A view of Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto

Photography from Japan to inspire your wanderlust

Visiting Japan is like hopping on a rollercoaster of amazing and unique experiences. From admiring the beauty and tranquility of Buddhist temples and gardens to enjoying the exquisite Japanese cuisine, there’s a lot to experience. And to capture – with your Japanese camera, of course πŸ™‚ Indeed, Japan is a perfect place for photography.

Here comes a selection of our own photos from Japan. The pictures are arranged in the same chronological order as our 10 day Japan itinerary. Perhaps they’ll ignite your wanderlust and make you want to plan a trip to the Land of Rising Sun.

View of the floating torii gate of Itsukushima shrine on Miyajima island, captured against the background of dramatic clouds. The gate is a popular object of photography in Japan.
Visiting the tiny island of Miyajima situated just a stone’s throw away from Hiroshima is a perfect way to start a trip around Japan. Miyajima is famous for Itsukushima shrine and its floating torii gate.
Miyajima is a romantic and dreamy place. Even if it has a lot of daytime visitors, you’re still guaranteed to find beautiful and calm places to admire the amazing Japanese nature. The spectacular autumn foliage makes for a great object of photography in Japan.
View of a young couple posing in front of the floating torii gate of Itsukushima shrine on Miyajima island.
The vermilion torii gate of Itsukushima shrine is the number one object of photography on Miyajima island. And in fact, it is considered one of the most iconic views in all of Japan. The feeling that the gate seems to be floating on the sea is correct. The feeling that it grows out of Michal’s head is not πŸ™‚
View of the premises of Daisho-in temple on Miyajima island. The Japanese temples offer excellent opportunities for photography.
The best thing to do in Miyajima is to wander leisurely while keeping your eyes and mind open. That way you’ll find many hidden gems this beautiful island offers.
Picture of a young lady captured in a temple on Miyajima island.
Kristine enjoying the beauty and tranquility. To fully experience the best of Miyajima, we suggest spending a night in a ryokan.
A picture of a young lady and a  free-roaming deer in the streets of Miyajima island. Miyajima is a perfect spot for Japan photography.
Japan is always full of exciting and surprising objects for photography. Did you know Miyajima has free-roaming deer in the streets? These adorable animals love to pose for a picture with you. They also love eating paper, so keep your travel documents safe πŸ™‚
View of the Peace Memorial Monument and Atomic Dome in Hiroshima.
Hiroshima is a bit of a contrast to the romantic Miyajima. The city became the target of the world’s first A-bomb in 1945. The Peace Memorial Park in the city center is a solemn place commemorating its victims.
View of Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto, one of the iconic sights in Japan and a perfect object for photography.
Kyoto is the most beautiful Japanese city. With more than two thousand temples and shrines, as well as parks, gardens, museums, restaurants and bars, there is simply something for everyone.
A view of Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto set amongst the autumn foliage. The temple is a classical object of photography in Japan.
The Kinkaku-ji temple, one of Kyoto’s top attractions is so shiny you don’t wanna forget your sunglasses, seriously πŸ™‚
View of Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto with its 13-metre-tall wooden stage supporting the front facade. Kiyomizu-dera is one of Kyoto's top attractions and a popular objects for photography for all the visitors to Japan.
One of Kyoto’s grandest temples, Kiyomizu-dera. Its front facade is supported by a 13-meter-tall wooden stage. During the Edo period, there was a funny belief that leaping off this stage would make your wish come true. The Edo period is over, so we definitely do not recommend trying it nowadays πŸ™‚
View of Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto.
While the stupendous Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto’s Southern Higashiyama district might be its number one attraction, there’s much, much more. One can easily spend half a day exploring this superb neighborhood. Crooked streets, cozy little teeshops, various temples, small and grand, are all waiting to be discovered.
Discovering the beauty of Kyoto’s temples is among the top experiences this magnificent city offers.
A view of Honen-in temple in Kyoto.
If discovering the beauty of Kyoto’s temples is one of the top experiences, then discovering the little hidden gems like this one is the creme de la creme. The best thing about them – you’re likely to have them all for yourself, without the usual crowds found at the most popular spots.
A less common view of the premises of Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto, with the foreground of beautiful fall foliage.
When is the best time to visit Kyoto? The easy answer is – spring and fall. We visited in the second half of November when all the trees are dressed in the beautiful colors of crimson, red and orange. Watching the fall foliage is a very popular activity not just in Kyoto, but in all of Japan. Not surprisingly, the colorful trees are also a perfect object for some typical photography from Japan.
Picture of a buddhist temple's roof set amidst the fall leaves. Taken in Kyoto's southern Higashiyama district that offers many interesting object for photography.
Kyoto is stunning. And yes, Kyoto is also popular among visitors and gets crowded. Yet if one ventures a bit off the most beaten paths, various little hidden gems are waiting for discovery. We literally got stuck in a pedestrian traffic jam on a street in the southern Higashiyama. We also found this little temple in the very same southern Higashiyama and had it all to ourselves.
A picture of four Japanese women dressed in traditional Japanese dress, with the background of Kiyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto.
While walking through Southern Higashiyama… This is Kyoto’s top district for visitors, with many major attractions as well as various hidden gems.
A picture of Japanese women dressed in traditional Japanese dresses in Kyoto's Northern Higashiyama district. The district offers many interesting and inspiring objects for photography.
While walking through Northern Higashiyama… The Philosopher’s Path, starting near Ginkaku-ji temple, is a popular walking trail in this district and one well worth taking.
A picture of a couple in a rickshaw in Kyoto - an interesting subject for street photography in Japan.
Strolling around Northern and Southern Higashiyama districts is one of the most rewarding experiences Kyoto offers. Both districts are very pedestrian-friendly and abound with magnificent temples, cozy tearooms, superb restaurants and a very pleasant atmosphere of “hey, this is how I imagined Japan”. And if you get tired of walking, why not try a rickshaw?
A picture of vermilion torii gates of Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto. The shrine is one of the iconic sights in Japan and a fabulous object of photography in Japan.
Thousands of vermilion torii gates of Fushimi Inari shrine. The numerous torii gates of this shrine located in southern Kyoto form sort of mystical arcades. Walking through them is almost a fairy-tale like experience.
View of a young Japanese couple taking a selfie among the vermilion torii gates of Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto.
The Fushimi Inari shrine is dedicated to the Shinto goddess of rice, Inari. Each of the gates was donated as an offering by an individual or business, with the larger the gate, the larger the donation. There are also many statues of foxes next to the gates, as foxes are believed to be Inari’s messengers. Walking through these gates is an absolutely unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you decide to go for a selfie like this young couple did, or capture the torii gates on their own, you can’t go wrong – Fushimi Inari is one of Japan’s iconic sights and a fabulous place for photography.
View of Kyoto from Arashiyama Monkey Park, with a macaque in front.
Not your typical snapshot from Kyoto, you’d think? Well, Japan is a land of contrasts and surprises. This cheeky macaque was posing nicely for a picture with the whole Kyoto in the background. We had this cool view and met the friendly monkeys in Arashiyama Monkey Park. Arashiyama is among the top districts to visit in Kyoto, with a beautiful bamboo forest being another of the highlights.
A view of Mt. Fuji, an iconic object of photography in Japan.
An active volcano, one of Japan’s three sacred mountains and an iconic sight of the Land of the Rising Sun – that’s Mt. Fuji. You may catch a glimpse of it from the Shinkansen, you may see it on clear days from Tokyo and you may visit the beautiful Fuji Hakone national park. All of these experiences are incorporated in our 10 day Japan itinerary.
A view of historic ships on Lake Ashi in Fuji Hakone national park.
Fuji Hakone national park is our favorite part of our 10 day Japan itinerary. We’ve enjoyed the beautiful nature, relaxed in the onsen while snowflakes were falling into the hot tub and feasted on an amazing kaiseki dinner.
A picture of a young coupled dressed in yukatas, enjoying their kaiseki dinner in a traditional Japanese ryokan.
Staying in a ryokan is an unforgettable experience and definitely one of our favorite ones from the whole Japan. Savoring gourmet meals of Japanese cuisine, relaxing in the hot tubs and generally being pampered – that was our ryokan experience. Sounds great? It surely was! We have a whole post about ryokan and onsen, you may check it out. Spoiler alert: it will make you want to stay in a ryokan! πŸ™‚
A picture of a young lady enjoying sushi as part of her kaiseki dinner in a ryokan.
Kaiseki (the Japanese haute cuisine) meals are served in a ryokan. The multi-course dinner and breakfast that we had were a feast for our eyes and an ecstasy for our taste buds.
Ryokan rooms are rather minimalistic in their design, yet they feel very homey and cozy. Tatami mats cover the floor, futon beds make for a great night’s sleep and a small table with legless chairs are perfect for enjoying a cup of Japanese green tea.
A view of a wall-mounted contraol panel of a high-tech Japanese toilet.
This was the control panel of the toilet in our ryokan room. A Japanese toilet is a masterpiece of high-tech engineering. It has almost as many push-buttons as a modern airliner’s flightdeck πŸ™‚ A button for lifting the lid, a button for switching on the seat warmer, a button for regulating the intensity of the seat warmers, a button for switching on the spray nozzles, a button for regulating their intensity, a button for switching on the music… Don’t worry, it all comes with a manual πŸ™‚ Unfortunately, the manual was only in Japanese…
An example of street photography in Japan - a view of a street with neon lights in Shibuya district in Tokyo.
Is this how you imagined Tokyo? For us, it was. The picture is from Shibuya, a modern district with plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment options, and, yes, plenty of shiny neon lights as well. Shibuya and the neighboring Shinjuku are also perfect places for street photography from Japan.
An example of street photography in Japan - a busy pedestrian crossing in Shibuya district in Tokyo.
Up to three thousand people crossing at a time, sharing the modest space of the zebra crossing, weaving and avoiding others with a nonchalant dexterity. That is Shibuya crossing, the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing. Famous from Lost in Translation movie, you will definitely not get lost in Tokyo with our 10 day Japan itinerary πŸ™‚
A scene from Tsukiji Outer Market, a perfect place for street photography in Japan.
Tsukiji Outer Market is where all the fish action takes place. Whether you’ve come here for the delicate sushi or raw tuna heads, you’re at the right address.
A view of Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo from Odaiba.
Doesn’t feel like 38-million metropolitan area? And yet, this is Tokyo, and pretty close to the center. You can almost feel the cool breeze from the picture, can’t you? Odaiba, from where this picture was taken, is a high-tech entertainment hub on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay.
A view of the replica of the Statue of Liberty in Odaiba, Tokyo.
New York? Naah, Tokyo!
A wide-angle dusk view of Tokyo from the Observation deck of Tokyo Skytree.
Damn, that city is huuuge! Whichever direction you look, there’s Tokyo around you. And what better place to enjoy this view than Tokyo Skytree?! 634 m (2080 ft) tall, Tokyo Skytree is the tallest structure in Japan. Its observation deck is situated at 450 m (1480 ft) and offers an absolutely breathtaking and spectacular view. On clear days, Mt. Fuji is visible in the distance. A bit of advice – come here for the sunset, you won’t regret it. And don’t forget your camera πŸ™‚

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Michal is the writer and photographer of the Wanderlust Designers.

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