A reflection is a natural phenomenon that occurs when light particles are unable to be absorbed by a surface such as water or glass. While this may sound boring on paper, it does make for some grand natural sites that can be found all across Japan.
Japan is home to some exceptionally beautiful and well-known “reflection spots” ranging from crystal-clear beaches to world-famous temples with long histories. Visiting these spots will help you discover hidden gems and you can take pictures of the magical reflective world that is all made possible thanks to the power of nature. Let’s take a look at where you can find the 10 best reflection spots to visit in Japan!
- 1. Chichibugahama Beach (Kagawa)
- 2. Oarai Beach (Ibaraki)
- 3. Lake Kawaguchi (Yamanashi)
- 4. Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel (Niigata)
- 5. Harumi Wharf: Fubai Ginran (Tokyo)
- 6. Rurikoin Temple (Kyoto)
- 7. Hamanoura Rice Terrace (Saga)
- 8. Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)
- 9. Happo Pond (Nagano)
- 10. Kōdaiji Temple (Kyoto)
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1. Chichibugahama Beach (Kagawa)
Chichibugahama is a scenic beach located in Mitoyo city, Kagawa prefecture. This picturesque beach stretches along the one-kilometer coastline and was chosen as one of Japan’s most 100 beautiful beaches to watch the sunset.
In recent years, it has become popular and draws a wealth of visitors as a destination spot to take pictures of the impressive scenery and it is frequently compared to the Uyuni Salt Flats in Bolivia. This is because, during low tide, the surface of the ocean goes down and creates sandy tide pools which offer stunning reflections of the clear sky, the blue ocean, and the breathtaking sunset!
2. Oarai Beach (Ibaraki)
If you are looking for great reflection spots around Tokyo, head to Oarai Beach located in Ibaraki prefecture! It is about an hour and a half train journey from Tokyo to reach this beautiful beach stretching along the coast facing the Pacific Ocean. During the summer, Oarai Sun Beach becomes a popular swimming spot that attracts people as a perfect getaway from the summer heat.
If you prefer not getting wet, but still want to enjoy the scenic beach, visit there during low tide when the level of water gets low. It will allow you to take impressive pictures with the help of big tide pools which host reflective images of the beautiful surroundings like a mirror!
3. Lake Kawaguchi (Yamanashi)
Lake Kawaguchi is a symbolic lake nestled at the base of Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest and most famous mountain located in Yamanashi prefecture. This beautiful lake is perfect for enjoying a wide range of outdoor activities such as fishing, camping, BBQ, kayaking, hiking, and much more.
When the wind is calm and the water is still, this peaceful lake offers a gorgeous reflection that presents the reverse image of Mount Fuji! Even if you are not lucky enough to capture the beautiful reflection due to unexpected weather conditions, it is still worth a visit!
4. Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel (Niigata)
Tucked away in the mountainous hills between Shiozawa and Tokamachi town in Niigata prefecture, Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel is widely known as one of the three greatest gorges in Japan. This peaceful gorge has recently become quite popular among tourists as a photogenic spot to take stunning pictures of the natural beauty.
Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel was opened in 1996 to allow visitors to enjoy the spectacular landscape safely from up close. As you walk through the 750-meter tunnel, there are three observation spots where you can enjoy different landscapes of the gorge. At the end of the tunnel, you will find a shallow pool with modern art exhibits featuring a stunning reflection of the beautiful gorge outside!
5. Harumi Wharf: Fubai Ginran (Tokyo)
Harumi Wharf is a passenger ship terminal located in Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Every day, luxury cruise ships from around the world arrive and depart here for their next voyage. It is also loved by locals as the perfect spot to spend some quiet time away from the bustling city while still enjoying a beautiful view of Tokyo Bay.
Many people love walking their dogs, taking a romantic stroll with their partners, or simply taking photos at this lovely waterfront. After the sun sets, this terminal offers a great night view of the metropolis. Fubai Ginran (風媒銀乱) is an iconic monument offering picturesque reflections on the water and is particularly stellar during dusk as the sun sets against the backdrop of Tokyo’s tallest skyscrapers.
6. Rurikoin Temple (Kyoto)
Rurikoin can be visited at the base of Mt. Hiei in Yase, Kyoto. This sacred Buddhist temple is best known for the beautiful Japanese gardens that attract visitors from all over with stunning autumn colors in fall. This temple is open to the public only in spring from April to June, and in fall from October to December.
If you visit there during said seasons, you can expect to enjoy such seasonal beauties as lush greenery in spring and golden and red leaves in fall. On the second floor of the temple, you will find the breathtaking reflective sites created by the bright autumn colors reflected on the floor and a table that has been perfectly polished like a mirror.
7. Hamanoura Rice Terrace (Saga)
Officially selected as one of Japan’s top 100 terraced rice fields, Hamanoura Rice Terrace is a must-visit and is found in the northwest part of Saga prefecture in Kyushu. The beautiful rice fields are located on a steep hillside overlooking the sea of Genkai. When the weather permits, it offers incredible views of the beautiful sea and the scenic sprawls of rice fields that change color depending on the season.
The rice fields are particularly beautiful in spring when they are filled with water and green rice seedlings have been planted by local farmers. At sunset, the water creates a stunning reflection of the bright orange color of the sun, offering an impressive display of colors reflected down across the rice terraces and many photographers come from all over to capture the spectacular.
8. Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)
Kinkakuji Temple, which is widely known as “Golden Pavilion” is definitely a must-visit if you are planning a trip to Kyoto! This gorgeous temple was built by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, the third shogun of the Muromachi shogunate in 1397. Designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site, this beautiful temple attracts numerous visitors from all over the world. Around the temple is a traditional Japanese garden where you can enjoy a relaxing stroll while admiring the lovely landscape created by the beautiful nature and the historic structure. At the center of the garden, there is a large pond that offers an impressive reflection of the shiny temple on a sunny day!
9. Happo Pond (Nagano)
If you love hiking, trekking, and discovering stunning sceneries created by mountains, head to Happo Pond in Nagano prefecture! This beautiful pond is situated in the northern part of Japan’s Northern Alps which consists of giant peaks standing over 3,000 meters above sea level.
From Happo Station, you can take a gondola and two chairlifts to reach the starting point of the beautiful hiking trail that takes about an hour to complete. Early summer in July is probably the best time to visit as it is when you can enjoy “upside-down” snow-capped mountains reflected in the crystal-clear waters of the pond! Needless to say, fall is also a great time to visit when the surrounding mountains offer a stunning display of magnificent autumn colors!
10. Kōdaiji Temple (Kyoto)
Kodaiji Temple was originally built by Kitano-Mandokoro, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who successfully unified the entire country in the 16th century. In 1606, she built the temple to pray for her husband and mourn his death.
Over 400 years later, during autumn the temple hosts special night illumination events which allow visitors to admire the historic temple and the lovely Japanese gardens while beautifully lit up in the dark. This event is annually held from mid-October to early December and as you walk through the Japanese gardens, you can enjoy seeing colorful autumn leaves reflected on the surface of the temple’s idyllic pond. It is also close to other famous tourist attractions such as Kiyomizu-Dera Temple and Yasaka Shrine.
Before planning your trip, it is very important to know the best season and the best time of the day to visit the reflection spots above. For example, it is generally better to go to beaches when they are less crowded and the tide is low. (If possible, avoid the high season such as the summer holidays in mid-August) In addition, make sure to check the weather forecast and choose a sunny day if you don’t want to spoil your trip as many of the reflections don’t occur when the sky is clouded over.
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Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with traveling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. Also love to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.
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