:

Cover image adapted from: Universal Studios Japan, Soraniwa Onsen Terrace Kyoto, Ghibli Park
Original article published on 14th September 2022. Last updated by Andrew Hoon on 26th February 2023.

Faith Leong

Currently figuring out what in the world is is life, and running other side-quests.

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