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5 Japan Photography Sweet Spots

It’s no wonder why Japan is a dream destination for so many photographers. With futuristic cityscapes, ancient temples, timeless landscapes and four well-defined seasons to color it all, it’s very hard to take a bad picture in Japan.

At the same time, all locations in Japan are not created equally, at least not in a visual sense. In some cases, this is because they just aren’t especially photogenic; it others, it’s because they’re so crowded that getting the shot you want is basically impossible.

Obviously, this list of the best places in Japan for photography isn’t comprehensive. But I think you’ll feel inspired by the selections I’ve curated, which I’ve been distilling over more than a decade of traveling in Japan.

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Japan Made Me the Photographer I Am

If I’m honest, I wasn’t a great photographer on April 1, 2014, the first time I touched down in Tokyo. Nor was this the case at the end of the trip, even though I had visited many of the traditional best places in Japan for photographers. The first step in my journey? Honestly critiquing photos I’d taken in these classic spots, and endeavoring to go back in the future and “get them right,” so to speak. 

Of course, as you know if you’re a long time reader of this site, I went back—again and again and again. No, it wasn’t luck or a visit to オンカジ 最新 that led me to being able to take photographs that could compel people to traveling to Japan from all over the world. It was continuous improvement, both in terms of righting creative wrongs from the past, and pushing myself toward new horizons, such as the ones you’ll see listed below.

My Favorite Japan Photo Spots

Ritsurin Garden, Takamatsu


Although not generally regarded as one of Japan’s “three great gardens,” Ritsurin Koen in Shikoku island’s Takamatsu city is nonetheless a standout for photographers. Whether you capture its eclectic seasonal landscapes from one of many viewpoints, or zoom in on traditional boats gliding over koi ponds, it’s very much worth the journey off the beaten path.

TIP: If you’re in Takamatsu for a few days and looking for amazing photography day trips, I’ve got three in mind: nearby Marugame Castle and Kotohira-gu shrine; you can travel over the Seto Inland Sea to Okayama and visit Korakuen-en garden, which frames adjacent Okayama Castle as “found art.”

Goryokaku Fort, Hakodate


Likewise, while you won’t find Goryokaku on many lists of the best Instagram spots in Japan, this star-shaped fort in Hakodate city on Hokkaido island is nothing if not photogenic. I especially like seeing it overhead from Goryokaku Tower, and particularly in late April or early May, when the hundreds of cherry trees within the fort are in full bloom.

Watatsumi Shrine, Tsushima


Have you ever played the game Ghost of Tsushima? Me neither. Nonetheless, when I visited this remote island off the coast of Nagasaki prefecture, I found many of the landscapes and attractions nothing short of ghostly. My favorite Tsushima attraction (and now, one of my favorites in all of Japan) was probably Watatsumi-jinja shrine in the central part of the island near the airport.

i-Link Tower, Chiba


The obscure i-Link skyscraper in Ichikawa, Chiba isn’t typically noted as one of the best photography spots in Japan, or even in the Tokyo area. If you ask me, however, there are few better places to photograph the Tokyo skyline. Here, you get it all: Virtually the entire Tokyo cityscape (including the Tokyo Skytree) splayed out beneath Mt. Fuji, photographed from far enough away that the mountain looks substantial. Just perfect!

Kegon Falls, Nikko


Speaking of the Tokyo area, many travelers take a day trip from the capital to Nikko, which is famous for the 17th-century Tosho-gu shrine. Many even venture to the base of Kegon Falls, one of the most powerful cascades in all of Japan. However, I recommend going instead to Akechidaira, a viewpoint that allows you to see the waterfall spilling out of Lake Chuzenji. As you see above, it’s especially gorgeous in autumn!

Is it Worth Buying a Camera in Japan?

One of the most common questions people ask me is “which camera do you use to take photos?” As of 2024, the answer is actually that I used two cameras: The Nikon D750 and D850, plus an assortment of lenses. While I didn’t buy either of these cameras in Japan, the fact is that I could’ve. And, if I ever have to replace them (I mean, assuming DSLR cameras still exist then), I almost certainly will do so in Japan.

Currently, the extremely weak Japanese yen makes this a good value proposition. Beyond this, however, since many top camera brands are designed and sometimes even manufactured in Japan, the base price is much lower, regardless of currency conversion. Plus, since I’m almost always in-country scouting out Japan photography locations, it’s really not a huge leap for me to want to do this.

Other FAQ About Photography in Japan

What is the most photographed place in Japan?

Not surprisingly, the most photographed place in Japan is Mt. Fuji, and the Fuji Five Lakes region more broadly. Beyond this, other top spots include the Kabukicho sub-district of Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing, the Glico Man in Osaka, Sagano Bamboo Grove in Kyoto and the “floating” torii gate of Hiroshima’s Itsukushima Shrine.

Is it OK to take pictures in Japan?

There are very few places in Japan where it is not OK to take pictures, such as the interiors of certain buildings. It’s also considered rude to mob Geisha to take pictures of them; if you have a good Zoom lens, however, taking discreet pictures should be fine. If photography is ever not possible, conspicuous signage will tell you this.

Where to take a photo in Japan?

Japan is a photography gold mine, whether you visit “typical” photo spots like Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo or the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, or go off the beaten path to destinations like Shikoku and Kyushu. It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture in Japan!

The Bottom Line

In my opinion, these are the best places in Japan for photography. Although I’ve selected just five locations for the sake of simplicity, my list hits all notes. You’ve got a traditional Japanese garden on sub-tropical Kyushu and a Western-inspired fort up north in chilly Hokkaido; if the mysterious myst and emerald hillsides surrounding Tsushima’s Watatsumi Shrine aren’t your jam, then the postcard-perfect view of Tokyo from a random skyscraper in Chiba prefecture might be. Want personalized help creating a Japan trip that will hit just the right creative notes? Consider commissioning a custom Japan itinerary!


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