5. Abeno Harukas 300
This building is a little further south of Orix, in an area called Tennoji. It was finished in 2014, and the observation deck stands at the top of its 300-meter (984 ft) structure. It's the tallest skyscraper in Japan, and definitely worth a visit to see the southern side of Osaka's skyline!
Access: From Hommachi Station, take the Midosuji (red) subway line to Tennoji. From there, follow the signs to Abeno Harukas (Exit 9) and take the elevator up.
4. Fushimi Inari Taisha
Venturing away from Osaka, the greater Kansai region also has a number of stellar night views. Kyoto, for example, has several prime spots where you can see the city and the mountains. A great view of Kyoto at night can be found at Fushimi Inari Taisha. This shrine is known for its ranks of thousands of red torii gates straddling its mountain paths. At night, it offers an amazing view of Kyoto along with an eerie trek through the gates.
Access: From JR Osaka, take the train to Kyoto (Special Rapid is best), then change to the JR Nara Line and go 2 stops to Inari. From there, it's a 2-minute walk east to the shrine.
3. Osaka Prefectural Gorvernment Sakishima Building (Cosmo Tower)
This is a hidden treasure among night viewers. It's not so crowded, but it was designed to give tourists a 360-degree view of Osaka. As you take the glass-walled elevator up the 52 floors to the observatory, the city emerges and you can see as far as Kobe on a clear day. Also known as Cosmo Tower.
Access: From Hommachi Station, change to the Chuo (green) subway line and take it all the way to the last stop, Cosmo Square. Take the New Tram Line to Trade Center Mae, then take Exit 1 and walk straight to the tower.
2. Mount Wakakusa
Nara doesn't have the big cities of Osaka or Kyoto, so it doesn't have the same kind of well-lit skyline. But a view from Mount Wakakusa is a quiet, contemplative and awe-inspiring scene complete with temples, trees and houses. It's a beautiful view that can make you forget where and when you are. Especially amazing is the annual fire festival, held on the fourth Saturday in January, when the grass on the hillside is set ablaze in a massive spectacle.
Access: From JR Osaka, go to JR Nara and follow the signs to Todai-ji. Go through the temple and you're at the base of the mountain, at Todai-ji Nigatsu-do. This is the start of the best place to take pictures in Nara.
1. Mount Maya
Mount Maya overlooks Kobe City and its harbor. To get there, you have to ride a cable car. The night view here has been chosen as one of the Three Great Night Views of Japan, and it's incredible to see the city lights slowly emerge from the treetops as you get higher and higher.
Access: To get to the cable car, you'll need to take a Kobe city bus from your choice of JR Sannomiya, JR Shin-Kobe, JR Nada or Hankyu Rokko Stations. The bus will take you to Maya Cable Station.