Whether you just freshly arrived in Japan or you’re a seasoned local, chances are you might get bored repeating the same activities in your free time. If you’re at a loss for what to try in your free time or want to commit to getting better at something by taking advantage of what’s around you, here are some suggestions for new hobbies to try!
As you might know, to fully “get” Japan and break out of the expat bubble, learning Japanese is a must. Although it’s notorious as a difficult language to learn, being able to use Japanese in your daily life can help make things much more convenient. Shop clerks in Japan can give you the best assistance and advice, and you can dive deep into certain topics by browsing Japanese magazines or specialty books—the benefits are endless. While some opt for self study, classes with professional teachers and clear schedules can help you reach milestones much faster and more efficiently without knowledge gaps.
Two GoConnect partners are offering Japanese language courses that give you the flexibility of taking in-person or online classes, or private or group classes, as well as convenient time slots that meet your schedule. Toranomon Language School offers free demo lessons, waives registration fees and gives you a 10% discount for all courses. And Valiant Japanese Language School features a wide variety of courses to meet your needs.
Hiking and Camping
Japan is known for its beautiful natural scenery. Living in almost any area of Japan will allow you to appreciate nature, beautiful weather, and clean air. Japanese residents love their domestic trips to neighboring prefectures outside of Tokyo, which provide views of starry skies on hiking or camping trips. Hiking is tremendously popular in Japan: whether you’re young or old, anyone can enjoy getting outdoors year round. Camping is also a popular activity.
While some routes are accessible by train from the big cities, many are not. So to truly enjoy rustic, untouched nature in Japan, being able to drive to great spots can really help. If you don’t have your Japanese license, you can do your course in two weeks of intensive training at a driving school. If you can’t dedicate two solid weeks to learning, you can also take weekend lessons to obtain your license at schools such as Koyama Driving School.
Summer or Winter Sports
Besides camping, other activities are also readily available in Japan. In beachside regions, popular sports include surfing or sailing. The Shonan area in Kanagawa Prefecture is accessible from Tokyo for day trips where you can enjoy the beautiful beaches while learning new water sports.
In mountainous areas such as Nagano or Niigata, winter sports are a big draw thanks to the fresh, powdery snow that tourists book trips to Japan just to experience. Besides skiing and snowboarding on the slopes, if you want to see more nature and fewer people, you can try backcountry skiing or snowboarding in the wilderness. Guided tours can be booked at many resort areas around the country.
Traditional Japanese Culture
To really explore Japanese culture beyond pop culture such as anime or manga, traditional culture like the tea ceremony, kimono or ikebana offer windows into the country’s heritage. As you learn these practices, you will be guided under the instruction of a master who has spent years learning and refining their knowledge of these traditions. If you like flowers and want to learn more about the art of flower arrangement, our partner Mika Otani, who leads Atelier Soka, is offering lessons in English for enthusiasts to give ikebana a try.
Learn a Musical Instrument
Like music and never got a chance to learn or practice a musical instrument when you were younger? It’s never too late to start. While some might think that music lessons are inaccessible due to the language barrier, fear not because our partner at Tokyo Piano School offers affordable private lessons in a variety of musical styles to cater to students’ interests. Why not practice the piano and wow your friends at a dinner party? Not only can you improve your confidence, you can also gain other benefits through musical instruments like improving your memory and brain speed!
Japan is home to a wide variety of martial arts that use weapons as well as bare hands. Martial arts in Japan are all influenced by bushido, the warrior philosophy of the samurai, and demand rigorous training of the mind and body. Judo, kyudo (archery), and kendo are just a few of the martial arts that you can practice here. It’s a good way to meet new friends and learn about Japanese society. Learning martial arts not only helps you learn about your body, but also offers good self-defense techniques, and a means of developing a healthy mindset.
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