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Credit: The Travel Intern
September 2019

Japan is one of the most visited countries in the world, and it certainly isn’t lacking when it comes to the number of iconic attractions it has. But with Instagram feeds becoming the new social currency, you can’t blame us when we want to take pictures of the same thing, but, um, differently, you know?  

With professional photo-taking equipment the size of our palms these days (i.e. smartphones), there’s nothing to stop you from taking awesome shots like those professional photographers you see on Instagram. How exactly do they take photos of the Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji way better than everyone else? It’s not really a secret — you just have to find the right angle.

With these insider tips, maybe this time, you can be the one to spark the #wanderlust in others! 

1. Mount Fuji

Photo credit: @thetravelintern via Instagram

 

Tell anyone you’ve been to Tokyo and they’ll enthusiastically quiz whether or not you managed to see Mount Fuji. Not in Tokyo, of course, but nearby in Kawaguchiko — where the best views of Fuji-san are at! 

On a clear day, you can photograph Japan’s tallest mountain from virtually anywhere in Kawaguchiko. Chances are, you’d realise that everyone flocks to the Natural Living Center for that, since the sightseeing shuttle bus takes you there. 

But experience tells us that Kawaguchiko is best enjoyed as a road trip, and another vantage point you can view Japan’s icon from is the Chureito Pagoda (there’s even a designated photography spot) — after a 396-step walk up, that is! Up for the challenge? 

 

Address: 3353-1 Arakura, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture 403-0011, Japan
Opening Hours: 24 hours 
Price: Free 

 

2. Senso-ji Temple, Asakusa

Photo credit: @thetravelintern via Instagram

 

Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s oldest neighbourhoods, and its most iconic attraction, the Senso-ji is also Tokyo’s oldest temple. The entire complex is massive — flanked by huge lanterns, beautiful ceiling paintings and statues of deities — and is as close to a traditional heritage experience as you can get in a modernised city like Tokyo. 

While everyone is fighting the crowds to take that one unobstructed selfie in front of the main entrance’s gargantuan lantern, try this aerial shot out instead from the Asakusa Tourist Culture Information Center right opposite it. Besides snapping a bird’s eye view without jostling with other eager tourists, you can even catch the sunset with the Tokyo Skytree photo-bombing in the background, but in a good way!

Address: 2-18-9 Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0034, Japan
Opening Hours: 9.00am to 10.00pm daily
Price: Free 

 

3. Tokyo Tower

Photo credit: @thetravelintern via Instagram

It’s hard to miss the Tokyo Tower even from tens of miles away. Japan’s answer to Paris’ Eiffel Tower can be captured in many ways, usually from one of the many sky-deck observatories around the capital. But don’t be shy and get close to it for a more dynamic shot! The beauty of this icon deserves to take centre stage in your photograph ;) 

Address: 4 Chome-2-8 Shibakoen, Minato City, Tokyo 105-0011, Japan

 

4. Mount Fuji Shibazakura Festival (富士芝桜まつり)

Photo credit: @kyoko1903 via Instagram

The view of an expansive carpet of 800,000 shibazakura (pink moss) is just majestic with Mount Fuji juxtaposed in the background. The Shibazakura Festival runs from mid-April to late-May every year near the Fuji Five Lakes, with an elaborate festival ground that has food stalls, cafes, performances, and photo opportunities aplenty. There’s even a footbath you can soak your feet in, while simultaneously soaking in the landscape of blue, pink and green! 

You could easily spend an entire day here taking pictures among the pink moss, or from an observatory deck (that’s more like a bridge).

Address: 212 Motusu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru Yamanashi, Japan 401-0337 
Opening Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm from mid-April to late-May
Price: ¥600 for adults (¥250 for children)

 

5. Hie Shrine (日枝神社)

Photo credit: @brave_vibration

Kyoto vibes, without being in Kyoto?! Fret not if you can’t make a trip to Kyoto to see the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine and its 1,000 torii gates. The undiscerning eye could easily mistake Tokyo’s Hie Shrine for the real deal! In fact, the steep and narrow staircase might add a cooler dimension to your photo.

At the end lies the shrine of the god of Mt. Hie, known as the Oyamakui-no-kami, and it’s only a three-minute walk from Akasaka Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line. The best part? No crowds! 

Address: 2-10-5 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0014, Japan
Opening Hours: 5.00am to 6.00pm (April to September), 6.00am to 5.00pm (October to March)
Price: Free

 

6. Shibuya Crossing 

Photo credit: @anakjajan via Instagram

Japan’s iconic Shibuya crossing needs no introduction. But you might want to reconsider taking a good shot if you’re thinking of heading up to Tsutaya’s Starbucks — it’s virtually impossible to get a counter seat there, and standing around would probably draw the ire of both visitors and Starbucks staff trying to move around the already-cramped space!

Another place you could get a good shot of the crossing is from Shibuya Hikarie Mall’s Sky Lobby, located on the 11th floor. You don’t even have to pay for entry (or coffee)!

Address: Shibuya Hikarie Mall, 2-chōme-21-1 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-8510, Japan
Opening Hours: 10.00am to 9.00pm
Price: Free

7. Piss Alley, or Omoide Yokocho (思い出横丁)

Photo credit: @japanko_official via Instagram

Thankfully, Omoide Yokocho (which translates to ‘Memory Alley’) no longer lives up to its former nickname as Piss Alley (it was known for not having toilets back then). These days, the Japanese would relate Omoide Yokocho with “natsukashii” instead, which means, “how nostalgic!”

This narrow alley retains its original charm from the yesteryears, and lets visitors step back into the Showa era, lined with little yakitori eateries, bars and other food stalls. So plan your little photoshoot to allow time for some indulgence afterwards!

Address: 1 Chome-2 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan

 

8. Rikugien Garden (六義園)

Photo credit: @urayasu_san via Instagram

Tokyo has many spots to view cherry blossoms from, but another one many might not know of is Rikugien Garden — a beautiful landscape garden that’s been around since 1700. It literally translates to “garden of six poems”, because the entire compound serves to recreate 88 scenes from these famous poems. 

Rikugien Garden is perhaps even more famous as an autumn hangout to view the foliage. From late November to early December each year, the garden illuminates after sundown to create spectacular night views. Looks like gardens aren’t just a daytime attraction!

Address: 6 Chome-16-3 Honkomagome, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 113-0021, Japan
Opening Hours: 9.00am to 5.00pm
Price: ¥300

 

9. Hakone Shrine (箱根神社)

 Photo credit: @thetravelintern via Instagram

This onsen town less than two hours from Tokyo is perfect to get away from the city for a bit and immerse yourself in nature! The Hakone Shrine’s grand torii gate is usually the starting point for everyone’s Hakone itinerary, right on the edge of Lake Ashinoko (you’ll have to climb a flight of stairs down to get to this photo spot). Simply take the Hakone Tozan Bus to the Moto-Hakone Boat Pier.

If time permits, explore the actual Hakone shrine besides simply taking a picture! The actual shrine complex is huge. 

Address: 80-1 Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa 250-0522, Japan
Opening Hours: 24 hours
Price: Free

 

 


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