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10 Popular Hobbies to Try in Japan

When you come to Japan, you will notice that the Japanese are always active. It’s important to know just what keeps the them active because then you will be able to keep up and participate with them. Participating and spending time with the locals while doing their favorite pastime activities is an important part of experiencing Japan and learning about Japanese culture. To get you started, here are 10 popular hobbies that you can pick up during your stay in Japan.


1. Watching Anime and Reading Manga

Anime and manga is a popular pastime in Japan. People of all ages, genders, professions, and everything in between can enjoy anime and manga. It’s all a matter of finding the right one for you. Many mangas have anime adaptations, so if reading is not quite your thing, you can watch the same characters and storylines in motion. Popular manga includes One Piece, Attack on Titan, and Tokyo Ghoul–all of which have equally popular anime versions that you can watch. You may find people riding buses, trains, or waiting, with a manga book in their hands reading the time away.


2. Karaoke

Karaoke machines came about in the 1970s and it became a favorite pastime tool for people all around the world. It’s a lot of fun in Japan because unlike many other places in the west (America), Karaoke is done in a small room with only friends there to hear you screech like a rooster. It’s a lot less embarrassing and easier to let loose and have fun. Typical karaoke places will give you a timeslot to sing. You can order food and drinks as well. So grab a melon soda a friend and sing that new J Soul Brothers tune.


3. Gaming



Gaming is a popular hobby in Japan and being that Japan is the home of some of the most famous gaming companies, it’s an easy habit to start. Games can range from consoles to classic arcade games. One of the most popular games is Pachinko, which is like a pinball game and arcade game in one. You can find a Pachinko place around every corner. Another popular game is a Taiko no Tatsujin or Taiko Drum Master. It’s a lot of fun even if you’re terrible at it. While you’re in Japan, play the dance game. You won’t regret it.


4. Baseball and Football (Not American)

If you’re looking for a way to exercise, you can try your hand at baseball or Football. Baseball and Football are very popular pastimes for those who love to get the rush of an intense workout by sports. People are often friendly, competitive, and always try their best, so it makes the games fun. If you aren’t keen on playing the sport, you can always check out a professional baseball game and cheer on your favorite team.


5. Learning a Language

In Japan, English is one of the required languages to learn in school and after graduating, students usually no longer take foreign language lessons; however, many people find that studying a language is a great way to meet foreigners and learn about other countries. There is always someone who wants to study a foreign language so finding a partner is easy. If you are studying Japanese, participating in language exchanges will allow you to meet Japanese people or other foreigners who are also studying a foreign language.


6. Ikebana

Ikebana (生け花), meaning “living flower,” is one of many traditional hobbies enjoyed by native and non-native Japanese people alike. It’s the art of flower arrangement. Ikebana embodies the feeling of the traditional Japanese belief that there is beauty in simplicity and nature. You can find may places in Japan that offers Ikebana classes and take them alone or with friends. Ikebana is not only for women but also men too. If you want to enjoy the poetics and aesthetics of balancing natural shapes and colors, Ikebana may certainly be a hobby of interest.


7. Kyudo

Another hobby that stems from tradition is Japanese archery or Kyudo. Kyudo, meaning the art of the bow, is the perfect pastime for you if you want something that requires calmness, discipline, and focus. Kyudo is a great way to learn about the traditional culture of Japan and you get to wear the super cool kimono-hakama-tabi combination. This will make great pictures for Instagram.


8. Karate

If you want something a little more active, Karate is another martial art form that was passed down throughout the ages. It offers the same challenges of discipline and focus that Kyudo does, except with a lot more tests of stamina. There are many places that offer Karate lessons in Japan and some even offer them in English.


9. Cooking

Cooking is a popular hobby among women as well as men in Japan. Many people enroll in cooking classes and practice making various kinds of food during the weekends or vacation time. Some students participate in culinary club activities as well. If you love food and want to learn how to cook Japanese style cuisine, taking 料理 (ryouri) classes can be a lot of fun. It is said that cooking Japanese food is difficult because the flavors must be well balanced. If you’re up for the challenge, this hobby is for you.


10. Knitting

With Japan’s rich history of handcrafted skills and artisan work, it’s not a surprise that many Japanese people are skilled at or enjoy doing handcrafting activities such as knitting. Knitting is a hobby enjoyed by many women of all ages in Japan. It’s a relaxing and quiet activity that you can enjoy by yourself or with friends. It’s also quite portable and it doesn’t cost a lot or require much to start the hobby. So you can knit anytime, anywhere, as much as you want. It can also be great for making gifts or omiyage (souvenir) for friends and family.


There is a lot that you can do in Japan and picking up a popular hobby is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. The good thing about it is that many of these hobbies can be done with other people and by yourself alone. So whether you travel to Japan with someone or on your own, you can find something fun to do and possibly make friends doing it.