“While mountains and forests cover a vast area of its land, most Japanese live an urban lifestyle, fostering the development of modern culture. At the same time, this island nation is also known the world over for centuries-old practices like tea ceremony and kabuki. Japan’s dichotomous existence makes it such an interesting place to be in. In this issue, we share to you the top 10 pre-wedding photoshoot locations that are nothing short of magical.”
Japan – a land where modernity and history live in synchrony. You have Tokyo, a seat of technological advancement often featured in big screen hits as a dazzling, fast-paced metropolis. On the other hand, there are places like Kyoto that seem to have been suspended in an illustrious era of geisha and samurai.
Made up of more than 6,800 islands each having its own unique charm, Japan boasts over a dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites in the form of castles, beautifully preserved old streets and houses, lush gardens, and natural formations. The country’s elongated shape makes you enjoy different worlds – from the frosted wonderland of the north in Hokkaido to the tropical beaches of the south in Okinawa. With these beautiful places around the country, we found several locations that have the right visual and emotional appeal for your perfect Japan pre-wedding photoshoot.
10 Amazing Locations for Your Japan Photoshoot
1. Sagano Bamboo Forest, for a magical moment and scenery
While Sagano technically refers to the area north of the Katsura River and Arashiyama in the south, this popular bamboo forest is better known as the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The world seems to fall away when you enter this natural wonder, replaced with filtered sunlight that fills the space with an ethereal greenish glow. Since this is a tourist favourite, you might meet a crowd along the winding path. Better come early in the morning to have a peaceful photoshoot surrounded with soft cricket sounds and the gentle swaying of the endless sea of bamboo trees.
2. Nagano Prefecture, for winter-wonderland aesthetic
From a small temple town to the venue of the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano Prefecture has come a long way since the 7th century. Today, with its mountains, forests, and waters, Nagano is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoorsy types. The ideal pre-wedding photoshoot spots though are the ones that offer a sweeping view of Nagano’s mountain ranges. One of those is Kagami Pond, whose waters are so still you can see the mountain range beyond clearly reflected on the surface. In winter, you can get a fantastic view of snow-capped peaks at Shiga Kogen ski resort.
3. Tokyo, for a cinematic fusion of city and nature
Tokyo is the epitome of old and new, man-made and natural. Along with steel skyscrapers and illuminated shopping streets are age-old temples and beautiful parks. You can defy the rushing crowd and pose in the middle of the famous Shibuya crossing for an energy-filled pre-wedding photo. Then, you can go to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and have pretty pink cherry blossoms rain down on you in romance-filled imagery. For a more traditional feel, head to the nearly century-old Meiji Shrine – it’s close to the trendy Harajuku Takeshita Street, which is excellent if you want out-of-the-box photoshoot.
4. Fushimiinari Senbondorii, for picturesque Torii gates
Walking into Kyoto is like setting foot in the past. This former capital city is home to over 2,000 temples, and shrines, one of the most popular is Fushimi Inari Shrine. Known for its thousands of eye-catching red torii gates which represent a passage from the earthly into a sacred space, the oldest portions of this shrine dates back to the year 711. If you’ve ever wondered why they’re painted such a brilliant vermillion or orange, it’s actually a call for good harvest and protection against evil. The essence of the place makes it even more meaningful to serve as your pre-wedding photoshoot.
5. Kobe, for a path filled with flowers
Kobe is a port city and one of Japan’s top 10 largest cities. It is home to scenic mountain views and numerous flower-filled gardens. The most popular is the Nunobiki Herb Gardens where you can hop onto a cable car to get a sweeping view of the grounds and the city beyond. Then, slowly make your way down while stopping to pose against beautiful blooms and lush greens – you can even take kawaii photos beside the numerous heart-shaped arrangements.
Another garden that boasts vibrantly colored flora is Sorakuen Garden. Located right in the heart of Kobe but hidden away in a residential area, this garden is a slice of peace amidst the busy city. One of the popular photo spots is the bridge over the pond that’s at its most beautiful in autumn. After taking dramatic wedding photos here, you can enjoy a delectably authentic Kobe steak dinner!
6. Hokkaido, for Frozen-inspired imagery
Hokkaido is one of Japan’s four largest islands and is also the northernmost – it’s about the same level as Toronto and New York on the other side of the world. Being in this latitude makes Hokkaido the best place to channel your inner Elsa and let it go while you pose for a wintertastic pre-wedding photo. Ice Chapel is located in Ice Village and constructed from a single piece of ice as an embodiment of “the unbreakable love between two pure souls which shall last forever.”
Another winter-exclusive site is the Snow Crystal Museum in Asahikawa. This medieval-style building houses iceberg-like formations behind glass in what they call the “Hall of Ice.” Future grooms and brides can even try the Snow Princess Experience where they’ll be dolled up in a grand ballgown and dashing tuxedos to take incredible shots with these ice formations. For a simple yet magical winter photoshoot, you can head to the Otaru Snow Light Path where 200 candles housed in snow lamps illuminate the banks of a canal in soft yellow light.
7. Nara Deer Park, for a mesmerizing sunset view
Nara is home to almost 1,200 deer, hundreds of which roam freely in this park. These generally tame creatures are believed by the Shinto faith to be the gods’ messengers. The large population made them a symbol of Nara and are eventually designated as a natural treasure. Besides posing with these gentle beings, Nara Park’s garden area is also a wonderful place to catch the golden hour. You can also head to Kasuga Taisha, a Shinto shrine within the park that’s home to beautiful bronze and stone lanterns. Worshippers donated these, and they’re set alight in February and August during lantern festivals.
8. Gion District, for a casual stroll on the street
Gion is the most well-known hanamachi (tea house district) in Kyoto. Located across Yasaka Shrine along Shijo Street, this picturesque area is lined with old yet perfectly kept structures and establishments, the ideal place for a few pictures in traditional kimonos. Hanami-koji is the most famous street here – it’s wide flagstone road is lined on both sides with chayas or traditional tea houses. You can also take a stroll along Shimbashi and pause for snaps against the bright orange fences with beautiful willow trees in the background.
9. Osaka Castle, for majestic landscape
Built, destroyed, and rebuilt over and over for more than 500 years, Osaka Castle stands impressively as an iconic landmark of the city today. The existing structure resembles its original exterior while housing a modernized museum inside. The surrounding area is a garden that spans two square kilometres of vivid green lawns and blossoming trees. There are over a thousand plum blossom trees or ume, which bloom in late winter, a month or so before the 600 sakura trees burst open in early spring. This lot offers lots of great vantage points to capture the castle in the background. Besides flowering trees, Nishinomaru Garden also has a tea house where you can get refreshments after a long day of photo shooting.
10. Ninnaji Temple, for authentic Japanese wedding feels
Another one of Kyoto’s treasures is Ninna-ji which was founded in 888. Unfortunately, none of the original buildings survived the wars and fires – the oldest one still standing is from the Edo period in the 1600s, one of which is the five-story pagoda. This proof of building prowess is surrounded by Omuro Cherry Trees, a special kind that blooms towards the end of the typical cherry blossom season. The star of the show though is the Goten, where the temple’s head priest used to reside. It resembles an imperial palace with connecting roofed corridors and beautiful ponds and perfectly manicured gardens outside, waiting to be photographed with couples.
Besides the famous places like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Sapporo, there are hidden gems found in lesser-known rural areas just waiting for someone to discover their beauty. Japan has a total of 47 prefectures that peak at different periods of the year. That’s why it’s hard to pick just a single season as the best time to visit this wondrous country. It all comes down to your theme and personality.
When is the perfect time to shoot?
If you want your photos to feel fresh, bright, and youthful, come in spring (late March to May) to catch Sakura blooming or summer (June to August) for sunflowers and hydrangeas. If you prefer drama and emotion, come in the fall (late September to November) for the breathtakingly fiery hues. For sophisticated yet thrilling photos, a winter landscape is the best backdrop (December to February). Couples who love anime and manga can come at any time and have their pre-wedding photoshoot in themed cafes.
How about you? Have you been to Japan? If you’ve visited other amazing areas in Japan that would be great for a pre-wedding photoshoot, do share them with us by commenting below!
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