Culture

10 Ways to Experience Japan From Home

Immerse yourself in everything Japanese while quarantined with movies, whisky, and Japan wanderlust photos.

By 7 min read

Did a global pandemic ruin your Japan travel plans? You can still get up close and personal with Japan from the comfort of your couch or bed. Watch Japanese movies, learn the language, and study some basic Japanese culture while quarantined. You’ve got time.

10. Stream Japanese movies and series

Being stuck at home is the perfect time for binge-watching. Why not check out what Japanese movies are available for streaming? Japanese movies have become more mainstream since the ’90s and continue to surge in popularity because of anime movies like Your Name, but also classic Japanese horror movies like Ringu (The Ring). You can even watch cult-classic Ju-On (better known in the west as The Grudge) on YouTube.

GaijinPot picks

  • Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!: A well-loved show about the Fab Five giving lifestyle makeovers to Japanese everyday heroes, filmed around Tokyo in January 2019
  • Battle Royale: This dystopian movie where high school-aged children have to fight each other to the death was released eight years before The Hunger Games
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas: See the day-to-day life of a conventional Japanese family in this Studio Ghibli flick. It’s streaming on Netflix in countries outside of North America and Japan

Need more ideas? Check these out:

5 Classic Japanese Horror Movies You Must Watch

Top 5 Post Apocalyptic Anime to Watch While Social Distancing

5 Japanese Films to Put You in the Oscars Mood

9. Try New Japanese Recipes

Get off Uber Eats and level up those cooking skills by adding some Japanese food to your quarantine meal rotation. With a few basic Japanese ingredients and some planning ahead, many different Japanese dishes can be put together in a jiff.

A surefire crowd pleaser to start off with is norimaki, which is basically DIY sushi. It’s way easier than it sounds and doesn’t even require raw fish. Get some rice, cucumber, avocado, and crispy nori (seaweed) and you’re good to go. 

GaijinPot picks

  • Omurice: The classic Japanese omelette 
  • Yakisoba: Japan’s favorite summer festival dish 
  • Okonomiyaki: The classic Japanese savory pancake

Need more ideas? Check this out:

How to Make Japanese Festival Foods: Yakisoba

8. Study Japanese

Use this extra time to beef up your Japanese skills. A great place to do that is right here on GaijinPot! We have a wealth of online Japanese language resources, for people who want to study Japanese. Start with our Introduction to Japanese or Kanji Cheat Sheet series. Of course, there are loads of Japanese study apps out there as well from Duolingo to WaniKani.

Need more ideas? Check this out:

Satori Reader: This Online Tool Will Take Your Japanese Reading Skills to the Next Level

7. Read books based in Japan

“Books are the plane, the train, and the road.” Author Anna Quindlen couldn’t have said it better and this is especially true when travel is no longer in the cards. If you’ve had your fill of Japanese movies, transition over to reading books on Japan to transport you right into the far east.

To start making a dent in the massive list of Japanese books to read, try picking up a novel by one of the most famous Japanese authors, Haruki Murakami. His surreal and bizarre novels have been delighting fans for decades.

GaijinPot picks

  • Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino: An exciting crime novel with feminist undertones
  • All She Was Worth by Miyabe Miyuki: A thrilling novel by an award-winning author
  • Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa: A heroic-fantasy manga following two brothers and their journey into adulthood
  • The Rape of Nanking by Iris Cheng: A look at one of Japan’s most controversial periods in history

Need more ideas? Check these out:

Japanese Settings, International Themes: 14 Recommended Novels Set in Japan

5 of the Best Japanese Manga for 2019

6. Drink some Japanese whisky

We know the lot of you are sitting at home sipping on something. Go ahead and add Japanese whisky to your alcohol repertoire, it’s a force to be reckoned with. In 2014, Japan’s famous Yamazaki distillery beat out all of Scotland’s single malt whiskeys to earn the title of “Best Whisky In The World” with its 2013 Yamazaki Sherry Cask. Sometimes day drinking is all you have to get you through it, and that’s okay. 

GaijinPot picks

  • Suntory Hibiki Harmony (enjoyed by Bill Murray in the movie Lost in Translation)
  • Yamazaki 12
  • Yoichi Single Malt
  • Ohishi Sherry Cask Whisky
  • Nikka Coffey Malt Whisky

Not into whisky? Check these out:

This Bud’s for You: Tap into Japan’s Craft Beer Scene

Sake Cheat Sheet: Get Your Drink on with This Handy Guide to Nihonshu

5. Virtually tour Japanese art museums

As museums and art spaces around the world shut down to prevent the coronavirus spread, something amazing happened—museums started moving online, and now many of them can be viewed for free! 

Photo:
The Thinker outside the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo.

Some museums have images of their collections and stories of their exhibits. Others take it a step further. Thanks to Google Street View, you can explore the interior of museums “on foot” as you click your way around different rooms and exhibits. Explore the first and second floors of the Tokyo National Museum, or four floors of The National Museum of Western Art, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of Japan

GaijinPot picks

4. Learn Japanese martial arts

Staying physically fit can be a challenge when stuck at home in quarantine, and learning a new skill is extra motivation to get your body moving. Three popular Japanese martial arts to try are karate, aikido, and judo. Make sure everyone in your household is on good terms with each other before deciding to learn some Japanese martial arts because these kicks and throws can do some damage. 

GaijinPot picks

Need more ideas? Check these out:

Just Japan Podcast: Judo in Japan

GPod 15: Let’s Talk About Sumo!

3. Follow Japan-based instagrammers

One of the best ways to evoke wanderlust and nostalgia for a country in this day and age is Instagram. Live vicariously through photographers, businesses, and residents by feasting your eyes on Japan’s beautiful scenery and current fashion trends. 

GaijinPot picks

Need more ideas?

Follow @GaijinPot for posts that will give you the travel bug, teach you Japanese, and more! 

2. Make origami

Folding origami can be time consuming, but that works in our favor here.

The most famous origami creation is the paper crane. In Japanese culture, folding 1,000 cranes grants the folder one wish. This tradition was made famous by Sadako Sasaki, an atomic bomb victim in Hiroshima who folded hundreds of origami cranes as she wished to live. Learn how to make a paper crane and more fun shapes on Youtube. 

GaijinPot picks

1. Plan your future trip

Nothing lasts forever, not even the coronavirus (hopefully). Think positive and look towards the future by planning a trip to Japan for later. Even if you never actually take the trip, planning is half the fun and you’re bound to discover something new during your research.

Of course, the best place to discover unknown and unforgettable places in Japan is over on GaijinPot Travel

GaijinPot picks

Need more ideas? Check these out:

Top 10 Cultural Experiences in Japan

A Guide on Where to See the Mummies of Yamagata

7 Food Theme Parks and Museums in Japan for the Hungry Traveler

How are you spending your time at home? Let us know in the comments!

Related

Learn

Kanji Cheat Sheet: Going to the Dentist in Japan

You know the drill.

By 2 min read

Explore

Reflections of Tokyo During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a Photo Essay

Have you ever seen Asakusa this empty?

By 1 min read

Learn

Tweet of the Week #83: No, Japan Will Not Pay For Foreign Tourists to Visit

Sorry to rain on your parade, but Japan's Go to Travel campaign is only for domestic tourists.

By 4 min read