The best places to observe the moon in Japan 日本の月を観察する

Under the moonlight



September 24, 2018, was Tsukimi, a day of moon gazing and a Mid-Autumn Celebration. For this occasion, it seemed pretty appropriate to point out the best places in the archipelago where you can enjoy the lunar star at your leisure. Natural sites, temples, sanctuaries, observatories in large cities… the possibilities are endless, but if it were only possible to retain five, it would be these!



Fujisawa (Kanagawa Prefecture)

From Kugenuma beach, near Enoshima, the moon and the sacred mountain of the archipelago offer you an incredible spectacle, a majestic scene that is nicknamed "the pearl of Mount Fuji." On full moon days, the lunar star seems to gently land on the summit of Mount Fuji like a sparkling precious pearl sheltered in its comfortable setting. You can also gaze at the moon from the Enoshima Sea Candle, the Samuel Cocking Garden observation tower.

See: The best views of Mount Fuji.


Fuji pearl

The "Pearl of Mount Fuji"

こまってぃ さん


Matsushima (Miyagi Prefecture)

To the northeast of Sendai, 260 islets of Matsushima have been renowned since the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868) as one of the three most beautiful landscapes in the country. This century-old glory, Matsushima or "the island of pines," owes it to the scholar Shunsai Hayashi who compiled this classification in his book Nihonkoku Jisekikou. Once night has fallen, the lunar star leaves its golden reflections in the bay's waters and magnifies the pines in a sumptuous shadow theatre. In the 17th century, the poet Matsuo Basho made a long journey to appreciate Matsushima in this spectral light. While writing countless haikus throughout his journey, Basho leaves no poems about this extraordinary sight. Legend has it that he was so overwhelmed by the scene's beauty that words failed him, unable to write a single verse. The rising moon of Matsushima, therefore, literally offers a breathtaking view!



Matsushima Bay


Gifu Castle (Gifu Prefecture)

Perched atop Mount Kinka, Gifu Castle towers over the entire city. On the last level of the fortress, the panoramic observatory reveals a 360° view allowing you to appreciate as far as the plain of Nobi and the city of Nagoya on a clear day. During September and October, the castle remains open in the evening on weekends and public holidays, allowing visitors to enjoy the city's lights. However, this is not the only way to enjoy a magical view.



Full moon behind Gifu Castle


Ishiyama-dera Temple (Shiga Prefecture)

Overlooking Lake Biwa in Otsu, Ishiyama-dera Temple is famous among lovers of Japanese literature for being the place where Dame Murasaki Shikibu began writing the Genji Monogatari. One night, in 1004, the author who stays in this temple of the Shingon sect founded in 749 finds inspiration by contemplating the reflection of the round and blond moon in the waters of Lake Biwa. Therefore, this incredible moon of beauty above the Ishiyama-dera temple would be the origin of the most famous Japanese novel.



Ishiyama dera under the moon


Villa Saito (Niigata Prefecture)

A few days a year, Villa Saito remains open in the evening, a unique opportunity to appreciate the traditional garden lit by the moon and the soft light of the candles. The former summer residence of the wealthy Saito family, built between 1917 and 1920, and its lush green setting have been designed as an inseparable whole. Taste this perfect harmony from the villa's tea house, where you can enjoy the moonrise over the garden like nowhere else.





Enjoy Villa Saito under the moon

Latest Articles

The sika deer : A fascinating species native to East Asia

The sika deer (Cervus nippon) is a captivating species native to much of East Asia, including Japan, Taiwan, eastern China, Korea, and parts of Russia.

Where to admire the cherry blossoms in spring

Japan is renowned for its distinct and beautiful seasons. One of the most eagerly awaited is undoubtedly spring, with the blossoming of the sakura cherry trees.

Vue sur la rivière traversant Yakushima

Excursion to Yakushima: At the heart of Princess Mononoke Island

Many visitors to Japan share the same desire when visiting the country: to "get off the beaten track". 

See All (427)