Hailed as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan is an archipelago of 6,853 islands. Combining history and futuristic advancements, Japan is famous for creating the world’s leading electronics and car brands, while remaining deeply connected to ancient traditions.
What else is Japan famous for? Japan is famous for natural sights like cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji, cutting-edge technology like Japanese cars and bullet trains, wacky inventions like karaoke and vending machines, cultural values like politeness and punctuality, popular anime and manga, and mouth-watering food like ramen and sushi.
Ready for your adventure in Japan? Here are the top things that Japan is known and famous for!
No other city in Japan captures the mix of tradition and modernity better than Tokyo.
Known as the biggest metropolis in Japan, Tokyo is famous for the latest Japanese fashion trends in Ginza and Harajuku, iconic monuments like Hachiko and Gundam statues, skyscrapers like Tokyo Skytree, and futuristic tech havens like Odaiba and Akihabara. Plus, you’ll never find a frenzy quite like the Shibuya Scramble Crossing, where thousands of people cross the world’s busiest intersection without colliding into each other.
Away from the bustle of it all, Tokyo also has plenty of serene gardens like Yoyogi Park and Ueno Park — not to mention sacred landmarks like Meiji Shrine and Sensoji Temple.
2. Mount Fuji
3. Cherry blossoms
To say that Japan is famous for cherry blossom trees would be an understatement. Every spring, the cherry blossom season in Japan attracts visitors for its sakura flowers, whose fleeting beauty is a symbol of the seasons changing.
Sitting beneath the cherry blossoms for a picnic is a leisurely pastime and an age-old tradition for Japanese people. Often, you will see crowds gathering in the places where the flowers bloom aplenty, such as Ueno Park, Meguro River, and Shinjuku Gyoen in Tokyo.
Known as the national fish of Japan, this colourful carp called koi is famous for its ornamental beauty. Incredibly pleasing to the eyes, Japanese koi can be seen swimming in the ponds of zen gardens and temples in Japan. They can grow up to three feet long, appearing in combinations of red, white, orange, and yellow. As they’re valued for aesthetic reasons and good luck, this isn’t a fish you’re likely to find served on a sushi platter!
5. Japanese cuisine
Did you know that Japan has more Michelin-starred restaurants than France?
From top-notch ramen eateries to sushi conveyor belts to robot-run restaurants, Japan has many creative ways of serving your dinner. The most famous food is sushi, typically eaten with soy sauce and wasabi. Beyond this, Japan is known for a vast range of gastronomic delights: noodle dishes like soba and udon, rice bowls with deep-fried shrimp tempura and pork katsudon, grilled chicken skewers of yakitori that go well with a cup of sake, and desserts like mochi and taiyaki that are just the right amount of sweet.
And who can pass up a piping-hot bowl of Japanese ramen? Just remember to slurp your noodles loudly to show your appreciation to the chef!
6. Green tea
Japan is known for its tea-loving and drinking culture, especially when it comes to green tea or matcha. Rich in antioxidants, green tea is the most popular type of tea in Japan. During tea ceremonies, the powdered green tea is traditionally prepared inside a tea room with tatami floors.
We have the Japanese to thank for pioneering the karaoke craze!
Invented by a Japanese drummer named Daisuke Inoue in the 1970s, the karaoke machine began as a way for people to sing at the club without live back-up singers. Over the years, it has evolved into a popular form of live music entertainment. “Kara” is means “empty” in Japanese, while “oke” is the shortened version of “okesutora,” which translates to “orchestra.” Together, it means “empty orchestra,” which is exactly what you get when you sing along to an instrumental track on a screen.
Step right into a world of takoyaki and affordable shopping finds in Osaka! Full of energy and lights, this famous city in Japan is known for delicious food markets like Kuromon Market, vibrant shopping arcades like Dotonbori, iconic photo-taking spots like the Glico Running Man and Kani Doraku crab signs, and popular day-trips to Osaka Castle and Universal Studios Japan. If you want to score bargains on Japanese souvenirs, keep an eye out for the Don Quixote branches and 100-yen shops around the city.
For a glimpse of Japan’s traditional past, what better place to start than Kyoto? Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, this city is famous for peaceful sites like Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Fushimi-Inari Shrine, historic structures like Kinkaku-ji Temple and Nijo Castle, and old wooden houses and tea rooms in the Gion district.
Chances are you might even see the elegantly dressed geisha (known as geiko in Kyoto) and their maiko apprentices. Geisha refers to female entertainers who are adept at performing various traditional Japanese arts, such as music and dance.
Ever wondered about the history of samurai? During the Heian Period (794–1185), Japan was divided into independent kingdoms fighting with each other. To protect their territories, the Japanese feudal lords required men for defense — and thus, a class of trained warriors called the samurai began to emerge.
Legendary for their courage and exceptional skills on the battlefield, the samurai of Japan followed a strict code of honour. The way of the samurai features heavily in Japan’s pop culture, inspiring anime series like Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai Champoo, classic Japanese movies like Akira Kurosawa’s Ran and Throne of Blood, and even Hollywood movies like The Last Samurai.
11. Sumo wrestling
Many historians believe that sumo wrestling began as an ancient Shinto ritual. Today, it’s the national sport of Japan. Physical strength plays an important role in this famous sport, where a professional sumo wrestler must force their opponent out of the ring or make them touch the floor with a part of their body that isn’t the soles of their feet. To do this, the wrestlers will push, grapple, or shove their opponent down with sheer force.
12. Japanese cars
Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Mazda, Honda, and Subaru are some of the most famous car brands in the world. Leading the global automotive industry since the 1960s, Japanese car manufacturers have been known to produce durable and reliable cars at affordable prices.
13. Shinkansen bullet trains
Operated by Japan Railways (JR), the Shinkansen is a railway network of high-speed trains with nine lines connecting the major cities of Japan. Featuring a sleek design and a nose shape, the Shinkansen bullet trains carries passengers in different directions around Japan, running up to 320 km an hour.
With a Japan Rail Pass, you can enjoy unlimited access to the Shinkansen bullet trains — easily your fastest and most comfortable option for long-distance travel in Japan.
14. Electronics and gadgets
Looking for the latest trends in technology? Japan is known for creating high-quality electronic products with homegrown brands like Sony, Panasonic, Nikon, Canon, and Nintendo. Head to Tokyo’s famous Akihabara district — or Electric City, as its nickname goes — for a dizzying array of cameras, video games, computers, home appliances, anime merch, and all kinds of futuristic gadgets under the neon lights.
15. Anime and manga
Speaking of geek cultures, we can’t ignore one of Japan’s greatest contributions to global entertainment: anime and manga. Anime is a term that describes Japanese animation, while manga refers to Japanese comics or graphic novels.
You have your classic anime series of the 90s, such as Sailor Moon, Cowboy Bebop, Slam Dunk, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. Or Pokémon, Dragon Ball, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Mobile Suit Gundam, which have cultivated strong international followings and launched popular franchises. Meanwhile, other highly successful titles like One Piece, Naruto, and Full Metal Alchemist have gained wide mainstream appeal.
16. Cool toilets
Nothing says “welcome to Japan” quite like sitting on one of their toilets! These Western-style toilets are well-equipped with heated seats and several bidet options, which you can adjust using the control buttons on the side of the toilet. Out of politeness to other people in the washroom, you can even play the sound of flushing water while you relieve yourself.
17. Vending machines
When it comes to wacky and colourful inventions, the vending machines of Japan will definitely catch your eye! These machines can be found almost anywhere you go, be it in the big city or a rural town in the countryside. Ranging from typical to downright eccentric, they display all kinds of surprises: cup ramen, ice cream, coffee, eggs, rice, canned soup, umbrellas, surgical masks, and even condoms.
18. Capsule hotels
Japan is famous for capsule hotels, a unique style of lodging that caters to budget travelers. Costing anywhere from ¥2000 ($19) to ¥5000 ($47.50) per night, a capsule hotel has just enough room for a single futon mattress and one person. Personal lockers are available in a separate area of the hotel, while the showers and toilets are communal.
19. Punctuality and politeness
Few people can rival the Japanese in terms of showing respect, courtesy, and hospitality to others. Japanese people are famous for their polite behavior, which includes greeting superiors with a bow or waiting patiently in line.
Moreover, you can always expect Japanese people to be extremely punctual. Time is valued to such a degree in Japan that the trains almost never run late; and in the case of delay, the railway company will actually hand out certificates that you can show to your employer.
20. Safety and low crime rates
Besides trains that arrive on time, Japan is famous for being one of the safest and peaceful countries in the world. While Japan is not immune to national disasters like earthquakes, it benefits from low crime rates, limited access to firearms, and the constant presence of police officers and law enforcement. Even petty crimes like theft occur less frequently in Japan. Some tourists have experienced misplacing their mobile phones in Japan, only to return to the same place to find that it’s still there.
Really, we can go on and on about the list of things Japan is famous for. We hope this list tickled your curiosity, and we wish you good luck for your future travels to Japan!