It's no surprise that Japan is a breathtakingly beautiful country. This small nation is rich with lovely scenery, modern museums, mountaintop temples, and, naturally, the charming cherry blossoms in springtime. However, for anyone interested in photography, Japan has hidden gems that are an enchanting sight, from the lavender meadows of Furano in Hokkaido to the crystal-clean coasts of Okinawa.
In this list, we have narrowed down 30 of the top photography destinations in Japan. Let's begin:
The Otaru Snow Light Path Celebration is a 10-day winter festival in Otaru in February, in which the area is illuminated with lights and miniature snow sculptures. A very beautiful ambiance is created by the mix of the snowy cityscape and the gleaming lamps.
Many villagers also put up lantern displays at the front of their stores and homes, contributing to the festive atmosphere. The canal's rebuilt buildings and gas lamps provide a romantic atmosphere, and the waterway is lined with little buoys that contain candles. A row of miniature snow figurines, each holding a candle, line the path beside the pond.
Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
The lavender season is well-known in Hokkaido. This blossoming season normally begins in late June during the summer. While cherry blossom season lasts for even less than a week, the lavender season lasts for over a month through early July until early August.
In peak season, two small settlements in Furano, Nakafurano and Kamifurano, are home to lovely lavender plantations. Alternatively, Biei is a little village nestled in a beautiful environment of gracefully rolling meadows and colorful fields. It appears to be a really pleasant and beautiful destination to visit and take pictures.
Lavender Fields in Hokkaido
When it comes to photography in Japan, crystal clear, blue bodies of water have a peaceful and majestic appearance. One such magical sight is the Blue Pond in Hokkaido Prefecture, right outside Furano.
Due to the constant magnesium dissolved in the pond, the water appears pale blue. Pair the strange, gorgeous color of the pond with the clump of dead trees protruding from it; the sight takes you back in time to when the pond did not exist. You can wander along its banks, tracing a trail through the woods, and feel as if you're in a magical realm.
During most of the peak season in summer, when the lavender meadows in Furano are in full glory, the Blue Pond is hardly overcrowded. From every viewpoint along the walk, you can take stunning photographs. The Blue Pond takes on an entirely different appearance in the winter. In a scene of white and grey, it is the primary splash of color.
In Japan, the beautiful but endangered red-crowned cranes are viewed as a symbol of good fortune, with legends claiming that they might live for a thousand years. Red-crowned cranes were thought to be extinct before they were found in Japan in the nineteenth century and listed as a critically endangered species.
Catching a glimpse and snapping a picture of these magnificent birds is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Of all the wildlife photography you can find in Japan, the red-crowned cranes should surely be on your list.
Red-crowned crane in Hokkaido
Rice paddy art started in 1993 when yellow, and purple rice crops were utilized to create an image of Mt. Iwaki on rice paddies, coupled with inscriptions. The project's main goal was to capitalize on the rich farming heritage of manual labor to provide people a chance to understand a little about rice cultivation and agriculture.
On a rice-field canvas, the rice paddy art employs many-colored rice plants as paints. To ensure the large pictures seem their best when viewed from the appropriate angle, they are meticulously produced utilizing perspective sketching procedures. For its originality, the art has received national and worldwide attention from the media.
Rice Paddy Art: in Aomori
Matsushima, a half-hour drive from Sendai, is known for its bay, which is lined with several pine-clad islets and has long been regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Japan. The bay's attractiveness shifts with the seasons, rendering it a worthwhile visit at any time of the year. Matsushima Bay may be seen from land at the Shitaikan and Saigyo Modoshi No Matsu Park, presenting visitors with very distinct views of the bay. They bring the bay and its islets to life with their mystery, elegance, and vitality.
In Hitachi Seaside Park, Hitachinaka City began cultivating flowers such as the Baby Blue Eyes in 2002. The spectacle is now one of Ibaraki's best-known attractions.
Each year in November, the Baby Blue Eyes are sowed, covered with a frost-free covering for the winter, then meticulously irrigated and weeded. They typically flower from around mid-April to early May, although occasionally, the season is affected by weather. The finest opportunity to enjoy the Hitachi Seaside Park is during April, once the tulips and daffodils bloom alongside the Baby Blue Eyes.
Baby Blue Eye Flowers at Hitachi Seaside Park
Motsuji Temple is a Tendai Buddhist temple that includes the ruins of two older temples and includes a truly magnificent Pure Land Garden. Boasting 40 halls and monuments, and 500 monks, the temple originally rivaled Chuson-Ji Temple in size; however, most of it was damaged beyond repair.
Motsu- Ji temple's garden is already designated as both a Special Historic Site and a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, recognizing its exceptional cultural importance. The garden is focused on Oizumigaike, a pond that exemplifies the refinement of Heian gardening techniques.
The fierce Siberian winds that pummeled the woods of Mount Zao move across the North Japan Sea and the west plains of Yamagata from late December to March. These chilling winds drop 2 to 3 meters of snow on the earth in the Zao area and freezing condensation on the fir trees.
The juhyo effect is a protracted cycle of ice formation that transforms these scraggly fir trees into surreal anomalies of snow and ice due to an unusual mix of meteorological circumstances and tree diversity. Walking amid the juhyo seems a little like being teleported into a Dr. Seuss wonderland, but with more bone-chilling, foreboding creatures.
In any case, this strange yet phenomenal sight is a must-see if you're interested in photography in Japan.
Zao Snow Monsters
The Fuji Shibazakura Festival, held every year from April to late May in Yamanashi Prefecture, attracts people who come to see the vibrantly pink shibazakura, or moss phlox. The 800,000 flowers blooming in front of Mt. Fuji will create an astounding sight, making it one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
These brilliant five-petaled blooms have been given the name "shibazakura" because they resemble sakura blossoms and cover the whole area like a lawn. This flower spreads across entire terrain, creating lovely pink-hued slopes, as its name suggests.
Fuji Shibazakura Festival
Mt Fuji, Japan's crown gem and probably the country's most picturesque destination, is a must-see for any traveler. The views from Arakurayama Sengen Park, which contains the stately Chureito Pagoda, and Lake Kawaguchi vividly depict the majestic mountain's grandeur.
Mt Fuji is visible from Lake Kawaguchi, which is one of the Fuji Five Lakes. When the sky is relatively clear in the wintertime, you can even catch a glimpse of the volcano's reflection on the lake's surface. Mt Fuji's near-perfect symmetrical shape and the snow-capped peak is a beautiful sight year-round, no matter where you look at it.
Matsumoto Castle is one of the 12 castles in Japan and has an impressive landscape featuring a view of the gorgeous Northern Alps in the background. Its black and white construction creates a breathtaking sight to capture in a photograph.
The main structure was constructed at the end of the Warring States Period, and the watchtower for observing the moon was constructed during the Kan'ei period. Lacking military preparedness, the watchtower is a beautiful structure. There are three entrances, each with Mairado doorways and vermillion-lacquered railings.
The famed Japanese snow monkeys, a bunch of Japanese macaque monkeys, are renowned for having bright red and pink faces and basking in mild hot springs mere steps away from tourists. They are the park's biggest attraction and are a wonder to behold.
Although Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is operational all year, the ideal time to see and picture these lovely monkeys is during the winter, when all is coated with snow, rendering them actual "snow monkeys" and the site a winter utopia.
Snow Monkey Park
Shirakawa-go is a charming tiny village that is both genuinely Japanese and remarkable. For its cultural significance, it has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although you don't need a label like that to recognize it as one of the most beautiful places in Japan, tucked amid the mountain peaks and rice terraces.
Shirakawa-go's terrain is what gives the small community its distinct appearance. It was essentially sealed off from the rest of the nation for centuries, up in the mountains, and as a result, evolved its own manner of architecture and construction. Due to the extremely cold winters and abundant snowfall, locals constructed dwellings with high, one-meter-thick rooftops made of reed-like shrubs.
Perhaps one of Japan's most popular cherry blossom gazing destinations is Mount Yoshino in Nara Prefecture. From around the main routes that lead up the mountain, there are about 30000 cherry blossom trees to view, and they encompass all of the walkways.
Should you want to see the cherry blossoms at their peak, the best course of action is to visit the Yoshimizu-jinja Shrine or the Hanayagura Observatory. They will give you ample opportunity to capture the magical sight of these Sakura flowers.
If you have ever seen a photograph of Kyoto, chances are you have also seen the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The tall rows of green stalks swaying in the wind create a magical scene.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is a lovely spot with tall bamboo trees, earning it the title of one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
The shining gold temple is reflected in a pond alongside lush greenery, creating a stunning sight. Gold was traditionally used to purify and eliminate pollutants and any unpleasant feelings or ideas about mortality. It also reflects the light from the sun, causing it to glow vividly against the landscape.
Of all the temples you would want to photograph, this one is truly a spectacle you won't find anywhere else.
Nature has unrivaled beauty, such as the rock formations in the Fukui Prefecture. Strong tidal currents have etched spectacular stone arches through the granite cliffs, giving the cliff an iconic look. Daimon (Large Gate) and Shomon (Small Gate) are two of the arches that have deteriorated over time, becoming broad enough for a vessel to sail through.
Along with the arches, there are additional rock formations like the Meotokame Rock, resembling two turtles, and Karabune Island, resembling the shape of a boat.
Sotomo Caves and Cliffs
Tottori Sand Dunes are Japan's biggest sand dunes and Tottori's most well-known tourist destination. They stretch for around 16 kilometers along the shore of the Sea of Japan and are situated just beyond the central city.
Sand from the neighboring Sendaigawa River was driven out to the open ocean and subsequently deposited on the surface along the shore by the ocean's waves, creating the sand dunes over countless generations. The sand dunes are continually shaped by the waves and winds, resulting in an ever-changing panorama.
Tottori Sand Dunes
Nature, wildlife, and architecture aside, your photography in Japan can also encompass some exceptional artwork, such as that in the Adachi Museum of Art. It incorporates a selection of over 1,500 pieces by Japanese artists and a 165,000-square-meter sequence of gardens. This magnificent museum combines the best of artwork and landscape design into a beautiful scene.
Nachi Falls is Japan's largest vertically plunging waterfall, with a 133-meter fall from its origin in an ancient emerald forest.
The waterfall is revered as the residence of a Shinto god and thus is far more than a mere geographical wonder. The sound of a ton of water crashing down each second can provide a spiritual awakening for believers and non-believers combined.
A marvelous hilltop castle is a desirable sight for any photographer. Located in Himeji, a city in the Hyōgo Prefecture's Kansai region, the Himeji Castle is a gem for photography in Japan. It is also easy to access through Kyoto or Osaka.
The castle is also referred to as the "White Egret Castle" or "White Heron Castle" and is one of the most beautiful places in Japan to visit due to its stunning plain white color. Approximately 83 buildings in the compound have defense systems dating back to the feudal era.
When the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the sight looks like something straight out of a fairytale.
The Itsukushima Shrine's torii gate is Miyajima's most distinctive sight, which towers high over the ocean at the shrine's gateway. This is one of Japan's most pictured torii gates. The gate looks like it is floating on the water if you visit during high tide. In contrast, you can even walk straight up to it during low tide.
In Akiota-cho, roughly 300 terraced rice fields border the valley's slope, creating a stunning landscape that fascinates many photographers and explorers looking for a peek at rural Japan.
The Ini Tanada rice planting activities, which take place in the spring and autumn, provide occasions to impart traditional agricultural practices, including old-fashioned crop cultivation and drying harvested rice, and are created to foster connections with the urban population.
The Shimanami Kaido is a well-known and beautifully stunning biking trail in Japan. It spans six islands and may be finished in a single day, with spectacular ocean panoramas. That being said, navigating the Shimanami Kaido by car is, obviously, an option. One-way expressway charges are roughly 5000 yen. Imabari has regular buses to Onomichi, Hiroshima, and Fukuyama.
Motonosumi Inari Shrine, standing atop stunning cliffs on the coastline in the north Yamaguchi Prefecture, has emerged from anonymity to become a popular tourist destination. A native fisherman's dream in 1955 is supposed to be the inspiration for the shrine. A white fox visited him in his dream and requested that a shrine be constructed there.
It is a gorgeous area that has been renowned as a power spot with its row of 123 scarlet shrine gates positioned amid the lush green hillsides with the deep blue sea and clear blue skies. This makes it one of the most beautiful places in Japan.
Motonosumi Inari Shrine
Photography in Japan is not complete without capturing some of the beautiful flora and fauna that the country has to offer. While cherry blossoms might be your go-to, wisteria flowers have a comparable beauty.
This lovely Wisteria tunnel may be seen in Kitakyushu city's Kawachi Wisteria Garden. It's known for its abundance of wisteria blooms. More than 20 different types of wisterias can be seen in this vast private garden.
The area is open to the general public two times a year, all through wisteria season, which arrives in late April or early May, and maple leaf season, which begins in late October or early November.
Kawachi Wisteria Garden
Usa Jingu Shrine is a Japanese national treasure located in Usa, Oita. It was constructed in the eighth century to honor Hachiman, the god of fighting, triumph, and security.
The shrine complexes in this architectural style are made up of two halls with ceilings joined to make a single structure. Moreover, they are encircled by a covered tunnel, making it impossible for tourists to get a clear look at them. The striking red color of the shrine and its traditional outlook make it a picturesque sight.
Usa Jingu Shrine
The gorge is developed by columnar jointing, which is the consequence of a historic lava flow hardening quickly. A boat ride right up the 17-meter Manai Falls provides a spectacular vista.
Along the gorge, the Takachiho area has various beautiful temples and taverns. Upon on Takachiho Course, you can observe the gorge as well as additional scenery, heritage, and culture.
Yakushima's Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine is a lovely, verdant nature reserve with some of the island's oldest cedars. All along the gorge, the area has a series of well-maintained hiking routes.
A section of the woodland that influenced the Studio Ghibli animated movie Princess Mononoke is among Shiratani Unsuikyo's major charms. The film's main illustrator, Oga Kazuo, spent considerable time here creating sketches for the film's woodlands.
Shiratani Unsui Gorge
There are countless sites worth visiting in Japan, i.e., old castles, unique landscapes, and breathtaking mountains. This can make it difficult to determine the most beautiful places in Japan to visit while organizing a trip. Not only are there many well-known attractions that should be included in your schedule, but there are many lesser-known shrines, temples, and villages that are well worth visiting.