Is Japan on your bucket list this year but you just haven't figured out which part of Japan you should visit? We feel you! With so many beautiful places in Japan, it's hard to choose just where you should plan your vacay ?
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics happening this August, it's the perfect chance to venture out of Japan's capital and explore other breathtaking sights across the country. Even if you're not planning to visit Tokyo because of the crowd, these sights are perfect if you're looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Here are 10 beautiful and Instagram-worthy spots in Japan (other than Tokyo) that'll definitely fuel your wanderlust ? We've also provided some tips and easy poses you can adopt to make your shot more fun!
P.S. If you're looking for IG-worthy spots in Tokyo, we've rounded them up here (near halal food!)
Within 2-3 hours from Tokyo
1. Hakone Shrine, Hakone
Located at the foot of the volcanic Mt Hakone, Hakone Shrine has been an important place of worship for military commanders and travellers to the area since the 8th century. Though most of the shrine's complex is hidden in a dense forest, one striking landmark is the "heiwa no torii" (red gate of peace) which stands in the nearby Lake Ashinoko.
The impressive view of the giant torii gate, with the lake and mountains in the backdrop, simply makes for a breathtaking picture! Needless to say, it's a popular photo spot for couples and if you're here with your loved one, you'd want to hold hands or gaze into each other's eyes for that magical couple shot. But even if you're alone, don't worry - raise a fist in the air or do a twirl and you'll have yourself a gorgeous solo shot ? Check out these 10 easy poses to spice up your Instagram feed!
What's even better is that it takes only less than 2 hours to get from Tokyo to Hakone, which makes it perfect for a day trip from Tokyo. We've rounded up 7 essential tips you'd need for a trip to Hakone and Mt Fuji.
2. Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki
About 2 hours from Tokyo in Ibaraki prefecture lies a spacious field that's covered in seasonal flowers all year round! The Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka city not only has a spectacular view of flowers but also the azure blue sea as it faces the Pacific Ocean ?
One of the main highlights of the park is none other than its nemophila flowers, otherwise known as baby blue eyes. The peak period for these blooms is usually from late April to mid-May so make sure you plan your visit accordingly.
But if blue is not your favourite colour, visit in autumn instead where the park turns into a sea of red with Kochia flowers (summer cypress) taking centre stage. Catch the Kochia in full glory from early to mid-October. Stand in the midst of the flower fields, stretch your arms out wide or take a selfie with the flowers to capture the most beautiful shots!
Besides spring and autumn, the Hitachi Seaside Park is also equally impressive in summer where you can expect poppies, roses and sunflowers. In winter, ice tulips await!
3. Mt Fuji
Mt Fuji is Japan's tallest and most majestic mountain so it's no secret that it's also one of Japan's most Instagrammable landmarks!
There are multiple spots to snap a picture with Mt Fuji in the backdrop but the Mt Fuji 5th station is the closest you can get to the mountain without actually climbing it. At 2300 metres above sea level, the view from the 5th station is gorgeous and it'll feel so surreal to be so close to a mountain you always see in photos and videos! For the perfect shot, face the peak of Mt Fuji with your hand stretched out upwards and it'll look as though you're embracing the mountain ?
If you're visiting in spring, you'd want to get a shot of Mt Fuji with cherry blossoms and the best place would be Chureito Pagoda! Perched on a hill overlooking Mt Fuji, the view here feels as if it's straight out of a postcard. With a background that's rich in colour, you'd definitely want a photo of you looking towards Mt Fuji for that pensive shot or if you'd like to try something fun, put your hand up and make a peace sign ?
#HHWT Tip: To get an unobstructed view of Mt Fuji, we recommend visiting in the winter months (Nov-Jan) and in the mornings as there's better visibility. Check out our guide on tips to visit Mt Fuji for more info on this!
P.S. Thinking of doing day trips from Tokyo? We've curated the perfect 6D5N Muslim-friendly Tokyo day trips itinerary!
4. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto
Scroll through photos of Japan and the Fushimi Inari Shrine will definitely stand out for its image of a thousand bright orange torii gates (traditional Japanese gate) called the "Senbon Torii" (Thousand Torii gates). Fushimi Inari is the most important shrine that was built to honour the deity Inari, the Shinto God of rice, and the entire complex stretches out over a vast area.
P.S. Check out Fushimi Inari Shrine and more with our 3D2N Muslim-friendly Kyoto itinerary!
The main draw of the shrine, the Senbon Torii straddles the hiking trail which leads to the summit of Mt Inari and here's where you'd want to get that picture-perfect shot. To create that tunnel-like shot with you in the picture, stand further away from the camera so your photo can still capture the essence of the torii gates. No need for complicated poses for this one! A shot of you walking naturally through the Senbon Torii and admiring the view will do ?
Or if you're here with your significant other, perhaps you can try a cheeky couple shot by peeking out from the sides of the torii gates for that playful and romantic shot. Here are 10 poses you'd want to try with your other half!
#HHWT Tip: The shrine and gates are most crowded between 9AM – 5PM so you'd want to arrive when it’s ‘crowd-free’ to enjoy some peace and quiet before everyone else arrives. Try to avoid major holidays too as many locals and visitors alike will be visiting the shrine. Alternatively, you can also try going further up the trail where there'll be fewer visitors. Most visitors will turn back after reaching the Yotsutsuji Intersection!
P.S. Visiting Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka? Check out our 7D6N itinerary to explore 3 of Japan's most popular cities!
5. Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kyoto
No visit to Kyoto (or Japan!) is complete without visiting the famed Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The sight of sprawling bamboo trees is simply too stunning to miss ?
Standing in the middle the bamboo path is an otherworldly experience, as you'd be able to witness the bamboo trees swaying and listen to the leaves rustle whenever the wind blows. To capture a really immersive shot of the bamboo grove, stand in the middle of the path with your back facing the camera! Play with different angles to get a different feel of the bamboo grove and wear a contrasting colour so that you'd stand out in your photos ?
If you're looking for a unique shot, why not use the bamboo trunks as a frame for your photos instead? The image of you standing in the midst of bamboo trunks will definitely be one for the books!
#HHWT Tip: The Bamboo Grove is accessible 24/7 but the crowds can arrive as early as 9AM! If you’re looking to get a photo without being surrounded by tons of other visitors, try to arrive just after sunrise to squeeze in some memorable shots. Arriving via the southern end of the grove will also give you a bit of an advantage at avoiding the crowds, but if you’re looking for another hidden gem walk through the grove towards Nonomiya Shrine. After Nonomiya Shrine, turn left and cross the railroad tracks to reach the Bamboo Forest Trail (竹林の散策路). This little grove has even more bamboo you can take photos with!
6. Himeji Castle
Himeji Castle is considered to be one of Japan’s most spectacular castles due to its unparalleled beauty and well-preserved complex. It's no wonder why the castle was crowned one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan back in 1993!
With a total of 83 buildings, the castle grounds are sprawling but don't worry, you can still get a glimpse of its 17th-century architecture by photographing its Main Keep (which resembles a white heron from some angles!). If you're with a travel buddy, you have to pose for a photo right in front of the Main Keep; make sure your photographer takes the shot from a low angle so you don't miss any details! Take your pick from one of these group travel poses to make your photo more engaging ?
Credit: Thoriq Al on Facebook
Did you know that Himeji Castle also offers one of the best cherry blossoms viewing spots in Japan? The castle's grounds are home to 1,000 cherry trees which come alive in various shades of pink and white during sakura season. You wouldn't want to miss a shot of the Himeji Castle surrounded by pretty pink hues of sakura blooms!
P.S. Visiting Japan for cherry blossoms? Check out the official sakura forecast and the best places to admire them in our guide!
7. Farm Tomita, Nakafurano
One look at photos of Farm Tomita and you might mistake it for a flower field in Europe! Home to Japan’s largest lavender fields, Farm Tomita is one of Hokkaido's most charming spots.
The farm has several fields which grow different types of flowers but most of them bloom from early May to mid-October. The Irodori Field is the most popular field as you can admire 7 different colours from flowers like purple lavender, white baby's breath, red poppies, orange California poppies and more ?
For those of you who are interested in the lavender flowers, do note that the best time to visit is from early to mid-July where the lavender fields come alive with different varieties. Don't forget to try the vegetarian-friendly lavender soft-serve ice cream or better still, pose for a picture with it! You can also switch up your look by wearing a hat so you can capture that "summer vibe" look!
If you're looking to post an Instagram photo that doesn't have you in it, that's fine too! Make the IG-worthy lavender ice cream the star of your photo by placing it against the backdrop of flower fields. Way to spice up your Instagram feed ?
8. Blue Pond, Biei
Here's another stunning spot in Hokkaido, the Blue Pond of Biei! Located on the outskirts of the hot spring town of Shirogane Onsen, this spot became Instagram-famous because of its ethereal blue water and it's one of Hokkaido's must-visit places ?
Although the Blue Pond looks magical, can you believe it was actually manmade? It was artificially created when a dam was built to prevent lava flow from the nearby Mt Tokachi on the town of Biei.
Thanks to the minerals from the nearby hot springs, the pond emits a deep blue colour while the bed turns to white from sulphur and lime. While you're posing for a photo here, you'd want to make use of the railings and the tree trunks to frame that perfect shot! If there's autumn foliage hanging from the trees, make them part of your shot ☺️
9. Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki
Visiting Takachiho Gorge will make you feel as though you've stepped into a fairytale. The magnificent gorge was formed after lava from the nearby Mt Aso eroded over time to create 80-100 metres of volcanic basalt columns.
One of the main highlights of Takachiho Gorge is the Minainotaki Waterfall which flows to the river below and it's truly an impressive sight to boot. The gorge is picturesque all year round but during autumn, it looks even better thanks to the beautiful foliage!
The best part is that you can enjoy the view of Takachiho Gorge in two ways. You can choose to walk along a path at the top of the gorge but nothing beats experiencing the gorge from below, which you can do while rowing on a boat! If you wish to change up your Instagram feed, why not snap a photo of you rowing in action? ? Check out this link to find out more details about rowing a boat at Takachiho Gorge!
10. Kawachi Fuji Garden, Fukuoka
If you think that cherry blossoms are too mainstream, then this next spot will be right up your alley ? Known for its tunnel of hanging Wisteria flowers, the Kawachi Fuji Garden is one of Japan's must-visit destinations.
There are two Wisteria tunnels at the garden, with over 20 species of Wisteria flowers. While the peak of cherry blossoms are usually from end-March to early April, the best time to view Wisteria flowers is from late-April to mid-May (depending on the season). During full bloom, you can expect a myriad of colours from purple to white, violet-blue and even pink!
To get the perfect shot of you and the tunnel, stand in the middle of the tunnel and look up in awe of the flowers. If you're wearing a flowy dress, do a twirl and smile while looking back at the camera. Otherwise, another pose you can consider is to act like you're reaching out for the hanging Wisterias!
#HHWT Tip: The gardens only open twice in a year, during the flower season in spring and autumn. Do note that you'd need to pre-book your tickets in advance before visiting the garden. Check out their website for updates!
With these 10 stunning and Instagrammable spots in Japan, it's time for you to venture beyond Tokyo! Call your travel buddies now and start planning your trip to discover these amazing gems ?