Tokyo, Japan was just named the most instagrammable city for 2021 and after multiple trips to this incredible place and thousands of photos later, I have to agree with this title! Here are some of the best places in the city to boost your ‘gram game along with tips on how to get the best photos.
I’ve even included a map of where they are in the city to make your photography trip planning a breeze.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Tokyo is Tokyo Tower and there are some great locations that you can take photos at. One that you’ve probably seen on Instagram quite a bit as a staircase heading up towards the tower. This is actually an underground parking garage that is adjacent to Tokyo Tower. If you want to shoot this location, be prepared to wait in a line. It is very popular in the evenings when Tokyo Tower is lit up. If you are solo traveling just beware that shooting with a tripod is frowned upon, if there is a line try to make a friend and see if you can take photos of each other.
Another of my favorite angles of Tokyo Tower is standing off to the side and looking up at it and shooting from a low angle.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
No matter the season Shinjuku Gyoen National Park is a fantastic location to take photos. In the spring there are numerous cherry blossom trees that bloom beautifully and in the fall there are lovely autumn colors to capture. There is an admission fee to the park but it’s only a few hundred Yen and totally worth it.
When I have visited it solo I had no issues using my tripod. I was a little worried because the website states no professional photography, but what they’re really saying is they don’t want a commercial photoshoot. So you’ll be fine with your Instagram photography setup.
This park is also a fantastic option if you are wanting to dress up in kimono and have a traditional photoshoot. Having a kimono photoshoot in Shinjuku Gyoen National Park was a highlight of my first trip to Tokyo. You can read more about hiring a vacation photographer, including who I used for my kimono photoshoot, on this post.
Tokyu Plaza is another gem you’ve probably seen on Instagram. It’s the entrance to a shopping center in Harajuku. The walls surrounding the escalator going to the front door are these beautiful fractured mirrors and are quite beautiful.
There are two main options for shooting this location, you can either place yourself at the bottom of the escalators or go to the top of them. I recommend trying to hit this location up when there aren’t a ton of shoppers so that you’re not in anyone’s way. I have heard from other instagrammers that if it is busy, store security will ask you to move along.
Sensoji is a Buddhist Temple located in Asakusa in Tokyo. You will probably recognize it for its giant Lantern at one of the entrance Gates. There are lots of great places to take photos here. In addition to the popular lantern gate there is also a long line of shops leading up to the temple, there is an impressive pagoda that is also photogenic, there is a giant incense holder that is beautiful, so you can see you’ve got a lot of options.
I recommend hitting up the spot early in the morning before the shops open if you are looking to get a photo with less people in it. Or you can come by in the evening to take photos, the area is open at all hours.
In addition to the temple itself there is also a small Shinto shrine adjacent that is quite beautiful. It has a small lantern wall that is a great place to take photos. Don’t forget to be respectful of these religious sites, adhere to any signs prohibiting photography in certain areas, and don’t forget to add some yen to the collection box.
Azabu Hikawa Shrine
I specifically had to include this location because I am a huge fan of Sailor Moon. There are actually two shrines in Tokyo that lend inspiration to the manga and anime. This particular shrine is from the manga and is in the neighborhood of Naoko Takeuchi, the author of Sailor Moon, so there are a couple other locations in the area that you will recognize from the series.
It’s a fairly small shrine but is beautiful. When you visit, don’t feel awkward because you’re there because of the Sailor Moon connection. They are well aware and even mention it on their website as a point of pride.
Once again, don’t forget to be respectful of this religious site, adhere to any signs prohibiting photography in certain areas, and don’t forget to add some yen to the collection box or purchase an amulet at the shrine store.
Yakitori Alley/Memory Lane/Piss Alley
The small alleyway goes by many names, some that are more vulgar than others, but what can’t be denied is how photogenic it is. It’s so small that it is quite easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s a nice retreat from the hustle and bustle of Shinjuku which is a busy area of the city. The alleyway is decorated seasonally, so expect to see cherry blossoms in the spring, autumn leaves in the fall, etc.
My recommendation for shooting here is to try to visit when it’s not super busy, the traffic in the alleyway really starts to pick up in the evenings as the Yakitori stalls start opening and serving customers. Many people also use the alleyway as a cut through from one street to another. If you’re waiting for an opening in the traffic, make sure you step off to the side to let people pass as there isn’t a lot of room in the actual alleyway itself.
Before I visited teamLab Borderless I thought that it was all hype and wasn’t going to be cool at all. I was proven so wrong! I absolutely loved taking photos here and really enjoyed the interactive art.
There Is an admission fee to visit the museum, but it is so worth it. Just make sure you get your tickets in advance because they do sell out. My recommendations for shooting here are that you arrive early so that you can be one of the first people in the exhibit. While there is limited entry it can get quite crowded. There are unfortunately no directional signs, so it can be hard to figure out where each exhibit is, you are left to wander and discover on your own.
As a solo traveler who relies on my tripod quite a bit it was disappointing to find out that tripods are not allowed in the museum, which is understandable but still annoying. I recommend going with a photo buddy if you want to get some of those epic shots that you see on Instagram, but if you’re cool with selfies or photos without yourself in them you’ll find an abundance of places to take them.
If you are interested in reading more about teamLab Borderless, I have an entire guide to having a successful visit.
This is the street in Harajuku! There are many fun photo opportunities all along the street thanks to the colorful boutiques and unique restaurants and themed cafes. one of my favorite places to take photos here is at Totti candy. Totti candy is the location that sells the epic rainbow cotton candy which is just so fun to photograph.
In addition to Takeshita Street there is also nearby Cat Street which is gaining popularity and has some photogenic spots. It can also be way less crowded than Takeshita Street. If you are looking to avoid the crowds on Takeshita Street there is a nearby Togo Shrine. It has a beautiful garden with a pond and wooden boardwalk where you can see Koi fish.
Tokyo is an incredible City that will make you feel like you are light years in the future while simultaneously taking a step back into the past. Shinjuku is firmly grounded in the future. There are tall buildings, flashing lights, large television screens, karaoke bars, and lots of nightlife.
The Shinjuku Kabukicho is the main entrance to the red light district in Shinjuku. It’s an iconic archway over the street leading to popular attractions such as Golden Gai, the Robot Restaurant, and the Samurai Museum.
I recommend taking photos at night when the streets are lit up. Just make sure that you are aware of your surroundings, while Japan is an incredibly safe country to visit this part of Tokyo is considered to be a bit seedy. I have personally had no issues, and in fact absolutely love Shinjuku and think it’s a great place to base yourself out of when you’re visiting Tokyo.
Similar to Shinjuku, there is Akihabara. This is also known as Tokyo’s electric town because of the abundance of electronic stores and anime shops. There are some neat places where you can take photos in this area. In addition to the bright lights on the street, there are also colorful arcades where you can take an iconic shot playing a popular claw machine.
There are also lots of themed cafes in this area including the Gundam cafe, located right outside the JR station. There are also lots of vending machines and many opportunities for neat street photography.
Meiji Shrine is an oasis in Tokyo. As soon as you walk onto the grounds you’ll feel like you have been swallowed into an ancient forest. While there are a lot of beautiful locations to take photos there are a few specific places that I recommend. First up is the largest wooden Torii gate in Japan. This leads you on to a tree-lined path that will take you to the actual shrine.
In addition to the park that surrounds the shrine, the shrine itself is also very photogenic. Some of the popular spots include the entrance to the shrine’s courtyard, the large Couple Camphor Trees in the courtyard (make sure you do not touch the trees, they are scared), and rows of sake barrels just a short walk outside the main shrine.
Stop me if you have heard this one, but I recommend getting to the shrine early to take photos with less people in them. And don’t forget to be respectful of this religious site, adhere to any signs prohibiting photography in certain areas, and don’t forget to add some yen to the collection box.
The world’s busiest Street crossing! It can be tricky to get good photos here, but not impossible. I first would recommend watching the traffic patterns to see how long you’ll have to shoot before the traffic lights change, as well as taking note of how many people are currently in the crossing. I do not recommend going when the crossing is at its busiest during rush hour commute times. One, there will be way too many people on the shot and two you are more likely to get bumped into as people are trying to go about their everyday business. They don’t have time for your Instagram or nonsense, and nor should they.
I also highly recommend bringing a photography buddy for this one as it is hard to set up a tripod without the worry of it being knocked over. If you are looking for a great view of the traffic crossing without being in the thick of it, head over to the Starbucks and take the escalator to the second floor. You don’t need to buy a drink to go up there, but it would be nice if you did. From the second floor you’ll have a great view overlooking the crossing that is totally free. You may have to jockey for position or wait for people to finish up their drinks and move away from the window to get a better view. Just make sure that you aren’t lingering too long and give other people the opportunity to take video or photos of the crossing below.
Located in my favorite part of Tokyo, Shinjuku, is the Godzilla head. The actual Godzilla head is on the patio of a hotel and there are two places where you can take photos of it. First place is from the street below the hotel and the second place is to actually go into the hotel and up onto the patio.
My recommendation if you are going to go up onto the patio is to make sure that you are there in time to catch the sound and light show that the Godzilla head does every hour on the hour. My other recommendation is that you try to act as cool as possible, as the hotel tries to reserve this space for guests of the hotel and its Cafe. I personally didn’t have any issues when I went up onto the patio, even though there was a security guard there. He did not have any issue with me taking photos and video. if the cafe had been open I would have gone to it and purchased an item as a good-faith gesture for being able to get that close to the Godzilla head but unfortunately it was closed when I visited.
Park Hotel Tokyo
This is a hotel recommendation and photo spot all in one. Park Hotel Tokyo has some amazing views of Tokyo Tower and it also has hand painted rooms done by famous artists. When I stayed here I opted for a Tokyo Tower view room over one of their art rooms. It was absolutely incredible to wake up every morning and see Tokyo Tower and go to bed every night and see the lights of the city.
If it is a clear day you can see all the way to Mount Fuji.
Sumida Park in Tokyo runs along both sides of the Sumida River and in the spring is lined with blooming cherry blossom trees. It is a great place to experience Hanami. This park offers excellent views of Tokyo Skytree. There is no admission fee to visit.
Giant Sky Wheel in Palette Town – Daikanransha
This large, colorful Ferris wheel is located right next to teamLab Borderless so these two photo locations would be a good to pair up. When it opened in 1999 it was actually the world’s tallest ferris wheel. Your best location to take photos of the wheel are from the adjacent Symbol Promenade Park. If you do decide to take a spin on the wheel keep your eyes peeled for nearby Rainbow Bridge and not-so-nearby Mount Fuji.
Meguro River Cherry Blossoms Promenade
This is another great spot for cherry blossom photography especially if you are into nighttime illuminations. The exact location for the spot is a little hard to find, luckily for you I’ve included a Google map of this location as well as all the others listed above. you’ll want to make sure that you go to the Naka-meguro Metro Station. Once you exit the station you’ll be easily able to see the river and the cherry blossoms. The spot is excellent for photography during the day and night but just be aware that it is extremely popular.
There will be quite a few people there to enjoy the cherry blossoms and also taking their own photos and videos. On the plus side during cherry blossom season there are a number of vendors along the street who are selling food and drink. It’s a fun, party atmosphere in the evenings and is a great experience even with the large crowds. Across the river there are multiple bridges and that is one of the best places to get the shot of the river with the cherry blossoms cascading over top of it.
I hope you found this guide helpful. Make sure you check out the Google map below with all of the spots listed for your travel planning convenience.
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