Japan Data

Nagasaki Boasts Japan’s Top Night View

Travel Economy

There is something romantic about gazing down on the countless twinkling lights of a nighttime cityscape. Night views have become tourist attractions in Japan and cities vie to win visitors.

The tendency of the Japanese population to cluster in narrow coastal plains beside higher land means that there are a lot of places to see beautiful night scenery. Since the twentieth century, Nagasaki (Mount Inasa), Kobe (Mount Maya), and Hakodate (Mount Hakodate) have been known as the Three Major Night Views of Japan.

It is not clear who first chose this group and when. The mountains are all located close to municipal areas and have ropeway systems running to the summit. One theory is that travel companies saw the ropeways as a new way to attract tourists and created a marketing slogan, which then became more widely established.

In a bid to generate new tourism, since 2015 the Yakei Convention and Visitors Bureau has suggested an updated selection through its Three New Major Night Views of Japan. Locations are ranked through voting by approximately 5,500 people who the bureau has certified as “night view appreciation experts.” There are comprehensive criteria for choosing a city, including not only night views from a specific place but also other aspects like illumination events. The selection is reassessed every three years. The first time this ranking was conducted in 2015, Sapporo overcame local rival Hakodate to line up alongside Nagasaki and Kobe. In 2018, when voting was held for the second time, Kitakyūshū replaced Kobe in third place.

Having scored top both times, Nagasaki can fairly claim to have the greatest night view in Japan.

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Three Major Night Views of Japan Hakodate, Kobe, Nagasaki  (no particular order)
Three New Major Night Views of Japan 2015 Nagasaki Sapporo Kobe
Three New Major Night Views of Japan 2018 Nagasaki Sapporo Kitakyūshū



The city boasts a 360-degree spectacular panorama from the observation deck of Mount Inasa (333 m). Nagasaki is known as the City of Hills, with the land rising up from Nagasaki Bay in a characteristic bowl formation. The light from the houses on the slopes gives this night view a special three-dimensional effect.

There are also a number of spots lit up nearby that people can enjoy, including Megami Ōhashi Bridge—nicknamed Venus Wing—that spans Nagasaki Bay, and Ōura Church, a designated national treasure built in 1865 and the oldest Gothic-style church in Japan.

(© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association)
(© Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association)


The Kikuseidai viewing platform near the summit of Mount Maya (702 m) in the Rokkō mountain range takes its name because the magnificent night scenery makes you feel like you could reach out and scoop up the stars.

This viewing point is at a higher altitude than in Nagasaki and Sapporo, so a continuous band of lights can be seen all the way to Osaka.

(© Kobe Tourism Bureau)
(© Kobe Tourism Bureau)


Mount Hakodate (334 m) formed as a volcanic island in ancient times; however, due to sand deposits, it became joined to the mainland around 5,000 years ago. This gives the city’s night view a unique setting as there is ocean on both sides, with Hakodate Bay to the left and the Tsugaru Strait to the right. The lights on the road along the coast form an outline, creating an attractive contrast between light and dark.

(© Laufen Katsu)
(© Laufen Katsu)


The city’s main night view looks across from Mount Moiwa and Mount Ōkura in the suburbs to the city center, although Sapporo also has a number of other night viewing spots in the center itself, including Sapporo TV Tower and JR Tower. Sapporo White Illumination was a forerunner among illumination events in Japan and has recently been drawing in overseas tourists. Sapporo Snow Festival has lighting and projection mapping, so is also popular to view at night.

(© Laufen Katsu)
(© Laufen Katsu)


In the industrial city of Kitakyūshū, there is a trend for factory night views, emphasising the scale of the steel works and chemical plants there. The lights of the factories operating through the night create beautiful reflections in the sea. Cruise tours to enjoy these night views from the sea are popular.

The vast panorama from Mount Sarakura in the center of the city and the illuminations in the Mojikō Retro district are just some of the many night views that can also be enjoyed in this city.

(© Jiji)
(© Jiji)

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: Night view of Nagasaki from Mount Inasa. © Nagasaki Prefecture Convention and Tourism Association.)

tourism night views