Hang around long enough and you’ll notice that in Japan’s cities, the hustle and bustle often continues on into the night. What does change however, is the nightly glow of the streetlights and illuminations some of the major buildings host. I like the nostalgic feeling the glowing buildings and bright cityscapes bring.

During my travels around the country, I’ve seen many breathtaking night views, each one as unique as the next. Next time you head out, make sure to factor in a nighttime stroll and check out some of my favorite spots to get a good view of Japan’s impressive evening glow.

Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo – Splendid night view of Tokyo Harbor

Tokyo Bay Connector Bridge, famously known as the Rainbow Bridge, is one you may have seen on postcards or travel sites.

This impressive bridge is only a 15-minute-drive from Hardy Barracks, and you can cross it along the Shutoko Expressway through a portion of Tokyo Harbor.

Driving through this bridge at night always overwhelms me with its views of the Tokyo Harbor, skyscrapers, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree all lit up in various colors. It’s like traveling inside a jewelry box!

The 2,618-foot-long, 413-foot-high, two-story suspension bridge that connects the Odaiba waterfront district to the Shibaura Pier is actually painted white. At night, however, the bridge shines in vivid colors thanks to the 444 LED lights illuminating from sunset to midnight. Depending on the season, the colors of the bridge will change, but the holiday season is when you’ll catch a full rainbow. Currently, the bridge is illuminated in red to reflect the state of emergency due to COVID-19.

This isn’t just a pretty bridge. This double-decker bridge accommodates an expressway, a toll-free highway, a monorail and pedestrian walkways. Walk across the bridge for the “Rainbow Promenade,” which will take about 20 to 30 minutes. There are observatory points with benches on the bridge where you can stop and enjoy the gorgeous views and rest. Alternatively, get a great view of the bridge from Odaiba’s Kaihin Park, where you’ll also find a replica of the Statue of Liberty and the Olympic rings in the harbor.

Rainbow Bridge (Tokyo Bay Connector Bridge) Location: 3-33-19 Kaigan, Minato-ku, Tokyo Rainbow promenade Hours: Apr - Oct, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Nov - Mar, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission: Free

Kawasaki – Surrealistic night view of factories

Kawasaki City’s waterfront district offers a unique night view with a steam-punkish look. The area is the nation’s largest Keihin industrial zone, which, at night, gives a sort of industrial, sci-fi feeling many photographers in Japan flock to capture.

The artificial, somewhat surrealistic views of the various shaped factories created by lights, the orange of fire and grey smoke from chimneys, together with a backdrop of a port with gigantic tankers and cargo ships, is considered “cool.”

Located in the center of such the industrial area, Kawasaki Marien is considered one of the best night view spots in the district and was nominated as a Japan night-view heritage site in 2014. The observation platform on its 10th floor (167-feet high) provides a panoramic view of the entire Kawasaki factory area; packed with power plants, chemical, metal factories and oil refining factories.

During my visit, I noticed many photographers setting up for the perfect shot as the sun started to set. For me, this view was surreal and reminded me of a gigantic spaceship from a sci-fi movie.

If you visit Kawasaki Marien for some unique photography, be sure to bring a tripod and telephoto lens along for optimal photos.

Kawasaki Marien Location: 38-1 Higashi Oogishima, Kawasaki-ku, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Pref. Hours: 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Admission: free Website Tel: 044-287-6000

Kobe – A view worth $10 million from Mount Rokko

Kobe is one of Japan’s Three Great Night Views, along with Hakodate and Nagasaki. Mount Rokko and Mount Maya are especially famous for their “10-million-dollar nightviews.”

Head to the summit of either of these and get ready to be wowed. Mount Maya is the more popular one to hike up, but if you’re driving, check out Mount Rokko’s Hachimaki Platform off Omote Rokko Driveway.

Whichever spot you choose, you’ll know immediately why this is considered a 10-million-dollar view. As the sun starts to set, you’ll see the city and port gradually illuminated in various colors against the wonderful backdrop of the golden sea and two artificial islands off Osaka Bay.

Hachimaki Observation Platform on Mt. Rokko (Omote Rokkyo Driveway) Location: Minami Rokkyo, Rokkozancho, Nada-ku, Kobe City, Hyogo Pref. Tel: 078-230-1120

Atami – Hot springs with a vertical night view

Though many find themselves in Atami for a soak in the hot springs, this resort town also has a great view at night.

The topography and shape of the city has deemed it a moniker of the “Naples of Asia.” You’ll notice this unique location from its U-shaped coastline, surrounding mountains and hilly roads.

At night, the dozens of hotels packed into the area light up with Atami Castle as the centerpiece. Head to the castle observation deck for the panoramic view during the day. After sunset, many visitors stick around the parking lot for a view of the surrounding vertical spread of illuminated hotels and buildings.

There are many one-day hot spring facilities around the location, so you can enjoy a hot soak before or after you see the night view.

Atami Castle Location: 1993 Atami, Atami City, Shizuoka Pref. Website Tel: 0557-81-6206 (Japanese)

Nagasaki – A 360-degree view of one of ‘’World’s 3 Best Night View Cities”

Designated as one of the “World’s Three Best Night View Locations” in 2012 along with Hong Kong and Monaco, Nagasaki offers a picture-perfect night display.

To get the best view, head to the top of Mount Inasa near the city center, where the observation tower will give you a 360-degree panoramic look, 1,093 feet high above Nagasaki.

Time your visit for sunset and catch the golden crimson views of sky and sea silhouetted by the surrounding grey mountains and many islets dotting this corner of Japan. And, check out the restaurant next door for a meal and a view!

There are many ways to get to the summit of Mount Inasa, including by bus. But, try the cable car for a fun way to experience this beautiful location.

Mount Inasa (observation deck) Location: 407-6 Fuchimachi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Pref. Website Tel: 095-822-8888 (Japanese)

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