Best Photo Spots in Japan

Nikko

Nikko is a UNESCO world heritage site, for good reason. It houses a large complex of historic temples with a very ornate architectural style that is not widely seen in the rest of Japan. Unlike the Western perception of minimalist “Zen” architecture, these temples are encrusted with brightly painted carvings.…

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

This is a truly unique wildlife photography experience. Where else can you see a troupe of Snow Monkeys hanging out in a hot springs, nestled in a beautiful snowy valley? The monkeys are very habituated to people, and you can get as close as want, but do be advised that…

Showa Kinen Park

This park used to be an Air Base, but now is one of the largest areas of open space in the Tokyo metro area. It features seasonal flowers and displays year round, as well as a small lake with paddle boats and a water park. The main photographic subjects are…

Arasaki Crane Reserve

Two species of cranes winter at this area: White-Naped Cranes, and Hooded Cranes, and they do so in very large numbers (13,000 plus), making for a very impressive and noisy scene. The rest of the year, this is just another rice field and not particularly photogenic, so plan on visiting…

Shirakawa Village

The main reason to visit this area is to see traditional Japanese agriculture, and the villagers are actually still farming using largely traditional methods. The huts in the villages are referred to as “gass-ho” and feature distinctive thatched roofs. The valley was almost completely cut off from the rest of…

Nanzenji Temple

This “sub-temple” is part of the Nanzenji Temple in Kyoto. Kyoto is blessed with an abundance of temples, almost too many to see. Nanzenji is at the southern end of the Philosophers’ Walk, and near an old stone aqueduct almost Roman in appearance. This was at the peak of the…

Tokyo International Forum

The Tokyo International Forum was designed by the “starchitect” Rafael Vinoly. You can just walk in to the lobby/atrium area to shoot. The scale of construction, shapes and geometry is unique, and photogenic.

Kyoto Station

Kyoto’s main train station is housed in a huge, open-atrium, futuristic-style building. In addition to the railway station, the structure is also home to a shopping mall, a department store, a movie theatre, government offices, and numerous restaurants. If traveling to or from Kyoto by public transport, you’ll likely pass…

Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari is a mountainside Shinto shrine in Kyoto, Japan. It’s one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto and is famous for its trails of seemingly endless torii gates. The shrine’s main building sits at the base of the mountain just inside the entrance, but behind the main grounds are…

Lake Tanuki

This is the premiere location for taking pictures of Mount Fuji at sunrise. It also has by far the best reflection, i.e. most likely to have smooth water. There is a nice path on the shoreline and a little campground with vending machines and restrooms at the main parking lot.…