Autumn Central Japan

Autumn Leaves in Takayama | Visit Gifu

Autumn is a great time to explore Takayama. It is a small city located in the heart of Hida Mountains in Gifu Prefecture. Takayama (Hida-Takayama) is a popular tourist attraction in central Japan, where you want to come back in each season.

It is because the city itself is stunning and has a lot to offer. Besides, you can take a day trip from Takayama to hike among the various mountains of the Japanese Alps, such as the famous Kamikochi and Mt. Norikura.

If you want to see beautiful fall foliage in central Japan, Takayama is perhaps among best in the area since there are many places to explore in search of picturesque autumn landscape.

The city is famous for its Takayama Matsuri, held twice a year, in spring and autumn. This festival is considered Japan’s three most beautiful festivals alongside Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri and the Chichibu Yomatsuri.

The old town of Takayama is also a big reason to visit the city. So start packing your things to see the old town’s beautifully preserved streets and buildings and of course the autumn leaves in and around Takayama city.

What is the best time to see fall foliage in Takayama?

The entrance of the Hie Shrine, Takayama.

The best time for autumn leaves in Takayama is between late-October and mid-November. Note that the colors begin to change around early October.

According to locals, early-November is said to be the perfect time to visit Takayama city to admire the fall colors. Indeed, the time is all about viewing the warm orange, bright yellow and red leaves!

Hiking is a great option for enjoying the fall colors in the area when the trees are at their peak. At this time you can take as many as photos of the autumn foliage you want and enjoy the great outdoors.

The Higashiyama walking course is a popular hiking trail of the area. This 3.5km walking course highlights the Higashiyama Temple Area with many temples and shrines along the way, Castle Ruins, and Shiroyama Park.

Autumn Leaves Spots in Takayama

Are you wondering about places to go in Takayama in autumn to see the foliage? Here is the list of the places one must explore in the city to have an amazing autumn trip.

1. Hida Folk Village (Hida no Sato)

Hida no sato in early autumn. Photo Credit: HIDA-TAKAYAMA.

A visit to a museum in Japan means learning the country’s regional history, culture, traditions and so much more. When it comes to an open air museum in Japan, I particularly feel so much joy in my mind for several reasons.

Hida Folk Village is an open air museum that recreates a traditional Japanese mountain village and lifestyle. It exhibit over 30 traditional houses from the Hida region, including traditional steep thatched-roof farmhouses made in the gassho-zukuri style.

Moreover, you will also see well-preserved residences, storehouses and logging huts. Visit the exhibited houses and see the unique wooden architecture and the various things used by locals in everyday life in the past.

You are advised to watch the demonstration and activities of artisans working on traditional arts and crafts in several buildings, such as straw crafts, wood carving, weaving & dyeing, and making lacquerwork.

The scenery of the surroundings here transformed into a magical world when trees start changing their colors upon arrival of autumn. What it offers in autumn will never disappoint you as you will be blessed with stunning scenery.

 The pond (Goami), traditional village houses, the trees on the ground of the museum and the tress in the mountain create a picture-perfect landscape that anyone would love to gaze at and say wow.

Hida Folk Village is a 30-minute walk from Takayama Station. Alternatively, you can take a Sarubobo bus from the station (10 minutes ride) to reach the museum.  

2. Hie Shrine

Impressive autumn leaves at Hie Shrine. Photo Credit: Takayama Green Hotel.

The Takayama Festival (held in the spring), is the festival of Hie Shrine. If you are looking to visit a calm and relaxing spot in the city, think of exploring Hie Shrine. It is a holy place and autumn scenery here is breathtaking!

In fact, this is not the only place to go for tranquility; there are some other spots on the list. You will find them out here in this post later.

Host of the famous Takayama Spring Festival, Hie Shrine in autumn offers stunning views of autumn leaves. It is located in the southern part of Takayama city and is surrounded by giant tall cedar trees alongside many deciduous trees, such as maple and ginkgo.  

Some of those cedar trees are believed to be over 1000 years old.

Take a walk up along the path that leads to the main shrine grounds and get impressed by the colorful foliage and traditional stone lanterns.

There is so much to love about autumn, and the changing of leaves at the shrine is one of the spectacular things you will ever witness. Not many tourists are familiar with this site, so next time you come to Takayama in October, pay a visit to the shrine. You will be amazed!

The city of Takayama is blessed with many temples and shrines. It is highly recommended to take a walk from Takayama Station to the shrine (less than 25 minutes on foot) as it will reveal the life of locals and the beautiful outdoors.

4. Shiroyama Park

The fall foliage in Shiroyama Park is very vibrant! Photo Credit: HIDA-TAKAYAMA.

In search of more great views of colorful leaves in Takayama, I suggest you to visit Shiroyama Park. It is situated on the grounds of Takayama Castle ruins. You can see the park while walking across the iconic Nakabashi Bridge

This is the largest park in Takayama city. The best time to see the foliage here is between mid October and early November.

This park is a perfect place to enjoy leisurely walk in Takayama. Many of the trees that are scattered throughout the park change color during the autumn, creating a tranquil atmosphere to take a peaceful stroll. 

Shiroyama Park offers delightful views not only in autumn but in summer as well. Locals there love to go there with their little ones as there is a children playground.

Don’t forget to take a look at the statue of Kanamori Nagachika, a famous Japanese samurai who once served as the ruler of Takayama castle.

4. Hida Kokubunji Temple

The big ginkgo tree at Hida Kokubunji. Photo Credit: HIDA-TAKAYAMA.

Located a 5-mintue walk from Takayama Station, Hida Kokubunji Temple is famous for its giant ginkgo tree. It is 28 meters high. No doubt it is the symbol of this ancient temple.

This is arguably the closest tourist attraction from Takayama Station on foot, which is worth a visit in the fall.

The temple was built in 746 by the Emperor Shomu. It has an iconic three-story pagoda along with the main temple building.

The pagoda itself looks stunning when the ginkgo tree leaves change color from green to golden-yellow upon arrival of each autumn. It is said that the lone ginkgo tree is over 1,250 years old and is designated as a national treasure.

Visit the temple in mid-November and see the mighty ginkgo trees covered with yellow leaves. Gaze at the tree and the fallen leaves on the grounds while enjoying the chilly fall weather out there.

Admission: 300 Japanese yen per adult and 250 yen per elementary or junior high school student.

5. The Higashiyama Walking Course

You will see gorgeous fall colors like in this photo while walking along the Higashiyama Walking Course. Photo Credit: Takayama City.

The places surrounding the Japanese Alps boast beautiful nature and wildlife with lots of interesting landmarks including designated hiking trails, especially those found in Kamikochi, Karasawa, Mt. Norikura, Hotaka and Murodo.

Compared to those the Higashiyama walking course is pretty simple and easy to hike, yet this walking trail would blow your mind as you would expect to see gorgeous fall colors, temples and shrines along the trail.

The scenic walking trail starts from Ryuunji Temple and ends in Shiroyama Park. It was established by Nagachika Kanamori, once the ruler of Takayama.

This 3.5 kilometer long course takes you on a journey through some of the best views that the city has to offer you in autumn.

In addition, this walking course highlights traditional Japanese gardens, a large Buddhist bell, unique Japanese architectures, Japanese cemetery, torii gates, and tons of maple trees and other plants on the grounds.

Among the temples in the area, the Tenshoji temple displays absolutely breathtaking view of the changing foliage. The temple area is filled with more autumn shades than you might have imagined existed.

Note that you will have to walk through some steep hills and stairs along the trail. So wear a good pair of hiking shoes.

Day trips from Takayama in Autumn

Autumn in Kamikochi, Takayama. Photo Credit: mendhak at Flickr.

Many tourists prefer taking a day trip from Takayama to some popular destinations of the Northern Japan Alps, especially those who want to explore the areas by going on a hike.

Whether you’re a novice, moderate or professional hiker, there is a hiking trial that is right for your hiking level.

The Northern Japan Alps is an amazing place for hikers to test their hiking levels. Fall is one of their favorite seasons to go on a hike. If you are interested in hiking and want to explore unspoiled nature of the Japanese Alps, you must visit Kamikochi, Mount Norikura, The Shinhotaka Ropeway, and Karasawa cirque.

Autumn foliage and Shinhotaka Ropeway. Photo Credit: okuhi kankou kaihatu Co.,Ltd.

These places are famous to see high elevation autumn colors in the Japanese Alps. The best time to visit them is in early October.

In addition, you can visit Shirakawa-go, (a World Heritage site) from Takayama by bus, where you will see well preserved gassho-zukuri farmhouses. The Shiroyama viewpoint (an observatory) provides fantastic view of Ogimachi, the largest village of Shirakawa-go) and its farmhouses.

There you can see autumn leaves illuminations in early November.

Hirayu Onsen is a popular onsen town in Okuhida region filled with hot springs and many ryokan. Staying an overnight at one of the ryokan is highly recommended.

Check here to see a number of sightseeing tour routes by bus from Takayama Bus Terminal.

Are you inspired?

When autumn arrives, the temperatures drop, the days become shorter, leaves change from green to vibrant yellow and red. Some of you who are thinking of visiting Japan for its autumn leaves season may prefer exploring sites like those found in Takayama city.

Your trip would be unforgettable there if you visit the above mentioned places in autumn. These places are great to spend a few days exploring and taking in the stunning sights of the season in the city.

Prefer booking your stay in a hotel that is located nearby JR Takayama Station. You can stay in these hotels in Takayama, they are as follows:

1. Residence Hotel Takayama Station
2. Century Hotel Takayama
3. Super Hotel Hida Takayama
4. Oyado Koto No Yume (this offers Japanese-style rooms with hot-spring bath)
5. Takayama Green Hotel

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