Japan gets over 30 million travelers a year, all with various backgrounds, tastes, and travel expectations. Some are here to awe at the various temples and shrines while others are hoping to catch cosplayers at manga and anime conventions. Japan has such a diverse range of attractions and landmarks that the appeal is so broad.
We have come up with 30 different types of travelers that come to Japan. Find out which category you fall into! You may be one or a combination of a few.
The traveler who wants to see new things and experience new places but doesn’t want to come back home to major debt.
Luckily Japan is very versatile and even those with a shoestring budget can enjoy their time in the Land of the Rising Sun. With the right budgeting and planning, Japan has a variety of food, hotels, and attractions that are surprisingly high quality and still light on the wallet.
Business hotels and Capsule hotels are safe, clean and near major city centers. They offer good accommodation at low prices. Also near the main stations, you will find izakayas, or Japanese pubs, which sell both food and alcohol at reasonable prices and amazing selection.
There are also plenty of free or cheap things to do in Japan such as roam the streets of Asakusa, Yoyogi Park, Meiji Shrine and Ueno. Provided you eat like a local, you’ll find that even a night on the town around Tokyo likely won’t cost more than in most other major cities around the globe.
The traveler who comes to Japan in hopes of catching great scenery, beautiful landscapes and experience the various natural escapes Japan has to offer.
Japan from North to South has a variety of natural and scenic beauty from mountainous and forest to oceanic surroundings where travelers can not only visit but immerse themselves into the habitat. Plenty of national parks, camping grounds and mountains for hiking, trekking and climbing.
A great place to hike near Tokyo is Nikko, which can be done as a day trip from Tokyo and has some of the best forests, rivers, waterfalls and bridges in Japan as well as the famous Toshogu Shrine with the three wise monkeys. Many Japanese visit during the fall season to see the leaves change color.
A bit further north, Shiretoko in Hokkaido is another popular park with vast grasslands and boat tours for those looking to get a view from the sea. And of course one of the most popular places to camp is near Mt. Fuji along the five great lakes surrounding it. Whether you pitch a tent, rent a camper, or stay in one of the luxury cottages along the lakes, you are sure to see the iconic Mt. Fuji in all its glory.
3. Luxury lover
A vacation is to cut loose, relax, forget about daily life and live large. Less worried about finding the best deal, many travelers want to experience first-class Japan at its finest. And as Japan is famous for its superb service, there is no better place to feel like royalty.
Those staying in Tokyo will most likely come across all the finest accommodations, dining, and shopping in areas like Ginza, Roppongi, and Omotesando. World-famous brand name shops, all the big-name hotel chains and the most Michelin Star restaurants than any other city, Tokyo is definitely the place to feel like a star.
There are also plenty of big name hotels that feature amazing day spas where you can soak in Japanese style hot spring baths, get massages, facials and jacuzzis to melt away the stress. Then spend the night eating the finest Japanese cuisine and ending the night in a fancy Japanese lounges or bars near Ginza station.
4. Family Oriented
Some countries are more suited for couples or solo travelers but Japan is one of the most family friendly destinations in Asia. Most tourist attractions are catered to families and finding something children and adults will both enjoy is quite easy in Japan.
Some of the most popular places that families enjoy in Japan are Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea resorts as well as Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan. All across Japan are other smaller amusement parks with various themed areas such as Sanrio Puroland, which is popular for those who are fans of Sanrio characters like Hello Kitty.
Odaiba is another popular spot in Tokyo which caters to the whole family as it hosts a variety of shopping and outlet malls, indoor amusement park and game centers as well as various science, cars, technology and art museums. There is literally something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
5. Girls trip
Whether it be university girls on spring break, mothers on a break from their children and husbands, a female coworkers retreat, or just a ladies adventure, Japan has a variety of fun and friendly locations with a female touch. Many places around Japan are female-friendly and even specifically cater to groups of women travelling together.
For a more traditional experience women can go to a kimono rental shop where you can have a professional Japanese person dress you, do your hair and makeup, and release you out into the streets to explore and take pictures.
There are kimono rental shops in Shinjuku and Shibuya, but probably the best place is Asakusa. Here you can dress in a yukata or kimono and walk along Nakamise, the traditional Japanese shopping street, and take wonderful pictures with temples, shrines, cherry blossom trees and traditional Japanese buildings.
Women can enjoy shopping and the latest fashion trends in the women’s Shibuya109 building, find the cutest accessories, make-up and nail art at Takeshita Street in Harajuku and get some Purikura (print club) photos taken at a game center.
6. Lads on tour
Sometimes men need an escape from their everyday life and want a memorable male bonding experience. A bro-tastic adventure where they can talk, laugh, drink with their buddies and forget about all their work and life demands.
If you are looking for outdoor stuff, golfing might be a good option. Japan is the country with the most golf courses in Asia and is in the top ten around the world with over 2000 locations.
Since Japan is an island, fishing is also quite popular and accessible. There are great fishing sites in Kanagawa, Chiba and Tokyo Bay for those looking for a quiet, relaxed fishing expedition.
For food and drink options, men can head to Shinjuku. Here you can head to Golden Gai to drink whisky or beer in the tiny Japanese pubs or have an all you can eat Yakiniku (Japanese barbecue) dinner at a table where you grill your own food. Add a “nomihoudai” (all-you-can-drink) option with your meal and keep the pints flowing!
Those searching for the tastiest foods or the most Instagrammable dishes will find it all in Japan. Trying new, unique and amazing food with beautiful presentation is a foodie’s dream.
Japan is definitely a food centric country with many regions having special dishes local to their area and travelers taking trips just to taste the local cuisine.
If you are looking for fancy dining, Japan has over 200 Michelin star restaurants with delicious and amazingly presented foods to try. Various noodles, fish, sushi, tempura and other Japanese style foods placed in traditional wooden and ceramic dishes will have any foodie reaching for their camera.
Another option is trying street food around Ueno, Takeshita Street in Harajuku, or if you are in Osaka then the famous food street, Dotonbori. Osaka is known for takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza), and kushikatsu, which are deep fried meat or vegetables on skewers.
Image credit: InfantryDavid / Shutterstock.com
These are travelers who have never been to Asia, don’t speak Japanese and would prefer a little more support and structure during their trip.
There is no shame in admitting you don’t know enough about Japan to plan your own itinerary. Often to get the best experience in a country is to get recommendations and advice from locals.
Luckily, Japan has a variety of travel options that are easy to book, enjoyable and filled with information about Japan and its culture. At airports, hotels and major stations there are many tourist information desks that have city tours and day trips available in a range of styles. A hop on hop off bus tour around the city with English guidance for those wanting to get a grasp of the city and surroundings is a good option.
There are also bus tours and day trips from Tokyo that go to traditional locations like Kamakura or Nikko for those wanting to learn more about Japanese history and culture. And in winter there are tours that go north for skiing and snowboarding. Cherry blossom viewing, fall foliage viewing and fruit picking tours are also available depending on the season.
Most tours have an English speaking tour guide who can answer all your questions and many tours even come with a lunch or snack from the local area.
The brand conscious, fashion and trend follower looking for the latest and most popular in style. Much like Paris, LA, New York and Rome, Tokyo is a fashion hub and creator of some of the biggest fashion and style trends globally.
If you are looking for world famous luxury brands then Ginza should be on your list. With high end department stores and long established fashion retailers, there is more than enough clothing, shoes, cosmetics and accessories to keep you busy.
Shinjuku is also an option which has a variety of big names and foreign as well as Japanese fashion shops.
For younger fashion and newer trends, many young people look to Shibuya and Ikebukuro to satisfy their fashion tastes.
The traveler and adrenaline junkie looking for the next shock to the system will enjoy the terrain of Japan’s outdoors. Land, sea or air, there is plenty of extreme activities in Japan to feed any thrill-seeker’s appetite.
Skydiving and bungee jumping are available in many parts of Japan, with the nation’s highest bungee jump being off a bridge over the Ryujin Gorge in Ibaraki Prefecture. Skydiving is also close by in Saitama Prefecture where you can see a view of Japan like you’ve never seen before.
For those interested in cliff diving, canoeing, and canyoning - sliding down natural water slides - then just a short drive away from Tokyo you can find Okutama. Okutama has natural landscapes and canyons great for exploring the unique Japanese terrain.
Hiking, trekking, bicycling and zip lining options in Kanagawa and Shizuoka area are also quite popular destinations for those looking for adventure.
Those who appreciate the horror and darker side of Japan and want to feel the spooky spine tingling feelings first hand have many options. There are places in Japan that are naturally scary and creepy as well as designed locations to satisfy any Japanese horror enthusiast.
For those looking for haunted or supernatural areas, the most infamous is Aokigahara Forest in Yamanashi Prefecture, which is said to have a very dark and macabre feel to it. With the eerie look of the thick, twisted trees matched with the silence and emptiness, this place is definitely not for those who are easily spooked. There are also other ‘haikyo’ - abandoned - places such as tunnels, bridges, abandoned schools and hospitals around Japan in abandoned towns that a chill-seeker can visit.
And for those looking for a more fun and designed scare space, many places like Odaiba, Fuji-Q Highland, and Huis Ten Bosch in Nagasaki have haunted houses that are ridiculously scary even knowing they are staged.
12. History buff
The traveler who knows the best way to understand and appreciate a culture is to know its history and roots. Seeing how Japanese society began, the people, traditions, and the architecture is all on the top of this traveler’s list.
Good news is that Japan has many cultural and historic sites with over 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites designated areas in Japan. From a small remote island in the south called Okinoshima, temples and shrines in Kyoto, Nara and Nikko, to Himeji Castle and the most iconic symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji.
There are plenty of history and art museums like the Tokyo National Museum, Edo Tokyo Museum and the Mori Art Museum. There are also very unique museums like Hakone Open Air Museum, Samurai Museum, and the Ghibli museum for those interested in modern Japanese art.
13. Adventurer (off the beaten track)
The traveler who wants to avoid the big tourist traps and find the interesting and unique Japan. These travelers are always searching for new, undiscovered gems that most tourists never get to experience.
If you are interested in seeing the oceans, mountains and a little Japanese history then a great place that is a day trip away from Tokyo and not too known is Nokogiriyama (‘Sawtooth Mountain’), in nearby Chiba. There’s a ropeway cable car that takes you up the mountain if you don’t want to hike the entire way. From there you can trek up the mountain to see the largest Buddha stone sculpture in Japan, stand on an overhanging rock named “Hell Peek Point” and see thousands of little arhat statues as you climb the stone steps. There is even a temple nestled within the mountain. Not very crowded, it is a great alternative to Kamakura.
Another unknown but beautiful area is Suzuka in Mie. The name might sound familiar for it’s Suzuka Circuit F1 Racing course. But lesser known is the Ninja village as well as the Ise Jingu Shrine, which is unfamiliar to many tourists despite being one of the biggest of its kinds in Japan.
14. The Die Hard Fan
Music moves the soul. So for some, the ultimate trip is to see their favorite musician, idol or band perform in Japan. Not only does Japan have some of the biggest (literally) musicians like AKB48, E-girls, BabyMetal and Exile but they also host world famous music festivals like Summer Sonic and Fuji Rock Festival which welcome famous artists from around the world.
The music scene is so vast and varied that fans of Japanese music have plenty of options to see artists perform live. Visual Kei music is popular in many live houses across Ikebukuro while Shibuya has many live houses that cater to Rock, Punk and Heavy Metal. The big concert houses and stadiums like Tokyo Dome also host a variety of Japanese and Western musicians. The music scene in Japan is definitely vibrant and alive making it perfect for the person who wants to see live music in Japan.
15. Intermediate Japanologist
The Intermediate Japanologist will want to explore and partake of traditional Japanese culture and practices. A Japanologist is someone who studies Japan and its culture and who is familiar with or is studying the language, the periods, the art, entertainment and people. To further understand Japan and the Japanese, trying some of the activities first hand might be a good idea.
Many classes, activities and tour packages are available for those who want to delve further into the understanding of Japan. There are sushi making classes, Ikebana, which is Japanese flower arrangement, and tea ceremony. Preparing green tea from matcha powder becomes an art and performance in tea ceremony as there are certain movements and steps to make and serve tea.
For those interested in ceremony and sport, witnessing a sumo competition would also be an educational experience. The steps involved and the ceremonies that take place before, during and after each match is quite detailed and sacred.
・Traditional Culture Facility List
・Contemporary Culture Facility List
The art lover will most likely find something beautiful as Japan has so many one of a kind traditional, artistic activities with intricate detail and meaning. Besides visiting different art museums that focus on modern art, traditional ukiyo-e paintings, wood block and seeing the sculptures that adorn temples and shrines, there are also many chances for artsy people to take part and create their own art.
Various classes on origami, wood block prints, kimono fabric dyeing are available to join. There are manga drawing lessons, shodo, which is Japanese calligraphy, and Japanese gardens and bonsai tree shearing classes as well. A popular place in Aichi Prefecture, called Seto, also has some of the best pottery and ceramics in Japan and also offers pottery classes.
・Traditional Arts Facility List
・Contemporary Arts Facility List
Since the boom of anime, manga and Otaku culture worldwide, many travelers come to the Mecca of this sub-culture and witness it firsthand. Otaku, which roughly translates to nerd or fanatic, is the term used for those who are huge fans of some activity or product in Japan.
There are anime and manga Otaku who hoard comics and shell out tons of cash for the latest limited edition Blu-rays and figurines. There are video game Otaku who spend hours in their room on their PC, gaming console or smartphone immersed in their game of choice. There are Otaku for almost everything in Japan. Idol Otaku who are hardcore followers of their favorite musical Idol artist.
The ground zero for Otaku culture seems to be Electric Town in Akihabara. Building size posters and billboards of the latest anime, manga or video games adorn the streets. There are girls dressed in maids and anime characters inviting people to themed cafes.
Walking around Akihabara Station you will find shops selling cosplay, music, comics, toys and other Otaku-related goods. Another couple of options to keep you entertained after you have finished with Akihabara are Sunshine City or Otome Road in Ikebukuro and Nakano Broadway, all of which have a big Otaku culture presence.
Japan has a rich history in performing arts and this type of traveler hopes to enrich their art and cultural experience by witnessing the country’s authentic and traditional theater arts. Whether it be an authentic Japanese performance or the Japanese version of an English play or musical, the theater and live drama community is big in Japan.
Those interested in comedy might want to see Rakugo, which is a live comedic storytelling type of theater. It is a one man show much like stand-up comedy of the West, the difference being the comedian has only a hand towel and Japanese fan as props to use during his set. Although, most Rakugo is in Japanese there are English speaking Rakugo performers as well.
Other famous and traditional types of theater are Noh, which is similar to opera, Bunraku which is theater performed using elaborately designed puppets, and Kabuki, which is famous for its singing, dancing and intricate make-up and costumes. Recently many kabuki shows provide English translations on paper or in head-set form as well.
Traveling couples differ from those going solo or with groups and families. They are hoping to not only enjoy their trip to Japan but also spend quality time with each other to create a stronger relationship and lasting memories. Depending on the couple, Japan has a variety of getaways tailored for a romantic adventure.
Some popular date places where many couples tend to gather are Odaiba in Tokyo and Minato Mirai in Yokohama. Both places are near the water and have nice waterfront restaurants and cafes.
Other hotspots for couples are Skytree and Tokyo Tower, both of which offer stunning views of the city. Skytree in particular also has many classy shops and restaurants for couples to experience. If you are in Japan during the Christmas season then you will find many major city centers with extravagant light displays and illuminations. Alternatively, the summer months bring many festivals around Japan where couples dress in Yukata and enjoy the fireworks displays.
Another great option are the cruises along the Sumida River near Asakusa on a traditional Japanese style boat with all-you-can-drink and eat dinner options.
20. Can’t stay still (not just Tokyo the whole week)
Sometimes leaving Tokyo adds to the appreciation of Japan. Traveling to Tokyo doesn’t mean you are stuck in the city your whole trip. The best part about Tokyo is how close it is to a variety of popular day trip spots. Just a few hours away by bus or train are a variety of natural, traditional or sacred spots in Japan.
Kamakura and Nikko are both popular options for those looking for nature and traditional Buddhist and Shinto religious sites. Those interested in beaches or hot springs can head to Enoshima Island. And also located close to Tokyo is Hakone which has great views of Mount Fuji as well as Japan’s most popular hot spring resorts and baths.
Chiba, which is home to Disneyland and Narita Airport, also has amazing beaches, Naritasan Temple, and family places like German Village.
These travelers hope to meet and befriend locals and other tourists during their adventures and if they are lucky can make a strong connection and possibly a long term friend along the way.
A good start is to socialise with the people who are in the same tour group or happen to be touring the same place as you. Japan also has many meetup groups and communities you can join who are always holding drinking parties, pub crawls or meet ups in parks. A mix of Japanese and foreigners, these groups have international parties and gatherings where local Japanese, foreigners living in Japan, and tourists just passing through can talk, drink and socialise.
There also many pubs and standing bar type places in areas like Shibuya, Roppongi and Shinjuku where travelers can start up conversations and make new friends.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the introvert traveler who either prefers their own private space and schedule or feels more comfortable traveling independently.
Maybe a bar, club or social event might not be the best for this traveler. Instead roaming the majestic and charming gardens of the Imperial Palace or visiting the famous Samurai houses and strolling the old-fashioned streets of Nezu, Kawagoe, Kyoto, or Kanazawa would satisfy the needs of this traveler.
In terms of accommodation, Japanese capsule hotels are also a great alternative to regular hotels or hostels for introverted travelers as there is more privacy and personal space. Floors are separated by gender and most have 24 hour public baths so avoiding the big groups of bathers and having a private bath experience is also possible.
23. Solo traveler
The solo traveler enjoys starting their journey alone and tries to gain independence, confidence and life experience by taking their journey alone. They enjoy coming to Japan and finding their way through their trip and knowing they can survive without depending on someone else.
Japan is the perfect country for this type of traveler as it is one of the safest countries in the world and people are quite friendly and helpful. Getting lost, asking for directions or recommendations, enjoying the city alone are all quite easy.
Ueno Park and Ueno Zoo are a good place to start for lone travelers as the zoo has many amazing creatures to lift your spirits and the park is serene and perfect for a stroll. There are also a variety of museums located in Ueno where one can enjoy Japanese art, history and culture. The shopping streets of Ameyoko are filled with people so you will never feel alone and there are many outdoor food stalls and stands perfect for eating so you won’t have to sit alone at a restaurant.
24. Alcohol lover
Any lover of alcohol will know that Japan houses some of the finest sake, shochu, whiskey, beer and wine brands in the world.
If you are looking for the finest of whiskey or mixed drinks, up-scale Ginza has some of the finest and long standing bars serving the best alcohol in Tokyo. There are also many wine bars, cocktail bars and fancy lounges all around Japan that have top notch drink, service and atmosphere.
For cheaper options, izakayas usually have Japanese beers on tap and a variety of shochu and sake options for a very reasonable price. Many restaurants and izakayas also have all you can drink options which offer unlimited alcoholic beverages including wine, whiskey, beer and cocktails for a timed duration at a set price. If you are a strong drinker, this might be your best option.
Another highly recommended option is to visit a sake brewery, whisky distillery, or beer brewery during your stay in Japan. Not only are they fascinating spots to see the inside action, but often you can find exclusive edition drinks available there as well.
This traveler can easily be spotted with an expensive camera and lens hanging from their necks, crouching at temple entrances or adjusting their lighting and lens to get the perfect shot. Whether it is nature, people, buildings or landscapes, the photography enthusiasts will not be disappointed.
For landscapes, the obvious Kawaguchiko area, home to Mt. Fuji, or streets in Kyoto are a must. There are also many great places to take beautiful pictures of forests, lakes, mountains, and temples across Japan.
Some of the most beloved spots photographers should check out are the ‘floating’ Torii gate at Miyajima Island in Hiroshima, Kinkakuji, the golden temple in Kyoto as well as Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, which has thousands of torii gates along the path.
Cityscapes like Shibuya Crossing, Dotonbori Street in Osaka, and the crowds of people around Shibuya’s Takeshita Street also are prominent stops on the photographer’s list.
26. Animal/nature lover
Japan is definitely the place for animal lovers. Both wild and domesticated animals are accessible and on display all over Japan.
For an experience that is in the natural habitat of the animals, many people head to Nagano to Jigokudani Yaen Park to see the snow monkeys bathing in natural onsens. For a chance to pet, feed and see deer freely roaming the city, Nara Park in Nara has over 1200 deer. And for a surreal experience there is cat island, Aoshima, and rabbit island, Okunoshima, which are islands primarily inhabited by these cute furry creatures.
For a more structured, indoor and odd experience, Japan is home to many animal cafes. Japan was the first country to introduce cat cafes and now boasts many other animal cafes including rabbits, dogs, otters, owls, snakes, hedgehogs, penguins and even pot bellied pigs.
27. Sun seeker/beach lover
Although many people don’t consider Japan when planning a tropical beach destination, Japan does have amazing beaches and resorts at par with other countries. So those looking to slip on their bathings suits and bathe in the sun, there are options for you.
Most popular is the southern islands of Okinawa. A popular destination for swimming, surfing, snorkelling and other water sports, Okinawa also has a unique and distinct food and culture as well.
Other notable beach destinations are Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture, Enoshima Island in Kanagawa, Onjuku Beach in Chiba, and Tatadohama Beach in Shizuoka.
28. Soul searcher
Traveling is more than a pastime or hobby for this traveler. Taking a trip, planning a journey and experiencing a new country or culture is life changing. The soul searcher comes to Japan not just to eat Japanese food, see tourist attractions and buy souvenirs. They are here for a deeper meaning and understanding of the country and themselves.
It can be a religious experience walking the pilgrimage trails of Kumano Kodo in the southern region or to head to northern Japan to places like Akita or Aomori that house some of the lushest and peaceful forests and mountainous zones.
For something in Tokyo, Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park are good places to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. With so many people located in densely populated areas, just a short trip away it is easy to find remote, untouched, natural landscapes to soul search.
29. Party animal
Let’s face it. Sometimes a vacation is a time to let loose, get together with friends, drink, party and dance the night away. And Japan, especially Tokyo, has a vibrant and pulsating club scene and nightlife to make any party animal get their fill.
Bars, pubs, lounges, clubs, there are many options to fit your music style and taste. There are mega clubs with Japanese and world famous DJs spinning all night into the morning and both Shibuya and Roppongi are all night party clubbing zones where you will no doubt see and hear the crowds lined up waiting to enter.
Smaller and more intimate options in Shibuya, Roppongi and Harajuku also have cozy lounges with DJs spinning and drinks flowing all night.
No matter what part of Japan you visit, most likely the city center will have a live house or lounge with live music or dance bar.
30. Skier/Snow lover
Since Japan is mostly mountainous it makes it an obvious place for those looking to partake in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Most famous for its powdery snow, is Niseko in Hokkaido, as well as Furano.
Nagano, the site of the 1998 Winter Olympics, is another obvious location for winter sport enthusiasts. The Japan Alps and most of northern Japan including Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima Prefectures all have amazing resorts and mountains for any rank of skier or snowboarder from beginner to the most advanced.
Whether you come to Japan to eat sushi, catch Pokemon or pray at a temple in Kyoto, everyone is sure to find something they enjoy from this amazing country. With the right planning, preparation and expectations, Japan can be a dream destination for many tastes and traveling styles.
Sohail Oz Ali
Sohail Oz Ali is a Canadian Youtuber, author and blogger who has lived in Hokkaido, Nagoya and now resides in Chiba. Between visits to Karaoke and revolving sushi restaurants, he enjoys walking his dog, watching Japanese love dramas and teaching English. You can also find him roaming the streets of Japan looking for the next big YouTube video trends.