I’m not sure what part you’ll be in, but these are things either that I really liked, or have heard about that were really cool.
Of course there is Tokyo, if you like busy, hustle and bustle, cool sort of things. There are lots of things and parts of Tokyo to go. I really liked the old Edo area, personally, I think it is fun to go there, then to the big main area. Harajuku and Akihabara were cool if you like the nerdier sides of Japan, want to see a lot of people dressed up (especially in Akihabara). Akihabara is the center for gaming and TV stuff and electronics – basically ner central. Harajuku is more of a big street fashion district now.
Asakusa is really cool. It has a giant shrine and temple, with gorgeous architecture and art and such. Also in Tokyo.
Another area which is GORGEOUS is Kamakura. I think it’s like three hours from Tokyo? You can get there by the train. In Spring, there is this hill that is covered in different varieties of hydrangeas I’ve never seen anywhere else. But there are also lots of temples nad gorgeous buildings. The largest hollow Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) is here, you can go inside it.
Then a place that is not famous at all, but I personally loved, was Nokogiriyama, in Chiba (one of the prefectures attached to Tokyo). I believe you have to drive to it, but it’s a gorgeous mountain by the seaside. You take a gorgeous walk, along which are lined hundreds of little Buddha saint statues, and steps. In the spring there are also hydrangeas, and at some time of year there are monkeys! If you enjoy hiking at all you’ll like it a lot. As you climb, you will first see the biggest, I believe, Daibutsu in Japan, even though the place is not popular. Nearer to the end of the hike, there is a giant flat-ish kanon (standing Buddha, basically) carved into a cliffside. It’s gorgeous. Then you come out at the top of the mountain, and can look out over Japan country side and see where it hits the water and such. Really beautiful, and I love how few people there are there. Everywhere else in Japan was pretty bustling, but this relatively unknown area was peaceful, the best of nature meets manmade.
Of course Kyoto is supposed to be gorgeous. And also I heard Nikko is really cool. Super duper preserved old-style historical town.
Let’s see, you should definitely go to an onsen (public bath). Yes, it sounds awkward, and yes you are naked with a bunch of other women, but it is seriously sooo relaxing. You get over the awkward in about ten minutes, and will feel amazingly detoxed afterward.
Also, make sure to go to a good ramen shop! Real, good Japanese ramen is just to die for! Haha, I think it might be what I miss most about Japan! If you go to Tokyo or Chiba, my friend’s family owns shop with the best ramen I had anywhere in Japan, I can get you the name if you want it. Little hole-in-the-wall place.
Uhhh, let’s see… learn how to ask “Can I take your picture?” (If you just ask what sounds like Shah-sheen?” they’ll prolly get what you mean, but if you can learn the whole phrase that would be best) because some of the people dressed crazy are working for places and don’t allow pictures. Other people will pretend to be bashful when you take their picture unless you ask first. Other foods that are amazing – tonkatsu, yakitori, yakiniku, Japanese curry, okonomiyaki. There are many others too, I’m sure, that I never really got to try, but those were my personal favourites.