What is Japan famous for?

Cars, sushi, and anime are some of the things Japan is known for and that people worldwide love about Japan and Japanese Culture.

Here, we will explore these and many more things associated with Japan. In today’s modern world, virtually everyone is influenced by Japanese culture, cutting-edge technology, and ideas.

Yet, this country is still a mystery and an enigma to solve. It is a blend of high-tech and modernity, conservationism and tradition. Japan is unique. It is obviously Asian but different from any other Asian country; it is Westernized but so different from the West. And this is why it is so interesting to examine and explore!

But, without further ados, let’s analyze what is Japan famous for.

27 things Japan is known for


Sakura is the Japanese word for cherry blossom, referring to the cherry trees flowers, but sometimes also the cherry tree itself. Besides the obvious beauty, they also have a symbolic meaning in Japanese culture reprenting renewal, hope and transformation. The cherry blossom is the national flower of Japan.

They have a very old tradition called Hanami, in which one explores and sees flowers. In the past, they believed that spirits and divinities lived inside sakura trees. And before the rice sowing season, they made offerings under the sakura tree and drank sake.

The tradition of Hanami endures, and when the flower blossoms from March to May, the Japanese gather under the tree with families and friends and have a pick-nick and party. The tradition is taken very seriously; every year, the blossom forecast is announced on TV. Some people will sleep under a tree to reserve the place, as some parks become crowded.

It is also one of the most beautiful seasons in Japan, the parks and streets filled with pink and white colors. For this reason, it naturally became the season with most tourists in Japan.

What is Japan famous for?
Sakuras in the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto, Japan | photo by phuongphoto via Depositphotos

Manga and Anime

Manga is the word to designate Japanese comics, a world phenomenon. It has invaded the house of every teenager and adult in the world and is beloved. Although only published in the West in the 1970s, manga has existed in Japan since the 1800s.

The first manga was created in 1814 by Hokusai and consisted of drawing stories in scrolls, using sequences of images and text to explain or recount events. Yet, the manga as we know it today started with Osamu Tezuka in 1952, who created various beloved mangas in Japan. Since then, the world of manga has exploded. Famous manga like Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, Doraemon, and many more are consumed by everyone.

Anime (which comes from the English word animations) is an animated cartoon produced by Japanese artists. Anime resulted from the adaptation of famous mangas to TV series. It was and is a huge success. Animes like Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Tsubasa, and Pokemon were the highlight of generations.

Anime expanded to movies, too, and the creation of Studio Ghibli, one of the world’s most famous and beloved Japanese animation studios, made it even more popular. They received numerous awards for their films, like Spirited Away, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. My Neighbor Totoro, Ponyo, and Howl’s Moving Castle are the most famous movies.

Studio Ghibli has become so popular that there is Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Tokyo and an amusement park in called Ghibli Park in Nagakute.

Manga and Anime are some of the things Japan is known for
Manga Bookshop in Tokyo, Japan


Sumo is a competitive full-contact wrestling sport, one of the most popular sports in Japan. It is one of the oldest Japanese martial arts, dating more than 2000 years ago. It originated in Japan, the only country in the world with professional competitors, and is a national sport.

In the past, it was created to entertain the Shinto deities. Even today, some rituals of Shinto are reproduced in Sumo tournaments, like the purification of the rings with salt; at the beginning and end of matches, the wrestlers perform certain Shinto rites like clapping hands and hurling. The referees dress like Shinto monks.

You can attend a sumo tournament in Japan, but be aware that they occur only in the odd months of the year. It is also possible to watch a training session. You can buy a ticket here.

Well known things about Japan
Sumo match in Japan, one of the most famous things about Japan | photo by potyomkina via Depositphotos


Karate is one of the most famous martial arts in the world. It was created in the Okinawa Islands and was influenced by Chinese martial arts. When Okinawa became part of Japanese territory in 1872, it spread to the rest of the country. After WWII, the American military discovered the martial art and popularized it worldwide.

Karate is a striking Martian art that uses punching, kicking, knee, and elbow strikes; its name in Japanese means “open hand.” Karate uses Kata, a pattern of movements made to be practiced to help the students improve their technical. It is one of the most practiced forms of Martian art, with 100 million practitioners worldwide. It was even included in the Olympic games in 2020.


Judo was created by Kano Jigoro in Japan in 1882, and since then, it has become a famous sport worldwide, being included in the Olympic Games in 1964 in Tokyo Olympic games.

Judo is a grappling martial art, which means the way of the softness or the gentle way. Its main focus is to search for ways of using the enemy’s strength against him/her. Technique takes precedence over brute strength.

If you are a huge Judo aficionado, you can watch Judo sessions in the original school where it all started, the Kodokan in Tokyo, Japan’s best judo institute.


Samurai are among the most well-known historical figures of Japan. They remain present in the imagination of many and are featured in movies, books, mangas, and video games.

The Samurai or Bushi used to be independent warriors hired by wealthy landowners. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Japan had independent states constantly at war. The Samurai had an important role and were a powerful social class. Their important role endured during the Edo Period until the Meiji Restoration in the 1800s, when the samurai became unwelcomed and removed from their feudal roles.

Besides being powerful warriors, samurais had a set of rules and codes called Bushido, which they lived their lives according to. They valued loyalty, justice, self-sacrifice, and honor. They lived with the motto “Better death than disgrace.” The bushido spread and affects Japanese society even today. Loyalty, self-sacrifice, and honor are still wildly valued in Japan.

Although samurai are romanticized in pop culture, they were brutal in Japanese history. They were one of the reasons Japan remained isolated from the rest of the world for centuries and didn’t modernize.

If you love samurai culture, there is a Samurai Class in Kyoto where you can learn how to draw a sword, and strike with stylized movements. Have a look at it here.

Cool things about Japan
Samurai katana sword on display in Tokyo’s National Museum


Geishas are professional entertainers in Japan and are iconic all over the world. They are known for their characteristic aspect of wearing a long Kimono with a traditional hairstyle and face painted in white, called oshiroi make-up. They are trained in traditional Japanese arts like dance and playing instruments such as the shamisen. Besides performing, they attend to guests during meals, engage in conversation, and entertain customers.

Although wrongly associated with Geishas, they aren’t prostitutes, as many believe. They don’t have any sexual intercourse with clients.

You can find geishas in Tokyo and Kyoto, where they are known as geiko in the Gion district. They performed in Tea houses, Ochaya, restaurants, or inns. But it is challenging to see them walking in the streets of Kyoto. The number of geishas is decreasing, and they are extremely expensive to hire. They are rendered as “protectors of tradition” in Japan, being part of its cultural heritage.

If you really want to see this side of Japanese culture, the best way is probably through this tour, where you can meet and even chat with a Maiko (apprendize) and have a ceremony with a Geisha. Have a look at the tour here.

Interesting things about Japan
Geisha’s district in Kanazawa, Japan


Tokyo is the largest megalopolis in the world, with a population of over 35 million people. It is a fascinating capital. Full of huge buildings, train stations, underground shopping, people, and cars everywhere. At night, it is illuminated with thousands of lights from the skyscrapers, roads, and billboards. It looks like a city of the future.

Over 90% of the capital was destroyed during WW II, so it was all rebuilt. It was mainly constructed around the train stations and consequently it has multiple activity centers. The bigger the station, the more important the district and surrounding area. It is a city without a center.

Tokyo Station/Marunouch, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara, and Ginza are the most important districts. Each district is famous for some aspect, like Akihabara, the mecca for electronics, anime, and manga enthusiasts, and Shibuya, famous for the iconic Shibuya Crossing.

It is a fascinating and overwhelming capital with a distinct architecture, culture, and organization.

Popular facts about Japan
Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is the largest megalopolis in the world – Famous things about Japan

Fuji Mountain

Fuji Mountain is the most iconic landmark in Japan. It is an active volcano that last erupted in 1707 and the highest mountain in Japan at 3776 meters. And it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It has an exceptional symmetrical cone, a nearly perfect-shaped volcano covered with snow frequently. Its imposing landscape has inspired artists for a long time; it is depicted in art literature and poetry. One of the most famous representations is the prints of Katsushika Hokusai in his series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.

You can head to the Fuiji Five Lakes regions or Hakone to appreciate the mountain. And during July and August, you can climb the mountain. Unfortunately, having a clear view of the mountain can be difficult as clouds frequently head it.

Everything you need to know about Japan
Fuji Mountain is the most iconic landmark in Japan


Tsunami is a Japanese word that the whole world adopted; it literally means “harbor wave,” as it came to mean a giant wave that can travel across the ocean basins and reach coastlines a thousand km from shore. The main cause of tsunamis is undersea earthquakes, but there are others.

Japan is highly susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis along the Pacific Ring of Fire. Throughout history, it has experienced several tsunamis. The most famous and devastating one happened in 2011.

Japan has developed a sophisticated warning system and has adopted preventive measures in case one occurs, such as regular drills, public education campaigns, and stringent building codes and construction standards to minimize damages.

What is Japan famous for

Pearl Harbour and WWII

The Empire of Japan had been expanding its territory since WW I, seeking to establish a Greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere. Facing an oil embargo by the United States, the Japanese government decided to attack the USA.

In 1941, Japan launched a surprise military strike on the US Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This propelled the US into World War II. Following the attack, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, forming the Axis Powers alliance.

The Allies, led by the US forces, gradually pushed back Japanese forces in the Pacific theater. And with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945 led to Japan’s surrender.

things you should know about Japan
Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawai in the USA | photo by jandu via Depositphotos

Atomic Bombs

In 1945, two Atomic Bombs were launched in Japan, on the 6th of August in Hiroshima and on the 9th of August in Nagasaki by the United States. The aim was to induce Japan’s unconditional surrender and the end of WW II.

The atomic bombs caused massive destruction of the cities and the loss of a thousand lives that died instantly after the crashing of the bomb. It also caused long-term health consequences due to radiation exposure, which increases the rates of cancer, birth defects, and other radiation-related illnesses.

After the Atomic bombs, Japan adopted a policy of nuclear pacifism, and it was a historic mark of the devastating impact of nuclear weapons. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are several memorials, museums, and annual ceremonies that have become a symbol of the pursuit of peace and the rejection of nuclear weapons.

Japan is still the only country in the world to have ever been bombed with atomic bombs. And let’s hope that it continues that way! One of the most popular things in Hiroshima is taking a guided tour to the world heritage sites related to the atomic bomb of Hiroshima.

What is Japan known for
Hiroshima Peace Memorial-  only structure that remained standing after the Atomic Bomb | photo by masterlu via Depositphotos


Japan is one of the most technologically developed countries in the world. It developed new technologies like compact discs, DVDs, walkmans, and hybrid cars. It excels in automobile technology, robotics, and microelectronics.

Famous Japanese companies like Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba are global leaders in producing televisions, cameras, audio equipment, and computers. They are also important automotive manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan. And leaders in high-speed rail technology.

Japan has contributed significantly to various industries and innovation and is a powerhouse regarding technology.

Japan famous things
Flashy Billboards in Osaka, Japan


What is Japan famous for? Robots! Japanese love robots! They are part of their culture, and they have a longstanding relationship with them. Since the 17th century, Japan has created mechanized puppets or automata used in religious festivities and theaters. Robots are also portrayed frequently in mangas and animes. They are part of Japanese pop culture.

Japan is a global leader in producing industrial robots – they created robots for various applications, including healthcare with mobility robots, the creation of humanoid robots like ASIMO by Honda, and HRP-4C by AIST.

The Japanese regard robots as something friendly and highly accepted in society and for domestic use.

Weird Japanese TV Shows

Japan has some unconventional and unique TV shows that are over the top and don’t exist in any other country in the world. They are game shows with quirky games or unexpected twists and eccentric punishments.

Some examples of weird Japanese shows are:

  • Candy or Not Candy: contestants must bite into objects to determine if they are made of candy or not;
  • Silent Library: participants trying to complete tasks silently in a library setting;
  • Slippery stairs: contestants must climb slippery stairs to claim a prize
  • Human Tetris: contestants have to mold themself to pass through a mold in a styrofoam wall
  • Takeshi’s Castle: a large number of contestants face a series of crazy and often physically demanding challenges with the ultimate goal of storming the castle

The shows are designed to entertain, be ridiculous, eccentric, and be funny.

Video Games

Japan is a major player in the video game industry. At the beginning of 1990, 50% of the video games sold worldwide were made in Japan. Some of the most famous and important video game companies are based in Japan.

Big companies like Nintendo, which invented the Game Boy, and famous games like Donkey Kong, Super Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda, and Pokemon. Square Enix is one of the biggest producers of video games. It created Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and other RPG (role-playing games). You also have Sony, the creator of the PlayStation. Konami is known for Dance Dance Revolution, Pro Evolution Soccer, and other popular games.

Arcade culture is also a major influence among Japanese, and many classic arcade games have originated from Japanese developers. This culture has had a lasting impact on the design of video games. It is still one very popular night activity in Tokyo.

Although Japanese video games have lost quite a lot of market share, they remain a major player and a big influence in the video game scene.

Curious things about Japan
Video game stores in Akihabara in Tokyo, Japan – Well-known things about Japan


J-pop refers to Japanese pop music, which includes everything from pop and rock to electronic dance music. Generally, the artists feature young performers in their teens or early twenties who sing and dance and have massive fans following the groups.

J-pop songs are easy to find, and people love reproducing them in karaoke (the Japanese love Karaoke). J-pop often uses theme songs for anime series, movies, and video games.

Since the 90s, J-pop has gained fame worldwide. Famous artists like AKB48, Perfume, Babymetal, Arashi, Ayumi Hamasaki, Exile, etc, are known globally.

Fun things about Japan
J-Pop bands influence the world music scene

Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine is one of the most famous in the world. It has even been added to the UNESCO Intangible Heritage list. In 2011, Japan had the most three-starred Michelin restaurants worldwide, and in 2018, Tokyo had the most extensive accumulation of Michelin stars.

Japanese have very high standards for food and are authentic gourmets. Its cuisine emphasizes high-quality ingredients, precise culinary techniques, and presentation. Restaurants are normally specialized. And even in the simple restaurants around the corner of fast food chains, the food is delicious.

The base of its food is rice and miso soup. Seafood plays a prominent role in Japanese cuisine. Sushi is the most famous dish that is appreciated worldwide. But besides sushi, there are so many iconic dishes like gyoza, ramen, tempura, onigiri, okonomiyaki, and Katsu curry. They are all delicious.

The best part is that dining out in Japan is cheap. Japanese people almost always eat out because it is much cheaper than cooking. However, if you want to check out what Japan offers, we suggest going to a Kaiseke dinner.

Everything about Japan
A typical meal in Japan – sashimi with tempura and miso soup


Japanese love baseball. Next to sumo, we would say it is their favorite sport. You will frequently find posters and magazines about baseball. Japanese baseball is often referred to as Nippon Professional Baseball. It is a highly popular and competitive professional league.

High school and college baseball are also very competitive; many players come from these circles. The sport was introduced in Japan in the 19th century and has been popular since then. Even during WWII, they continued playing.

Onsen and Sento

Japan has a long tradition of using public baths like Onsen and Sento, which have been part of its culture for centuries. While Onsen is a hot spring bath that can be used indoors or outdoors, Sentos are gender-segregated public baths that people use for cleansing and social interaction.

In Onsens, water is taken directly from the spring and has natural minerals from volcanic areas. You can find Onsen all over Japan, as it is possible to pump out hot springs from almost anywhere in the country. The water of an onsen must be at least 24º C, and they have therapeutic properties due to the minerals in the water. Enjoy an Onsen at Ryokans, minshuku (guesthouse), or public baths.

Both onsens and sento imply bathing naked in the tub, but normally, they are gender divided. However, if you stay in a Ryokan or Minshuku, you may have the onsens only for you. Before entering the bath, you need to wash yourself. And the majority of Onsen and Sento refuse entry to people with tattoos.

Besides the cleansing aspect, Onsen and Sento are places to relax and enjoy their therapeutic benefits and are important social and cultural practices in Japan.

Popular Japanese culture
Outdoor Onsen in Japan is one of the most famous things about Japan

High-tech Toilets

What is Japan known for? Japanese toilets are a unique answer!

High-tech toilets are peculiar and uniquely Japanese, and they are not found outside Japan. However, they exist in other Asian countries like Korea and Taiwan.

They are sophisticated toilets with different features that make your experience of going to the bathroom much more pleasurable. They can be more or less complex, but most of them include a heated seat, a bidet function, which allows users to clean themselves with water spray, an air dryer, motion sensors that automatically open and close the toilet seats, sound masking music to provide privacy and self-cleaning function.

It is a pity that the high-tech Toilet trend hasn’t spread to other Western countries.

Japanese well-known facts
Famous high-tech toilet in Japan

Shintoism or Shinto

Shinto is a polytheistic religion indigenous to Japan. It is based on the veneration of “spirits” or “gods” called Kami that inhabit natural elements like trees, mountains, waterfalls, objects, and people. Humans become Kami after they die.

Shintoism doesn’t have dogmas, scriptures, or a clear way of praying, and no spiritual leader exists. It can be classified as a philosophy or a way of living. It has a collection of rituals and ceremonies often performed at Shinto Shrines.

Often, Shinto coexists with Buddhism, and people practice elements of both religions.

Information about Japan
Shinto Shrine in Kyoto, Japan

Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are masterpieces of perfection, harmony, and thoughtfulness. Visiting one is like admiring a natural work of art that is brilliantly crafted. They are very different from Western gardens as they are molded with spiritual and philosophical ideas in mind and are distinctive in their symbolism of nature.

There are diverse styles of gardens, each serving distinct purposes, from strolling gardens for the leisure of feudal lords to dry stone gardens designed for religious practices by monks. There are basically three types of gardens: hill gardens (Tsukiyama), dry gardens (Karesansui), and tea gardens (Chaniwa).

The aesthetics of Japanese gardens influence the world. They introduce minimalist design features with a strong focus on balance and harmony. Elements such as stone arrangements, water features, and the use of symbolism in plant selection have been integrated into other gardens worldwide.

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Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, Japan – Considered one of the three most beautiful Japanese gardens.


Bonsai refers to the art of growing and training miniature trees in containers. It is a form of living sculpture. Although traditional art from Japan has spread worldwide, many people partake in it. There are notable international bonsai artists and competitions, and it is a popular hobby.

Actually, Bonsai originated in China but spread and developed in Japan. It is associated with harmony and balance and involves patience and simplicity. It is very associated with Zen philosophy.

Cool facts about Japan
Bonsai is a traditional Japanese art that has spread throughout the world

Tea Ceremony – Chado

The tea ceremony, or chado, is a Japanese tradition that involves preparing, serving, and drinking matcha (a variety of green tea). The preparation is laborious and very precise, and steps and protocols must be followed. It is a cultural activity based on the principles of Zen Buddhism.

The main purpose of the tea ceremony is for the guests to enjoy the host’s hospitality and appreciate art and craftsmanship. It normally occurs in a tea room with a tatami floor surrounded by a garden. A Japanese sweet is served and eaten before the tea. The ceremony is defined by exact hand movements and an exact way to prepare and drink the tea.

If you want to experience a tea ceremony, the best option is to book one in a traditional tea house in Kyoto like this one. It is truly a cultural experience and something to remember later.

Japanese famous traditions
Macha and a Japanese sweet, one of Japan’s most famous traditions


Pachinkos are popular Japanese arcade games that combine pinball and slot machines. The machine fires small balls, and you win or lose, depending on where they fall. The aim is to finish with more balls than when you started. It is a game of luck. You can only control the speed at which the balls are fired. It is a very addicting game, and it is often used for gambling.

Japan is full of pachinko parlors, packed with people. You can recognize them by their bright and colorful exteriors, the noisy interiors of the flapping balls, and the loud music.

Gambling in Japan is illegal, and Pachinko machines are a way to bypass the prohibition. If you win more than when you started, you get a token to sell back to the parlor with a small commission.

Famous things about Japan
Pachinko parlors – a famous slot game in Japan

Shinkansen – Japanese Bullet train

Shinkansen is one of the most famous things about Japan. They are high-speed trains, and some models reach up to 320 km/h. They are known for their punctuality, comfort, safety, and efficiency.

The Shinkansen was the first high-speed train in the world; they started operating in 1964, connecting Tokyo and Osaka in time for the Tokyo Olympics. Today, the railway system operates all over the country. It is possible to travel from one point of the country to another (from Hokkaido to Kyushu).

Besides being fast, Shinkansen trains are very comfortable and spacious. There are also themed Shinkansen trains, like Hello Kitty Shinkansen and Evangelion Shinkansen, which have Hello Kitty-themed decorations and meals.

Another cool aspect of the Shinkansen is the different types and styles of train bento boxes you can eat inside. The downside of Shinkansen is that they are very expensive.

Cultural things about Japan
Hello Kitten super-express train in Japan

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Things Japan is known for

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