Top 16 Most Unusual Things To Do In Japan - Updated 2021

unique things to do in japan

With the Sea of Japan to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east, lies Japan, a vibrant country where traditional culture meets modernity in the most spectacular way possible, making it a trendsetter and an international cultural hub. The Land of the Rising Sun is where you’ll find the sight of traditional and historical temples sitting side by side with towering high-tech skyscrapers. Japan’s unique and eclectic characteristics make it a no-brainer destination which millions of tourists flock to each year in search of a brand new adventure they won’t soon forget. Read more to find out our recommendations of the most unusual things to do in Japan.

1. Relax in exotic baths at Yunessun Spa Resort, Hakone (from USD 14.0)

Escape from the hustle and bustle of your busy everyday life and take a trip down to Hakone, Japan’s popular spring town. Located amidst lush greenery, Yunessun Spa Resort in Hakone is a hot spring theme park aiming to give a rejuvenating experience for all. The spa resort offers a variety of fun and relaxing activities for guests to enjoy; be amazed by the beautiful mountain scenery in the outdoor hot springs, experience the thrill of their Rodeo Mountain water slides, explore mysterious hot spring cave baths beneath the mountain, bask in the ambiance of the enchanting Dragon’s waterfall, or try out their one-of-a-kind indoor baths like the wine pool–and that’s only the beginning! A world of fun and relaxation awaits you at Yunessun Spa Resort.

[20% OFF] Hakone Kowaki-en Yunessun Hot Spring Theme Park One Day Ticket

Duration: 1 Day(s) Duration

199 reviews

2. Explore the seas at Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower, Tosashimizu

Posted by Wendy Tour - Trip to Japan on Sunday, 7 October 2018

A trip to Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower is unlike your ordinary aquarium visit–because it’s actually the anti-aquarium. The observation tower, built in the ‘70s, brings you to the ocean and not the ocean to you. It allows you to have the most authentic look of marine life as it is, with sea turtles, mantas, and over 100 species of fish such as the porcupine fish swimming around the ocean. Bring out your kids here for a unique trip they’re sure to love!

Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower

Address: 4124-1 Misaki, Tosashimizu 787-0450 Kochi Prefecture

Website: Ashizuri Underwater Observation Tower

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 900 JPY (8 USD) for adults; 450 JPY (4 USD) for children

3. Venture around Tokyo's secret volcanic island, Aogashima Island

Source: Photo by user Charly W. Karl used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Ever wondered what life is like in an island that’s an actual entire volcano? Enter Aogashima Island, just 358km south of Tokyo in the vast Pacific Ocean. Although still a part of Tokyo, the island is almost two worlds apart from the bustling lights of the city. The island’s got a population of around 170 people, with minimal public facilities. Its attraction lies in its natural immersive charm, an eye-pleaser for nature lovers alike. Its remote location leaves it relatively untouched by the mass so the island’s authentic beauty truly shines through. The island’s crater shape truly resembles something out of a Jurassic Park movie.

4. Meet snow monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park, Nagano (from USD 121.0)

Ready to fall in love with adorable snow monkeys? Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano invites everyone to have the unique experience of witnessing Japanese macaques, otherwise known as snow monkeys in their natural habitat, Yamanouchi’s Jigokudani valley forests. Be in awe as the monkeys gather around to bathe in their natural hot springs, interacting with each other as the beautiful snowfall decorates the scenery.

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park Tour with Entry and Sake Tasting

Duration: 4 hours

6 reviews

5. Find a furry friend at Aoshima, Ehime

Cats in aoshima island 1
Source: Photo by user 暇・カキコ used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The famous Ao Island located in Ozu, Japan is commonly known as the Cat Island due to its general population of feline residents outnumbering its human residents–an actual paradise for cat lovers! The cats first arrived as a solution for fishermen to keep the mouse population at bay, but in a surprising turn of events, they seem to have taken over the island and claimed it as theirs! However, these furry friends are open to humans visiting their sleepy island and interact with them. Do note that the island is not a designated tourist area, thus it does not provide hotels, restaurants, or any shops.

6. Go underground at Oya Stone Museum, Tochigi (from USD 9.0)

Oya Stone Museum in Utsunomiya is a mining site turned historical museum with an atmosphere that might remind you of ancient Rome and ancient Egypt architectures. The museum invites its guests to dig in (pun intended) to the mining history, with a display of its documents alongside actual mining evidence seen around the large space. Its exhibits are interesting as it is but the real adventure starts in their massive underground caverns. These surreal underground caverns which are frequently lit up by art installations and lights, are commonly used as event spaces.

Oya Stone Museum Attraction Tickets

Duration: 1 day

7. Explore Ryusendo Cave, Iwate

Ryusendo Underground Lake
Source: Photo by user Vindlys used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Deep in the mountains of Iwaizumi Town lies Ryusendo Cave, a natural monument known as one of Japan’s three great limestone caves. It’s so deep in, that only a mere 3,100 meters (10,170.6 feet) of the cave has been explored since it was first ventured by people in the 1920s. Although the cave seems intimidating, it’s actually a breeze to take a 30-minute tour of the cave, which will lead you to incredible underground lakes filled with transparent emerald-green water. This magical view is truly a sight out of this world that you must see with your very own eyes!

Ryusendo Cave

Address: 1-1 Aza Kannari, Iwaizumi, Iwaizumi Town

Website: Ryusendo Cave

Opening hours: 8:30am - 5pm (daily)

8. Hop on a Thomas and Friends train ride at Oigawa Railway, Shizuoka

This one is a must-visit for those traveling with children and young kids. You and your family will get the unique chance to embark on a real-life Thomas the Tank Engine on a fun trip to Shizuoka, via Oigawa Railway. Have a peek into the beauty and all the glory Shizuoka has to offer as you venture around the area. Getting hungry? You’ll be treated to delightful Thomas-themed lunchbox meals to satisfy your hunger.

Shizouka Oigawa Railway Thomas Train Trip with Lunch Box

Duration: 1 Day(s) Duration

9. Tour the Snow Corridor, Toyama (from USD 126.0)

Nagoya, Japan is just simply bursting with wonders of nature and the Snow Corridor is a great example of one. Try out this once-in-a-lifetime experience of exploring these massive pristine-white snow walls that were made due to having one of the heaviest snowfalls in the world. Towering at up to 20 meters (65.6 feet) high, these snow walls are comparable to a seven-story building! With this tour, you’ll also be given bento boxes to satisfy your hunger at any time or place so you can focus more on enjoying the experience.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route and Snow Wall Walk Day Trip from Nagoya/Kanazawa

Duration: 10 Hrs 10 Min - 14 Hrs 50 Min Duration

15 reviews

10. Meet adorable foxes at Zao Fox Village, Miyagi

Zao Fox Village, Shiroishi-shi, Japan (Unsplash)
Source: Photo by user cloudvisual used under CC0

Seeking to have an authentic experience of traditional Japan? This is the activity for you! Enjoy an overnight stay at Mogamiya Ryokan, a 4-star accommodation embodying traditional ryokan culture. During your stay, you are invited to indulge in Japanese style breakfast and dinner and relax in their hot baths. On the second day, you will be taken to the Fox Village where you will be able to meet over 100 adorable and friendly foxes roaming freely around the village.

Zao Fox Village

Address: Kawarago-11-3 Fukuokayatsumiya, Shiroishi, Miyagi 989-0733, Japan

Website: Zao Fox Village

Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 9am - 4:30pm (closed on Wed)

11. Visit an abandoned island at Hashima Island, Nagasaki (from USD 36.0)

Think you’re a brave soul? We dare you to explore Hashima Island, otherwise known as Battleship Island which you’ve probably seen in the movie Skyfall. This abandoned island, which now serves as a UNESCO World Heritage Site has attracted many visitors for its eerie, post-apocalyptic atmosphere. Though void of inhabitants, the island is steeped in history.

Battleship Island Cruise in Nagasaki

Duration: 3 Hrs 15 Min Duration

44 reviews

12. Be in awe of the beauty of Kiyomizu-Dera Temple, Kyoto (from USD 23.0)

Kiyomizudera temple in east Kyoto, translating to “pure water temple” in Japanese is a Buddhist temple and one of the most celebrated temples in Japan. Being such a historically important site to the country, the temple became listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Here you can discover Japan’s history and deep culture by experiencing it first-hand. Built to honor Kannon, the goddess of mercy, Kiyomizu-Dera temple’s location on top of a hill boasts picturesque views of the valley bursting with colors and the city of Kyoto in the distance.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple Tour with Nationally-Licensed Guide

Duration: 1 hour

13. Dine on a train at Kiha Train Bar, Tokyo

In Japanese culture, it is considered rude to eat and drink on trains–that is, unless you’re riding on the Kiha Train Bar in Tokyo, Japan. Trains are a huge deal in Japan, with a growing fanbase of its own so it’s no wonder how these train bars popped up right on the second floor of the fanbase’s hangout place. The bar is decorated with authentic pieces from a Tokyo subway car, down to the most little details to recreate your typical bustling train environment.

Kiha Train Bar

Address: 1-6-11 Horidomecho, Chuo-ku

Website: Kiha Train Bar

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 6pm - 11.30pm (closed on Sun)

14. Hop on a tarai bune ride, Sado Island

Sado Island’s tarai bune rides are so much fun!!! The traditional washtub boat is small but sturdy and are used to catch...

Posted by Non-Stop Travel on Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Looking for a relaxing and peaceful activity? Try riding on the small but sturdy wooden tub boats which where Sado Island’s former vessels traditionally used to fish in narrow areas during the Meiji perood (1868 to 1912). Tourists are invited to take this seven- to eight-minute guided boat ride and explore the crystal-clear turqoise waters of Sado Island. It’s a great activity to do for the whole family and one to surely amaze the children.

Tarai Bune Rides

Address: Niigata, Sado-shi, Ogi Port

Opening hours: 8:20am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 500 JPY (4 USD)

15. Go underneath Kasukabe on an underground temple tour (from USD 9.0)

Dive in 50 meters (164 feet) below the ground and explore a massive underground structure beneath the busy streets of Kasukabe. This underground shrine was originally designed to divert and drain floodwater but tourists can now enjoy a walking tour around the massive 78-meter (256-feet) wide tunnel that runs 177 meters (580 feet) deep.

Underground Shrine Walking Tour in Saitama

Duration: 1 Hrs 10 Min Duration

1 review

16. Watch a 90-minute robot show (from USD 78.0)

watch a 90-minute robot show

We’re all aware of how high-tech and way ahead in the future Japan is–so it’s no wonder they have robot restaurants plopped in Shinjuku, the heart of Tokyo. With fluorescent lights and loud music, you’re in for the performance of a lifetime as robots, samurais, and ninjas entertain you with a spectacular show. Do remember to arrive at the restaurant 40 minutes prior to the show, and have a mini-tour of the restaurant’s unique interior worth around JPY 10 billion.

Robot Restaurant: 90-Minute Robot Show

Duration: 90 minute

405 reviews

Your next adventure awaits you

Japan is so deep in culture yet so high in technology that you can expect only the most unique things to do in the land of the rising sun. There’s always an activity for everyone–whether you’re traveling solo, couple, or bringing the entire family along. Forget the wait, visit them now and experience the fun!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

My name is Andini, and I come from Jakarta, Indonesia. My love for travel and discovering new cultures and places drove me to move to Singapore and pursue my degree in Mass Communications at...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Japan
Good things are meant to be shared!