Autumn Travel Guide

12 Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Japan

Wondering where to go this fall to see autumn leaves? It’s no secret that Japan boasts some of the most beautiful and iconic fall foliage spots in the world.

The Japan autumn leaves forecast highlights when and where to catch the fall colors at peak across the country. So, don’t you forget to take a look at the forecast before planning a trip to Japan in the fall.

Fall in Japan is sensational. There are many interesting and historic landmarks can be found all over the country that ablaze with colors in this season.

For example, the Nara Park, where tourists can meet hundreds of freely-roaming deer, see spectacular display of fall leaf colors, and experience the historic landmarks like Todaiji Temple and Kofukuji Temple.

Korankei Valley/Gorge, Aichi Prefecture. Photo Credit: gundam2345 at Wikimedia Commons.

Seeing autumn leaves appear is one of the best ways to banish summer heat, and to make the most out of your autumn trip to Japan is to embark on a trip to country’s most notable koyo (leaf-peeping) spots. Each autumn leaves spot that you are going to see in this post can give you an experience of a lifetime.

Along with visiting the famous fall foliage spots throughout the country, you should explore the historic landmarks, and taste the delicious regional foods.

Let’s fall in love with falling leaves at these 12 stunning fall color spots and enjoy the great outdoors.

1. Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido

What a view! Fall colors at Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido. Photo Credit: pakku at Wikimedia Commons.

Famous for being one of the best hiking destinations in Japan, this national park in central Hokkaido is an ideal place to experience Hokkaido’s unspoiled nature.

Every year, this is where the fall foliage first appears in Japan. Hikers who explore the park around mid September through mid October can observe fall colors while hiking along the trails.

This massive park can be divided into various sections. Each part has its own incredible scenery to impress you with. And the area around the Mount Asahi (Asahidake, the tallest mountain in Hokkaido) is pretty awe-inspiring to behold.

In search of unspoiled wilderness in the region, you will have to visit this national park, especially the areas such as Mount Asahi, Ginsendai, Sounkyo, Mount Kurodake, and Kogen onsen.

Sounkyo, a hot spring resort town, located in the north of Daisetsuzan national park is an ideal place to see fall foliage in mid October. If you miss seeing fall colors in late September at Asahidake, make your way to Sounkyo.

The park does not only offer visitors to see Hokkaido’s unspoiled wilderness, instead they can experience a number of activities ranging from the long distance trekking to soaking body in a hot spring bath.

Learn about the Top 10 fall foliage spots in Hokkaido.

Peak colors: Mid September through mid October

2. Lake Towada and Oirase Stream, Aomori

Stunning Fall Colors and Oirase Stream, Aomori Prefecture. Photo Credit: Tak H. at Flickr.

One of the best possible ways to enjoy the fall foliage in Japan is by hiking through designated trails across the country. Thankfully, Aomori prefecture in northern Japan has many scenic walking trails.

The largest caldera lake in the mainland of Japan, Lake Towada is a perfect holiday destination in the Tohoku region to admire fall foliage around late October. On the other hand, the Oirase stream is kind of an attraction, where many hikers go to have a pleasant nature experience.

The lake has a number of viewpoints from where visitors can see its mind-boggling scenery. Alternatively, if you want something unique, then sightseeing cruise on the lake is what you need to have a truly magical experience.

Impressive autumn scenery along the stream is truly awe-inspiring. You will see a lot of plants, rapids, and waterfalls along the trail that starts at Nenoguchi, a small town near Lake Towada.

Please note the water of Lake Towada flows out of the lake and goes all the way through Oirase gorge.

Peak colors: Mid to Late October

Learn about the best places to see autumn foliage in Aomori Prefecture.

3. Nikko, Tochigi

Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall. Photo Credit: Norio Nakayama at Wikimedia Commons.

There is nothing quite like Nikko in autumn! Famous for Toshogu Shrine, Nikko is a small city in Tochigi Prefecture, where a 2-day trip is a highly recommended for tourists to see all the fascinating attractions.

This part of Tochigi is packed with natural beauty from impressive mountains to scenic lake, shrines, temples, waterfalls, and hiking trails.

While central Nikko is famous for its beautiful decorated shrines and temples, Okunikko area is especially well known for its gorgeous fall colors happening every year from early to late October. That’s why travelers to Nikko in autumn are suggested to stay 2 days in the area.

Lake Chuzenji, Irohazaka winding road, Ryuzu waterfall, Kegon waterfall, Yumoto onsen are considered the best spots to see fall foliage in Okunikko area.

With the crystal blue water and Mount Nantai in the background, the Hangetsuyama Observation deck is the ideal place to take your selfie. Without any doubt, your Instragram friends will be jealous.

If you are anticipating a fabulous scenic drive in the area, then drive your car along the Irohazaka winding road. And visiting the waterfalls like Kegon and Ryuzu will be a dramatic experience for sure.

Peak colors: Early to Late October

4. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, Toyama

Shomyo Falls, the highest waterfall in Japan. Photo Credit: Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.

One of the natural wonders in Central Japan is Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route. This spectacular site runs through the Northern Japan Alps connecting Toyama city and Omachi town. Indeed, the route is often regarded one of the best autumn leaves spots in Japan.

Along with marveling at the picturesque mountains peaks of the Hida Mountains, visitors there are offered to do a number of exciting outdoor activities including trekking and hiking at Murodo, and visiting places like the snow wall (Yuki-no-otani), Kurobe dam, Tateyama ropeway, and Shomyo Falls.

With some designated trails, Mudoro, the highest point along route is a paradise for hikers. In order to be impressed by its picture-perfect mountainous landscapes, visitors require a hike to see. The most popular among the trails are the one that takes you to the summit of Mount Tate (Tateyama).

The views up from the summit are amazing that words can’t describe! Everything looks very appealing from there.

The landscape of Mudoro area is rich in biodiversity offering you an opportunity to explore alpine plants and shrubs that ablaze with colors in the fall.

The best time to see autumn colors in Mudoro is in late September, while fall colors around Tateyama ropeway are at their brightest in mid October.

When you are looking for ideas for your next vacation to Japan in early October, prefer coming to Toyama city, then visit Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, and you will ultimately explore the wonders of alpine nature.

Peak colors: Late September through Late October.

5. Arashiyama, Kyoto

A picture-perfect autumn view from the Togetsukyo Bridge. Photo Credit: KimonBerlin at Flickr.

Arashiyama in amazing and often the area is regarded as a place of scenic beauty.

Located on the western outskirts of Kyoto, Arashiyama is a district with many popular attractions including temples and Japanese style gardens.

Nature here is very splendid, and visitors usually fall in love with it once they see how incredible the place could be in the fall and spring!

The area boasts of owning many paths that lead to stunning vistas and historic landmarks. The bamboo grove of Arashiyama is a good example, where travelers and locals alike take a leisurely stroll along its path. This is such a relaxing and peaceful walk that you would like to gladly appreciate!

The main street of Arashiyama is packed with a lot of wonderful landmarks. While walking down the main street you can visit numerous temples such as Tenryu-ji Temple. If you walk further seeing the map, then you will be able to discover other notable temples in the area.

Walk across the Togetsukyo Bridge and marvel at the mountainside forests that offer incredible views of changing colors. Along with experience this glorious landmark, you should pay a visit to Tenryu-ji temple, Jokakkoji temple, and Nisonin temple to enjoy fall foliage.

To make your trip unforgettable and unique, you can take the Sagano Romantic Train run by Sagano Scenic Railway and the Hozugawa River Boat Ride. These two leisurely scenic rides in Arashiyama are ought to give you the endless discoveries of beautiful autumn nature.

Peak colors: Late November through early December

Get some ideas how to spend a day in Arashiyama during autumn.

6. Tofukuji Temple, Kyoto

Tofuku-ji temple’s fall colors in Kyoto. Photo Credit: 663highland at Wikimedia Commons.

Kyoto is arguably one of the best places to see autumn colors in Japan. The area is packed with many oldest temples and shrines including magnificent traditional Japanese gardens of different kinds and museums.

Built in 1236, Tofukuji is one of the most beautiful fall foliage spot in Kyoto. This is said to be the head temple of the Tofukuji School of the Rinzai sect of Buddhism, and considered one of the “Five great Zen temples of Kyoto.”

This incredible landmark showcases many Japanese maple trees featuring beautiful array of colored leaves in the fall. Every time I visited this exclusive koyo spot, I found quite a lively atmosphere.

Seeing fall foliage at the temple complex is not the last thing you want to do, instead there is a big opportunity of making your trip a great adventure by exploring the interesting landmarks like the Sanmon Gate, the Hojo, the Hondo, Zen gardens, the Kaisando and Tsutenkyo Bridge.

The temple gets crowded every autumn. So to avoid the crowd, you are advised to reach the temple in the early morning.

Tofokuji really is as stunning as it looks in the photos! Vibrant fall foliage here at their most intense from mid November through late November. Please note Tofokuji is a-10 minute walk from Tofukuji Station on the JR Nara Line.

Peak colors: Mid November

This itinerary helps you explore most of Kyoto’s best fall colors spots.

7. Rikugien Garden, Tokyo

Rikugien in the fall, Tokyo. Photo Credit: Toshihiro Oimatsu at Wikimedia Commons.

Let’s get to Tokyo now, the capital city of Japan and see what it could offer you in the fall.

Tokyo, the bustling city in the Kanto region has many autumn colors spots, but Rikugien seems to me a quite unique place to admire the foliage. Along with Koishikawa Korakuen, Rikugien is Tokyo’s best Japanese landscape gardens.

Everything there is thoughtfully designed. There is a pond, hill, maple trees, stone bridge, tea house, open lawn, and viewpoints. One of the interesting features that Rikugien has is – visitors can enjoy the fall foliage at night as the trees are illuminated with lights, making it the perfect place to spend the evening.

Please note this exclusive feature is missed at Koishikawa Korakuen garden by tourists and locals alike. That’s one of the big reasons why Rikugien garden is on the list of our top fall colors spots in Japan.

A leisurely walk to this spectacular garden offers big rewards. Here, you won’t just find a perfect space for relaxing, but also some incredible autumn views that other fall foliage spots in Tokyo can’t share with you.

This perfect strolling garden is a 5-10 minute walk south of Komagome Station on the JR Yamanote Line.

Peak colors: Late November through early December.

8. Korankei Valley/Gorge, Aichi

The Taigetsukyo Bridge and beautiful surroundings! Photo Credit: gundam2345 at Wikimedia Commons.

Korankei Valley is considered the best fall colors spot in Aichi Prefecture. The valley offers stunning vividly colored leaves and draws thousands of tourists every year. This place should be on your bucket list, especially when you visit Japan in the fall.

Located in Toyota City, this incredible fall foliage spot is what you can explore when traveling around Nagoya during autumn.

The river that runs through the gorge is called Tomoe. Hundreds of maple trees including some giant ginkgo trees can be found along the river bank of Tomoe and the slopes of Mount Iimori (Iimoriyama).

The views of fall colors from the Taigetsukyo Bridge are spectacular. In search of mind-boggling views of the river as well as the vividly colored slopes of Iimoriyama, a lot of tourists actually walk across the bridge. That’s kind of an experience you will never forget. Believe me guys!

The valley is so vibrant and welcoming that anyone would think of coming back here in the future. Visitors here like walking along the trails of Korankei, and find some awesome viewpoints to enjoy the surrounding autumn vistas.

You can even reach the summit of Mount Iimori. The trail to the top of the mountain is overwhelming as you can find lots of deciduous trees around. Walking trails around the mountain can even take you to the complex of the Kojakuji Temple.

Evening illumination takes place during the Korankei Momiji Matsuri, which is held from early November through late November.

Peak colors: Mid-November

9. Nara Park, Nara

Deer and fall colors at Nara Park. Photo Credit: tonko43 at Flickr.

Every time you visit Nara Park, there is a chance of being a person filled with loving-kindness or so called Metta. This 660 hectares park is loaded with many freely-roaming deer, museums, gardens, famous temples, and maple and ginkgo trees.

Hundreds of deer (the symbol of Nara) roam around the park, making the area so lively and peaceful. Once you are there, you see many visitors feed the deer, and indeed that’s one of the top activities they can experience in the park.

Todaiji Temple, the famous Buddhist temple, is renowned for its 15m high bronze statue of Buddha. The main hall of the temple, the Daibutsuden, is considered the world’s largest wooden building. While heading towards this famous landmark, you will be filled with wonder gazing at many maple trees.

It’s no secret that Isuien garden is one of the important features of Nara Park. It’s small yet a beautiful traditional Japanese garden where people can see some amazing fall colors display.

Another historic landmark in the park is Kasura Taisha, a colorful Shinto shrine. The approaches to Kasuga Taisha shrine are decorated with a line of many giant trees and stone lanterns. This is said the most notable shrine in Nara.

Along with seeing red maple and yellow ginkgo leaves, you should also visit the Nara National Museum. It has a great collection of Japanese Buddhist arts including woodblock prints, paintings, statues, and other artwork.

If you are heading to Kyoto during autumn then I recommend you to visit Nara as a day trip from Kyoto.

Peak colors: Mid November through late November.

10. Koyasan (Mount Koya), Wakayama

Autumn foliage at Koyasan. Photo Credit: 663highland at Wikimedia Commons.

Japan is a land of mountains, and scared temples. And visiting a temple in the Kansai region is a must-do activity, no matter whether it’s in Kyoto, Nara, or Wakayama.

A lot of visitors, who travel to Osaka for a few days, would definitely enjoy a day trip to Koyasan. This sacred place is arguably one of the top fall foliage spots in Japan.

Mount Koya can be visited year-round, but most attractive during autumn. At the time this historic landmark looks very awe-inspiring as hundreds of trees being to change their colors upon arrival of fall.

Located in the Koya-Ryujin Quasi-National Park and Founded by famous monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi) in 816 AD, Koyasan is a sacred Shingon Buddhist temple complex, in which history, culture, and nature are blended in one spot.

With impressive walking trails, maple trees, giant cider trees, temples, statues, it’s easy to fall in love with this place.

There are many interesting places can be found throughout Koyasan such the Kongobuji temple (the head temple of Shingon Buddhism), Okunoin, Tokugawa Mausoleum, Danjo Garan, Chumon, Miedo, Koyasan Reihokan Museum and so on. Take your time to visit each of these hidden treasures.

A visit to Koyasan will not be fruitful if you are not in the mood for a walk. In fact, most visitors have to explore the area on foot; otherwise you won’t be able to discover the precious things it showcases throughout its spacious grounds that obviously also include the fall colors!

The cable car ride between Gokurakubashi and Koyasan stations is fun, especially when your eyes could marvel at those vibrant fall colors all the way up to the mountain.

In 2004, Koyasan alongside Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Peak colors: Late October through mid November.

11. Fujigoko (Fuji Five Lakes)

Impressive fall colors, Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji in the background. Photo Credit: Alpsdake at Wikimedia Commons.

Want to experience stunning views of the iconic Mount Fuji, which is framed by stunning autumn colors? Hakone is not an ideal place for it, but Fujigoko or so called Fuji Five Lakes region.

Located in the northern base of Mount Fuji, this popular touristic region offers a number of koyo spots such as the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko, the Chureito Pagoda, the Maple Corridor, Yuyake no Nagisa Park and the Koyodai Observation Deck.

The region hosts an enchanting fall foliage festival known as The Fuji-Kawaguchiko momiji matsuri, held every year from early November through late November.

Every evening during the festival, the Maple Corridor, located near the Kubota Itchku Museum, is lit up gorgeously, making the site pretty overwhelming to behold.

You can visit Oishi Park to see impressive red kokia bushes. Those red bushes often remind me of Hitachi Seaside Park. Both Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko look breathtaking from different viewpoints of the park.

Each area in Fujigoko is considered perfect to photograph Mount Fuji. If you are a professional photographer, and looking for another spot to take great picture of Mount Fuji, then pay a visit to Yamanakako Panorama Dai.

Peak colors: Late October through mid November.

12. Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa

Autumn leaves and the iconic Kotoji Stone Lantern at Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa. Photo Credit: bryan

Built by the Maeda clan, Kenrokuen was a private garden for many years, and opened to public in 1871. It is one of the “Three Great Gardens of Japan” along with Kairakuen and Korakuen.

These are defiantly the most beautiful and authentic Japanese gardens with featuring mind-blowing garden’s elements, and seasonal beauty throughout the year.

If you have never ever visited any of these beautiful Japanese gardens, be sure to explore at least one on your next voyage to the land of the rising sun. Will it be Kenrokuen that you want to discover this autumn?

Many tourists have visited this thoughtfully designed Japanese landscape garden over the years, and a year-round attraction like this never disappoints them!

Fall is one of the best times to visit this beautiful garden because leaves are colorful, and highlights a new look that is very different than what you see in the spring, summer, and winter. Everyone likes to take a walk in the garden during autumn as they all expect to see the fall colors.

There are pine trees along with many maple and cherry trees. Pines are evergreen trees, and they don’t change their colors in the fall.

Viewing a scene snow falling on these evergreen trees is majestic during the winter months, though branches of these trees are protected by yukizuri in order to prevent damage caused by heavy snowfall.

Even though fall color is visible once you enter the garden, you still have to find the best spot to admire autumn beauty.

Head over to Yamazakiyama area, where maple leaves look pretty spectacular. When you take a stroll around the Kasumi pond, you will also witness some maple trees, and the iconic stone lantern named Kotojitōrō.

Peak colors: Mid November through late November.

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