What’s the Most Popular Hobby in Japan?

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Japan is arguably one of the most unique and interesting countries worldwide.

Japanese people love to indulge in hobbies and it’s a part of their culture to do so.

Most popular hobby in Japan list
Most popular hobby in Japan

There are lots of different hobbies that Japanese people undertake – we couldn’t decide what’s the most popular hobby in Japan, so came up with this list of ten popular hobbies.

There are lots of ways to understand a culture and looking at how people spend their leisure time is one of the easiest.

1 – Traveling (both within Japan and internationally)

There are lots of people visiting Japan, but Japanese people also love to travel. Japan has twenty-one world heritage sites.

These include Himeji Castle and Ancient Kyoto.

Japanese people love to travel outside of Japan too.

Shinsekai part of Osaka
Shinsekai Osaka

According to the JNTO (Japanese National Tourism Organization), around 1.5 million people travel abroad from Japan each month.

The most popular destinations are South Korea, and China.

Younger people with an interest in Korean television shows and K-pop tend to visit South Korea while people go to China more for business.

Other popular destinations in Asia include Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand.

Elsewhere in the world, Japanese people go to the USA – especially Guam and Hawaii, Europe – especially France, Germany, and Spain.

2 – Watching Movies (at movie theaters and at home)

Many Japanese people love watching movies.

Their local film industry is huge and has existed for more than one hundred years.

It’s also one of the five biggest film industries worldwide. This means that many Japanese people regularly flock to movie theaters.

Watching movies is also a favorite pastime at home.

According to Statista, more than 52% of people say watching movies in their own home is their favorite hobby.

3 – Listening to music

After watching movies at home, listening to music is the second most popular hobby.

There is a great local music scene, but Japanese people also love international music performs and big stars.

After the United States, Japan is the largest global market for music. This brings us on to our next preferred hobby – Karaoke.

4 – Karaoke

This list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of karaoke.

Comedy club

For a country with such an interest in music, it’s inevitable that karaoke is popular.

This activity was even invented in Japan and is worth a whopping $10 billion.

The word itself is an amalgamation of two words in Japanese. Kara means ‘empty’ while oke means ‘orchestra.’

The first karaoke machine was developed in the 1970s and the rest is history. It’s estimated that 4 out of 5 nightclubs and bars in Japan have karaoke.

5 – Video games

With its PlayStation, SEGA, and Nintendo, it’s no wonder that Japanese people love playing video games.

Japanese PS2 and United States games compatibility

In 2018, for example, this country spent over $19 billion alone on video games and more than half of the population indulge in video games.

After the United States and China, Japan is the third biggest consumer of video games in the world.

6 – Shopping

Japan is home to some of the world’s largest shopping malls.

These malls are open seven days a week and contain shops, entertainment activities and food courts.

There is a huge range of shops from the cheap “100 Yen” shops (less than a dollar) to the designer brands.

7 – Sports

Aside from sumo wrestling, Japanese people love the same sports as Westerners.

Sumo players wear Mawashi
Sumo wrestlers

Their soccer league is called J-League and their baseball is Yakyu. People also follow basketball, rugby, and American football, among others.

Generally speaking, Japanese people are sporty.

They love watching and playing sports and are generally very active.

It’s no wonder that they have the second-longest life expectancy globally after Hong Kong.

Female life expectancy is 88.09 years and male is 81.91 years.

8 – Reading manga

Reading, especially manga, is a massively popular hobby in Japan.

Japanese children start reading manga at a very young age – in kindergarten. Its popularity has meant that it is a huge industry – and one that has spread worldwide.

Japan publishes hundreds of books each year, but Japanese people still love to read manga magazines that contain a series of stories.

What’s great about manga is that they cover all sorts of topics and so there’s something for everyone. Maga Kissaten or manga cafes are popular too.

9 – Hikes and nature walks

As active people, the Japanese population love walking and nature.

The great thing about this small country is that even in the large cities, nature isn’t too far.

Kumano Kodo Wakayama
Kumano Kodo hiking

Mount Fuji is visible from lots of areas in Japan, including the capital.

Some other popular locations are the:

  • 48 waterfalls of Akame (Akame-shujuhachi-taki)
  • Aomori’s streams
  • the National Park of Hakone
  • and the Kamikochi mountains

Read nextKamikochi Hiking Guide

The Prefecture of Gunma also has lots of hot springs (onsen).

When spring arrives, the Japanese love Hanami.

Hana means ‘flower’ and mi means ‘viewing.’

Take a look10 Best Hanami Destinations In Japan

The Sakura blossom (cherry blossom) is particularly beautiful, and many people love walking around parks to have picnics underneath the blossoming trees.

It’s such an anticipated time that the predicted blossoming dates are reported in the media!

10 – Going to a concert

Like many people around the world, Japanese people also love going to concerts.

Osaka night club

There are some notable differences though. In Japan, everyone has a seat and there are no ‘standing’ tickets.

What’s More – You’re not allowed to film the concert at all. Unlike in other parts of the world where the audience has their faces lit up by smartphones filming, this is strictly prohibited in Japan.

Final thoughts on the most popular hobby in Japan

Japanese people are generally ‘group’ people who prefer being with others rather than being alone.

This means they have a huge hobby culture and often do things with their friends and family.

Like Westerners, the Japanese share many interests like hikes, concerts, sport, music, shopping, and traveling.

Aside from these typical hobbies, they enjoy the more Japanese-themed ones like manga, karaoke, and sumo.

All of this makes Japan a really interesting place to visit.

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