Leisure in Japan

leisure in Japan
Updated 2022-12-21 12:03

What can you do during your free time in Japan? Let's not talk about tourist attractions here but rather about everyday leisure activities that Japanese people usually do after a good week of work, after school, or for the weekend. Of course, we recall that each person is unique. The list below suggests some popular activities in Japan. You will certainly 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 it is a chic, fashionable or themed restaurant-café or a small-town restaurant. Medium and small Japanese towns also have their gastronomic delights. And this, for a popular price. Eating in Japan is not expensive. You will easily find reasonably priced restaurants and cafes. Below are a few examples:


  • Shizuoka:

Kushiemon (from 800 yens),
Shibubaru (from 980 yens),
Manten (from 1200 yens),
Rakuzo (from 3000 yens),
Utano (from 6000 yens)

  • Sapporo:

Ebisoba ichimaboroshi (from 999 yens),
Garaku (from 1000 yens),
Sapporo kitchen (from 2000 yens),
Hakko yard (from 3000 yens), 

  • Fukuoka:

Chikae (from 1000 yens),
Umegaemochi (from 999 yens),
Wakamatsuya (from 2000 yens),
Hakatagion tetsunabe (from 3000 yens), 

  • Okinawa:

Dai ichi makishikōsetsu ichiba,
Teuchi soba kishimoto shokudō (from 999 yen),
Koshu to ryūkyūryōri urizun (from 1000 yen),
Maguro senmon izakaya Hitoshi (from 2000 yen)


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

  • Tokyo

You are warned! Cocochicafe's Instagram account will make you drool! Pastry and ice cream lovers are most welcome. If you fancy a little nap time after your cute and hearty snack, head for the hammocks at Mahika Mano. The café serves sweet and savory meals in a snug-in-my-hammock style. Don't worry, you'll have a small table to better enjoy your meal. 

  • Osaka

Osaka, too, has its kawaii cafes. For a colorful and greedy break, go to Mi-oru 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.

You will find the links to these addresses at the end of this article.

Become a chef in Japan

For some years now, cooking shows have been taking over television channels.  While in France, the United Kingdom or the United States, culinary contests are a big part of the programs, in Japan, the focus is on learning and discovery. In various shows, you may find yourself drooling over the dishes offered to guests. You will end up noting the best addresses with the aim of becoming an adventurous gourmet or trying 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 that is exported on YouTube. Haruan, Koh Kentetsu or Inaka soba Kaha are real stars on Youtube. Find their videos 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 that is accessible to everyone and quite affordable. It is, besides, a good pretext for having a good time in solo or in a group. In Japan, as in many other countries, people like to go to the movies. And if you are learning Japanese, test your level by going to see films with their OST (Original Sound Track). You can also find movies with English subtitles.

Going to a concert in Japan 

Maybe you would 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. Pop, rock, jazz, electro, classical music, enka, everything is there. 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

It is rather a weekend leisure 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 in 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 

And if you are more into 2-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, of course, 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. And to let off steam between meetings, after a long day (or just for fun), go 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-golfs, 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 games centers. Their big advantage is their price. A game costs 100 yens in general (110 with taxes). Regarding games, you have a lot of choices: DDR (Dance Dance Revolution), VR (virtual reality), survival game, fighting game, race, music, etc. The biggest game centers stretch over several floors. People often go there with friends to relax and have fun.

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 great time. The concept is quite simple: you rent a booth according to the time you want to spend (30 minutes, 1 hour, a whole night...). You choose your options (with or without food, with or without alcohol). And there you go, ready to make your artist's vocal chords 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 more varied, and you can rent fancy costumes.

Top karaoke spots by region

  • Hokkaido: Karaoke Utaya
  • Tohoku, Kanto et Koshinetsu (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe): Karaoke Manekineko
  • Tokai: Karaoke JOYJOY
  • Kinki (Kansai): Jankara (Janbo Karaoke)
  • Kyushu/Okinawa: Korokke Club

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 less 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% leisure 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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