Leisure activities in Japan

leisure in Japan
Updated 2024-03-16 05:39

What can you do during your free time in Japan? Let's not talk about tourist attractions here but about everyday leisure activities that Japanese people usually do after a good week of work, after school, or on the weekend. Of course, we recall that each person is unique. The list below suggests some popular activities in Japan. You will indeed find others that will fit your interests and desires.

Become a gourmet explorer in Japan 

Attention to all foodies. In the big cities of Japan, you may find something to eat at almost every street corner, whether a chic, fashionable, themed restaurant-café or a small-town restaurant. Medium and small Japanese towns also have their gastronomic delights for a popular price. Eating in Japan is not expensive. You will easily find reasonably priced restaurants and cafés. Below are a few examples:

Restaurants and Izakayas







The Japanese capital is full of kawaii (cute), unusual, or trendy (oshare) cafés. We will try to avoid talking to you about the cafés everyone knows.

You are warned! Little Toy Box's Instagram account will make you drool! If you want to try a taste of Batman's world, give "Chamber of Raven" a try. This café is designed to look like the fictional American city "Gotham City" from the movie "Batman", making you feel like you've entered the fantasy world of this movie as soon as you walk in.


Osaka, too, has its kawaii cafés. For a colorful and greedy break, go to Mioru in Umeda. If you are looking for a more oshare (fashionable) atmosphere, head to Kamiyama Lobby, and for a more intimate atmosphere, go to the small café Fouet (fue) or Pause coffee.

Become a chef in Japan

In recent years, cooking shows have been taking over television channels.  While culinary contests are a big part of the programs in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the focus is on learning and discovery in Japan

You may find yourself drooling over the dishes offered to guests in various shows. You will end up noting the best addresses to become an adventurous gourmet or try out the recipe yourself, just like these street reporters. You can also keep yourself updated with all the culinary series culinary magazines and even buy utensils to cook for yourself (jisui suru) or for others. 

Men are also getting involved. "Jisui" is more than just a trend. It is an art exported on YouTube. Haruan, Koh Kentetsu or Inaka soba Kaha are real stars on Youtube. Their videos are at the end of the article.

Going to the movies in Japan

What could be better than a good movie to clear your head? What is your type of movie? Action? Romance? Comedy? Going out for a movie is a leisure activity accessible to everyone and quite affordable. It is, besides, a good pretext for having a good time solo or in a group. In Japan, as in many other countries, people like to go to the movies. If you are learning Japanese, test your level by watching movies with their Original Sound Track (OST). You can also find movies with English subtitles.

Going to a concert in Japan 

You may want to try the Japanese music scene. From small, intimate venues to mega stadiums like the Tokyo Dome, you have the choice, and when it comes to styles, it's just as eclectic. Everything is there: pop, rock, jazz, electro, classical music, and enka. 

If you are a student, you can have great discounts on tickets. Moreover, many artists offer student rates, even for classical music, so don't hesitate to take advantage of it. 

Free concerts are also very popular. Shopping malls often organize such events with rising stars and other young idols (pronounced aidoru). Stars perform for free to boost their career, meet the public, sign autographs, etc.

Going for a walk in Japan

It is rather a leisure weekend in Japan. Leave the overcrowded streets of the city centers behind and set off into your neighborhood's hinterland. Other cities in the prefectures of Kyoto, Fukuoka, Saitama, or Aomori are also ready to welcome you with their nature and their regional gastronomy. 

And if you are short on time? No problem. The change of scenery is sometimes found at the next crossroads. Put on your sneakers in a random neighborhood, and let your sense of adventure guide you.

Driving in Japan 

It's still a popular pastime, but it has been losing some steam these days. Driving is the counterpart of the weekend walk but in a more expensive and polluting style. Moreover, with inflation and the energy crisis still hitting hard, people can no longer afford to go on long drives because they don't want to go crazy on fuel anymore. 

However, some people still enjoy this activity. They take off in their car or a rented vehicle for the day or the weekend, stopping in a small country town or by the sea. In this case, driving is indeed an activity in its own right.

Sports in Japan 

If you are more into two-wheelers, long distances, and steep hills, then sports activities are meant for you. Cycling, table tennis, volleyball, basketball, badminton, soccer, dance, track and field, tennis, golf, squash, kendo, climbing, and baseball, the national sport, are available for sports enthusiasts. 

Take advantage of your new life in Japan to discover other sports, such as yosakoi dance. To let off steam between meetings, after a long day (or just for fun), hold the bat and hit the ball at a batting center. You'll find them in many large and medium-sized cities. The same goes for mini-golf, which is very popular in Japan.

Going to a game center in Japan 

It is one of the favorite leisure activities of young people in Japan, but not only. Many adults also stay for hours in the game centers. Prices vary, so make sure to check before you go. The biggest game centers stretch over several floors. People often go there with friends to relax and have fun.

You have many choices regarding games such as crane games, cacha capsule machines, rhyme-based games, etc. 

Going to karaoke in Japan 

Could it be that the country of baseball is also the country of karaoke? Here is another popular activity in Japan. There is no singing contest here, just a good deal of fun and a great time. 

The concept is quite simple: You are so relaxed in a private room with a karaoke player, a microphone, and a variety of songs in different languages. In addition, you can order food and drinks through phones connected to the reception, and there you go, ready to make your artist's vocal cords vibrate.

Regarding the playlist, there is enough for everyone, from the latest hits to vintage songs and cartoon themes. The prices are quite affordable too, as there's something for every budget, from basic cheap karaoke to luxury ones. In the gold establishments, the rooms are larger, the menus are more varied, and you can rent fancy costumes.

Karaoke places typically open from 11:00 am to 3:00 am the next day, with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Top karaoke spots by region

Party in an izakaya in Japan 

Want to party? Check out an izakaya. These restaurants/bars are specially designed to gather people. You can talk loudly, eat, and drink (beware of excess!). Many accommodations in Japan are too small to accommodate people. Insulation is not always good. There is also the tendency to invite fewer people at home, compared to other countries. The solution is the izakaya. You can find one in your city.

Shopping in Japan

In Tokyo, there is the Sunshine city of Ikebukuro, the trendy Shibuya and Harajuku, and the very chic Roppongi Hill. In Osaka, there is the colorful Dotonbori district of Osaka or its very fashionable Shinsaibashi-suji avenue. In Sendai, one can have fun at the Sendai PARCO or the Sendai Forus. In Kumamoto, you might want to stroll in the Sakura Machi or in the Amu Plaza. 

Shopping is very popular in these big Japanese cities. People do not necessarily come to buy clothes. Window shopping is enough to have a good time. You can take a gourmet break in a café or a restaurant (the return of the adventurous gastronomes), you can stop in an art gallery, at an aquarium, or test your reflexes in a game center. These complexes gather everything you need to spend a 100% leisurely day.

You are now ready to walk the streets of your city to experience Japan in your leisure time.

Useful links:

Sunshine city

Uta Hiroba (in Japanese)

Big Echo (in Japanese)

Grand Front Osaka

Canal city Hakata (Fukuoka)

Restaurants and cafes

Tokyo: Cocohana; Mahika Mano

Osaka: Kamiyama Lobbyto the Bacchanalia; Café FouetAkutagawa Coffee; Coffee Break

Learn to cook on Youtube


Koh Kentetsu Kitchen


Asa Torattoria

Inaka soba Kaha


The blog of Teida, a thirty-year-old father passionate about cooking

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