When you think of typical Japanese scenery, you might first imagine Kyoto. But in fact, there are many places in Tokyo, or within a day trip distance from Tokyo, where you can film some of Japan's most characteristic scenery. Here are five of the best places to visit.

(1) Asakusa (if you want to shoot inside of Tokyo)

Kaminarimon gate

Located in Taito ward in the north-east of Tokyo, Asakusa is one of the most historical areas in this metropolis. The main attractions are Senso-ji Temple (the photo above), famous for its Kaminarimon gate and Nakamise street. 

Obtaining permission to shoot in the premise of the Temple is quite difficult, but a little further in, Denpo-in-dori, with many souvenir shops and eateries, is a great place to shoot Asakusa's typical scenery and there are less restrictions there.

If you are interested in filming distinctive Japanese cooking utensils and tableware which are becoming popular worldwide, the Kappabashi Dogu-gai in Asakusa is a good place to find everything you need.

Asakusa is also home to Japan's oldest amusement park, Hanayashiki, as well as the Sanja Festival in May, which features a large number of people with Japanese tattoos called “Wabori” carrying portable shrines. It is a great place to capture the lifestyle of the people who have taken root in this area over the years.

<Filming Information>
If you wish to film Kaminarimon gate or Nakamise Street, you will need permission from Sensoji Temple.
Sensoji Temple Office
Tel: +81 3 3842 0181

(2) Kamakura (if you want to film shrines and temples)

Kamakura can be accessible by car or train in about an hour from Tokyo. In between the 12th and 14th centuries, the Kamakura Shogunate was located here and was the de facto capital of Japan. Many Shrines and temples were built around that period. So you can film traditional Japanese religious sites in Kamakura without traveling to Kyoto. 

After getting off at Kamakura Station and passing through the bustling Komachi Street lined with souvenir shops and restaurants, you will see Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, which has been the guardian deity of the Kamakura Samurais for over 800 years. In addition, Kamakura has the main temples of the various Buddhist sects that separated in the Kamakura period, such as Kenchoji Temple and Engakuji Temple. So they are great locations to film too.

Kotokuin Temple
Hōkokuji Temple

Lastly, Kamakura has Kotokuin Temple, which enshrines the Daibutsu (Great Buddha), Nara's trademark, and Hōkokuji Temple, which has a bamboo grove, often imagined as a Kyoto landscape, so this is a really good place to film variations of Japanese scenery.

<Filming Information>
Permission is required if you wish to film at Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine.
Tsuruoka Hachimangu Shrine Educational Affairs Division
Tel: +81 467 22 0315
Email: mail@hachimangu.or.jp

(3) Kawagoe (a town that survived the Second World War and still conserves a number of Kuras, Japanese old traditional warehouses)

Kawagoe's Kuras with Toki no Kane in the middle

Kawagoe, which is accessible by car in about an hour or by train in 50 minutes from Shinjuku, flourished as one of business hubs in the Edo period (1603-1869).

Having survived the ravages of World War II, you can film centuries-old Kuras in the town. In the centre of the photo above is the "Toki no Kane" (Bell of Time), built about 400 years ago, and to the northwest of it is Kashiya Yokocho (Sweets Alley) with over 20 candy shops. This is an interesting place to shoot old style Japanese shops and their traditional sweets.

In addition to the Edo period, Kawagoe also has a more modern district, which has been preserved from the Taisho period, about 100 years ago. It is called "Taisho Roman Street", and you can film many of the buildings from that period, which are a perfect mix of Japanese culture and Western building techniques.

<Filming Information>
When we film in Kawagoe, we often get assistants from Kawagoe Location Service. 
Kawagoe Location Service
Tel: +81 49 224 5940

(4) Sawara (a water transportation hub with a long history)

The Onogawa River and its banks

If you've just arrived at Narita Airport from abroad and want to take some quick shots of the Japanese cityscape, Sawara is for you. It's right next to Narita Airport, only 30 minutes away by car from there, and an hour and 15 minutes from Tokyo, so it's easily accessible on a day trip.

The town is situated on the Tone River, the largest river in the suburbs of Tokyo, and during the Edo period, it prospered as a transit point for transporting goods to Tokyo. 

The Onogawa River, which runs through the centre of the town, is lined with numerous bridges, including the Toyohashi Bridge, which drops irrigation water every 30 minutes. Its banks are lined with Kuras, wooden made old style houses and merchant houses, perfect for shooting medieval Japanese townscapes.

There is also a sightseeing boat on the Onogawa River, which provides a great opportunity to shoot the town from a low angle.

<Filming Information>
If you wish to film in Sawara, contacting the Suigo Sawara Tourism Association is recommended.
Suigo Sawara Tourism Association
Tel: +81 478 52 6675
Email: tourist-info@suigo-sawara.ne.jp

(5) Shibamata (one more from inside of Tokyo. Well Known because of a movie series, but it also has a beautiful garden)

Shibamata Teishakuten Sando Approach

Finally, I'd like to introduce you to one more place in Tokyo where you can film an old style local Japanese city. 

This is an area on the western outskirts of Tokyo called Shibamata, which can be reached by car in about 30 minutes from the centre of Tokyo. 

It is known as the location for the Japanese national film series "Otoko wa Tsura iyo", and the main street, Shibamata Teishakuten Sando Approach, is lined with old-fashioned buildings containing shops selling senbei (Japanese rice crackers) and dango (Japanese sweet dumplings). This would be the first location point.

Further down the street is the nearly 400 year old Teishakuten shrine, the symbol of Shibamata.


We would recommend you to drop by  the building behind it, called Yamamoto-tei, which was built in 1920. The traditional Japanese shoin-style house merged with the Western architecture style is magnificent. The garden is so beautiful that it was voted 4th best garden in the 2020 edition of Sukiya Living Magazine (The American Journal of Japanese Gardening). If you are looking for a traditional Japanese garden, this place is highly recommended.

<Filming Information>
If you wish to film Shibamata, especially the Shibamata Teishakuten Sando Approach, you will need to contact the Katsushika-ku Tourist Association.
Katsushika-ku Tourist Association
Tel: 03-3650-9876
Email: info@katsushika-kanko.jp

We have introduced you to the five places around Tokyo where you can shoot Japanese cityscapes. What do you think about them? Stay tuned as we continue to recommend you to the best places to shoot in Japan!

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