Autumn leaves in Japan 2019
Autumn in Japan is a spectacular sight. Trees lining the streets burst into brilliant shades of red and yellow, and for the Singaporean tourist, it’s a world’s difference from the green canopies back home.
Compared to the sakura season, Autumn unfolds at a much more leisurely pace, typically between September to December. But even then, carefully-planned timings and itineraries are crucial if you’re to catch the foliage at its most vibrant peak. To help you out, here’s a guide for some of the best Autumn leaf spots in Japan for 2019.
For other guides and itineraries for Japan, see here:
1. Hokkaido – late September to late October
With Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture in Japan, Autumn will make landfall the earliest out of every prefecture in Japan.
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No Autumn-chasing trip is complete without a hike through Daisetsuzan National Park. A walk amidst unspoiled nature is refreshing enough, but swing by this October and you’ll be greeted by a wide blanket of bright orange trees.
Image credit: @japandrivecom
Alternatively, you can drive to Mikuni Pass instead. It’s the highest altitude pass in Hokkaido’s national highway with a height of 1,139 metres above sea level. Stop by the Mikuni Pass Observation Deck, and you can soak in the stunning view fall foliage from above.
Also recommended: Sounkyo, Hokkaido University, Nakajima Park
Check out our Hokkaido/Sapporo-related articles here:
2. Aomori – early October to early November
Aomori’s home to the country’s most stunning scenery, and coupled with the Autumn colours, you’ll be in for a treat.
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Tourists go camera trigger-happy at Lake Towada for good reason – its crystal clear waters and rolling hills in the distance make for one pretty shot. Between mid and late October, the surrounding trees burst into colour, which just amplifies the beauty of the place.
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Head further into the trees, and you’ll come across the Oirase Stream. It’s a mountain stream that stems from Lake Towada, and in the Autumn, you can admire the beautiful yellow and orange trees lining the rocky brook.
Also recommended: Mount Hakkoda, Nakano Momiji Yama
3. Nikko – early October to early November
Nestled within the Tochigi prefecture lies the idyllic, mountainous city of Nikko. It’s known for its serene vibes, incredible sights and Autumn scenery located just 2 hours north of Tokyo, which makes it a hit amongst those yearning to escape the busy metropolis.
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One of the most iconic attractions in this city is Lake Chuzenji. You can get up close to the bright maple trees with a walk around this mountain lake – it‘s a 25KM trail of hills and forests that will take you around 3 hours to complete.
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If you’re not up for a walk, head up to the Akechidaira Plateau and take the cable car across the ropeway. A round trip ticket costs just ¥730 (~$8.96) per person, which is well worth it given the views you’re going to get. Apart from the red-tinged mountains all around, you can also spot Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls in the distance.
Read our article on Nikko here.
Also recommended: Senjogahara Marshland, Shoyoen Garden, Ryuzu Falls.
4. Hiroshima – late October to mid November
Hiroshima’s a place teeming with history and stories, but apart from that, it also boasts multiple sightseeing spots that become great places for tourists to view the rich fall foliage.
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The scenery surrounding Buttsuji makes it a hot favourite for locals and tourists alike to drop by during Autumn. It’s a temple that hosts one of the Zen Buddhist training halls in Japan, and for a fee of ¥300 (~$3.85) you can enter and enjoy the sights through the trails covered in soft orange petals.
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Alternatively, pay Momijidani Park a visit. It sits at the foot of Misen Primeval Forest on Miyajima, populated by 700 maple trees that paint the scenery with incredible shades of pinkish reds and yellow.
Also recommended: Taishakukyo Valley, Shukkeien Garden, Kosanji Temple
Check this article out for a list of things to do in Hiroshima.
5. Nagoya – throughout November
Besides being the centre of the Japanese car industry, Nagoya is also a hot spot for those hunting down the best Autumn-viewing spots in Japan. For the entire month of November, watch as it becomes lit ablaze by blankets of vermillion and orange.
Image credit: Garry Norris Photography
One of the most highly-raved Autumn-viewing spots in Aichi has got to be Korankei Valley, which you’ll find after a 1-hour drive from Nagoya. A typical day will grant you incredible views of the valley and the mountains, while this gorge will be illuminated by stunning shades of red and orange in Autumn.
Image credit: @loook_jan
In Nagoya, head over to Tokugawa Garden for a serene walk through its premises. You’ll get to feast your eyes on the vividly-coloured maple and spindle trees as you cross over bridges and traverse over the walking trails.
Also recommended: Mount Horaiji, Jakkoin Temple, Momotaro Shrine
6. Yamanashi – throughout November
The Yamanashi prefecture is known for being the home of Mount Fuji. However, beyond that, it also possesses 2 major spots for Autumn-leaves viewing, which can all be found near Lake Kawaguchi.
Image credit: @toi.03
Take a walk down the Momoji Corridor at Lake Kawaguchi to admire a pop of colour. The word “momoji” means red leaves, which is aptly named given that the entire alley is covered with a pretty red layer all the way down.
Image credit: @lenniee_n
The sight of Mount Fuji towering over Lake Kawaguchi is one you’re familiar with. You can find this particular view at Momiji Tunnel, which, in Autumn, will be brightened by blazing red maples.
Check this out if you’re looking for nearby accommodation.
7. Fukushima – throughout November
The prefecture of Fukushima is famous for the abundance of old-town buildings, lakes, and hills. In Autumn, these sightseeing spots will come to life with the beautiful orange maples bursting into bloom.
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The Bandai Azuma Skyline’s known as one of the most scenic roads in Japan – and for good reason. It’s situated 1,350 metres over sea level, where you’ll be treated with a panoramic view of rolling hills and forests bathed in Autumn hues stretching all the way out into the distance.
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The name “Goshikinuma” means “five coloured ponds”, and true to its name, all five ponds in this place each possess different colours depending on the season and time of day. The emerald greens and crystalline blues of these ponds make for one colourful picture – especially so in Autumn, when the ponds are framed by numerous maple trees sprouting deep reds and oranges.
Also recommended: Yukiwari Bridge, Ja No Hana Garden, Shingu Kumano Shrine Nagatoko
8. Osaka – early November to early December
Osaka’s a lively city full of great shopping, and scrumptious food – but more than that, it’s also full of sightseeing options that turn into great Autumn spots.
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A 40-minute drive from Osaka city will take you to Minoo Park, a vast national park scattered with lush forests, waterfalls, and temples. While the entire park comes alive during Autumn, you can take a 2.8km hike up to Minoo Waterfall for picturesque views of the maple trees and the waterfall together.
Image credit: Kyotogram
The sight of Osaka Castle standing tall amidst the Autumn trees also makes for one pretty sight. While the castle itself is surrounded by scarlet cherry and plum trees, it’s contrasted by honey-coloured gingko trees that line the path leading up to the castle.
Image credit: @kachit_
Also recommended: Hoshida Park, Daisen Park, Katsuo-ji Temple.
Plan your trip to Osaka with these articles:
- Things to do in Nakazakicho
- Thrift stores
- Dotonbori food items
- Budget things to do
- Things to do under 72 hours
9. Kyoto – mid November to early December
The culture-rich city of Kyoto’s awash in fiery hues of red and gold between November to December, so really, a stroll down any street will prove picturesque.
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Arashiyama is noted for being one of the top fall foliage spots in Kyoto. It’s situated on the outskirts of Kyoto, boasting everything from temples to bamboo forests and a monkey park. Tofukuji Temple is especially beautiful during this time.
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Instead of going around on foot, you can also see the best of Arashiyama’s Autumn beauty with a lazy cruise down the Hozugawa River for a small fee.
Image credit: Japan Airlines
You’ve seen this scene in just about every postcard in the convenience store, and it’s time to finally visit it. Stand atop the wooden terrace of the Kiyomizudera Temple, look out into the distance, and you’ll see a sea of red trees stretching out as far as the eye can see.
Also recommended: Kodaiji, Kyoto Goen, Kodaiji
10. Tokyo – late November to early December
You don’t have to venture out of Tokyo for some sick Autumn scenery. This bustling metropolis has its fair share of fall foliage spots, so mark these places down on your next trip there.
Image credit: @tokietanaka
One of the most popular spots to view the fall foliage is along the streets of Meiji-jingu Gaien Park. It’s a 300-metre street lined with 146 gingko trees that erupt into striking golden hues between mid November to early December.
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Located in the heart of the busy Shinjuku area, Shinjuku Gyoen offers a quiet escape from the throngs of people in its surroundings. Take a long, leisurely stroll through the garden and you’ll be able to admire the eye-catching reds of maple trees.
Image credit: @wrexjapan
Don’t miss out on a chance to visit Rikugien Garden. It’s a traditional Japanese garden that features ponds, tea houses, and hills, which are especially beautiful when surrounded by flaming red maple trees in the Autumn.
Also recommended: Koshikawa Korakuen, Fujishiro-toge Hill, Mount Mitake
Here are some other things you can do while in Tokyo:
Where to view Autumn leaves in Japan
Autumn in Japan will give you sights of trees breaking out into every shade of red, orange, and yellow, which makes it one hella good time to visit. All it takes is a little planning and research to catch these trees at their most vibrant, and boom – you’re all set for a visually-stunning trip to Japan.
For other things to do in Japan, look here: