Japan is a country dripping in culture and ancient traditions. Amazingly, lots of these practices have continued until today as hobbies that people of all ages, genders, and abilities can enjoy.
So, what’s the most popular hobby in Japan? The most popular hobby in Japan is watching movies. Like the rest of the world, the popularity of streaming services like Netflix means that everyone has access to the latest releases. This coupled with the extremely busy lifestyles many workers have makes watching movies the number one hobby.
But you didn’t come here for that.
Luckily, there are plenty of others to choose from too.
Let’s take a walk through another 10 popular pastimes that Japan has to offer us. You never know, you might find your new favorite activity!
1. Manga and Anime
Manga originated in the 1900s and the popularity of these Japanese comics has continued to boom ever since. Nowadays, there is a massive market for it in Japan, and across the world.
While the west has saved this style of book for young adults, in Japan, anyone and everyone like to read them. Yep, even businessmen.
The content of manga genres is amazingly broad. Everything from historical fiction to sci-fi and teenage romance is written in this beautiful format. Generally, you can separate each series into one of the following age ranges:
- Young adult
So, where does anime come into this?
Well, manga stays as manga unless it becomes super popular. In which case, it gets made into anime, i.e. a Japanese style animation. You have probably heard of Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and Dragonball Z, right? These all started as manga comics!
Shodo, otherwise known as calligraphy or the practice of artistic handwriting, dates back to 5th century Japan. This makes it one of the oldest forms of art in the country.
There are hundreds of calligraphy styles these days, but all of them have been created from shodo. To do this properly, it would take years of practice and dedication to achieve the correct lines, shapes, and space associated with traditional Japanese calligraphy.
Not only do these artists use a brush and dipping ink, but they also attune themselves with their inner stillness and spiritual flow. In this sense, shodo isn’t just an art form. It’s also a relaxation activity for your mind, body, and soul.
At this point, you might be wondering how you can find peace with this awe-inspiring Japanese hobby. We don’t blame you! And as long as you have the tools, a space to let your mind truly focus, and give yourself time to simply be, you will reap the rewards.
3. Going To Izakaya
The Japanese love to visit their local izakaya with their friends and loved ones. If you have ever traveled here, you will have found that many guides translate the word “izakaya” into “pub” but that does not encompass the unique experience that these establishments give you.
Similarly to a pub, drinking is typically involved (so it goes without saying that this is an adult hobby). But unlike a western pub, the menu features hundreds of fabulously cooked shared dishes for you to try. Depending on the particular izakaya you go to, you will be able to choose from the following and more:
- Karaage (Japanese fried chicken)
- Yaitori (Japanese skewered chicken)
- French fries
- Ebi-mayo (fried shrimp with mayo)
- Grilled fish
- Nabe (Japanese hotpot)
Everything you eat will go brilliantly with the beer you’re drinking. Not to mention that you can go out with a group of friends and not be desperately outnumbered by happy couples! Yep, this is not a spot for a romantic meal.
In recent years, Kyudo (or Japanese archery, as it is otherwise called) has been used as a sport to enrich lives. However, it only came into being from the battles that occurred in Japan more than 10,000 years ago.
Those who choose to learn Kyudo — any age or gender can have a go — must always practice it in their kimono, hakama (loose-fitting pants), and tabi (socks that have a separate area for your big toe). Once all this has been donned, they pick up their bow and arrow, and away they go.
The greatest aspect of this Japanese archery style is that it is not about hitting the target. Instead, students and teachers alike focus on the Shagyo (the process of shooting). If this is up to scratch, then whether you hit or miss is a moot point.
Just like a lot of pastimes in Japan, it is far more about finding peace and enhancing your technique, than it is about winning or losing.
Just the word “ikebana” spreads a calm feeling throughout our soul! But the act is arguably much more fulfilling.
Ikebana is the Japanese art of arranging flowers, blossoms, leaves, branches, and stems to find the beauty in the everyday. You could say “well it’s just floristry then” but it is so much more.
With this practice, you aren’t just randomly popping flowers from the supermarket into a vase. Instead, you are trying to allow your live art medium to express emotion.
Here, the branches and such are made into sculptures. Every placement is deeply considered before it is secured. Color, form, function, and line come into play which leaves the result unexpected, beautiful, and unique.
But, ikebana artists haven’t stopped there.
Symbolism and seasonality play a major role in their creations. You may well know that a lot of native flowers and plants have a deep symbolic meaning in Japanese culture so they incorporate this into their makes.
Even though origami is quite popular across the globe now, it never used to be. Paper folding was a strictly religious and ceremonial practice in Japan until long after the 6th century. Why? Because acquiring paper was incredibly difficult back then.
The traditional techniques used in Japanese origami were passed down orally (sometimes even anonymously) from one generation to the next. However, as this pastime swept throughout the world, it became a far less secretive and exclusive practice.
As you know, paper can be purchased from almost every shop now which makes origami the perfect hobby for any gender, age, and ability.
Of course, the more you practice, the more intricate your designs can become. But since the arrival of the internet, it is easier than ever to look up tutorials so even if you’re a beginner, you will be able to create some stunning pieces.
Most people know what karaoke is — singing songs to backing music while reading the lyrics on a screen. But do you know where it originated from? That’s right, Japan!
This fun pastime is still a national favorite and is fun for the whole family. Whether it is the morning or incredibly late in the evening, there will be karaoke bars open on the streets of Japan.
Modern establishments have numerous private rooms that are decked out with the greatest equipment for you to have hours of fun. Depending on your preferred language, you will find songs in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English.
For the old souls amongst us, you can head down to a traditional karaoke bar that brings back the days of singing in front of the whole tavern, not just your friends. Yup, this can be pretty daunting but ultimately super worth it!
The Japanese word “hanami” translates to “flower viewing” in English. Although, it’s worth noting that in Japan, it is mainly “cherry blossom viewing”.
Just like the name suggests, it is easy to get involved. The only aim with this pastime is to enjoy the delights of the thousands of blossoms. You can look at a single tree if you feel like it or find a bunch of them to gaze upon.
As you look at them, you will notice that they appear almost cloud-like from far away but the closer you step, you can appreciate the beauty of one blossom too. Unless you have done this before, you can’t begin to understand the sheer blissfulness that fills your mind, body, and spirit.
Traditionally, you should blend your blossom gazing with a picnic under their protective branches to get the most out of the hanami practice.
9. Sumo Wrestling
The Japanese and those invested in Japanese culture absolutely love sumo wrestling tournaments. Nationwide, it is still one of the biggest sports around. And, they occur 6 times every year!
In the United States of America, baseball players are celebrities, in Europe, it’s the soccer players, but in Japan, Sumotoris (pro sumo wrestlers) are treated like royalty.
Sumo is just a full-contact sport. The art form is largely connected with other martial arts and deeply engrained ancient tradition. Honestly, to experience this magic, you must attend the Sumo Hall in Ryogoku, Tokyo. You will have never seen anything like it before!
10. Tea Ceremony
The Japanese tea ceremony, sometimes called Sado or the way of tea, is a ceremonial process of preparing and sipping green tea. Usually, it is conducted in a traditional tearoom that has a tatami floor.
Like with many hobbies in Japan, it is more than simply making and drinking tea. It’s done for the guests to revel in the hospitality within a calming, tranquil atmosphere. Essentially, it offers people the break they truly deserve from their often fast-paced daily life.
If you got this far, I think you’ll enjoy my post about 25 things that I believe make Japan unique. Click here to get to the article!