Autumn Tohoku Travel Guide

7 Best Places to see Autumn Leaves in Akita

Autumn is a beautiful season to see the fall foliage all across Japan. Looking for autumn leaves in Northern Japan? Go to Akita Prefecture! The trees in the prefecture will be bursting with flaming shades of red and orange from Mid-October through Early-November.

Every season in Japan has something special to offer. In the spring, there are cherry blossoms and, in the summer, you can find fields of colorful flowers. In the fall, Japan’s many wonderful trees change their leaf colors as the weather turns cold. Viewing these leaves is a long tradition in Japan, dating back to early in the country’s long history. It is a time of year that has been enshrined in the culture, poetry, and art of the country for a very long time.

Autumn leaf viewing is called momigari (red leaf hunting). It’s a special and poetic time of year. You can enjoy tempura maple leaves and maple-shaped cakes as you take in the fall leaves and enjoy the cooler weather. The sight of Japanese maples, gingkoes, and more with bright, fiery-colored leaves is a treat that makes even a day trip to go red leaf hunting well worth it.

Akita has a lot of great places to view fall foliage. This prefecture is found in the northwestern part of the largest island of Japan, Honshu, and is famous for its great seafood thanks to its profitable fishing industry in the Sea of Japan. Akita has its own unique culture and exploring it during the fall foliage season is great opportunity.

Here are seven of the top fall foliage spots in Akita:

1) Dakigaeri Gorge

Such a beautiful sight! of Dakigaeri Gorge. Photo Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization.

This beautiful natural area is beautiful any time of year, but in the fall, the trees lining the gorge turn all kinds of shades of red.

The name “Dakigaeri” means “to embrace someone and turn around” and refers to how the pass through the gorge was one so narrow that travelers had to embrace to get through.

In the fall, the gorge hosts the Dakigaeri Autumn Leaves Festival, which features tea ceremonies and traditional entertainment. There is a 1.5-kilometer trail along the stream. This is an easy 30-minute walk.

The autumn leaves in the area are at their best from mid-October to mid-December. You’ll need to drive to Dakigaeri Gorge. It only takes 15 minutes from JR Kakunodate Station or 5 minutes from JR Jindai Station.

2) Lake Tazawa

Lake Tazawa in fall. Photo Credit: Akita Semboku City.

This cobalt-blue lake has been named as one of 100 best locations in Japan and the title is rightfully earned. The water is so clear that you can watch fish swimming in it.

It is one of the deepest lakes in Japan and hosts many different water activities, including boating, kayaking, and more.

In the fall, the foliage around the lake changes color. While the cooler temperature means that some of the activities on the lake are not available, it is still pleasant to go on a boat ride or take a hike along the shore.

You can take a bus 15 minutes to Lake Tazawa from JR Tazawako Station or 40 minutes by bus from JR Kakunodate Station.

3) Kakunodate Samurai District

Street of Kakunodate Samurai District. Photo Credit: Tazawako Kakunodate Tourism Association.

Known as the “Little Kyoto of Tohoku”, this scenic historic area centers around Kakunodate Castle.

A visit here is a glimpse back in time, as most of the buildings are open to the public to teach about historical samurai life. You can even rent a kimono to feel like a part of the area.

There are many trees lining the streets and in the fall, they change color, turning the whole area into a beautiful sight.

There is something magical about seeing historical courtyard surrounded by fall trees and blanketed in fallen leaves. Kakunodate can be reached walking 15 to 20minutes from JR Kakunodate station.

4) Yasu-no-Taki

Fall colors and Yasu-no-Taki! Photo Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization.

This is one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan and is located near Kitaakita City. The waterfalls extend 90 meters, down two levels, one a 60-meter drop and a 30-meter drop.

Looking up from the base can make you feel like the sky is flooding. The falls are surrounded by foliage, and in fall it turns spectacular shades of red and gold.

The parking lot near the falls is a 30-minute drive or 45-minute walk from Animatagi Station. You should wear sturdy shoes, as the falls are down a steep trail.

5) Oyasukyo Gorge

This autumn scenery of Oyasukyo Gorge is truly breathtaking. Photo Credit: Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization.

This incredible trail leads you through an ancient gorge. The highlight of the area is Oyasukyo Daifunto, a place where 98-degree hot spring waters gush out of the crevices in the cliff face, shrouding the area in steam.

These same waters feed the Oyasukyo Onsen, an open-air hot spring bath. You can relax here and enjoy the fall foliage that surrounds the area in the fall. There are plenty of facilities nearby that cater to tourists, both overnight and day-trippers.

Oyasukyo Gorge is a 60-minute trip by bus from Yuzawa Station on JR Ouu Main Line or a 40-minute trip by car from Yuzawa IC on Yuzawa-Yokote Road via National Route 398.

6) Mount Moriyoshi

Mount Moriyoshi Gondola. Photo Credit: Akita Inu Tourism.

The 3 kilometer, 1, 454-meter tall caldera of Mount Moriyoshi is a sight to see in every season.

In fall, the many trees on the mountain shift from green to blazing red and yellow. You can take one of several trails of varying length and difficulty to explore the mountainside.

You can also take a gondola up to get a bird’s-eye view of the Mount Moriyoshi’s fall foliage. There is a small fee for this trip and it lasts 15 minutes.

Visitors can reach Mount Moriyoshi by taking a taxi from Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway’s Aniai Station.

7) Nyuto Onsenkyo

Tsurunoyu, an oldest hot spring of Nyuto Onsen. Photo Credit: TOHOKU × TOKYO.

This spa resort village is a world away from the busy life found in much of modern Japan. Surrounded by lush trees, there are seven hot springs to visit.

The oldest ryokan onsen of Nyuto Onsen is Tsurunoyu. The fall colors make it a wonderful visit in the autumn months. Enjoy bathing in hot springs and staying one of the many inns in the village.

Even if you are just there for a short day trip, you can still enjoy the hot springs while you are in the area during certain hours. There are both mixed-gender and single-gender areas at most of the onsen.

You can reach Nyuto Onsenkyo by a 30-minute bus ride from Tazawako Station.

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