It’s tempting to hide behind your smartphone camera the entire time you’re in Japan, with some of the most Instagram-worthy spots in the entire world. However, you don’t want to miss the sheer joy of being “in the moment” itself by worrying about which memories to capture. Here’s a list of both manmade and natural phenomenon in Japan that you absolutely must take home with you.
Mount Fuji (From Lake Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko)
The resort town of Fujikawaguchiko provides the perfect angle for capturing Mount Fuji in all its glory. Spreading along the mountain foothills and ringing the shores of crystal-clear Lake Kawaguchi, this sparkling coastal town in Yamanashi Prefecture harbours spectacular views in every season. Board a multi-decked excursion ship on Lake Kawaguchi for the best angles of Mount Fuji and seasonal cherry blossoms.
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto)
Pay homage to Inari, the god of rice and money, at the 8th-century Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto. Get your own unique photographic angles on the striking 14,000 tangerine-hued tori gates juxtaposed against serene mountains. Hundreds of stone fox statues with little keys hanging from their mouths memorialize Inari’s mythical messengers. Brave the three-hour mountain hike at dusk for a surreal incense-laden journey past hidden streams, glowing lanterns and private locals shrines to Inari.
Hitachi Seaside Park (Hitachinaka)
Within the city limits of Hitachinaka, you’ll find the extremely Instagram-worthy Hitachi Seaside Park perched in Ibaraki Prefecture. In a striking collision of nature, the park encompasses the Pacific Ocean coastline, rolling golden sand dunes, bubbling springs and grassy meadows beneath a forested canopy. Humanity adds a deeper dimension to your photographs, with lively cafes, cyclists and a thrill-inducing amusement park punching up the skyline with colour and energy.
The ‘Princess Mononoke’ Moss Forest (Yakushima Island)
Camera-wielding fans of the anime hit ‘Princess Mononoke’ converge on the ancient mossy forest bearing her name on Yakushima Island. About 60 kilometres from Kyushu, this UNESCO World Heritage Site offers striking images of cascading waterfalls spilling from beds of mountain granite, surrounded by twisted rainforest trees, hot springs, lush foliage and timid wildlife.
Nicknamed ‘Golden Pavilion,’ the gold-leafed Kinkakuji-jo temple honours Buddha as its dramatic reflection shimmers across the tranquil pond. This UNESCO World Cultural Site is one of the most important historical structures in Japan and a worthy selection for your Instagram collection. But don’t just settle for the glimmering watering shots – nip to the back of Sekka-tei Cottage for a unique viewpoint that less adventurous image-seekers often miss.
Itsukushima Shrine & Torii Gate (Hiroshima)
Rising from Seto Inland Sea like a fertile playground for the gods, Miyajima Island is home to the ancient Itsukushima Shrine and its notorious “floating” toril gate. Protect your camera or smartphone with a waterproof case, and then climb aboard a boat to cruise the bay at dusk, gliding through the toril gate at high tide to capture the illuminated ethereal elegance of Itsukushima Shrine.
Shibuya Crossing (Tokyo)
Get ready for the thrilling, scrambling commotion of Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo, rumoured to be one of the busiest crossways on the planet. Keep your camera cocked and ready, as you won’t know that magic shot until it bursts to life right in front of you. From the colourful flash of traffic lights to neon signs and strings of lively street stalls dishing out delicacies such as octopus-on-a-stick, there’s an Instagram-worthy moment at every twist and turn.
Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku – the Escalator Entrance (Tokyo)
As if Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku wasn’t impressive in its own right, the escalator entrance to this famous enclave of high fashion in Tokyo steals the show. In a crazy kaleidoscope of glass and mirrors, the entrance is like stepping into a futuristic clash of cultures. Icy reflections from shimmering mirrors create unique images in every moment, meaning your Instagram photos of this iconic Hiroshi Nakamura structure will be unlike any others.
Dotonbori at night (Osaka)
Dotonbori sports a dual personality, being both a canal and a famous entertainment district defining the southern edge of Osaka. Vibrant cafes and food stalls string along the Yokobori River at night, illuminated by neon and glimmering reflections of the city skyline. Head over to Ebisu Bridge to board an evening riverboat for some of the most striking images of Osaka. Keep an eye out for the iconic neon ‘Running Man’ sign.
Mino Waterfall (Osaka)
Outside the hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka, Mino Park stretches lazily through a forested valley, crowned by its 33-metre waterfall. In an area defined by picturesque farms and terraced rice paddies, the entire experience of visiting the Mino Waterfall is one huge photo opp. Stop by the renowned handicraft stalls in Umeda, about a 30-minute drive from Mino Waterfall.