Living in Tokyo, it’s easy to get caught up in the light pollution and forget that there’s a beautiful spread of stars right above us. But in fact, Japan has countless incredible spots that are perfect for stargazing, four of them being certified by the International Designated Dark Sky Places (IDSP). Here are our top eight picks of the most breathtaking spots to go stargazing in Japan if you want to feel connected to the universe and spot some constellations.

1. Bisei Town in Ibara City, Okayama

Bisei town is one of four designated International Dark Sky Places, and has the highest number of clear skies per year in Japan. Bisei, which quite literally translates to “beautiful star” in Japanese, attracts amateur stargazers and astronomers alike to view its expanse of stunning stars. Located in the southernmost part of Okayama Prefecture, several observatories and stargazing facilities dot the town like constellations, including the popular Bisei Astronomical Observatory. The town takes extensive preventative measures against light pollution, and has star-related events year-round for stargazing enthusiasts.

kozushima stargazing spot japan

2. Kozushima Island, Tokyo

Located 180 kilometers south of Tokyo, Kozushima was designated as a Dark Sky Park (it’s also allowed to use the name Dark Sky Island) in December 2020. The island takes light pollution seriously, and as the night falls, the entire island is shut off into darkness and transformed into a real-life planetarium. The island is perfect for nature lovers, with turquoise beaches and hiking routes by day, and expansive starry skies by night. It is accessible from Tokyo and the Kanto region by ferry and plane.

rokuro stargazing japan

3. Minami-Rokuroshi, Fukui

Minami-Rokuroshi of Ono city in Fukui Prefecture was designated as an IDSP just last year. Located on the foothills of Mount Kyogatake, Minami-Rokuroshi has rolling pastures, a lush alpine landscape and, of course, incredible starry skies. When visiting Minami-Rokuroshi, guests can visit a dairy farm and try their hand at a butter or ice cream-making workshop, then look up at the Milky Way while relaxing in an open-air bath or in a hammock after the sun sets.

4. Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, Okinawa

As the southernmost national park and first designated Dark Sky Place of Japan, the Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park is certainly worth a visit for any oceanic and star-loving traveler. Ishigaki Island, which garners plenty of traffic from tourists each year, has rules to limit light pollution to maintain interest in astro-tourism. Take a starry night tour to look at 84 of the 88 constellations and the Southern Cross from Ishigaki Island. 

achi village stargazing japan

5. Achi Village, Nagano

Achi, an Alpen village in Nagano Prefecture, is a popular stargazing destination, but has a wide variety of charms down on Earth as well. Take a stargazing tour to the mountain tops of Achi, or soak in one of its many soothing hot spring baths while looking up at the expanse of stars that spread overhead. Achi village attracts over 1 million tourists each year, mainly to enjoy hiking and camping, especially when seasonal peach blossoms and azaleas are in bloom.

6. Lake Mashu, Hokkaido

Lake Mashu, in eastern Hokkaido’s Akan-Mashu National Park, is a must-visit for avid stargazers. It is a caldera lake, with no urban light or mountains nearby, making for clear, unobstructed views of the starry skies above. With breathtaking deep blue waters known as “Mashu Blue,” the lake deserves to be seen both in the daylight and enjoyed with a stargazing tour.

Jododaira star gazing japan

7. Jododaira Astronomical Observatory, Fukushima

With an elevation of 1,600 meters, Jododaira is a subalpine plateau that’s a popular attraction among hikers. It also houses Japan’s highest altitude public observatory. Located within the bounds of Bandai-Asahi National Park and in a bowl surrounded by the Azuma Mountains, Jododaira has minimal urban light and panoramic views of the sky above, making the observatory ideal for stargazing. 

torami stargazing spot japan

8. Torami Coast, Chiba

If you’re looking for an ethereal stargazing day trip from Tokyo, visit Torami Coast in Chiba. Only 90 minutes by car from the capital, Torami Coast’s beaches attract surfers in the summer, as well as stargazers year-round. For spiritual stargazers, Torami Coast has a torii gate that contrasts with the deep blue waters and night sky, making for an unforgettable view.  As one of the closest stargazing spots from Tokyo, Torami Coast is a perfect getaway for those who reside within the city.

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