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Sitting Pretty Above Tokyo: On the 45th floor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (TMG), designed by Kenzo Tange (the architect behind the Park Hyatt Tokyo), this observatory offers a bird’s-eye view of an endlessly stretching metropolis and, on fine winter days, Mount Fuji. 

 

Joining a Free Guided Tour of Iconic Landmarks: English-speaking volunteers lead free tours at many of Japan’s iconic landmarks, including the Asakusa and Ueno areas in Tokyo, Nara Park, Kanazawa Castle Park, and Himeji Castle. 

 

Browsing the Electronics & Anime Shops of Akihabara: Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s great fun—and very educational—to check out the latest in gadgetry in Japan’s largest electronics district. In recent years, shops specializing in manga (Japanese comic books and graphic novels) and anime (Japanese animation) have also opened, along with so-called maid cafes.

 

Joining the Crowds at a Festival: With Shintoism and Buddhism as its major religions, and temples and shrines virtually everywhere, Japan abounds in festivals. Celebrations range from those featuring horseback archery to parades of huge fake phalluses; you may want to plan your trip around one (and book early for a hotel). 

 

Visiting a Local Market: Tokyo’s Toyosu Fish Market is Japan’s largest, but there are local seafood and produce markets virtually everywhere. Those in Kyoto, Kanazawa, and Takayama are among my favorites.

 

Seeing the Cherry Blossoms: Nothing symbolizes the approach of spring so vividly to Japanese as the appearance of the cherry blossoms—and the Japanese celebrate the season with spirited gatherings of food, drink, and dance under the blossoms. 

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.