Updated April 19, 2022

Hobbies in Japan: How to Spend Your Free Time?


Japan Dev Team

Japan Dev contributor

Hobbies are a rewarding part of any person’s life.

They help you pursue your passions and develop the other aspects of your personality. In turn, this can enrich your life in various ways.

Pursuing hobbies in Japan works the same way. In fact, many of them are deeply rooted in their unique traditions and history. Each one can also showcase different aspects of their culture. So, hobbies can be a fun and exciting way to discover and explore what Japan has to offer.

There’s a hobby for everyone, regardless of age, gender, and ability. But, with so many options to choose from, how do you even know where to start?

This article will cover everything there is to know about hobbies in Japan, including their importance and how to talk about them.

Importance of Hobbies in Japan

As mentioned, hobbies can be an excellent way to enrich and develop other aspects of your life. You can also enjoy certain health benefits from pursuing personal interests. But in Japan, pursuing personal hobbies and interests are a big deal for a lot of people.

Lots of people in Japan put an admirable amount of effort into their hobbies, just as they would for their careers. This is because dedicating themselves to something is embedded in Japanese culture.

Pursuing hobbies and personal interests also serves as a healthy outlet. It helps people express themselves more freely, easing some of the stress of everyday life. This is especially vital in a country where work-related stress and overwork can be quite common.

More than these, though, hobbies in Japan help people to find their ikigai or reason for being. This allows them to live happier and more fulfilling lives, especially after retirement.

The significant role of hobbies in Japanese culture means there’s always a hobby for every person. So, regardless of your age, gender, or ability, you’ll find a hobby you can enjoy.

Still, some hobbies in Japan are more common than others. Here are the most popular hobbies in Japan:

Watching Movies or Videos

Japan boasts one of the largest and oldest film industries worldwide, producing hundreds of domestic films each year. So, watching movies remains one of the most popular hobbies in Japan, with millions of cinema admissions each year.

The ready availability of on-demand streaming sites like Netflix has solidified their love for cinema. This is truer now since the average ticket prices in Japan tend to be high.

Besides movies, watching online videos has also become popular among the Japanese. This is truer now that smartphones have become an integral part of everyone’s daily lives. In fact, approximately 62 million people in Japan are active on YouTube each month.



Karaoke is another popular hobby in Japan, which shouldn’t come as a surprise since karaoke was invented in Japan. But, unlike in other countries, karaoke in Japan is usually a more private event.

Instead of getting up on a stage to sing in front of others, the Japanese usually come in groups and rent a private room to relax and enjoy themselves. These rooms are exclusively for the groups that rented them, so no one else can come in while they sing.

Japanese karaokes also have service bars, so customers can order snacks and drinks for their group to enjoy.


Like other countries, playing and watching sports are also common pastimes in Japan. Sports are considered integral in Japanese culture, especially among students. In fact, around 60% of students join sports-related clubs in Japan.

Although traditional Japanese sports like sumo are still popular today, most residents have embraced Western sports as hobbies. Some of the most popular sports in Japan include:

  • Baseball
  • Soccer
  • Tennis
  • Golf

Domestic Travel

Millions of tourists visit Japan each year, but that doesn’t mean the Japanese don’t also appreciate their home country. In fact, domestic travel is another common pastime in Japan. In 2020 alone, there were around 293 million domestic travelers in Japan.

This is especially true during the country’s long holidays like Golden Week, when they prefer to travel the most. Some of the common domestic travel destinations for the Japanese include:

  • Hokkaido
  • Okinawa
  • Kyoto
  • Chiba
  • Shizuoka

Reading for Leisure

Reading for leisure is another popular pastime in Japan. In fact, around 38% of the population considers it as one of their hobbies. It’s not just limited to novels or books, too. Newspapers and magazines remain common reading materials among the Japanese.

Manga and light novels are also popular among Japanese readers. Advancements in technology have also paved the way for new reading media like visual novels that added a gaming element to reading.


Top Hobbies to Try in Japan

Japan’s advanced technologies have modernized many of its most popular hobbies. Yet, some keep the traditions associated with these pastimes.

So, if you’re looking for hobbies in Japan that will help you learn more about its unique culture, here are the top ones you should try:


The art of paper folding used to be a practice for religious and ceremonial occasions in Japan, back when getting a hold of paper was difficult. Nowadays, it’s a popular hobby that enables you to explore your creativity and skills.

Certain shapes also hold special meanings in Japanese culture. The crane, for example, is traditionally considered a symbol of longevity and good fortune. In fact, according to Japanese tradition, folding 1,000 cranes means that one special wish will come true.

Engaging in origami can be a simple yet fun way to explore Japanese culture and channel your creativity as well.


Ikebana is a traditional Japanese art. It involves arranging flowers, branches, leaves, and others to create a beautiful display. But, unlike in other cultures, ikebana doesn’t just mean putting together what looks beautiful or complementing.

It also serves as a medium of creative expression for hobbyists, much like sculpting or painting. They consider every element carefully beforehand, such as each one’s placement, form, color, and meaning.

Because of this, it can be the perfect way to appreciate nature while learning more about Japanese culture.


Shodo, or calligraphy, is another traditional Japanese art form that remains a popular hobby today. It’s one of the oldest forms of art in Japan, first introduced in the country in the 5th century.

Instead of using pens or pencils like we do today, the art of shodo uses an ink-dipped brush to write kanji characters artistically. This practice is also heavily associated with their spirituality and inner peace.

While it can take years of constant practice to master the craft, it’s still an excellent hobby to try in Japan.

Sado or Chanoyu

Tea ceremonies are another popular traditional hobby you can try out in Japan. As the name suggests, sado or chanoyu is the Japanese ceremonial preparation and presentation of green tea to guests. It traces its roots in Zen Buddhism, along with the other Japanese classical arts.

While it used to be for religious purposes only, it has since evolved to serve as the Japanese’s way of showcasing their hospitality to guests. Taking it up as a hobby can be the perfect way to indulge in the country’s culture and history while still relaxing.



If you’re looking for something more active, taking up kyudo or Japanese archery can be the ideal choice. Originally used in wartime, it has since evolved into a form of art that showcases Japanese culture’s beauty, elegance, and discipline.

One thing to note is that you always need to practice kyudo in the standard attire for the sport. This includes wearing a kimono, hakama, and tabi.

Like the other traditional hobbies in Japan, kyudo is all about finding your inner peace and balance. It’s also less about winning and more about the process and refining your techniques.

Other Hobbies to Try in Japan

Aside from what was already mentioned, here are some of the other popular hobbies in Japan you can check out:

  • Going to concerts
  • Playing video games
  • Watching anime
  • Reading manga
  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Cooking

Can You Continue Your Existing Hobbies in Japan?

The good news is that you can. Again, there’s no shortage of hobbies in Japan, which means there’s always something for everyone. This also means that you can continue any existing pursuits you have even after moving to Japan.

Continuing your hobbies or pursuing new ones can also be an excellent way to make new connections in Japan. This is especially true if you join groups or communities that share your interests.

Tips to Help You Find and Enjoy Hobbies in Japan

While you can always pick up your hobbies again when you move to Japan, trying something new can be good. But, with the numerous options available, it’s not always easy to find the perfect hobby for you.

Here are some tips you can check out to help you find and enjoy your hobbies in Japan:

Identify Your Goal

Although your primary reason might be just to enjoy yourself, there might be other reasons you want to try a new hobby. Knowing what you want to get out of this activity can help you determine what hobby to try. It can also help you maximize what this new hobby has to offer.

To help you out, here are some questions you can consider:

  • Do you just want to relax? Or do you want to be more active?
  • Are you trying to learn a new skill?
  • Are you trying to make new friends by exploring this hobby?

The answers to this can help give you a clearer idea of what hobbies you can try while you’re in Japan.

Try Some Things Out

If you still can’t narrow down what hobbies to take up, it can be a good idea to try some of your top choices. Check how you respond to each activity and keep the ones you enjoy the most.

Of course, you should also keep your budget in mind since the cost of living in Japan tends to be higher than in other countries, especially if you’re living in Tokyo. So, make sure that your new hobby or just trying it out won’t negatively impact your finances.

Connect with Fellow Enthusiasts

As mentioned, exploring new hobbies can be a great way to learn something new and make new friends in the country. For example, you can join clubs or organizations that will allow you to connect and socialize with others who share the same interests.


Learn How to Speak Japanese

Learning how to speak Japanese is another way you can get the most out of your hobbies in Japan. This is especially true if you’re engaging in traditional Japanese pastimes like ikebana and shodo.

Knowing how to speak Japanese can give you a different perspective on these hobbies, allowing you to enjoy them even more. Hobbies are also a popular topic in Japanese conversations, especially when you’re still getting to know each other.

Learning how to speak Japanese will allow you to talk about your hobbies in more detail and connect more easily with others who share the same interests.

Final Thoughts

Engaging in a hobby is one of the best ways to grow as an individual, and the same is true for those living in Japan. Hobbies give them a healthy channel to ease their feelings of stress and enjoy what life has to offer.

More than that, hobbies in Japan showcase the Japanese people’s passion, discipline, and dedication. They also highlight the different aspects of their unique culture and history. So, pursuing a hobby in Japan can help you gain a better and more profound understanding of the country.


Japan Dev Team

This post was written by our Japan Dev editorial team.