10 best cultural things to do in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 15.01.2024

Presided over by majestic Mount Fuji, and home to fascinating shrines, forests, temples and crafts, Japan’s Shizuoka Prefecture is an outstanding destination for immersive travel. To find out why, read our rundown of the 10 best cultural things to do in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan  — experiences that’ll have you hankering to visit at the earliest opportunity.

Get hands-on with chusen hand-dying in Hamamatsu

We’ll kick off with an activity that gets to the heart of Shizuoka Prefecture’s incredible craft culture. Namely, the Japanese art of chusen.

Developed in the 19th-century, this traditional fabric dyeing technique — used, in the main, to make lightweight kimonos (yukata) and decorative hand towels (tenugui) — flourishes today in Nihashi Somekoujyo’s workshop, just north of Hamamatsu city centre.

In good news for creative types, visitors to the studio can try the art of chusen through fashioning a tenugui using techniques that have been practised since it opened in 1927.

After selecting stencils of images associated with Shizuoka Prefecture — from Mount Fuji to cherry blossoms — you’ll get hands-on with traditional tools and materials, and leave with your very own tenugui.

Chusen Dying ©

Centuries-old Chusen dying technique © Conor MacNeill

Ignite your soul at Yusanji Temple

Put simply, Yusanji Temple is sublime. Stunningly sited on a sacred forested mountain in the Enshu area, this ancient shrine of Shingon Buddhism was founded by the priest Gyoki some 1300 years ago.

Alongside radiating natural beauty, the site exudes a sense of serenity and healing that stems back to its origins. In 749, Gyoki cured Empress Koken’s ailing eyes when he rinsed them in waters from the Riri Falls. These days, visitors can enjoy restorative waterfall meditation on the site.

Hailed “the shrine with the most wish-fulfilling power in the world”, the temple’s gate and lacquered three-storey pagoda are national cultural treasures. As such, it’s clear why visiting Yusanji Temple is one of the 10 best cultural things to do in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Relish rural living on a farmhouse homestay

Keen to uncover country living in Japan? Got a thing for green tea? Fancy having Mount Fuji as your fabulous backdrop? You’ll want to experience a homestay at Tabinoya in Kakegawa. Here, in a former green tea farmhouse, guests have the chance to experience life in rural Japan. 

Given Tabinoya’s location in a notable green tea-producing region, the “green tea experience” is one of the best cultural things to do in Shizuoka Prefecture. Depending on what time of year you visit, you’ll get stuck into different activities. 

These range from cutting grass and managing the land (including mowing) in preparation for the tea harvesting season, to helping harvest tea leaves. Whenever you visit, you’ll cook meals with villagers and come away feeling thoroughly enriched.

Farmhouse homestay © Conor MacNeill

Help tend the land on a farmhouse homestay © Conor MacNeill

Be awe-struck by 360 views from Nihondaira Yume Terrace

Picture yourself standing at an elevation of 300+ metres, with a 360-degree observation deck serving views of Mount Fuji, the Southern Alps, Shimizu Port and Suruga Bay — the deepest bay in Japan. That’s what awaits visitors to Nihondaira Yume Terrace.

Built by the esteemed architect Kengo Kuma, the elegant facility sits in harmony with the natural landscape. 

Hailed one of Japan’s most scenic spots, Nihondaira is also imbued with myth. It’s said to have been named by Yamato Takeru, a semi-legendary prince of the Yamato dynasty.

Immerse yourself in history at Kunozan Toshogu Shrine

After bathing in the glory of Nihondaira Yume Terrace, take the Nihondaira Ropeway (aerial lift) to Mount Kuno to tour Kunozan Toshogu Shrine.

Dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of Japan’s Tokugawa Shogunate, this is one of Japan’s oldest Toshogu shrines. Built by master craftsman Nakai Masakiyo, who created many of Japan’s designated national treasures, its foundations are almost 400-years-old.

The complex of intricately carved red-and-gold buildings are of monumental architectural importance. The site also has deep political resonance. Having unified Japan after a long period of civil war, Tokugawa Ieyasu is revered for establishing national peace.

Visiting this extraordinarily scenic shrine is one of the best cultural things to do in Shizuoka Prefecture and will certainly imbue you with a sense of serenity and history.

Kunozan Toshogu

The intricately carved Kunozan Toshogu Shrine © Conor MacNeill

Meander magical Miho no Matsubara pine forest

Part of the UNESCO designated Mount Fuji World Heritage Site, Miho no Matsubara serves a scene of lush pine trees along a 5km stretch of coast, with Mount Fuji dominating the skyline.

A pretty path known as Kami-no-Michi (“Path of the Kami”) connects the Milo shrine to the Hagoromo-no-Matsu (“The Hagoromo Pine”). This 200-year-old pine tree is said to be where the celestial maiden of legend hung her robe. 

Not only is Miho no Matsubara a picture-perfect place to visit, but it also has spiritual and cultural significance. Pines are considered sacred, and the forest has been eulogised in works of art and classical Japanese poems (waka) since the 8th century.

Marvel at Mount Fuji Hongu Sengen Taisha shrine

Located in the southwestern foothills of Mount Fuji, Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha sits at the centre of Mt. Fuji Worship, and top of all Japan’s Sengen shrines.

Its origins date back more than 2000 years, with the remarkable Main Shrine, hall of worship and Tower Gate you can see today built in the early 1600s.

Sited in grounds that teem with cherry trees (visit in March or April to see the blossom), the shrine serves as the spectacular stage for several cultural events. These include the horseback archery competition held annually on 5th May, and the Fujinomiya Festival, held 3rd–5th November.

Miho no Mtsubara

Miho no Mtsubara's lush pine forest © Conor MacNeill

Be enlightened by Mount Fuji World Heritage Center

With an eye on preserving Mount Fuji for future generations — as well as offering present-day visitors an enlightening experience — the Mount Fuji World Heritage Center facility in Fujinomiya is an outstanding museum and research facility. 

Ingeniously designed, the building’s inverted conical form is reflected in a pond to mirror the shape of the mountain. Meanwhile, inside the museum, a 200-metre spiralling slope connecting different floors echoes the course of a mountain trail.

At the top of the slope, an observation hall offers jaw-dropping views of Mount Fuji. Meanwhile, interactive exhibitions provide insights into geology, faith, art, and the relationship between the mountain and human inhabitants of the region.

Uncover iconic culture on a sushi and kimono experience

To immerse yourself in a duo of Japanese cultural icons, it doesn’t get better than the Japanese Culture Experience at Miyoshi Restaurant, Shizuoka.

On arrival, you’ll be welcomed by a mother and daughter before selecting your kimono from an array of exquisite pieces. Then follows a masterful demonstration of how to dress in a kimono, from the hadajuban under-robe, to the obi sash, followed by the kimono itself. 

Next, you’ll be guided through the process of preparing different kinds of sushi, with the option of pairing your creations with sake or tea.

Edifying and thoroughly satisfying, visiting Miyoshi is one of the best cultural things to do in Shizuoka Prefecture and a sure-fire feast for the senses.

Mount Fuji World Heritage Center

Mount Fuji World Heritage Center © Conor MacNeill

Learn the art of Japanese blue dyeing

For an intimate, hands-on introduction to the craft of aizome (indigo dyeing), visit the family-run Japanese Blue atelier in Gotemba.

Here the friendly fourth-generation owner shares insights into a traditional fabric-colouring technique that rose in popularity through the Edo Period (1603-1867). 

Not only does indigo dyeing give fabrics their distinctive, rich Japanese Blue hue, but it also adds strength to fabric, as you’ll observe when you try your hand at the process. 

Select what you want to dye — perhaps a t-shirt or scarf — and pick your pattern. Next comes the meticulous method of slowly dipping and lifting the fabric. 

In around thirty minutes, your patience will be rewarded by having a unique item to take home, along with joyous memories of the master craftsman’s wisdom and warm hospitality.

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 15.01.2024

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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