As we close in on the end of the year, it can be hard to remember all the places we went and all the things we did over the past 12 months. By “we,” I don’t mean just the RocketNews24 staff, since our website acts as written evidence of most of our year’s worth of frequent escapades and occasional shenanigans. Instead, I’m talking about all of the people who lived in or visited Japan during 2014.

Since we don’t have all of you under surveillance (just the half-dozen or so that Mr. Sato regularly tails throughout the day), we’re instead turning to photo-sharing site Instagram to be our judge, with its list of the top 10 Japanese photo locations that users shared over the course of the year.

10. Yokohama Akarenga/Red Brick Warehouse (Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture)

Located in a scenic spot next to the bay in Yokohama (Japan’s second-largest city and future Apple research center host), this former customs house complex is now filled with restaurants, art galleries, and shops, and is particularly popular during its annual Christmas market

9. Sensoji Temple/Kaminarimon Gate (Asakusa, Tokyo)

While Tokyo’s historical heart is dotted with tiny temples and shrines, it’s the grand Sensoji, and especially its entrance, the Kaminarimon (“Thunder Gate”), that really draw the crowds.

8. Tokyo Dome

This is a bit of an odd one, since despite having a pretty quirky nickname (Big Egg, after its oblong shape), there’s nothing particularly compelling about Tokyo Dome. It is one of the city’s premier sporting and music venues, though, so we’re guessing a lot of people snap commemorative photos while waiting for such events to start, leading to its spot on the list.

7. Dotonbori (Osaka)

One of only three entries not in Tokyo, Osaka’s lively riverfront mecca of drinking and dining is so associated with its vibrant neon that we’d never thought of how striking it would look in black and white.

6. Tokyo Station (Tokyo)

Like Tokyo Dome, this one might seem a bit of a head scratcher. The rail hub just celebrated its 100th birthday with a substantial facelift, though, and since it’s also the access point for thousands of domestic and foreign visitors, it’s as good a place as any to share on Instagram to announce you’ve made it to Japan’s most bustling metropolis.

5. Tokyo Tower (Tokyo)

It’s been two years since Tokyo Tower lost its title as the highest structure in the capital, but it still put up a good fight and earned a spot in the top five. The newer, taller Skytree may get more media attention, but Tokyo Tower still retains a sophisticated, romantic air, arguably even more so now that many of the crowds have moved on to its younger sibling.

4. Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)

Osaka’s premiere amusement park had an unexpectedly strong showing, no doubt thanks to the recently opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the siren song of which was too strong for us to resist.

3. Tokyo Skytree (Tokyo)

Being 634 meters (2,080 feet) tall, nearly twice the height of Tokyo Tower, the Skytree is likely to hang on to its title of highest structure in the city for a very long time. It’s big enough that you can catch glimpses of it from all over the city, but to really get a sense of how huge it is, you’ve got to see it up close (or make the trip to the top, if you can snag a ticket).

2. Tokyo Disneyland (Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture)

Considering how phenomenally popular Disney’s first non-U.S. theme park continues to be, we’re a little surprised it didn’t take the Instagram crown.

1. Tokyo Disney Sea (Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture)

Ah, so that’s why. Despite the name, Disney Sea doesn’t really differentiate itself from Tokyo Disneyland by having a nautical theme, and instead calls inspiration from famous waterways throughout the world. It’s slightly more mature, with a focus more on atmosphere than rides. Restaurants serve alcohol, and the whole place is filled with dramatic views, meaning it attracts more of a late-teen/young adult audience than Disneyland. So while guests of the older park are busy chasing after their kids (or being said kids themselves), visitors to Disney Sea, many of whom are couples, are free to stroll about and snap pictures of their date.

▼ Or of Minnie and Mickey’s

Source: Instagram
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