Exploring Japan: Things to Do in Osaka, Tokyo & Kyoto
When visiting Japan, you'll experience traditional and modern culture all at once. You'll be surrounded by nature one day and take a train ride to a "electric city" the next. There is a lot of walking involved so make sure to bring comfortable shoes. Capturing Japan on foot is worth every second. There's so much to see you'll want to come back.
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Where to stay in Japan
Hotel New Otani Tokyo The Main
Inviting hotel with a 400-year-old garden with cozy rooms and suites.
$100 hotel / resort credit.
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Things to do in Japan
Things to do in Osaka
See Osaka Castle.
Shop at Amerika-Mura (Japan's version of American fashion).
Walk through Neon District at night and see the famous "Running Man" at Dotonbori Bridge.
Watch a Sumo Match (a tournament in Osaka Venue is in March).
Have a tea ceremony with a Geisha. You get to wear a kimono (or Yukata for men).
Feed the deer at Nara Park (43 minutes East of Osaka). Don't forget to bow to them, they bow back!
Things to do in Kyoto
Get your steps in at Fushimi Inari Taisha.
Relax and take a ride through the Bamboo forest in Arashiyama (25 minutes West of Kyoto).
Try to catch a glimpse of a real Geisha walking by in Gion at night.
Be in awe of the lights at Nabana No Sato Illumination in Mie Prefecture (October to May). Go during sunset so you can enjoy the beautiful flower park before the light show begins. Located 1 1/2 hours East of Kyoto, but well worth it.
Things to do in Tokyo
Walk through Shibuya Crossing.
Shop at Harajuki Takeshita Street and experience Kawaii Culture.
Visit Akiba Fukurou Owl Cafe. Yes, an owl cafe.
Video game and anime lovers can go crazy at Akihabara "Electric Town".
See Godzilla towering over buildings in Shinjuku.
Catch a Robot show at night.
Visit teamLab Borderless, a digital art museum.
Ride Mario Carts wearing a onesie (the one I did was 4 hours. but you really only need 1 hour).
Go to Chureito Pagoda to see the best view of Mt Fuji, located 1 1/2 hours West of Tokyo.
A note from Cindy
I visited these three cities in Japan during a 14-day trip (including flights/train rides) during the month of March, which is Japan's cherry blossom season.
Places to eat & drink in Japan
Have dinner at one of the many restaurants Neon District has to offer in Osaka.
Try Kaiseki cuisine in Kyoto. It's a multi-course traditional Japanese dinner that lasts a few hours. Enjoy the atmosphere and take your time savoring each dish.
Kill Bill movie fans can nerd out at Gonpachi Restaurant in Tokyo (where the infamous fight scene took place). Drum show included.
Eat wacky, colorful food while watching a Kawaii show at Monster Cafe Tokyo.
If you're catching the robot show in Tokyo, it comes with a dinner.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Japan.