The present study aimed to investigate the influence of 10 activities on quality of life (QOL) in Japanese older adults and to verify which activities had higher influence on QOL level. The subjects were 465 Japanese community-dwelling older adults. QOL was assessed by the brief version of the World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL-BREF) and the complementary assessment to measure the QOL of older adults (WHOQOL-OLD) module. Activity and participation were measured through a questionnaire concerning frequency of engagement in several activities. The activity with the highest influence on WHOQOL-BREF was physical activity (β = 0.209, p < 0.01), followed by art activity (β = 0.169, p < 0.01) and reading and writing (β = 0.141, p < 0.01). The activity with the highest influence on WHOQOL-OLD was social activity (β = 0.222, p < 0.01), followed by reading and writing activity (β = 0.118, p < 0.05). The limitations of this study were the proportion of subjects and the place of recruitment. Further studies investigating in deep the relation between QOL and activity and participation, and other subjective and environmental factors that may influence the QOL are still needed among a higher and homogeneous subjects sample. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.