Despite being a small country, each city in Japan has its own unique and very different quirks. It has become a very popular tourist destination over the years, so it’s no wonder than Japan boasted over 28 million tourist visits in 2017. Not only is it a very clean country, but the old and new worlds coexist in a symbiotic relationship that is uniquely Japanese. The country also hosts some of the most beautiful, natural and architectural landscapes in the world. So, if you’re wondering where you should go for Japan’s most photogenic cities, let this article be your guide.
Despite the overwhelming tourist crowds, it is easy to fall in love with Japan’s capital city. Tokyo strikes a perfect balance between being a futuristic metropolis and a preserved remnant of the country’s feudal period. The city of lights is a veritable playground for street photographers, as among the city’s skyscrapers, sophisticated transport systems, and blinding neon lights stand centuries-old structures like the Sensō-ji Temple, the Meiji Shrine, and the Imperial Palace. Tokyo is also Japan’s primary hub for anime and manga culture, which explains attractions like the giant Godzilla model sitting atop the Toho Cinemas movie complex and a life-sized Gundam statue standing watch from the manmade Odaiba island.
Since it is located between Tokyo and Kyoto, Nagoya is often treated as a transitory stop. However, it does boast its own photo-worthy views. For instance, Nagoya Castle is one of Japan’s largest and it is a must-visit during the spring season because of the surrounding cherry blossoms, which are a treat for both amateur and professional photographers alike. The city also houses modern buildings, like the giant silver globe known as the Nagoya City Science Museum where you can find one of the world’s largest planetariums.
The peace and tranquillity in Kyoto serve as an antithesis to Tokyo’s hustle and bustle. After all, it’s Japan’s ancient imperial capital, which is why it has many photogenic, must-see historical and cultural tourist spots. Kyoto is home to numerous gorgeous temples and shrines. These include the Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion) and the Fushimi Inari shrine, where this video was shot using the Spivo 360 swivel selfie stick. There are also timeless districts like Gion where you can spot traditional geishas. Kyoto is exceptionally beautiful in autumn, as most of its historical sites come alive with vibrant fall colors.
This rather hilly region is the place to be in the winter, especially since it hosts one of Japan’s largest winter events, the Sapporo Snow Festival. During the holiday season, Odori Park is filled with Christmas trees, lanterns, and some must-see elaborate snow sculptures. From the top of Mount Moiwa it will provide you a good view of the entire city, and it’s a great spot for panoramic shots, which you can get to via the aerial tramway. Aside from seasonal attractions, Sapporo is also home to incredible contemporary architecture. The Sapporo Dome is a technological marvel built with the world's first floating pitch. It looks like a massive UFO from a distance and is a surreal sight especially in winter. Meanwhile, you can see a clear Western influence in the former Hokkaido Government Office, which features American neo-baroque style architecture. To find out more about capturing winter scenery on your phone, check out Spivo’s photography guide to get the best out of your snow shots.
Osaka features a similar urban charm akin Tokyo, but it retains a lot more of Japan’s old heritage and culture. Perhaps its most popular historical attraction is the Osaka Castle, which is surrounded by over 3,000 cherry blossom trees. A good example of the past coexisting with the present can also be found in Shinsekai. At the heart of this post-war district stands the Tsutenkaku Tower, which is widely regarded as the “symbol of Osaka”. While it already looks incredible at night, you’ll find the best night photography opportunities in Dotonbori. Here, the bright neon lights and massive billboards reflect brightly on the canal water, providing ample opportunities for some marvellous street photography.
Products featured in this blog: Spivo 360 swivel selfie stick
Written by Allison Camille