The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Mount Fuji by Kanenori / CC0

Japan is a country that is constantly defying expectation. The people are known shutterbugs who take photography extremely seriously.

This dedication to photography has contributed to Japanese Staycation culture. Many Japanese people visit different islands rather than different countries. The local tourist boards are always pushing to get their prefectures more tourists, and one of the ways they are doing this is by advertising the most picturesque places for you and your camera.

On this page we’ll highlight some of the best places to photograph in Japan. These places will be taken straight from what is popular in Japan right now. I have weighted beauty against crowd size to give you the best possible list.

If you have been to Japan, or if there is a part of the country you are dying to see, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the page.

Mount Fuji

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Mount Fuji by 12019 / CC0

The most famous sight of Japan is Mt. Fuji. At 3776 meters (12,388 feet) tall this snow-capped volcano has been given the title of Japan’s highest mountain. The location is stunning and awe inspiring. Despite having a city fairly close to the base, and being a major tourist spot, the mountain is so big that you can always find a private part of the landscape to explore.

Other points of interest include:

  • Skiing
  • Climbing
  • Public cabins

The Blue Pond

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Blue Pond by

In the far, wild, north of Japan is the island of Hokkaido. Last to be inhabited by the Japanese and least developed, this island has some amazing natural landscapes and unique points of interest. It gets some the most snow out of anywhere on the planet. The snowiest city in the world is Aomori, a Japanese city across the water from Hokkaido. But Hokkaido has amazing scenery, untouched natural beauty, and a snow festival where the defense force builds 15 foot tall snow sculptures.

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  • Native Ainu culture
  • Large stretches of farmland
  • Blue pond in Biei

Okinawa Island Chain

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Okinawa by Hashi photo / CC BY 3.0

Okinawa may be known for its pivotal role in world war 2, but the island chain has now developed into a thriving prefecture of Japan with a booming tourist industry. Okinawa relies on its beautiful turquoise waters and white beaches to attract visitors. Most only go to the Big island of Okinawa itself, but there are many smaller islands with hidden treasures between Okinawa and Japan. These are tiny, densely packed tropical forest all with their own unique biosphere.

Other points of interest include:

  • Iriomote cat only found here
  • Yakushima
  • Amami Oshima Island


The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Snow monkeys by Andrew-t8 / CC0

This is a great area to see Japanese life outside the city. Nagano prefecture is home to the highest concentration of hot springs, mountains, and monkeys in Japan. You may have seen Japanese Macaques relaxing in hot springs in documentaries; well this is the place they were filmed. Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park is located in the north of this area, there you are guaranteed to see this laid back species.

Other points of interest include:

  • The most beautiful mountain trails in Japan
  • Takato park
  • Shiraito falls


The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Ibaraki by t.kunikuni / CC BY-SA 2.0

Ibaraki is a slice of country living north of Tokyo. The region has a wealth of wonders to explore such as beaches and castles, but the most iconic thing about this prefecture is the flowers. Near Hitachi Seaside Park there are fields of well maintained flowers that bloom in all sorts of wonderful shades and hues. They have tulip in spring, Baby blue eyes and roses in early summer, zinnia at the height of summer and kochia and cosmos in autumn.

Other points of interest include:

  • Fukurda falls
  • Lake kasumigaura
  • Mt. Tsukuba


The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Aogashima by Norio NAKAYAMA / CC BY-SA 2.0

Aogashima is a tiny tropical island, 358 kilometers (222 miles) south of Tokyo. It is incredibly remote island with a vast sea surrounding it and only has a 9 kilometers circumference. Never the less this double volcano has a fascinating landscape and unique flora. It is the ultimate out of the way tourist spot.

Other points of interest include:

  • Harbour built into the rock face


Akihabara by Kichiverde / Public Domain

This is the birthplace of Japan’s reputation as a weird wonderland. Full of lights, colours, and sounds, it’s a true overload to the senses. This district of Tokyo is a collection of shops and restaurants that attracts thousands of people every year. Entering Akihabara is like being transported to a theme park city, it’s so intense it can seem unreal.

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Be sure to drop by Electric Town; for all your obscure technology needs. They have shops selling the newest camera equipment and some that is decades out of date, all in pristine condition.

  • Truly glowing advertisements
  • People in costume
  • discount mega-store Don Quijote

Fushimi Inari Shrine

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Fushimi Inari Shrine by Mariamichelle / CC0

This shrine is a classic. Japan has many shrines to the Shinto faith, but Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari shrine is a step above the rest. Upon entering a shrine you must go through a Tori gate, this is to show you are entering the domain of the spirits. Fushimi Inari shrine is famous for having thousands of these gates all donated by different people or organisations.

First you can enjoy the beautiful shrine in all its glory, then walk up the mountain path for about an hour, encapsulation by these gates. At the end of the path you will come to a gorgeous view of the Kyoto skyline.

Other points of interest include:

  • Two Tori gate cover paths
  • Other nature walks
  • Special foods of Kitsu udon and Inari sushi


The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Gion by Kanchi1979 / CC BY-SA 4.0

Gion is a reflection of Japan’s past. The streets are still cobbled, the houses are hundreds of years old (or in keeping with that architecture), and this is one of the last places where you will still see real Geisha walking the streets.

  • Shrines
  • Traditional restaurants and bars
  • Piles of salt outside doors to bring good luck

Tashirojima Island

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Tashirojima Island by 暇・カキコ/ CC BY-SA 4.0

Something else Japan is famous for is cuteness. On Tashirojima Island in Miyagi prefecture you will find a colony of cats. Affectionately dubbed cat island, Tashirojima has 6 cats for every person. The cats used to live off the fish caught on the island and protect the farmer’s silk warms from mice, but now their population has exploded and their presence has brought a tourism boom the stagnant islands.

  • Rustic Japanese architecture
  • Untouched nature trails
  • Open waters for a sunset view

Tsunoshima Island

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Tsunoshima Island by Suzumiya Haruka / CC BY 2.0

Known in Japan as the location of the country’s second largest bridge, Tsunoshima is actually a secret tropical paradise. With wonderful deserted beaches, beautiful parks and a 1,780 marvelous bridge, this location is a must see for people who like to take the road less traveled

  • Tsunoshima Light house
  • The city of Shimonoseki

Miyajima Island

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Miyajima Island by Jakub Halan / CC BY-SA 4.0

Miyajima is a sacred and historical sight. The Tori gate that appears to float on the water is a particularly popular photo spot, but the island has much more to offer. The homes and business are all built in an authentic Japanese style, and the nature walks on the island are sublime.

  • Cable cars up the mountain
  • Deer wander the streets
  • The island is most beautiful in autumn


The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Matsuyama by Mnd / CC BY-SA 3.0

Shikoku is the smallest of the four main islands of Japan, and because of this it is also the least populated and most forgotten. The city of Matsuyama is the most important on the island, but is still relatively small and easy to navigate. The cobbled streets and old style building are very popular, as well as the emperors’ private bath house Dougo Onsen.

Other points of interest include:

  • Matsuyama castle
  • Orange juice out of a tap

Hashima Island

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Hashima Island by Hsagi / CC BY-SA 3.0

Another obscure but intriguing island. This island is sometimes known as the floating fortress, or the unsinkable battleship as it used to be a military base. Now the island is abandoned and is only visited by those wanting to explore the ruins.

Other points of interest include:

  • Close to Nagasaki city
  • Skyfall was filmed here

Osaka Castle

The Best Places to Photograph in Japan

Osaka Castle by SANGYEON / CC0

Japan is full of castles and impressive historical buildings. There are palaces and temples, but none of them hold a candle to Osaka Castle. Eight stories high and adorned with golden fish, it truly is a sight to behold. Inside the castle you will find artifacts from Japanese history and at the top you will be able to see the second biggest skyline in Japan.

Japan has some truly spectacular things to see and do, and is a great place to test out your photography skills whether you’re into photographing nature, history, or urban landscapes.

Photo license links: CC0, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC BY 2.0, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 2.0, CC BY 3.0,

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