Hokkaido is a paradise to see earliest fall foliage in Japan, and so is the Tohoku region! Aomori, the northernmost prefecture of the main island of Japan, is an incredible place to hunt for momiji (red leaves). Boasting one of Tohoku’s most popular touristic areas, Aomori is known for its impressive scenery year around.

I love the way it gets decorated with tons of trees that turn astonishing shades in autumn. In higher elevations of the mountains that belong to the prefecture are ablaze with color in late September. As the days pass by, the fall foliage start turning in the lower elevations through early November.

Hirosaki Park and Hirosaki Castle’s Moat in the fall! Photo Credit: ansel.ma at Flickr.

The leaf-peeping spots in Aomori are worth a visit as you are offered to witness the gorgeous fall colors including few places that are historically profound. Besides, when you embark on a fall trip to Aomori, you would also figure out why Tohoku is said to be blessed with eye-catching nature. Today, I take you on a journey showcasing the most popular autumn leaves viewing spots in the prefecture, where the locals like to pay a visit in every fall.

Take a look at the top fall colors spots in the Tohoku region. And learn where and how to experience them.

1) Lake Towada

Lake Towada and the Fall Colors. Photo Credit: かがみ~ at Flickr.

Known for its wonderful crystal clear water, Lake Towada (Towadako) is simply a place of scenic beauty. Except winter, this has to be a place you visit anytime you come to Aomori and surly you will be overwhelmed. Bear in mind, this is the largest caldera lake on the Honshu Island, which is located on the border of Aomori and Akita prefectures.

In autumn, spectacular views of the surrounding scenery of the lake look fabulous and I could spend an entire day discovering the fall colors there. Nobody cares! The lake and the surrounding colored mountains’ slopes can be explored by a sightseeing cruise boat sailing from Yasumiya to Nenokuchi. That’s the sightseeing boat course that I usually enjoy much. Alternatively, you can board the cruise boat that starts and ends in Yasumiya. However, both cruises take about 50 minutes to complete.

To see fall color like this, you have to explore the area of Lake Towada. Photo Credit: ansel.ma at Flickr.

In addition, you can drive your car along the road that leads around the lake with some observation decks to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. This is certainly a must-do thing for you if you are to immerse yourself in the beauty of the fall season.

The best fall foliage colors in Lake Towada can be seen from mid October through late October. Please note that the lake is part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park.

2) Oirase Stream

It looks truly breathtaking, don’t you think so? Photo Credit: Tak H. at Flickr.

A visit to Lake Towada during autumn reveals another picturesque fall foliage spot, known as Oirase Stream, which was created by rocks and sands produced by a volcanic eruption.  It is a beautiful mountain stream that runs through a virgin forest, where nature lovers including hikers gather to admire the gorgeous colors it showcases in the fall.

A beautiful waterfall at Oirase Gorge. Photo Credit: Sek Keung Lo at Flickr.

Oirase River is the only river that overflows from Lake Towada. The stream stretches for a 14-kilometer between Nenokuchi and Yakeyama, and then it flows into the Pacific Ocean. It is easy to hike the entire gorge along the designated hiking trail which is filled with beautiful waterfalls, different shape of rocks, and deciduous trees of different kinds such as white cedar, Japanese maple and beech trees.

Be always careful when you take a walk along the banks of the stream. And you don’t just fade away by the colorful foliage that surrounds you there, instead keep your eyes open on every step you take. The entire journey along the trial has no shortage of lovely areas to take a lot of photographs!

You should take a trip to this mysterious landmark between late October and early November, and that’s the best time to view fall foliage in the area.

3) Hirosaki Park

What a gorgeous color! Photo Credit: ansel.ma at Flickr.

Home to approximately 2,600 cherry trees including hundreds of over 100 years old sakura trees, Hirosaki Park is a fascinating place to experience hanami in Japan. It is without question the best place to see sakura in Aomori prefecture, and the locals are very much proud of what it represents to the world in the spring. Is it worth a visit during autumn? What do you think? I would say, it is worth a visit and if you are looking forward to seeing fall foliage at night, this is where you need to go.

There are plenty of walking trails to explore the park that lead you explore the areas of the Hirosaki Castle, Gokoku Shrine, and Hirosaki Botanical Garden. Hirosaki castle itself is the icon of the city, but the impressive fall foliage it displays all over the park is truly unforgettable, especially the view of the illuminated autumn leaves in the evening. Beautiful reflection of the fall colors in the water of the castle’s fortified moats is a charming thing to experience.

The atmosphere is so tranquil. Photo Credit: ansel.ma at Flickr.

The Hirosaki Castle Chrysanthemum & Autumn Foliage Festival is held at the Hirosaki Castle Botanical Garden and Hirosaki Park. You would see abundance of beautiful Chrysanthemum at the botanical garden along with colorful foliage. Something wonderful hidden gems can be found there; I would not mention them here in this post, just go there and hunt them on your own.

A lot of people like to take a walk in the park as it’s a famous place for morning and evening stroll in Aomori prefecture. You do the same thing like others who enjoy the park’s peaceful nature on foot, and don’t forget cross the iconic red bridge and enjoy a tranquil fall atmosphere to the fullest.

4) Mount Hakkoda

Mt. Hakkoda’s impressive fall colors! Photo Credit: Aomori Tourism Times.

Mount Hakkoda (Hakkōdasan) is one of the top fall foliage viewing spots in the Tohoku region. Probably it is the best one when it comes to experiencing fall colors from a ropeway. You simply make your way to the Hakkoda Ropeway, and experience an exhilarating gondola ride up Mt. Hakkoda. You will be astonished seeing tons of vibrant fall colors all the way up to the top of Mt. Tamoyachidake. The views are amazing there, and you would start thinking of returning back here again in the next year with someone you love and care. Absolute bliss!

From the top of the Mt. Tamoyachidake (gondola takes you there), you can go for a little hike in order to explore surrounding attractions such as the marshland, lakes, shrine, alpine plants, and pond. I also recommend you pay a visit to the areas of Sukayu Onsen and the Jogakura Bridge.

Jogakura Bridge fall foliage. Photo Credit: かがみ~ at Flickr.

Hakkoda Mountain refers a set of volcanic ranges in Aomori, located between Aomori city and Lake Towada. The autumn landscapes that surround the entire area do make you feel as if you are nowhere but traveling to another world, a dream world! In every season the Hakkōdasan is worth a visit, but in the autumn it is truly a breathtaking place to discover.

Mount Hakkoda is also known for its impressive ski slopes with receiving a lot of quality deep dry powder snow every year in winter. So, do you love skiing? Think of Mt. Hakkoda then!

5) Nakano Momiji Yama

Momiji yama during autumn! Photo Credit: APTINET at Flickr.

You would not regret if you pay a visit to this mind-boggling fall color spot in late October. In Aomori, this is certainly one of the must-see fall attractions, located in Kuroishi city, especially for the ones who are hunting for vividly colored Japanese red maple leaves. This place is home to 100 maple trees that were brought from Kyoto and planted in the Edo Period.

From hidden walking trails to variety of deciduous trees including hundreds of year old ancient maple and cedar, there is so much to love about this amazing koyo spot. Standing on the red bridge and listening to sound of the river streams flowing underneath the bridge, is a fantastic way to enjoy the surrounding fall colors.

The red bridge and the colored maple leaves do remind me of a traditional koyo spot of Kyoto. In addition, I do highly encourage you to visit Nakano Shrine. Take in the infinite views of the area from different viewpoints and enjoy a tranquil walk along the trail.

Red maple leaves. Photo Credit: ansel.ma at Flickr.

The night illumination at Nakano Momiji Yama is a scene you often don’t experience. And bear in mind you can’t buy this sort of travel experience. Go there with a plan so that you could see illuminated fall foliage at night.

Do you want to see one more fall foliage spot in Kuroishi? I guarantee your time will not be wasted if you visit Josen-ji temple. You may first explore the temple grounds and then head to Nakano Momiji Yama.

That’s it! Have you ever been to Aomori before? If so then when did that happen? Every year, a lot of visitors come to Aomori in summer to see its greatest summer festival called Aomori Nebuta Matsuri. I don’t know whether you are impressed or not reading and seeing the photographs in this post, but make sure you visit Aomori in autumn at least once in your life. It would be a once in a lifetime travel experience to share even with your grandchildren. Thanks for reading!