Japan is known for its delicious and exquisite food (like their sushi dishes), for their ninjas, their samurais and their multiple forms of martial arts, for their unique way of dressing (kimonos are their speciality), and of course another of the famous things in Japan are their incredible wonders like Mount Fuji or Fushimi Inari Taisha.
20 things Japan is known for
As you may know, Japan is a huge country, they have many cultural traditions and an unique lifestyle, that´s why telling you all the popular Japanese things it´s almost impossible. To make it easier, we have done a list with the top 20 reasons why Japan is famous. Let´s see if you knew them already:
🗻 1) Mount Fuji
One of the most iconic Japanese things is the Mount Fuji. It´s one of the most visited places in Japan, but not just that, due to its 3,776 meters of height, you will be able to see the Fuji mountain from Tokyo which is located around 100km away.
What makes Mt Fuji be so popular is its perfect cone shape, as it has a perfect symmetry. Being covered with snow around 5 months of the years and surrounded by flowers during spring season, are the reasons why many photographers and artists visit it to get inspired.
On your trip to Mount Fuji, you won´t only see the impressive volcano, you can also do many hikes and admire the flora and fauna of the area.
🍙 2) Japanese sushi
On our “What is Japan most famous for?” list, we couldn´t forget about their most popular dish all over the world, the sushi.
We are sure many of you have tried sushi at least once in your life, and if you haven´t we truly recommend you to give it a chance. For the ones who have, we must tell you that Japanese sushi tastes way different that the one made in your country, which is an adaptation to the food of your area.
The sushi of Japan is a dish prepared with vinegared rice, salt and sugar (not much) and then different ingredients can be added, from seafood (very common) to raw vegetables or even tropical fruits.
🗡3) The truth about Ninjas
Ninjas have become so popular in the pop culture and in the modern area that they have lost their true essence. Nowadays, everyone believes that ninjas are skilled warriors who can fight and move really fast being very silent and extremely talented.
Well, the truth is far from what we have seen in cartoons and movies. It´s true that ninjas have its origin in Japan, but they were notable to walk in the water or make themselves invisible. Ninjas were like mercenaries in the feudal area of Japan, they were signed to do a espionage job or to do surprising attacks.
They became so popular that now there are even museums just talking about them, like the Ninja Museum of Igaryu
✌ 4) Anime and Manga
Pokemon, Yugioh, Dragon Ball, Sonic, One Piece… We are sure that most of you heard about any of these popular Japanese cartoons. The Japanese comics and cartoons, (better known as Manga and Anime) are not only famous in Japan, but all over the world.
The origin of Manga comes from the 12th century, but the Anime is newer (20th century). Although both are known for being Japanese, you should keep in mind that the authentic meaning of anime and manga in the Japanese language is comics or animated cartoons. They don´t distinguish if it comes from Japan or not.
Of course, anime and manga are on of the most famous Japanese things. Just so you can have an idea of its importance, its industry generates more than billions every year. Plus, the number of anime and manga fanatics is growing very quick.
🌸 5) Cherry Blossom season
One of the main reasons to visit Japan is to admire the incredible Blossom Japanese season. There is nothing like seeing the temples of Japan surrounded with a pink atmosphere generated by the cherry trees (Sakura).
Many travellers plan their trips for this special season, but it actually changes every year and is different in each area of Japan. Generally the best time of the year to enjoy Cherry Blossom in Japan is between the end of March and the beginning of May, but in some areas you may be able to see it in February or even in late May.
The blossom season only lasts about 2 weeks, so we recommend you going to Yoshino, Himeji Castle, Hirosaki Castle or Fuji Five Lakes as they are considered for the majority the best places to see cherry blossoms in Japan.
🛌 6) Capsule hotels
Believe it or not, capsule hotels are one of the most famous things about Japan. There are people who love it and others who hate it. While in Europe and in the US is very common to see huge hotel rooms, in Japan is totally different, they have hotels with very tiny rooms.
The size varies from 1.2 to 2 meters (from 4 to 6 feet), which is definitely small for a room. Although you may be able to stand on your knees, we can already tell you that you won´t be able to stand up, so if you are claustrophobic… ¡Don´t try them!
The reason why travellers choose this type of hotels is their prices, which are between ¥2,000 and ¥6,000 (a very cheap price in Japan). Would you try sleeping at any of these rooms?
⛲ 7) Japanese Onsens or hot springs
When you think about “What is Japan known for in the world?”, we are pretty sure that one of the things that come to your mind is their natural hot springs located near the mountain.
Due to the high volcano activity there is in the country, you will be able to see thousands of these natural onsens. They are popular not only for being perfect to have a relaxed bath in a natural atmosphere, but also for being eco friendly and very good for your energy.
Japanese people even associate these areas with an ideal place to meet people and make good friendships. It is said that people get more friendly and talkative in the hot springs. There are even hotels known as Ryokan, specialized in onsens.
💪 8) Sumo Wrestling
Without any doubt, we can tell you that Sumo is for sure at least on the top 10 things Japan is famous for. Probably many of you have heard before about this popular sport, but did you know that Japan is the only country where sumo is practiced in a professional way?
It´s true that sumo is a weird and very different sport, to help you understand more about it, these are some of the curiosities and facts you should know:
- Sumo Wrestling is a sport with more than 2000 years of history
- There are only around 650 sumo wrestlers in the world, and they are all trained by other sumo wrestlers.
- Each wrestler has a ring name, but they can´t choose it themselves, it needs to be picked by their fans or their trainers.
- Sumo wrestlers have to let their hair grow and wear traditional dresses when they are in public. That way it´s very simple to recognise them.
- There are only 6 official sumo tournaments, and three of them are celebrated in Tokyo.
👨👩👧👦 9) Japan has the most populated city in the world!
Although another of the things Japan is most famous for is for being a very crowded country, many people don´t expect them to have the most populated city in the world, as there are other countries like India or China that are way bigger and also have a huge number of people living in their cities.
Well, the truth is that Tokyo with almost 40 million residents, is the most crowded city on earth. Tokyo is the economic and political centre of Japan, for this reason and also for being after New York City and London one of the richest cities on earth, many people decided to live in the capital of the country, where they will have many more job opportunities.
The numbers are crazy when you compare the population density per square kilometre between Tokyo and the rest of the country. While in the whole country of Japan the density is just 340/km², in Tokyo is 6,200/km²… Crazy right?
🎎 10) Don´t misunderstand the meaning of Geisha
When you are talking about “what is famous in japan”, you can´t miss the geishas, as they are one of the most recognisable symbols of Japan. Unfortunately, many people around the world believe the geishas are sex workers, and they are not.
The geishas are also known as “geiko” in Western Japan, which translated to English means “A women of art”. A geisha is a female artist that entertains its public with different forms of art, specially singing and dancing.
It´s very easy to recognise a geisha, as they wear traditional kimonos, and have a very unique make up. They also wear a specific type of sandals known as “geta”. Modern geishas live in geisha houses called okiya during their trainee.
🉐 11) Japanese Calligraphy
Another of the popular things from Japan is their calligraphy. The Japanese calligraphy is known as “Shodo”, which means “The way of writing”.
You can distinguish three different types of Japanese characters: The Kanji, the Hiragana and the Katakana.
- The Chinese Kanji is the language known as old Japanese, and it was the first written form in Japan. It was brought to Japan by the Chinese civilization.
- Hiragana and Katakana are more modern, and they were created to simplify the Japanese language while using the old Chinese symbols.
The use of brush stokes, and the different complicated symbols have become the Japanese calligraphy into more than just a way of communicating, it´s an art that takes decades to learn.
📃 12) Origami
Another of the reasons why Japan is famous is the Origami, or commonly known all over the world as the art of folding paper. The origami is an art technique that consists of creating a sculpture with just a simple sheet of paper.
The Origami has its origin in Japan, it was created during the Edo period (163-1867). Although there are uncountable ways of making art by folding paper, the authentic origami does not allow cuts, glue, or markings on the paper.
The Japanese Origami has become so popular that nowadays you will be able to even find folding paper contests where creators make unique constructions as buildings, dragons, or characters from movies and tv shows.
🗼 13) Tokyo Skytree
After Mount Fuji, the Tokyo Skytree is the most emblematic place in all Japan, and it´s by far the most touristic building in the whole country. The Tokyo Skytree is of course, located in Tokyo and it´s the main element of the city´s landscape.
With a height of 634 meters (2,080 feet) is the third tallest tower in the world, right after the Petronius and the Burj Khalifa (829 meters). Once you go up the tower, you will find two different viewpoints, the first one located at 350 meters and the second one at 450 meters, from there you can see an incredible view of the city of Tokyo.
The Tokyo Skytree is one of the most popular things in Japan, so we truly recommend you visiting it. You won´t regret it!
💰 14) Vending Machines
Another of the traditional Japanese things is to have all kinds of vending machines, although it´s true that we all have them in our countries, in Japan you will find a million of them and each one sells different things.
Of course, you can see the ones that sell cokes, soda drinks and potato chips, but there are many others. Some of the weird vending machines in Japan will sell you bananas, rice, umbrellas, t-shirts, eggs, flowers or even costumes. They have everything you want!
Imagine how crazy is the vending machine industry in Japan that they produce over 60$ Billion in sales per year.
🌇 15) Shibuya Crossing
Generally, the most important and famous landmarks of a country are temples, towers, buildings or cathedrals, well…In Japan, it´s most touristic attraction is a crosswalk.
You may have never heard its name before, but you can probably recognise the Shibuya Crossing by just seeing a picture of it, as it´s the most crowded crosswalk on earth. Around 2.4 million crosses through this area every day. Not getting lost in this place is almost impossible!
The crossing is an intersection located outside Shibuya Station. This area is so transited, that there are a thousand commercials, buildings, and lights all over the street. It´s like a much more massive Times Square.
Other things associated with Japan
That´s the end of our “What is Japan best known for?” list. As you can see, Japan is a very different country and it has many unique characteristics. Although the ones we have just told are some of the most famous things from Japan, there are many other facts you should also know about this country.
🥋 16) What are Japanese known for?
There are many stereotypes about Japanese people. First of all, in many countries many people tend to keep comparing Asian people as if the were all the same, and that´s just not true. Japanese people are very different to Chinese or Korean people.
Some things you should know about Japanese people is that they are very polite and they always follow the rules (ALWAYS), that´s why when you are visiting the country you will need to have a good behaviour.
On another hand, Japanese people don´t like t be bothered, so don´t try to pet their dogs at the park or talk to a stranger, because they will generally walk away from you.
🏯 17) Japanese tatami rooms
Other of the things related to Japan are the tatami rooms. Actually, the tatami rooms are known that way because they are built with tatami mat. Although we all recognise it because is the type of rooms we see in Japanese movies and series, they are very typical all over Japan.
These Japanese style-rooms were originated during the Muromachi period, but at that time, they were only used as study rooms for extraordinarily rich people. The rooms are formed with a tatami floor, Sliding Doors, Transom, Japanese ceilings, and other elements.
Tatami rooms have become so popular, that there are specific hotels known as ryokan specially made for tourists who want to enjoy sleeping a night in this kind of rooms.
👘 18) Kimonos
The kimonos are known all over the world as one of the most iconic and traditional dressing styles, and everyone knows they are a symbol of Japan. The significance of kimono in Japanese culture is huge, imagine how important it is that until the 19th century absolutely everyone wore it in Japan.
Nowadays, the kimonos are still very popular, although not everyone dresses with it, the geishas, the sumo wrestlers and the majority of the elder people still wear it every single day of the week.
There are different types of kimonos, some of them are for men and the majority are for women. Depending on the colour, the length of the sleeve and other factors, the kimono will represent something about your status on the society.
⛩️ 19) Japan is known as the land of the rising sun
Every country is known as the land of something different, in this case Japan is famous for being the land of the rising sun, but why?
Well the origin of this famous saying, comes from the translation of “Nihon”, the name the Japanese people use when talking about their country. The word Nihon is composed by two Japanese words: Ni (日), which means day, and Hon (本), which means origin.
Some people believe, Japan is known as the country of origin of the sun because of different religious theories, and others because of its geographical location.
🙉 20) Japanese Monkeys
We decided to live to the end our favourite part of each country, its animals. Although Japan is a country commonly known for its people, they also have many natural areas with a lot of fauna and flora. From all the animals of Japan, there is one to highlight: The Japanese monkeys.
These are known as “the Japanese monkeys in hot springs”, as they are monkeys living in very cold areas with a lot of snow, that survive the cold temperatures of the winter thanks to the natural hot springs of the mountains of Japan.
Hope you enjoyed reading about the famous Japanese things
That´s the end of our list of Japanese things. This country will never stop surprising us, so the only way to entirely know about Japan is to visit it and discover as much as possible of its culture, its places and its people.
Hope you ended up learning about Japan, and if you have any other question or suggestion, please let us know in the comments!