That post aims to provide an overview of some of the amazing places to see in Tokyo, the beautiful modern capital of Japan…
… as well as areas close by that you should not miss, like Mount Fuji (only 90 minutes away) …
…and the famous & cute snow monkey near Nagano (OK, farther -4h- but worth the effort, I promise 😂)
Tokyo is a crazy frenetic city showcasing Japan’s unique culture and the contrasts between amazing traditions, shrines, and ancient temples and the vibrant, futuristic city.
With no intent to be exhaustive, here are a few areas not to miss in my view.
I feel the need to start that post with one of my favorite areas, the famous Shibuya scramble crossing
3000 persons at the time are crossing that famous Shibuya intersection, under colorful, lit-up commercial and business buildings.
It is great to see and shoot this from the ground and if you can from above (the easiest is to book and hotel with a view on it, if not it is not easy to access a clean viewpoint)
Obviously twilight is the best time to enjoy that place …
A rain shower can be interesting as well as it brings some umbrellas color spots around 😊
The 333-meter-high Tokyo communications and observation tower was built in 1958, with a bit of an Eiffel Tower look (with a more fashionable red paint😊).
Beyond the upper observatory deck, you can find there numerous restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops are situated as well as an indoor theme park that features manga and anime series.
Actually, the best skyline view is not the tower, but the view over the tower from Roppongi Hills
One of the amazing sunset and skyline photography spots is the Mori Tower rooftop for a 360 degrees stunning view.
PS: for photographers, tripods are not welcome up there so a bean bag (or bag of rice) might be a handy thing to bring…
Meiji Shrine (dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken), is an amazingly peaceful place, in the middle of the vibrant capital of Japan.
The shrine is surrounded by a 70 Ha garden with 170,000 trees donated from all over Japan, reinforcing the quiet and sacred atmosphere.
It is a very popular place for weddings so you might witness a traditional ceremony and see a bride and a groom dressed in a Japanese wedding kimono, walking in the park.
You’ll find in the garden 200 traditional sake barrels collected and donated to the Meiji Jingu shrine, as a sacred offering to the emperor 🍸.
As that emperor had apparently good taste, he was a French wine mover so you can find barrels of amazing red wine there as well (in front of the sake) 😂
Like in most Shrines, you’ll find there lots of Ema wishes wooden plaques hanging all over the place in the peaceful garden of Meiji Jingu shrine …
At walking distance from Meiji Jinhu shrine, have a look at the very famous Takeshita-Dori pedestrian street, a symbol of Harajuku, Shibuya ward’s eccentric neighborhood in Tokyo, with many fashion shops, tea rooms, cafés, and more.
Harajuku often described as the heart of Japanese youth culture, is a fun place even if you’re not a fashion victim 😂
You’ll encounter a lot of fun people … from all generations.
Clearly a paradise for street photography or just for exploring something different.
Tokyo Plaza mall
This is not obviously a major Tokyo landmark but if you are in the area of Takeshita, have a look at the psychedelic entrance of the Plaza shopping center.
With a bit of luck, you could convince one of the passing-by girls to do a bit of fun improvised modeling 😂
Twilight is obviously the best time to get there for photography
The stunning Mount Fuji area is just 110 km from Tokyo and can be easily reached by car or train from the city, so a must-do if you’re nearby Tokyo.
There are stunning spots around the National Park that are travel lovers and a photographer’s dream with Mount Fuji in the background. The volcano is however often shy and hidden behind the clouds, so you might (like me) end up with some misty and frustrating shots without the volcano mountain 😢. Sill nice but …
Hoping for a clear sky, here are a few places to visit there
The Five stories Chureito Pagoda is part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine peace memorial) overlooking Fujiyoshida City and Mount Fuji and is a very popular sunset spot.
The weather was not great that day so I had to do an exception and photoshop my image to get an accepatble view of Mont Fuji from the Pagoda 😢.
It is in all cases a beautiful place, especially when the lanterns light up at twilight.
One of the best places to see Mount Fuji is Kawaguchiko lake, one of the 5 lakes surrounding the volcano. This time, I was (finally) blessed with a gorgeous sunrise there.
Nagasaki Park on the north bank of the lake is a great place to spend a few hours
So an amazing place not to miss …
Also known as swan lake, lake Yamanakako is the largest of Fuji Five lakes.
This is a place with usually gorgeous Mount Fuji background, but I can’t prove that as I had just beautiful swans … in beautiful mist 😭
Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine
In the same area, foggy weather can become an opportunity at the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine, dedicated to the deity of the volcano.
The shrine is part of Mt. Fuji UNESCO World Heritage site and a really beautiful place in the forest.
Iyashi-no-Sato Nemba village
For completeness, that open-air museum on the western shore of Lake Saiko has as well by clear weather and nice views over Mount Fuji. Not much to see there honestly If the mountain is hidden but you can always try to find a Samourai somehow 😂
The Hakuba Valley in the heart of the Japanese Alps, is among the best places to ski in all of Asia and globally (11 meters annual snowfall!) but is even more famous for its snow monkeys.
The only monkeys in the world known to bathe in hot springs can be found in the Jigokudani forest “hell valley park”, named for its volcanic activity & hot springs
After a 30+min walk through a beautiful forest, you’ll get toward the hot springs pool where the monkeys congregate primarily.
Those cute monkeys are Japanese aka Macaques. It is easier to see them in winter as they get provided food and can use of course the warm bath
The water reflection and steam are obviously making that place a dream for nature lovers and photographers
Of course, you will not be alone there as this is a very popular spot, but observing those more than human animals remains an amazing experience.
The monkeys are obviously not only in the warm pool and can be observed in the surrounding hills and near the river
Clearly, a bit of pain to get there from Tokyo but you’ll not regret it (and you can always spend a day or two in the sky resort if you have time 😊)
So, I hope that little post will engage you to visit stunning Tokyo, as well as get around outside the capital for more exploration…