Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or you just like to get a bit snap happy on your smartphone, you won’t have to look far (or try too hard) to get some impressive, envy-inducing travel shots in Japan. The list of locations is truly endless, from the concrete jungle to the cherry blossom, so here’s just six of the most instagrammable places in Japan to get you started.
This vast expanse of radiant pink, purple and white at the base of Mount Fuji, situated three kilometres south of Lake Motosuko in the Fuji Five Lakes area, sends thousands of Instagram-obsessed travellers snap happy every year. Well – at least between mid-April and late May when the 800,000 stalks of shibazakura (pink moss or phlox moss) are delivering their best in visual awe. And you don’t even need to rely on the weather, because whether you capture this scene in the clear sunshine or cloud and mist it’s a stunning treat in equal proportions.
Built in the 12th century and registered as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1996, Itsukushima Shrine is best known for its torii gate which appears to float in the Seto Inland Sea during high tide. With the main shrine built over the water in a small inlet on Miyajima Island, this is where you’ll discover traditional Japanese architecture and breathtaking natural beauty that complement one another in the most inspiring of ways.
Arashiyama bamboo grove, Kyoto
As a mere human being, you’ll probably feel a certain sense of insignificance as you stroll along this 500 metre path through the Sagano Bamboo Forest on the western outskirts of Kyoto. Here, you can either hire a bike or simply walk the short stretch to experience the sun, rain or wind ricochet between the towering stems. Take a trip in December and you’ll find the pathway illuminated by traditional lanterns for the annual Arashiyama Hanatoro event.
No trip to Japan would be complete without experiencing the hustle and bustle of one of their major cities. And what better place to do that than the commercial centre of Shinjuku, Tokyo – an area of 18 square kilometres with an estimated population of 334,000. Here, you’ll experience the lights, sights and sounds of Shinjuku’s shopping and business districts that sit on the East and West sides of a train station serving 3.5 million passengers per day, the current Guinness World Record holder of Busiest Station.
The blue pond
Located on the bank of the Biei River near the town of Biei on Hokkaido Island, you’ll have to pay a visit to the Blue Pond for a truly one-off and mysterious experience. Yes – as the name suggests, here you’ll find a vibrant blue pond with lifeless tree stumps protruding from the surface. All this, contrasted with the lush green backdrop of the surrounding forest (season depending), is breathtaking. But this is no natural phenomenon. Although there’s no exact known cause for the hue, which changes according to the season and even the time of day, the pond is said to have formed after a dam was constructed upstream to protect the region from mudflows from the nearby volcano on Mt. Tokachi.
Only a twenty-five minute drive from Sapporo facing Ishikari Bay, the port city of Otaru is home to a collection of historical buildings and a perfectly preserved canal. The centrepiece of the city, this large canal is surrounded by cobbled streets, shops, cafes and restaurants. Whether you’re here in the height of summer or admiring a semi-frozen waterway in the depth of winter, you’ll find plenty of photogenic charm and character well worth dropping in for.