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10 experiences not to miss on a trip to Japan

13th July 2015
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It’s almost as far away as you can travel, with a culture unlike anywhere else on Earth – which is probably what makes it such an intriguing prospect for the travel-curious.

Often referred to as a ‘Cultural Galapagos’, Japan’s remote location allowed it’s culture to thrive relatively unhindered for thousands of years, resulting in a rich, deep and complex cultural heritage.

Japan is far-flung, but is creeping into the western traveller’s sights with its unique blend of old vs. new, modern vs. traditional, and high tech vs. stunningly natural. It’s why we’ve picked it as the runner-up prize in our Student Travel Writer 2015 competition (you can read the five shortlisted entries here.)

To celebrate this emergence, our friends at purveyors of exceptional holidays for 18-35 year olds, Contiki, took a bunch of creatives (including Masterchef Australia’s Hayden Quinn and UK Fashion Blogger Lily Melrose) out to the diverse country - where they used hand-held cameras to film themselves exploring the streets of Harajuku and making sushi, amongst other adventures.

There’s more to the country than sushi rolls and girls dressed like Hello Kitty, though. With eclectic experiences, rich heritage and culture to match, it offers travellers some of the most unique experiences available.

Here are ten of those experiences – we dare you to fully embrace number five...

Food, glorious food

With famously fresh seafood, vending machines serving hot meals, a vibrant street food culture and thousands of restaurants, one thing’s for sure in Tokyo – nobody’s going hungry.

Tokyo highlights

Tokyo is a city of stark contrasts and ancient traditions. Try crossing at the world's busiest street crossing intersection - Shibuya Street - find your inner zen among the cherry blossoms, and make sure you visit the Emperor’s palace and Buddhist temples.  

Robot restaurant

Is there anything more Japanese than this? An unmissable experience when in Tokyo, the Robot Restaurant is a futuristic, out of this world LED light show.

Harajuku style

Made famous by Gwen Stefani, the Harajuku district of Japan’s capital buzzes with cool vibes and crazy fashion that has to be seen to be believed. Spend an afternoon hanging out with the Harajuku girls and pick up some fashion tips.

Onsen experience

After checking out the best of Tokyo, head west to Onsen for some serious relaxation and recuperation. Be prepared, though - these authentic Japanese hot spring baths have a strict naked only policy. It’s time to let go of your inhibitions and embrace one traditional experience that definitely shouldn’t be missed.

Bullet train

Before departing from Tokyo check out the world famous Tsukiji fish markets and try your hand at sushi making. Then hop on a Japanese bullet train and look out the window as you fly past Mount Fuji en route to Hiroshima.

Peaceful Hiroshima

Take a beautiful ferry ride over to Miyajima, meet the island’s miniature deer and take a moment of reflection at the Peace Memorial Museum.

The geishas of Gion

Jump on the bullet train to Kyoto and spend the day in an awesome city that’s completely steeped in history and culture. Later on visit Kyoto’s Gion District, one of the best places in the world to see Japan’s famous geisha.

Learn the art of making Sake

Be introduced to the fascinating history of Japan’s traditional alcoholic beverage Sake at Kyoto’s Sake making museum.

Sing it baby!

Finally, no trip to Japan is complete without a karaoke session! Feel like a rockstar belting out classic and contemporary karaoke tunes in one of Tokyo’s many private booths.

Contiki’s new Japan Unrivalled trip – launched in June - is their first itinerary in the country. Following Contiki’s In-Depth Explorer trip pace - the perfect way to explore a country like Japan – travellers will find themselves living like locals in all of its major cultural hubs.

For more information on Contiki’s Japan Unrivalled trip check out the full itinerary here


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