With its mix of ancient traditions and modern life, Japan is many things. Of those things, quirky tops the list. Surprised? Japan did bring us a musical toilet complete with a seat warmer. If you’re looking for something beyond a warm backside, check out these very Japanese things to do in Japan.
Massage a Cow
Kobe beef is famous the world over for its marbled texture and rich taste. How is this beautiful texture achieved? Urban legend would have you believe that the cows enjoy a life of luxury that includes sake massages and a diet of beer, all while listing to classical music. In reality, to achieve Kobe beef status, a Japanese cow must pass a lengthy checklist. First and foremost, it must be from the Hyōgo prefecture, and it must eat only grass and grains from that area.
Although you could try to massage a Kobe cow yourself, you’ll have a better time sampling the end product. Be prepared for the check, though, since a dinner out can cost you thousands of yen. If you want to sample a comparable product at a fraction of the price, consider trying Matsuzakagyu beef instead.
If you do splurge on a feast in Kobe, consider staying in the city. The ANA Crowne Plaza in downtown Kobe is the perfect place to sleep off the meat sweats.
Take in a Light Show
Japan loves a good pedestrian street. From small towns to major centers, you’ll find pedestrian-only streets lined with shops, arcades, and restaurants. Osaka’s Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade is one of the finest, with its bright lights and iconic billboards. Most famous of these billboards is the Glico Man Sign, a simple ad depicting a runner celebrating a win. The real win is the fact that this sign has lit up the area for over 70 years. Tourists and locals flock to this walkway to flash a peace sign and snap a picture in front of this famous image.
Eat a Pancake on a Stick
Osaka is also known for its incredible street food. Most notorious is hashimaki, which is really okonomiyaki on a stick. This savory pancake is full of Japanese ingredients such as dried seaweed, dried bonito flakes, pork belly, and tempura bits, or tenkasu. Street vendors roll it up on a pair of chopsticks so you can enjoy it on the go. Interested in recreating this local dish for yourself? Check out Eat Osaka, a fun culinary school that teaches its guests the secrets behind Osaka’s street food.
Outsiders might not think that Japan and whisky go together. As it turns out, Japan loves the brown stuff so much that it’s the world’s third largest producer and fourth largest consumer of whisky. It should come as no surprise that there are plenty of great distilleries and bars where you can sample local whisky for yourself.
If whisky is a very Japanese thing to do in Japan, then how about baseball? Japan’s love of the game runs at feverish levels, with game experiences that rival a South American football match. Crowds chant, fans perform their very own choreographed routines, and the on-field product is world-class. While in Tokyo, check out a Giants game at the Tokyo Dome or head to Hiroshima to experience the Carps pink balloon tossing during the seventh inning.
From unique food to seemingly out-of-place things to see and do, Japan has plenty of fun activities for you to experience. On your next trip, don’t miss your chance to do any of these very Japanese things in Japan.
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