Sensō-ji is Tokyo’s oldest temple, with origins dating back to the 7th Century. While there are countless angles for framing this ancient Buddhist relic, one of my favourite spots is actually across the street – from the observatory terrace on the 8th floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. It’s free and gives a great view of the main temple, five-story pagoda and the Nakamise-Dori shopping street.
For spectacular Tokyo skyline views, head to the observation deck atop the World Trade Center Building for 360-degree panoramas from over 150m above street level. Come for sunset and stay to watch the city lights come alive.
Hidden in the shadows of Shinjuku Station you’ll find ‘memory lane’ – a narrow alleyway filled with traditional yakatori and ramen restaurants. Come after dark for some old Tokyo style street photography, complete with thick smoke, lanterns and overly enthusiastic chefs. Note that many of the tiny restaurants and bars themselves have a ‘no photo’ policy, so be mindful when picking your subject.
Walking amid the towering emerald stalks of Arashiyama’s Bamboo Grove will make you feel like you’re in another world. The path is 500m of photogenic perfection – best enjoyed in the solitude of the day’s first light.
Popularised by Memoirs of a Geisha and famous for its 10,000 vermillion torii gates that straddle a network of trails leading into the wooded forest of the sacred Mt Inari, the shinto shrine of Fushimi Inari is a must visit for photographers in Kyoto. Arrive around sunrise to have the place to yourself and enjoy the time to experiment with different angles to capture a prized image without the crowds.
If a traditional Japanese castle is on your list, look no further than Osaka Castle. Although the original 16th Century castle has been replaced with a concrete reconstruction, it remains one of Japan’s most iconic and photogenic landmarks. For the best angle, head to Nishinomaru Garden, just west of the castle. The cherry blossom trees make this vantage point all the more beautiful during peak Sakura season.