As Kiwis descend on Japan for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup, here are some suggestions of things to see and do, away from bustling metropolis of Tokyo.
1. Ramen Museum (Yokohama)
If you love Ramen, this is heaven.
As well as learning about the history of the noodle based soup, which is arguably Japan's most popular food export, there are nine restaurants, with different kinds of noodles and various textures of soup, exhibiting ramen types from across Japan.
One establishment is run by a proprietor called 'The Ramen Demon' , another brings the taste of Okinawa and a third dates from 1954. It's all set within a recreation of 1950's retro town scape and is walking distance from Shin-Yokohama train station.
2. Wandering in Beppu
Move over Rotorua, the city of Beppu markets itself as the world's greatest hot spring resort and number one place for onsen bathing.
There are more than 2,200 onsen wells — no other location in Japan gets close — and the geothermal city has seven of the 10 types of mineral rich water found on earth.
There are foot baths, and foot steam baths scattered around the centre of the city, which is easy to stroll around.
Handy guides will inform on the type of springs, from sulphur to chloride to hydrogen carbonate.
The Beppu beach sand bath seemed particularly popular with local and foreign tourists, and the All Blacks tried it out during their stay.
3. Catch a bullet train
Almost every traveller will experience this, thanks to the great value of the Japan Rail pass.
The process is simple, the speed extraordinary, the efficiency remarkable and the toilets are spotless.
The range of bento boxes available inside stations or on platforms is also vast, providing nutritious options, or you can buy food and drink on the train.
Just remember local courtesy, especially no loud talking in the carriage or use of cell phones (passengers are expected to go to the corridor) and no feet on seats.
Look for the immaculately dressed, bowing conductors as they pass through the carriages.
4. Bar hopping in Noge (Yokohama)
There are hundreds of restaurants and bars in this area, which retains a local flavour and isn't as touristy as some parts of Tokyo.
A special pass (the Noge Tegata) entitles travellers to deals at many establishments and removes some of the translation headaches. This precinct was heaving after Japan's win over Scotland.
5. Toyota car museums (Toyota)
It's hard to avoid the impact of the automobile giant when you are in the city.
From a population of around 420,000, more than 360,000 people work for the car maker and their legion of associated companies. Sometimes you get the impression that locals get tired of the questions about the legendary company, but they are understandably proud of Toyota's incredible legacy.
There are several museums celebrating the car company.
The most impressive is the Toyota Automobile Museum, which was established in 1989. Spanning three floors, there are around 140 vehicles on display from Japan, Europe and the United States.
It traces the history of the automobile industry and the various turning points, from the Model T Ford and Toyota's Model AA, to the launch of the Toyota Corolla in 1966. Allow half a day.
The Toyota Kaikan Museum is much smaller, but has some fascinating exhibits and interactive displays that allow visitors to play their part in the production process, as well as the latest models to admire.
A third museum is dedicated to the life of Toyota's founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, as well as his father Sakichi Toyoda (Toyota Kuragaike Memorial Hall).
6. Monkey mania at Mt Takasaki National Park (Oita)
The park is home to between 1,000-1,500 Macaque monkeys, which are native to Japan.
They are wild, but fed at regular intervals and the sight of them careering down the hill is one to remember. The monkeys have inhabited the mountain for more than 400 years, and the city began feeding them in the 1950s to avoid problems with local farmers and residents.
It supposed to be good luck to have a monkey run between your legs, but visitors to the park are encouraged to avoid trying to touch the animals or look directly into their eyes.
7. Sankeien Garden (Yokohama)
A touch of tranquillity if the busyness of Japan gets too much.
The gardens have been an attraction since 1906, and are a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours, with pagodas that have been brought from Kyoto and plenty of picturesque ponds and paths.
You can also partake in a genuine tea ceremony. However, there is no train access (unusual for Japan), so you'll need to take a bus or taxi to get there.
8. 'Hell' onsen tour (Beppu)
Consists of seven different attractions, from geysers, to cobalt blue pools, to bubbling mud.
Even if you have experienced Rotorua, these are worth a visit.
Wani Jigok (which translates as 'Crocodile hell') is definitely the most bizarre. The crocodiles were first bred there in 1923 – taking advantage of the spring's warmth – and the float now numbers close to 100.
Chi-no-ike Jigoku ( Blood hell), which features red water full of iron, is quite spectacular. Buses are available to visit the entire hell zone.
9. Arima onsen town (Kobe)
If you are visiting Kobe, maybe to pay homage to All Blacks legend Daniel Carter, who won the Japanese championship with the Kobelco Steelers last season, a side trip to the Arima Onsen is a must.
There are more than 3,000 Onsen (hot springs) in Japan, but this one is the oldest. There is a foot bath in the middle of the town which is a pleasant wander and two public baths in the town. It's 30 minutes by train from Kobe.
10. Enjoy a sushi train
You may have tried sushi in New Zealand, but with respect to the multitude of operators, it's nothing on the original.
Sushi is an art form in Japan, and even a simple suburban place will offer tremendous fare. At some restaurants electric trains will deliver your orders, on rails that run beside your booth.
11. Remember your Onsen manners
A visit to a Japanese hot pool is a must, but quite different to New Zealand. They are rarely unisex, and everyone bathes naked. In the tourist centres there will be a guide about which accept tattoos or not.
The key is to wash yourself thoroughly before bathing — the act of 'Kakeyu' — before taking a dip. In some places your locker wristband will allow drink and food purchases, but consume those away from the pool area.
12. Asuke village (Toyota)
A visit to this town is a trip back in time, and an appealing escape from the hustle and bustle.
One of the highlights is the Korankei valley, which has about 4,000 maple trees along the river and looks spectacular in Autumn.
There are historical points of interests in the former Inn town, while a working village across the river is also worth a visit (Sanshu Asuke Yashiki), with blacksmiths, paper makers, weaving and indigo dye, and houses set up as they were 50 years ago.
13. Chinatown (Yokohama)
With more than 600 shops, it's the largest Chinatown in the world.
There's a glorious variety of restaurants and food outlets, while the Yokohama chocolate factory and museum is also popular.