Where to See the Milky Way in Japan? Nine Selections of Starry Night Sky Scenic Spots

Where to See the Milky Way in Japan? Nine Selections of Starry Night Sky Scenic Spots
At least once a life everyone had a thought "I wish to see a starry sky".
The darker the night sky with no artificial light, the better you can see that original brightness of the stars.
Based on the results of the "Observation of Night Sky Brightness Survey during Winter 2018" by the Ministry of the Environment, we have collected some places with a brightness grade of 21 or higher to make locations' guide where you can see the Milky Way and star clusters.
Let's begin!
Reference:Observation of the starry sky in winter, 2018. About the results of the night sky brightness survey made with a digital camera

1. Hateruma Island (Okinawa Prefecture)

 Hateruma Island (Okinawa Prefecture)

Southernmost inhabited island in Japan

Hateruma Island is located closer to Taiwan than the main island of Okinawa and is the southernmost inhabitant island in Japan. The effects of airflow here are small and the atmosphere is stable, so you can clearly see the stars.
Many people visit the island for astronomical curiosity, as the sky here is incredibly beautiful.
[Survey location] 3905 Hateruma, Taketomi, Yaeyama District, Okinawa Observatory
[Brightness of the night sky] 1st place 21.9
[Taketomi Town Tourism Association] https://painusima.com/

2. Tanegashima Island (Kagoshima Prefecture)

Tanegashima Island

The closest to outer space island

Here you can find the JAXA Tanegashima Space Center and Japan's largest rocket launch site. Recently, KOUNOTORI 8 was launched on September 25, 2019. Tanegashima is also famous for the setting in Makoto Shinkai's "Your Name" and "5 centimeters per second" films.
It may be the most immersive place in Japan for the universe romance.
[Survey location] Nakatane Town, Kumage District, Kagoshima Prefecture
[Brightness of the night sky] 2nd place 21.8
[Tanegashima Tourism Association] https://en.tanekan.jp/

3. Kozushima Island (Tokyo)

Kozushima Island

Tokyo's starry island

Kozushima Island is one of the Izu islands, located 178 km south of Tokyo, and can be reached by a 45-minute flight from Chofu Airport in Tokyo. There are many spots where spring water comes out on the island.
By the islanders"Kozushima planetarium starry sky observation party"is held all year round, and you can enjoy it while listening to the starry sky guide.
[Survey location] Miura, Kozushima Village, Tokyo "Miura Bay Observatory"; 1 Kobeyama "Akasaki Promenade"
[Brightness of the night sky] 3rd place 21.7
[Kozushima Sight Seeing Information Center] https://kozushima.com/

4. Ogasawara Islands (Tokyo)

Ogasawara Islands

A unique island that has become a World Natural Heritage Site

There is no airport in the Ogasawara Islands, and the only way is to board a boat for about 24 hours one way. There are many attractions not only in the daytime but also at night. On the Night Tour, you can see the faint green mushroom "Green Pepe" and the natural monument "Bonin flying fox" flying in the forest at night. You can meet nocturnal creatures at the beach as well.
Ogasawara, which is almost unaffected by artificial light, is very suitable for star watching. You can enjoy the night sky all year round.
[Survey location] Chichijima, Ogasawara, Tokyo Kopepe Beach
[Brightness of the night sky] 3rd place 21.7
[Ogasawara Village Tourist Association] https://www.ogasawaramura.com/en/

5. Shizukuishi Town (Iwate Prefecture)

Shizukuishi Town

The starry sky that Japanese novelist Kenji Miyazawa also looked up at

Shizukuishi town is a place that Kenji Miyazawa, a writer from Iwate, often visited, and is said to have influenced the masterpiece "Night on the Galactic Railroad" in no small measure. There are also three ski resorts in the town at the southern foot of Mt. Iwate, where you can enjoy winter sports.
If you take the "Shizukuishi Galaxy Ropeway" to the summit of Mt. Takakura at an altitude of 730m, you will see a 360-degree panoramic starry sky.
[Survey location] Dai 28 Chiwari-182 MinamihataShizukuishi, Iwate District, Iwate around the Cottage Village Management Center
[Brightness of the night sky] 5th place 21.6
[Shizukuishi Tourism Association] http://shizukuishi-kanko.gr.jp/

6. Kiso Town (Nagano Prefecture)

Kiso Town

A town surrounded by the Alps

Nagano prefecture is surrounded by 2000m-class mountains. The average altitude of the entire prefecture is 1033m, which is the closest prefecture to the sky in Japan. There are 69 inns located on the Nakasendo route, and 11 post towns are located in Kiso Town.
The sky full of stars from Kaida Highlands, the land that spreads out at the foot of Mt. Ontake (elevation 3067m), is very beautiful.
[Survey location] Kiso Town, Kiso District, Nagano Prefecture
[Brightness of the night sky] 5th place 21.6
[Kiso Ontake Tourism Office] http://www.kankou-kiso.com/

7. Ishigaki Island (Okinawa Prefecture)

Ishigaki Island

Japan's only dark-sky reserve

In 2018, the International Dark-Sky Association recognized Iriomote Ishigaki National Park as Japan's first "Starry Sky Reserve". Not all of the island is included in the dark-sky reserve, but you can enjoy the world's top-class starry sky.
You can also try a night cruise, and enjoy the Milky Way from above the sea.
[Survey location] Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture
[Brightness of the night sky] 5th place 21.6
[Ishigaki City Tourism Exchange Association] https://yaeyama.or.jp/

8. Kumakogen Town (Ehime Prefecture)

A plateau resort where you can feel the mysterious power of nature

Kumakogen Town is located on a plateau surrounded by forests, located in the central-southern part of Ehime Prefecture.
The night sky is particularly dark around the Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory, and you can see lots of the stars. There is a reservation-based reflecting telescope with 60-cm aperture, which can be said to be a perfect starry sky observation spot.
[Survey location] 488 Shimohatanokawa Otsu, Kumakogen Town, Kamiukena District, Ehime Prefecture "Kuma Kogen Astronomical Observatory"
[Brightness of the night sky] 8th place 21.5
[Kumakogen Town Tourism Association] https://kuma-kanko.com/en/

9. Hamada City (Shimane Prefecture)

Surrounded by the sea and mountains, a rich natural land

According to a survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Tottori citizens are the eighth fastest to sleep in Japan. At midnight, most of the lights go out, so it's easy to see the beautiful starry sky.
Here you can find plenty of seafood and mountain food, and also enjoy the high-class fish Nodoguro (Blackthroat Seaperch).
[Survey location] 120 Misumicho Minatoura, Hamada, Shimane "Mihomachizukuri Center"
[Brightness of the night sky] 8th place 21.5
[Hamada City Tourism Association] http://www.kankou-hamada.org/
What do you think?
You can easily find beautiful nature just by looking at the sky above your head.
Make your time to enjoy the true brightness of the night, without artificial light.

Related Articles

See all Latest articles


This month's top destinations

Recommended destinations (Sep. to Oct.)

Introduction of Japan's national parks