A Japanese guy taught me how to make paper cranes. (Also see Confessions of a Backpacker) I was actually in New Zealand at the time. His crane was a tiny(about 1.5 cm high) and beautifully made while mine look somewhat less elegant. They are all still stuck in my travel journal.
I highly recommend you master a ittle Origami for your trip to Japan.
See also: Confessions of a Backpacker