The Nikkei stock index closed down 0. 37 percent Monday amid a lack of fresh cues as U.S. markets were closed for a long weekend.
The Nikkei 225 index dropped 57.69 points to finish at 15,379. 44, while the broader Topix index of all first-section shares lost 5.37 points, or 0.42 percent, to end the day at 1,279.87.
But analysts here said that despite a dearth of fresh incentives to encourage investors to chase riskier assets higher, including stocks, some buying on dips was evident during the day, which helped cap the day's overall losses.
"There is a lack of catalysts to buy," said Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. "While there may be buying on dips today, it's not a market you can actively keep chasing higher."
Other strategists here said that investors were giving the market time to cool down as it had become technically overheated, with further gains at this point difficult to attain.
"The market is technically overheated, making further gains harder to come by past the mid-15,000 level," said Monex chief strategist Takashi Hiroki.
Many investors hit the sidelines in a wait-and-see-approach ahead of fresh clues from the U.S., such as how the recent strong employment data will affect the rest of the market and whether the effects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic overhaul package are beginning to be seen in domestic markets here.
"It will take more positive U.S. economic data, as well as further confidence in Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe's economic revival policies to enable the next upsurge."
"They want to make sure how the stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs report for June will be reflected on the U.S. market, as trading on Thursday, when the data was released, was shortened ahead of the holiday," Matsuno said.
Currency markets were largely stagnant, with the U.S. dollar fetching 102.09 yen in Tokyo Monday afternoon, compared to 102.08 yen on Friday, leaving export-related issues here ending mixed.
Top automaker Toyota skidded down 0.49 percent to 6,170 yen, while consumer electronics giant Sony added 0.58 percent to close at 1,730 yen.
Pacific Metals retreated 2.9 percent to 535 yen and was the second-biggest weight on the Nikkei 225, to Aeon who lodged the largest drop, slumping 5.1 percent to 1,190 yen, marking the firm 's largest decline since June 2013, owing to reports its first- quarter profit tumbled 90 percent from a year earlier to 1.3 billion yen, far below median analysts forecasts for more than 11 billion yen.
Mining issues were among today's notable decliners by sector, with exploration giant Inpex sinking 1.9 percent to 1,521 yen, while Japan Petroleum Exploration fell 1.0 percent to close the day at 4,115 yen.
Niche chemical producer Daiso dropped 4.2 percent to 361 yen, after dilution concerns were sparked by the firm saying it plans to raise 10 billion yen through the issuing of unsecured convertible bonds.
FamilyMart, Japan's third-largest convenience store chain, bucked the downward trend Monday, jumping 4.6 percent to 4,550 yen, marking its biggest advance in more than 3 years. Trading company Itochu said it will increase its stake in the company to 37 percent from 31.7 percent. Itochu, for its part, relinquished 2.2 percent to finish the day at 1,312 yen.
Trading volume on Monday dropped to 1.68 billion shares on the Tokyo Exchange's First Section, down from Friday's volume of 1.97 billion shares, with declining issues outnumbering advancing ones by 1,025 to 624.