Leaf peeping trip to Tohoku this autumn season would be a great holiday idea for you. In fact Tohoku is seen to be one of the perfect autumn holiday destinations in Japan. The region is well known for its picturesque landscapes of four seasons. Though, the most significant part of fall season is watching the leaves turn bright hues of crimson, gold and orange. Nature is blessed with colored leaves of this time of year. If you are anxiously awaiting the stunning reds, gold, oranges, and yellows of fall then make sure you know the places that are famous to see fall foliage in Tohoku region.
I am a fall foliage fanatic, are you? I assume you are or you would be. The breathtaking views of fall foliage here would overwhelm you. It is guaranteed! I would like to feature only the top 10 autumn leaves viewing spots that are famous and worth a visit during the fall season. They spread throughout the prefectures inside Tohoku region. Picturesque landscapes of glorious foliage, local delicacies, hot spring resorts, accommodation, transportation, and friendly local residences would surly make you have an unforgettable fall foliage trip to Tohoku.
If you are looking for a Tohoku travel guide then please get this guide right away.
1) Mount Hakkoda
Mt. Hakkoda (Hakkōdasan) is located in central Aomori. Each year, Tohoku’s fall foliage season first begins here as it appears around late September at the summit of Mt. Hakkoda. Then it moves to the lower elevations. The peak season for autumn leaves is mid-October. Therefore anyone who is a fall foliage fanatic must arrive there before end of mid-October. Start your leave changing colors season in Tohoku from here.
Even though Mt. Hakkoda is popular winter holiday destination for its huge amounts of powdery snow that creates a perfect heaven for winter sports lovers, I request you to experience its fall colors. It’s just outstanding and unforgettable. You can experience it by Hakkoda Ropeway (about 10-12 minutes ride). Mountain’s slopes get colored by Mother Nature’s fall foliage display. Beautiful colors display of red, yellow and orange would surprise you as you experience it from the Gondola taking you to upper ropeway station. To do so just hop in the gondola and that’s it. Enjoy the whole trip seeing the breathtaking fall foliage from the ropeway.
In addition, you can take a short hiking course that starts from the famous Sukayu Onsen. It lets you explore its surrounding fall colors nature as well as offer you a great opportunity for relaxing at one of the hot spring baths. What’s next? Head to the Jogakura Bridge (located near Sukayu Onsen) and from here view spectacular colors that cover the surrounding mountain’s slopes. Also you should go to Tsuta Numa Lake that is surrounded by a deep beech forest and see the impressive fall foliage display there.
Everyone has their favorite spot for viewing autumn foliage in Japan. For visitors from outside the Tohoku region, Hachimantai is a perfect place to experience a real Japanese countryside with many mountains slopes, pond, winding road, hot springs, rolling marshlands, active hell valleys, and walking trails. It is a mountainous region, about 1,400-1,600 meters above sea level, located in northern Akita and Iwate prefectures. When is the best time to come? Arrive here in mid-October and experience a remote area filled with fall colors.
In Hachimantai, there are several distinct spots which are gorgeous in fall that I tell you to discover, they are: National Route 341, Mount Hachimantai, Onuma Pond, Goshogake Onsen, Hachimantai Aspite Line, Tamagawa Onsen area, Matsukawa Gorge and Nyuto Onsen. Vividly colored autumn leaves around the Onuma Pond is absolutely brilliant. You can experience it sitting on the banks of the Onuma Pond. There is a lovely walking trail at Goshogake Onsen through which you can experience the volcanic activity and nearby colored landscapes.
The Tamagawa Onsen valley is pretty unique when autumn rolls in. I especially like sitting on the rocks there and spend hours watching fall colors of surrounding valleys. The road that takes you to this onsen is also breathtaking. Please, don’t leave Hachimantai without visiting it as I believe it is one of the top places to visit during the fall season.
3) Lake Towada (Towada-ko)
Lake Towada is a largest deep blue crystal clear water caldera lake on Honshu Island, located in central Aomori prefecture and part of Towada-Hachimantai National Park. It is said to be the third deepest lake in Japan with a depth of 327 meters. Mysterious beauty of colors can be experienced in the fall season. Visitors don’t come here only to see fall colors here; instead they enjoy the fall foliage by cruising, hiking, and tracking. The sightseeing boats depart from Yasumiya and take you to Nenokuchi at the entrance to the Oirase Mountain Stream. Cruising time is approximately 50 minutes. It is almost an hour of boat journey!
There are some viewpoints along the lakeshore to see the beauty of Lake Towada but exploring it from a boat journey is exceptional. Apart from all these you can visit the Towada Shrine, the bronze statue of two maidens Tohoku women (created by an artist called Takamura Kotaro), and walk along the walking trails to see surrounding forests painted in red, yellow and orange colors.
4) Oirase Stream
If you are going to visit Lake Towada then visiting Oirase Stream is a must thing to do and see, especially during the fall season. Deciduous trees (maple and beech) along the oirase stream are in blazing bloom. One interesting fact about Oirase stream is that this is the only outlet draining Lake Towada. Here, I like hiking along the hiking trails in the fall than summer season. The sounds of stream and vibrant fall colors make me think of a never ending hike journey. I absolutely love the surrounding colored landscapes there! In fact, to discover the most scenic beauty of autumn foliage there you have got to take a hiking course there. You would surly like and enjoy it much.
The trail starts at Nenokuchi and ends at Ishigedo. It is about 9 kilometers long and takes about 2.5 hours to walk one way. There is a busy road alongside the Oirase stream. Anyone can experience beautiful scenic views of the stream and fall colors from the running buses and cars. It is absolutely breathtaking when you decide to hike. I think it is a paradise for both amateur and professional photographers who are looking for a perfect place for capturing beautiful autumn leaves photographs. I met with some photographers there who were quite busy with their camera!
5) Kakunodate Samurai District
I mostly visit Kakunodate in spring and autumn season. I do like seeing tons of weeping cherry blossoms in spring and colored autumn leaves in the fall at Kakunodate Samurai District. Kakunodate is a former castle town in which there are old samurai houses along the street. If you want to get back to the Edo Period (1603 – 1867) then head to this castle town and I am sure you would enjoy every second you stay there. Houses, gates and black walls of the old samurai houses look pretty stunning as fall foliage appears there.
This is a the real historic place in Akita where you have a great chance of experiencing a lovely autumn day viewing colorful autumn leaves and the samurai residences. You even could enter one of the samurai residences there and explore the history. Along with visiting the houses, you can visit Omura Museum and Denshokan Museum. There is a simple travel tip I want you to follow – please, walk and roam around the samurai district area and this would lead you to experience the utmost beauty of autumn colors in Kakunodate. If you are interested in visiting this historic place during Koyo season then visit it from late October to mid November.
6) Naruko Gorge
Naruko Gorge is one of the best autumn leaves viewing spots in the Tohoku region. It is located in north-western Miyagi prefecture. It is a lovely scenic gorge in Tohoku which is about 100m deep with a total length of 2.5km. You can view brightly colored fall foliage around the gorge which seems to me unique, spectacular and breathtaking. Ofukazawa Bridge over the Naruko Gorge looks absolutely marvelous when surrounding trees display their hidden autumn beauty. The gorge gets crowded with many visitors in fall usually from late-October to early-November.
There is a nice observation deck, located next to the Narukokyo Resthouse. It was built for visitor to enjoy the view of Ofukazawa Bridge and colored autumn leaves around it. If you don’t bother walking then you should take a leisurely stroll along the Naruko Gorge walking trail down to the bottom of the gorge. This leads you to experience the actual autumn nature that you expect to view in fall. Don’t leave Naruko without buying Naruko kokeshi dolls. They are super cute and best one of the best souvenirs you buy in Tohoku.
7) Lake Tawaza
What is the deepest lake in Japan? That’s “Lake Tawaza” (Tawaza-ko in Japanese) with a depth of 423.4 meters, and is part of Towada-Hachimantai National Park, located near the center of eastern region of Akita prefecture. It is quite similar to Lake Towada though except having the option of cruising there are many row-boats, rental bicycles, and pedal-boats. You can take a row boat and enjoy the scenic beauty that lake Tawaza offers you during autumn season.
The reflection of autumn leaves on the surface of the lake is truly magnificent. Breathtaking fall colors can be seen around the lake. You can take a scenic bus trip to discover the surrounding attractions of the lake including the deciduous forests on the shoreline that turn to red, yellow, organ. The leaves start turning colors in this area typically around mid-October and peaking around early November.
8) Dakigaeri Gorge
I like hiking and it is in my blood. I have so many hiking experiences. Sometimes I was alone, other times I had friends with me. My favorite hiking trails are located throughout Hokkaido and Tohoku regions. One of the best hiking spots during autumn is certainly the Dakigaeri Gorge. It is a wonderful place for hunting momijigari (viewing red leaves). It is located Akita prefecture and one of the top autumn foliage viewing spots in Akita.
Beautiful blue mountain stream, colored leaves and path make the place quite famous which is even visited in the summer months by many hikers. It features picturesque large and small waterfalls, bridge including the gorgeous fall foliage of the virgin forests. You can take a taxi from Kakunodate Station and reach to Dakigaeri Gorge. This is a ride about 12-15 minutes. The peak season for viewing autumn colors here is from mid-October to early November.
9) Mogami Gorge
Want to have a nice boat journey in the Mogami River during autumn? If you say “YES” then your decision is 100% right. The famous Mogami Gorge is there to offer you a pleasant boat journey at the same time you can experience brightly colored fall foliage. I love the scenic beauty of this river gorge when autumn rolls in. I think it is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of Yamagata prefecture in Tohoku.
The gorge is surrounded by mountains by both sides of the river. The colors actually start turning super bright in late-October. The Mogami Gorge Basho Line Tour takes you to a journey of a beautiful colored world. The boats ride down the river on the Mogami gorge. On the way, you can see picturesque mountains covered with fall foliage including majestic waterfalls beauty. The downstream boat platform is only 6-8 minutes away from JR Rikuu West Line Furukuchi Station.
10) Urubandai (Bandai Highlands)
Here comes the last one which I believe is one of the best autumn leaves spots not only in Tohoku but in Japan as well. It is Urubandai or so called Bandai Highlands! It lies in the northern part of Fukushima Prefecture and is part of Bandai-Asahi National Park. The area consists of beautiful lakes and ponds, winding roads, walking trails, mountains, gorge, and forests. From early to late October is seen to be the best time to view autumn leaves in Urubandai.
The blue colored ponds along the Goshikinuma Walk look pretty gorgeous as the leaves change their colors to red, orange and yellow. Here, red maple’s leaves dominate most of the area in fall. Scenic driving along the Bandai-Azuma Lake line and Bandai-Azuma Skyline is absolutely mind-blowing. Especially, I like driving along the Bandai-Azuma Lake Line, in which panoramic views of surrounding mountain slopes and fall foliage can be experienced. Also there is a scenic gorge called Nakatsugawa Gorge along the Bandai-Azuma Lake Like. It is beautiful and perfect spot for trekking.
I just have featured the top 10 fall foliage spots in Tohoku region. In fact there are more spots except these ones. I think these 10 places would reveal why Tohoku is said to be a perfect place for hunting momijigari. Please before heading toward these spots, make sure you check out the autumn leaves forecast in Japan first. It could be rainy on the day you visit there so be prepare yourself to handle such a bad weather. Thank you.
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis