2013.12.15 mt fuji and airplane

Are you planning to make that trip to Japan in the new year and in need of a few travel tips? Well, look no further because we here at RocketNews24 know a little bit about the Land of the Rising Sun and want to share our collective knowledge with you about unique restaurants, free Tokyo attractions, haunted places and surprisingly interesting tours.

So whether you are planning a first-time visit to Japan or you are looking for something new on a return trip to the country we all have come to love, click below and bookmark this post to jumpstart your 2014 travel plans to Japan!

Before you request time off for that well-earned vacation, you should probably figure out how much of Japan you would like to see on your trip. Here are four RocketNews24 articles about some of the best places to visit in Japan as well as specific sightseeing spots to visit:

Foreign Visitors pick the 20 coolest places in Japan

Trip Advisor asked foreign visitors to Japan to rank the top 20 coolest places in Japan, and these are the results. Many of these spots are well-known tourist destinations like Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and Nijo Castle in Kyoto, but the list also includes some quirky places like Yokohama’s Cup Noodle Museum.

▼ Instant ramen enthusiasts can create their own with 5,000 possible flavor combinations

2013.12.16 Japan travel cup noodle

Image: Rakuten

Japan’s lesser known natural treasures

If you are looking for a tour of Japan’s magnificent natural landscape, check out this article for a look at some of the many different options for beautiful scenery, from the snow-capped mountains in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido to the tropical islands dotting Okinawa Prefecture in the far south.

▼ Takeda Castle, often called the “castle in the sky,” in Hyogo Prefecture offers a breathtaking view for the tourist looking to be at the top of the world

2013.12.16 Japan travel asago castle

Image: Yakei Kabegami

Japan’s 20 best free sightseeing spots

Japan is by no means the cheapest place to travel, but this article pointing out 20 spots with free admission should help you to save a few yen while you’re here. And between seeing how shrimp crackers get made and touring a gigantic dam that’s praised as a perfect date spot, these freebies should keep you pretty entertained.

▼ Suntory brewery in Kyoto has free tours with samples of its beer at the end. Yes, you read that correctly: free beer!

2013.12.16 Japan travel suntory beer

Image: Yahoo! Japan Blogs (msklex)

Free Admission – Twelve of Tokyo’s Best Kept Secrets

Since Tokyo has two of Japan’s main international airports, you are likely to find yourself flying in through this huge concrete metropolis. If you have some extra time and want to explore the cheaper side of the city, take a look at this article to find 12 great free spots around Tokyo.

▼ The observation deck at the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building is free to enter, and on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji off to the west


Image: Wikipedia

Now if you are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, here are five articles that point out some very interesting places to visit or great things to experience that an ordinary tourist may not see:

Five streets that Japanese tourists want to visit

You might think a tour of Japanese streets sounds incredibly lame, but these are not just any ordinary streets. These are actually very popular destinations for Japanese domestic tourists who admire these roads for the beautiful architecture that lines them and the nostalgic atmosphere created by the windy pathways.

▼ This cute little street is in an area, called “Tsumago-juku” is in Nagano Prefecture’s Nagiso Town

2013.12.16 Japan travel street

Image: Nakatsugawa Tourism Association

Top 20 factory tours in Japan

While taking a tour of a factory in a foreign country in a language you don’t understand may not sound like your idea of a good time, these are some great tours that you may want to check out, and they all come highly recommended on Trip Advisor. If that still doesn’t convince you, many of them involve some kind of alcohol or food, and who would pass that up?

▼ A look at what you can expect during a tour of Hokkaido’s famous sweet treat Shiroi Koibito

2013.12.16 Japan travel shiroi koibito

Image: Excite Blog (koutanoie)

The top 10 haunted spots in Japan

Japan may have an abundance of the cute and cuddly, but if scaring yourself to death sounds more like your style, check out this story about the top haunted spots in Japan as chosen by a professional ghost chaser. We recommend you bring a back-up pair of underwear if you choose this adventure.

▼ The ghost expert maintains that someone went insane and disappeared after a visit to these totally creepy schoolhouse ruins in Hokkaido

2013.12.16 Japan travel haunted

Image: Wotakisshu

11 unique experiences for tourists to Japan

Don’t just come to Japan to watch, but come and get in on the action by learning sushi from a professional chef or transforming yourself into a super-tanned giant-haired gyaru.

▼ Or get your ears carefully cleaned for US$30 from a woman paid to pretend she’s your mother

2013.12.16 Japan travel ears

Image: Voyagin

Take a bath!

While not exactly odd, a lot of foreign visitors miss out on a great Japanese experience by not taking a dip in one of the many hot springs all over the country. But since taking a bath in Japan may not be the same as at home, take a look at this story to familiarize yourself with Japanese bathing customs – it’s something that everyone visiting the country should experience at least once.

▼ Now doesn’t that look relaxing?

2013.12.16 Japan travel bath

Image: Wikipedia

All that sightseeing is going to make you hungry, and while you may think you know Japanese food why not try out these weird but fun restaurants and bars?

Prison food

No, we are not advocating you try prison food firsthand by getting yourself arrested, but there is a restaurant in Hokkaido that serves up meals based on actual recipes from Japanese prisons. Apparently the food is quite delicious!

▼ This is, hopefully, the closest you ever come to serving time in Japan

2013.12.16 Japan travel prison food

Image: RocketNews24

Dirt restaurant

Don’t let the highfalutin French name fool you, this Tokyo restaurant serves its customers straight up dirt. At 10,000 yen (US$100) for the “dirt course,” this peculiar meal is certainly one of the strangest things you may eat and even enjoy.

▼ Which utensil should you use to eat a meal made of dirt? A shovel?

2013.12.16 Japan travel dirt

Image: RocketNews24

Tokyo’s 14 weirdest bars

If you are on a liquid diet, here are 14 of the strangest bars in Tokyo where you can imbibe while listening to celebrity impersonators, enjoy a magic show or watch the night sky above you.

▼ Fish for your own dinner at this Japanese pub

2013.12.16 Japan travel izakaya

Image: RocketNews24

And since we cannot let you come to Japan without getting a good night’s sleep, check out three of our articles detailing hotels in Japan:

The cheapest hotel in Japan

If you are truly on a budget and don’t mind staying in a place that even creeps out serial killers, make sure you read our brave reporter’s story about sleeping in a Osaka hotel that cost just 500 yen (US$5) per night.

▼ What a deal! Each room comes with a blanket and a nightmare!

2013.12.16 Japan travel cheap hotel

Image: RocketNews24

26 amazing thing about Japanese budget hotels

Japanese budget hotels can be a great bargain for travelers looking for something a little nicer than a hostel, but a step down from a five-star luxury resort. Read the whole article to learn more about the little perks of staying in a budget hotel!

▼ Like free bathroom amenities!

2013.12.16 Japan travel hotel

Image: RocketNews24

21 themed Japanese hotel rooms that you won’t believe

And if you are looking to stay in a hotel room that is decorated with anime characters or robots, then you should look at this article which features 21 uniquely themed hotel rooms all across Japan. These rooms certainly are not the cheapest, but is price really an issue for someone who wants to sleep in an Evangelion-style capsule bed?

▼ Dibs on the Kamen Rider room!

2013.12.16 Japan travel hotel kamen rider

Image: Ikenotaira Hotel

While this is hardly a comprehensive list of things to do and places to see, we hope that this can serve as a springboard to get you thinking about that upcoming trip to Japan. Let us know if there’s anywhere in particular in Japan you’ve had your eye on for a while and we’ll do our best to check it out for you and provide our full insight!

Featured image: Flickr (pablo808)