Whether you’re an armchair traveler living vicariously through others’ stories and photos or a frequent traveler in search of information to inspire your next trip, Instagram is a great tool to use for all of that. In this post, I introduce you to, what I think, are the best Instagram accounts to learn about Japan’s culture, history, and landscapes.
Discover Japan through my growing list of favorite photographers, Youtubers, media personalities, and websites who have learned how to harness Instagram and use it to showcase the spirit of Japan as well as educate and engage a curious audience through great photography. These are people who evoke my wanderlust, drive me to learn more about Japan each time I go back, and in general, make my Instagram feed aesthetically pleasing to scroll through.
Let’s kick it off with some of the top tier photographers showcasing Japan and telling stories through image alone. The following Instagrammers have a real knack for experimenting with lights and darks, colors and lines, and their photos both capture and express emotion. Their imagery reminds the audience just how little space one person takes up in such a big world. Different snapshots capture little bits of culture and the abundance of creativity alive and well in Japan.
@harrysugiyama (TV & Radio Personality)
Born in the UK and raised in Tokyo by a British father and Japanese mother, Harry Sugiyama joins the ranks because his accent, personality, and charm are irresistible. Not to mention we share the same last name though we are not related. On TV, he teaches British English and Korean among many other things, but his Instagram feed is very self-promo heavy. After you’ve been following him for a while though, it’s difficult to complain.
@atsushilb (TV Personality)
Atsushi Tamura is a famous comedian and TV personality from Hikoshima, Japan. As to be expected, all of his captions on Instagram are in Japanese, but just by the photos, it’s easy to tell that he has a good sense of humor. As a news anchor, he travels and takes snapshots from the different locations where he shoots. If nothing else, it is a very small peek into the world of traditional Japanese media.
@rolaofficial (Model & TV Personality)
The first time I came across Rola on a Japanese television show, her high pitched voice, obnoxious giggle, and the way she puffed out her cheeks in between sentences annoyed me to no end. I had been told by many before me who initially felt the same way that over time her personality would grow on me. IMPOSSIBLE, I protested. Well, I hate to admit it, but they were right. Her little girl charm inevitably wore me down for no other reason than there is nobody else like her on Japanese television. On Instagram, she posts her Outfit of the Day (OOTD), photos of all the places she travels both in Japan and internationally, behind the scene stills of her photo shoots, and lots of food!
@tatsuphotos & @ciaela (Youtubers & Photographers)
Tatsu and Micaela are an international couple living in Fukuoka with a Shiba Inu dog named Kit and a Russian Blue cat named Lon, who are both frequent subjects of photos and so cute I wish I could call them my own. Their Instagram feeds highlight all that is wonderful about Kyushu (Japan’s southernmost island) and Fukuoka (Kyushu’s largest city).
When I first moved to Tokyo, it was Dave’s Instagram feed that I turned to for hints of things to see, do, and eat to get better acquainted with the city. He shares snapshots of unfiltered everyday moments and peculiarities he finds on his way to, from, and during work at the Youtube Space and every bit of life in between.
Chika has grown a tremendous following both on Youtube and Instagram. On her main Youtube channel, she teaches English to Japanese people, and on her second channel, Japanagos, she shares a lot of insight to Japanese culture and language. Via Instagram, she shares photos from her travels through Japan and abroad as well as different job shadowing experiences in Japan.
Hashimuki specializes in photos of Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan and an emerald beauty. He has found a really great niche, and dare I say, he may actually be the best photographer of Mt. Fuji in all of Instagram land. I am obsessed, and I constantly scroll through his feed of old photos because I can’t get over how stunning his images are.
I met Sachiko on an evening photo walk meetup in Yokohama and quickly fell in love with her photos. She captures moments and scenes from Yokohama, where I used to live, and areas I used to frequent. Via her feed, I felt encouraged to explore and found some great photo spots and new places to check out on weekends.
Odigo is a website where expats living in Japan and travelers to Japan can post their tips for traveling the country, write blog posts, and even create ideal trip itinerary suggestions for future travelers. On Instagram, they share photos from contributors and staff that are paid to travel through Japan so there’s a good mix of high quality photos from all over the country.
InstagramJapan showcases photos from different community members and photographers every week. There is a wide array of different photo styles and subjects so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. I’ve learned a lot about Japanese interests, Kawaii (cute) culture, and drooled over great landscape shots too. All captions are in Japanese, but it’s the best display of Japanese creativity I’ve seen on Instagram.
Japan_Gram is run by Johnny Owatari who has an impeccable eye for things a lot of other photographers miss. As you scroll through his feed, it’s like being transported through seasons of colors. His stunningly gorgeous, colorful, and detailed photos capture everything that makes Japan so unique.
The Japan Times, Japan’s most widely read English language newspaper, features all the latest happenings in Japan and then some. Their images, though not extravagant, complement their stories and put the focus more on people than places.
Fukuoka Now is the most well-recognized news, travel, and events website for Fukuoka and to a lesser extent, Kyushu. It is the go-to news source for daily, seasonal, and annual events as well as hiking and foodie hotspots. Their photos are stills of the city as it moves through each season, portraying the city’s character as it comes alive with each festival and event and settles down after a long work day.
VisitJapanAU is a Japanese tourism account targeted towards citizens of Australia and New zealand. Their feed is primarily compiled of photos from, but not limited to, Aussies and Kiwis who have previously traveled to Japan. This is a very community driven account so you get a great variety of photos and photographers.