10. Kenrokuen Garden (Kanazawa)
With or without snow, every inch of Kenrokuen Garden is already Instagram-worthy. It's one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, with manicured lawns, a variety of trees, notable stone sculptures, fairytale-looking ponds and cobbled pathways. Inside the garden is the famous Shiguretei Tea House, which has a long history of destruction and restoration through time. The area overlooking the Hase Pond is perfect for a photo op, especially when covered in snow. The garden is located outside Kanazawa Castle, which is an equally special spot for breathtaking photography. Kanazawa can be really stunning with snow!
9. Tottori Sand Dunes (Tottori)
Tottori is one of the most underrated places in Japan, but it actually offers a lot of Instagram-worthy spots that are not common on the usual itinerary. Tottori has a beloved Sand Museum for the spectacle-seekers and the historic Tottori Castle Ruins for history buffs. It's also famous for delectable local cuisine, especially crabs, pears, shabu-shabu, and vintage wine. The Tottori Sand Dunes are a must-see, as their beauty is comparable to France's Great Dune of Pyla, Australia's Simpson Desert Dunes and Dubai's Big Red. In winter, expect to see snow, sand and sea come together in Tottori. Oh, and you can ride a snow camel, too!
8. Shirakawa-go Village (Gifu)
The historic village of Shirakawa-go is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gassho-zukuri-style houses reflect so much of the olden times, with their roofs resembling open books turned face down (gassho-zukuri actually refers to hands pressed together in prayer or appreciation). Interestingly, the attics of some of the triangular-roofed houses serve as breeding grounds for silkworms, which are used for sericulture or for silk production, which was once the main source of income for the villagers. Some houses in the village actually act as museums and they can be explored by tourists.
Photo Credit: Justin Lapus
7. Ishiya Chocolate Factory (Hokkaido)
If you want to feel like a kid again and get multiple Instagramable photos, head to Ishiya Chocolate Factory in winter. Spending time at the chocolate factory is like making your Frozen-meets-Willy-Wonka dreams come to life. Inside the factory are delectable sweets made with premium Hokkaido milk. What more could you ask for?
Photo Credit: Mico Geronimo
6. Gokayama Village (Toyama)
When snow and lights glisten in the night, you know it's magical. This is exactly the feeling you'll get when you visit Gokayama Village of Kanpo in winter. The gassho-zukuri houses look like houses you'd see in a snow globe or in Christmas displays illuminated by small lights inside. There are traditional cultural performances held in the village amid falling snow, which is definitely noteworthy. The pathways in the village are also lined with candlelights, making the dreamy destination even more Instagram-worthy. If you want to have day and night shots at this snowcapped, mountainous village, you can actually book a stay in one of the traditional houses. And yes, Gokayama is also listed as a World Heritage Site along with neighbor Shirakawa-go (above).
5. Harunire Terrace (Karuizawa)
You may not see snow in this picture, but really, anything in Karuizawa, in any season, is actually Instagram-worthy. But this walk along Harunire Terrace, within the the luxurious Hoshino Resorts, really looks magical when the pathways are covered in snow. And because Karuizawa is in Nagano, it's actually a perfect stopover during a ski trip to the mountains of Nagano.
4. Historical Village of Hokkaido (Sapporo)
Also known as 開拓の村 or Kaitaku no Mura, this open-air museum in Sapporo may be the cause of an Instagram post flooding. By the entrance, you can enjoy taking pictures inside snow caves or riding a sled in snow. The entire village is made of old houses recreating an actual community from the mid-19th century. It has actual transplanted buildings including barber shops, churches, doctor's clinics, shops and even a fisherman's house that you can enter and spend some time warming up by the fireplace.
3. Kisokoma Mountain (Nagano)
Nagano is well known for its snow-laden paths and destinations, but for serious adventure-seekers who also happen to be devout Instagram-posters, a trek to Mount Kisokoma (in the "Japan Alps") may just give you the adrenalin rush that you need, plus that picture-perfect shot you want to post on social media. There are snow-covered shrines along the way that will also demand your camera's attention.
Photo Credits: Robe Paccial
2. Niseko Village (Hokkaido)
So you probably want to fulfill your childhood fantasy of meeting Santa and his reindeers, eh? While the appearance of Santa Claus is not guaranteed, a trip to Niseko provides an experience like no other. In the Niseko Village, you can enjoy snow sports and have the chance to meet Rudolph and his kin. Definitely, Instagram-worthy!
1. Lake Chuzenji (Nikko)
Lake Chuzenji and its nearby Kegon Falls, are sights to behold, whether with snow or without snow. But this particular body of water, when covered in snow, becomes even more breathtaking. The glistening water illuminates the snow-white surroundings, making it a perfect Instagram Story. Depending on what you read, a photo by this spot may actually look like a scene described in the Narnia books or one from Nobel Prize-winning Kawabata's Snow Country.