17 Most Beautiful Pre-Wedding Photography Locations in Japan

For some truly timeless overseas pre-wedding and wedding photos, where better than a place where traditional culture is fused with modern life?

In today’s feature, we picked the brains of Sony photography ambassador, and founder of Lightedpixels which has been on Singapore Tatler’s Best of Singapore Photographers (Wedding) for 13 years running, Kelvin Koh, and asked him to share the top Instagram worthy places in Japan, perfect for engagement photo shoots. Be sure to read on to the end for all 17 Instagram spots, and an exclusive discount for The Wedding Scoop readers.

Kelvin: Japan is always a great place to shoot in! It offers so many amazing backdrops and the best part? They look different in the different seasons. I have shot there for more than 10 years now returning every year without fail. Here are some of the locations that I would highly recommend shooting in. Some are popular but there are some that are hidden gems. However, I have to add that we should all be respectful when shooting in Japan. They are very polite and courteous. They also have many cultural practices that we should observe and respect. Always ask for permission before shooting. If in doubt, do not shoot. As a general guide, do not shoot in religious places. Most do not allow hugging, kissing or even off shoulder tops or gowns.

1. Abandoned Tracks in Kyoto, Keage Incline

Kelvin: This is one of the most amazing spots I have discovered recently. The cherry blossom foliage falls nicely right above the tracks. However, it is pretty rocky so wear proper walking shoes.


2. Kamo River, Kyoto

Kelvin: During spring, the cherry blossom blooms here are some of the nicest in Japan. The riverside is a great area for photography. It is wide and runs for a few kilometers so you will almost always have a spot for yourself.


3. Arashiyama, Kyoto

Kelvin: This area is one of my favourites and probably many other photographers' and couples' too. It is a huge area to explore. The bamboo forest there is iconic. The mountains make for a nice backdrop and in spring and autumn, the colors are amazing!


4. Be a Good Neighbour Coffee Kiosk, Tokyo

Kelvin: Amazing coffee. Even the iced coffee is ridiculously good! It also makes for a nice location for lifestyle-type shots, especially if your couple (or photographer) loves coffee! The evening light there is always soft, warm and glowy.


5. Blue Pond, Hokkaido

Kelvin: An iconic location in Biel, Hokkaido. The water is truly blue. It is a small area but there are a few nice spots to capture the pond. It can get quite muddy so wear good walking shoes.


6. Farm Tomita, Hokkaido

Kelvin: Another iconic location in Japan. Famed for their lavender blooms in July and also their melons. They do not allow bridal photography. However, you can still shoot there if you are dressed in casual outfits.


7. Flower Land, Hokkaido

Kelvin: Another beautiful flower farm. There are rows of colorful flowers on slopes. That's the main difference between here and Farm Tomita. And they have sunflower blooms too!


8. Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

Kelvin: The impressive orange gates are awe-inspiring and also make for a great location for a shoot in Kyoto. It is a great place to shoot in any season. However, they do not allow shoots if the bride is dressed in gowns. It is also always crowded but there are always pockets of opportunity to shoot among the sea of people there.


9. Gion, Kyoto

Kelvin: One of my favourite places to shoot in Kyoto. It is historic and very cultural, and occasionally you get to see maikos and geishas! I find it prettier at night with the lights but in the early morning, the place is quiet and peaceful.


10. Inokashira Park, Tokyo

Kelvin: A beautiful little park in Tokyo that is not known to many photographers. The autumn foliage here is incredible. I have only been here in spring so far. It is still pretty nice.


11. Lake Kawaguchi, Tokyo

Kelvin: One of the best areas to shoot couples with Mt. Fuji in the background. It is about a 2-hour drive from Tokyo city. It takes about 45 minutes just to get out of Tokyo so you might want to consider staying a night there. The best time to shoot is probably sunrise. It is also one of the famous 5 lakes in the area.


12. Maruyama Park, Kyoto

Kelvin: When I first started shooting in Japan, this was a go-to place for me. More than 10 years on, I still revisit the park when I can. It is huge, carnival-like, and has many food stalls and cherry blossom blooms. Perfect for street-style shooting.


13. Omoide Yokocho, Tokyo

Kelvin: A small little enclave of hole-in-the-wall eateries. I love the vibes here. The colors are rich and there is a lot of character.


14. Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo

Kelvin: One of my favourite parks to shoot in Tokyo! There are numerous species of cherry blossoms here so you are always spoilt for choice. Whether you are too early for the cherry blossom season or too late, there will always be some trees left for you to shoot. (Different species bloom differently. Some earlier than others.)


15. Tetsugaku-No-Michi, Philosopher's Path, Kyoto

Kelvin: Another favourite among photographers. It’s a lovely 2-plus-kilometre stretch that is extremely walkable. Plenty of lovely photo spots in spring and autumn. The colors are lovely. Even in winter, it is still pretty nice.


16. Waterfall in Biel, Hokkaido

Kelvin: We stumbled upon this little waterfall north of the Blue Pond. It is about a 15-minute drive north. It requires a 5-minute trek into the waterfall area but it is totally worth the trek. The evening light there is gorgeous and it is not as crowded with tourists. It was such a pleasant find for us.


17. Yawata, Kyoto

Kelvin: This is another area that is not often shot by photographers. It is about 40 minutes from Kyoto city by car through the expressway. The cherry blossom blooms there are thick and fluffy! It is very crowded though so be sure to be there early or late around closing time.


Thanks Kelvin for sharing your favourite shooting locations with us! Lightedpixels’ Japan destination shoot packages start at S$5,500 inclusive of hair and makeup. The Wedding Scoop readers will receive an exclusive discount of S$500 when you mention this feature.


More insights from Kelvin of Lightedpixels
Everything You Need to Know About Destination Pre-Wedding Photoshoots – Part 1 and Part 2



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{This feature is brought to you in collaboration with Lightedpixels.}