Sunsets are one of the most beautiful things that we can witness. The pastel like colors of the sky suspended in the romantic notion that others may be sharing in this blip of time for the next few minutes creates a mesmerizing experience. This experience can, at times, feel almost other-worldly. Japan is no stranger to celebrating the beauty of nature. The annual hanami parties encourage people to take midday breaks from work to go out and enjoy the blossoming sakura flowers and picnic with friends. Japan’s native religious philosophy of Shintoism encourages the honoring of nature and the natural environment. It is believed that a Shinto kami (deity or spirit) resides in mountains, oceans and all things related to nature and Shinto shrines almost always contain a garden, trees, stones, a pond or a moving body of water such as a waterfall. These may be big or small. Taking this into consideration, it’s no wonder that there are some truly awesome places in Japan to catch the next sunset.
- 1. Ishigaki (Okinawa)
- 2. Hoshitoge Tanada (Niigata)
- 3. Miura Peninsula (Kanagawa)
- 4. Shibuya Scramble Building (Tokyo)
- 5. Tottori Sakyu (Tottori)
- 6. Shonai Peninsula & Mt. Shiude (Kagawa)
- 7. Dewa Futami (Yamagata)
- 8. Hamazume Yuhigaura Beach (Kyoto)
- 9. Shimonada Station (Ehime)
- 10. Godzilla Rock (Akita)
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1. Ishigaki (Okinawa)
Ishigaki is the third largest island located in Okinawa. Ishigaki is known as a hub port for business as well as tourism in the region. Most tourists know Ishigaki for its white sandy beaches, palm trees and crystal clear water that are great for snorkelling and scuba-diving. The local culture and traditions of Ishigaki are heavily influenced by both the culture of Japan, as well as Taiwanese culture, due to its close proximity to both. The island also serves as the gateway to the other Yaeyama Islands. Some great places to check out the sunset in Ishigaki are from Fusaki Beach and Miyaradunchi. The latter is compiled of famous gardens that have become quite popular.
2. Hoshitoge Tanada (Niigata)
One of the most beautiful locations in Japan, Hoshitoge Tanada located in Niigata, is an excellent place to view a sunset. This area is home to more than 200 rice fields and with numerous peaks and valleys of the region accentuate the sunset. Photographers flock to the area year-round to snap some amazing photos. However, June through November is the rainy season and causes water to accumulate in the fields that in turn reflect the sky and its amazing colors. Hoshitoge Tanada is free to enter and includes parking, though parking is limited. It is only a 20 minute drive from Matsudai Station. Nearby you can also enjoy other rice fields or visit a ski resort.
3. Miura Peninsula (Kanagawa)
Just south of Tokyo, in Kanagawa is the Miura Peninsula that divides Tokyo Bay, the largest industrial area in Japan. The Miura Peninsula includes some popular tourist destinations, such as Yokosuka, Zushi and Kamakura. Visit these places as a day trip from Tokyo and end the day with a glorious sunset at the coastline. Yokosuka is best known for the US Naval base located there, as is the National Defense Academy of Japan for the Japanese Self Defense Forces. The Miura Peninsula is surrounded by the sea and mountains, on a clear day you can see the sun slowly going down behind Mount Fuji. The peninsula is a great place to explore with its many beaches, coastal walks and numerous hiking options. There are three important lighthouses: Kannonzaki, Tsurugisaki and Jogashima, all from which you’ll have a splendid view. While here, be sure to try some of the seafood. It is some of the freshest that you will find. The Miura Peninsula can be reached via the Keikyu train line from Shinagawa Station in just over an hour.
4. Shibuya Scramble Building (Tokyo)
The Shibuya Scramble Building is one of the latest high-rises built in centrally-located Shibuya. This mixed-use skyscraper contains restaurants, shopping, offices and other attractions. Consisting of 3 buildings that are attached to Shibuya Station, construction began in 2014 and is expected to be completed by 2027. The observation deck, known as “Shibuya Sky” provides a 360 degree view of the city, making it perfect to catch a sunset while deep within the metropolis. The observation deck officially opened in November of 2019 and includes light installations at night, so stick around after the sunset for some out of this world city views. The observation is accessible until 10pm so you’ll have plenty of time to watch the sunset and watch the city lights of Tokyo appear soon after. Tickets can be purchased for ¥2,000, and there is a ¥200 discount if they are purchased online.
5. Tottori Sakyu (Tottori)
Tottori Sakyu is one of the largest sand dunes in the world, spanning 16 kilometers along the coast of the Sea of Japan. It is considered to be a part of the Sanin Kaigan National Park. The landscape and sand dunes are constantly changing due to the tides from the sea and the wind. Sakyu Center offers an observation deck that can be reached by chair lift. This creates a unique and exotic sunset visible from within Japan. Tottori Sakyu is a 20 minute bus ride from Tottori Station.
6. Shonai Peninsula & Mt. Shiude (Kagawa)
Shonai Peninsula and Mt. Shiude are located on the western side of Kagawa Prefecture, overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. This area is surrounded by nature and serves as the setting for the famous Japanese folktale, “Urashima Taro.” Various seasonal flowers can be seen throughout the year and there are a large number of cherry blossom trees that can be enjoyed in the springtime. The Mt. Shiude Archeological Museum Cafe overlooks the sea, making it a great spot to catch a sunset.
Next to the Shonai Peninsula, you can visit another area that is often dubbed ‘the most beautiful sunset in Japan’, Chichibugahama Beach. This beach is famous for reflecting the shape of people on the surface of water. When there is no wind in the low tide, the view is similar to the Uyuni Salt Lake in Bolivia. Many people come to this beach to take pictures of such mirror-like reflections.
7. Dewa Futami (Yamagata)
Dewa Futami is a spot on a rocky beach in Yamagata, along the Sea of Japan. It consists of twin rocks that are connected by a rope. Watching the sunset here is exceptionally special because you are blessed with good luck when the sun goes between the rocks. The best time to witness this event is between May and August. Nearby is the Ju-roku Rakan Rocks monument for local fishermen consisting of 22 Buddhist figures – including Buddha himself – carved into the volcanic rocks. Some are difficult to spot since they are well concealed, but also due to the impact of the weather some have become deteriorated. You can also visit wedded rocks, also known as the husband and wife rocks (fufuiwa).
8. Hamazume Yuhigaura Beach (Kyoto)
Yuhigaura is an 8 kilometer long beach north of Kyoto with white sand and pine trees and famous for its beautiful sunsets. Yuhigaura actually translated into “sunset bay”, so you know that it is a great place to watch a sunset. The so-called “Sunset Street” has many beaches along it to visit. You can take a casual ride in the famous swing here that has been dubbed “Yurari.” And when you are able to see the sun’s golden reflection on the ocean water, it’s known as the sun mirror.
9. Shimonada Station (Ehime)
Shimonada Station in Ehime is an incredibly popular spot for tourists and photographers. It runs along the Seto Inland Sea on the Yosan Line and it is the closest station to the sea, with only a highway in between. The unmanned station has only one track and has been featured in several tv series and movies and on promotional posters. There is a tourist train called the Iyonada Monogatari that stops here to allow passengers to observe the views. One train specifically comes at sunset to allow people to enjoy the private view.
10. Godzilla Rock (Akita)
Godzilla Rock is a popular spot in Akita is located on the Oga Peninsula in northwestern Japan. On Cape Shiosezaki is one rock that has been nicknamed Godzilla Rock. The rock is shaped similarly to the famous monster, and when the sun falls behind, it appears as if Godzilla is breathing fire. The best months to visit are April and October. Parking is available and a shuttle is available from Hadate Station.
The 10 places above are amongst the best sunset spots in Japan, but of course there are many more places where you can enjoy a spectacular sunset. What do you think, is there a sunset spot that we missed? Enjoy them with friends or take yourself on a solo adventure.
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Trevor Jones is an educator and an aspiring marketer. Originally from the United States, he moved to Tokyo in 2017. Trevor enjoys exploring new destinations and sharing his experiences. He can be found on Instagram at @tjones312
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