Right next to Tokyo Bay, this extensive park wraps around the Toyosu area, now the home of the relocated wholesale fish market. The park is open to the public 24 hours, 365 days a year, and offers fantastic views of the ocean and Tokyo nightscapes. It’s popular with exercise enthusiasts, and the 4.5 km loop makes a perfect running course. You’re more than welcome to bring your mat to the park for an invigorating yoga session anytime, with fantastic views of Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge. Come to Toyosu Gururi Park for a refreshing break from the city center.
Toyosu Gururi Park
Samurai Swordsmanship and Tile-Breaking Karate
Samurai and karate culture have fascinated generations of visitors to Japan. These workshops in Asakusa are devoted to the samurai swordsmanship technique of iaij-battou, or the art of drawing a katana sword, and the karate art of breaking ceramic tiles with your bare hands. Both workshops provide intimate Japanese cultural experiences in a relaxed and friendly setting, and the tile-breaking workshop has a sense of humor—they offer discounts for anyone with a broken cell phone screen! There are also discounts for those that arrive in kimono garb or via rickshaw, encouraging a full-scale traditional Japanese experience in the Asakusa area.
Tokyo Dome City
Tokyo Dome is a famous landmark in Japan’s megalopolis capital, and the sprawling dining and amusement park area around it, Tokyo Dome City, offers endless options for entertainment. It includes one of the world’s tallest steel rollercoasters, Thunder Dolphin, which has a maximum speed of 130 kph (80 mph). For the less adrenaline inclined, the famous center-less Ferris wheel, Big-O, provides spectacular views of the city by day or night. Access to Tokyo Dome City itself is free, meaning you can come and go at your leisure to take part in the attractions. The lavish day spa LaQua is a great way to escape the hustle and bustle and rejuvenate, too!
Mt. Aso Cycle Tour
Mt. Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture is the largest of Japan’s many active volcanoes, standing at 1,592 meters (5,223 feet) above sea level. This is prime cycling territory, and the varied terrain surrounding the mountain’s central caldera presents exciting paths to traverse on road bike or mountain bike. To make your journey as enjoyable as possible, there are companies offering tour guides and detailed information on transporting your bike to the area. Seasonal events are hosted year-round, including winter mountain biking in the snow for the particularly brave. Come to Kumamoto in Southern Japan for a cycling journey you’ll never forget.
Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort
A chain of 208 islands collectively called Kujukushima stretches between Sasebo and Hirado on the western coast of Nagasaki Prefecture. This area offers unparalleled ocean views, and the Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort in Sasebo gives visitors the chance to enjoy all its wonders, including ocean cruises on a pirate-style cruise ship, an expansive aquarium sure to please adults and children alike, and shuttle bus services to a nearby zoo and botanical garden. Sea kayaking and yacht sailing are also available for ocean adventurers. Kujukushima Pearl Sea Resort also features a number of restaurants and a fresh seafood market, making for a culinary experience to add to the excitement of your trip.
Miyazaki Prefecture in Southern Japan has some of the best waves on this side of the globe. The lengthy stretch of coast here means Pacific Ocean swells hit hard and often, all year round. Surf culture is ingrained in Miyazaki’s local atmosphere, and surf shops and affordable surfer hostels are everywhere along the sandy, palm tree-lined coast. Friendly locals are keen to provide local info and surf bums from around the world gather here to catch some killer waves. If you love the ocean and the challenge of riding a serious swell, Miyazaki might become heaven on earth. Surf’s up, dude!
There are a number of programs in Japan that allow visitors to stay on a traditional farmstead. The farmhouse featured here, located in Oita Prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, was built over 200 years ago. During your stay, you can learn how to plant or harvest rice and vegetables, explore local historical ruins, cook traditional Japanese dishes and prepare fermented foods such as natto and miso. Japan has a rich agricultural history, and in the past, rice was used even used as currency. To gain an appreciation for how Japanese farming has shaped the country’s traditions and culture, there’s no better way than staying on a real country farmstead.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding (SUP) and Straw-seared Bonito Sashimi
Kochi Prefecture has a beautiful coastline facing the Pacific Ocean, and water sports are popular here. Stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, is a beginner-friendly way to play on the water, and easy to try on a number of Kochi’s rivers that filter into the ocean. The prefecture also has incredible seafood and bonito, a tasty fish in the same family as mackerel and tuna, is the most celebrated dish here. It’s traditionally seared over an open straw fire and eaten with raw garlic, and for 2,200 yen you can hand-sear your own cut to enjoy with rice, miso soup and other traditional accoutrements. Bonito appétit!
Mitokusan Sanbutsuji Temple
Japan’s long history makes for some unique and unforgettable sights. This breathtaking Buddhist temple perched on the side of Mount Mitokusan in Tottori Prefecture is an incredible feat of human engineering. The rear part of the temple, built into a depression in a sheer cliff face, is a designated National Treasure named Nageiredo Hall. Built around the year 1,100, legend states it was “thrown” into the mountain by En no Gyoja, the founder of the ascetic tradition Shugendo. Viewing the temple up close requires climbing a steep mountain path, so make sure to wear sturdy shoes.
Shimanami Kaido Cycling (1)
The Shimanami Kaido cycling route spans Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures for 70 km and spans across six islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The Hiroshima side of the route starts or finishes in Onomichi, depending on where you begin your journey. Bicycles are available for rent here, and the famous local ramen is great for a fuel-up before your ride. Once you’re on the cycling route, the ocean views from each island will leave you speechless, and the bridges that connect the path are both unique and massive in scale. Tatara Bridge directly connects Hiroshima and Ehime prefectures, and had the longest main span of any cable-stayed bridge in the world at time of completion. The beautiful bridge is famous for resembling a majestic bird spreading its wings.
Shimanami Kaido Cycling (2)
The Ehime Prefecture side of the Shimanami Kaido starts or finishes in Imabari, a town in northern Ehime famous for towel manufacturing. The Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge leading from Imabari features three successive suspension bridges connected with six towers and four anchorages, the first of its kind upon completion as the world’s longest suspension bridge in 1999. Located on Oshima, the first island across from Imabari, Kirosan Park has an observation deck that offers sweeping ocean views. The next island, Omishima, is the largest of the islands along the route and home to a local craft brewery, which makes for a great pit stop on this beautiful cycling route.