Autumn Leaves in Japan: Best Places to See the Season of Splendor 

Best Times and Places for Autumn Leaves in Japan

Welcome to a mesmerizing journey through Japan during one of its most stunning seasons—autumn. Known in Japanese as “koyo,” the autumn leaf season is a celebrated time when the landscape transforms into vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold. This natural phenomenon offers a visual feast while also enriching the cultural tapestry of Japan, intertwining the natural beauty with centuries-old traditions.

Every year in Japan, nature stages a spectacular display of changing colors. We take you through the best places to witness this colorful spectacle, offering not just travel routes but an immersive experience into the heart of Japan’s autumn.

1. Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan, offers an early spectacle of autumnal hues that commence as early as mid-September. The crisp, cool air and fewer crowds make this region an idyllic choice for those eager to witness the first signs of fall.

Daisetsuzan National Park

Season: Mid-September to Mid-October

Highlights: Japan’s largest national park transforms into a vibrant canvas of reds, yellows, and oranges. Mount Asahidake, the park’s highest peak, offers rewarding trails that guide you through the stunning scenery.

Activities: Trekking along the well-marked paths provides an up-close experience of the autumn splendor.

Jozankei Onsen

Season: Early to Mid-October

Highlights: Nestled within the hills surrounding Sapporo, this hot spring town is renowned for its beautiful autumn colors. The picturesque view of colorful leaves reflecting off the serene waters of the Toyohira River creates a perfect backdrop for relaxation.

Activities: Enjoy a soak in one of the many onsens or take a leisurely walk along the riverbank to fully absorb the tranquil beauty of the season.

Essential Tips for Visitors

  • Weather Preparedness: The weather can be quite unpredictable; packing layers is recommended as temperatures may vary significantly from morning to evening.
  • Travel: Consider renting a car for the most flexible and scenic travel through Hokkaido’s expansive landscapes.

2. Tohoku Region

Tohoku, located in the northeastern part of Japan’s main island, Honshu, is famed for its lush landscapes and traditional Japanese culture, which are especially enchanting during the autumn months. This region offers a slower, more contemplative viewing of autumn leaves compared to the more crowded spots in more southern areas.

Oirase Stream

Season: Late October to Early November

Highlights: The Oirase Stream is a picturesque watercourse known for its series of waterfalls and vibrant forest canopy. As one of Tohoku’s most beloved autumn spots, the stream’s pathway, flanked by fiery maple and lush beech trees, creates a truly photogenic trek.

Activities: Hiking along the stream is the perfect way to immerse in the serene sounds of flowing water and rustling leaves. The trail is gentle, making it suitable for walkers of all skill levels.

Lake Towada

Season: Mid- to Late October

Highlights: Lake Towada, the largest caldera lake in Honshu, is spectacular in autumn. The lake is surrounded by mountains covered in a tapestry of red, orange, and yellow leaves, which reflect beautifully on the still water, doubling the visual impact.

Activities: Boat tours on the lake are a popular way to see the expansive color from a different perspective. Additionally, several walking trails around the lake offer more intimate views.

Essential Tips for Visitors

  • Peak Viewing Times: To avoid disappointment, check local resources for the best viewing times as autumn peak can vary slightly each year.
  • Cultural Events: Autumn in Tohoku is not just about natural beauty but also cultural festivals. Participating in or observing local festivals can enhance the travel experience.

3. Kanto Region

The Kanto region, while known for its metropolitan allure with Tokyo at its heart, also boasts some of Japan’s most stunning autumnal landscapes. This contrast between urban and natural beauty makes Kanto a unique destination for leaf peeping.


Season: Mid-October to Early November

Highlights: Nikko is a treasure trove of cultural heritage surrounded by nature’s splendor. The area is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Toshogu Shrine, set against a backdrop of vivid autumn colors. The nearby Shinkyo Bridge and Ryuzu Waterfall are particularly breathtaking during the autumn months.

Activities: Explore the historical sites on foot, and enjoy the natural scenery through leisurely hikes or guided tours.

Rikugien Garden, Tokyo

Season: Late November to Early December

Highlights: This meticulously designed landscape garden in Tokyo offers a stunning display of autumn colors, with its maples and ginkgo trees casting a warm glow over the ponds and hills. The garden’s evening illuminations create a magical atmosphere, making it a must-visit for anyone in Tokyo during the fall.

Activities: Leisurely walks, tea house visits, and photography are popular here, especially under the enchantment of night lights.

Mount Takao

Season: Mid- to Late November

Highlights: Just a short train ride from central Tokyo, Mount Takao offers a natural escape with paths lined with fiery maple and cedar trees. The mountain is a popular hiking destination that provides panoramic views of the Kanto plain and, on clear days, Mount Fuji.

Activities: Hiking, cable car rides, and visiting the Yakuoin temple at the summit.

Essential Tips for Visitors

  • Travel Smart: The Kanto region is well-connected by public transport. Utilize rail passes to explore wider areas affordably and efficiently.
  • Stay Updated: Check local tourism sites for updates on peak foliage times and special events, such as light-up ceremonies which can enhance the autumn experience.

4. Chubu Region

Nestled between the Kanto and Kansai regions, Chubu offers a stunning mix of coastal beauty and mountainous terrain, making it an exceptional destination for viewing autumn leaves. The region’s diverse landscapes ensure a prolonged and varied foliage season.


Season: Mid- to Late October

Highlights: Kamikochi, in the heart of the Japanese Alps, is renowned for its dramatic mountainous scenery and pristine alpine rivers. The towering peaks of the Hotaka Range, reflected in the still waters of Taisho Pond, are surrounded by lush forests that blaze with autumn colors.

Activities: Hiking is the primary activity here, with trails ranging from easy walks along the Azusa River to more challenging treks up the surrounding peaks.

Kurobe Gorge

Season: Late October to Mid-November

Highlights: One of Japan’s deepest gorges, Kurobe Gorge is accessible via the Kurobe Gorge Railway. The scenic train journey offers unparalleled views of vibrant fall foliage against a backdrop of steep cliffs and rushing rivers.

Activities: Besides the train ride, visitors can explore walking trails and hot springs in the area.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

Season: Early October to Early November

Highlights: This route is famous for its “Snow Corridor” in spring, but in autumn, it transforms into a riot of colors with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The route connects Toyama and Nagano prefectures through various means of transport, including cable cars and buses.

Activities: Travel the entire route to experience a variety of landscapes, from high mountain passes to deep valleys filled with deciduous trees.

Essential Tips for Visitors

  • Weather Awareness: The weather can change rapidly in mountainous regions; it’s crucial to prepare for cold conditions even in autumn.
  • Timing Your Visit: Due to the range of elevations in the Chubu region, checking local foliage forecasts can help you maximize your experience by visiting each area at its peak.

5. Kansai Region

The Kansai region, a cultural heartland of Japan, is famous not only for its historical cities like Kyoto and Osaka but also for its vibrant autumn foliage. This region offers a perfect blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty, with ancient temples set against the backdrop of colorful autumn leaves.

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Season: Mid-November to Early December

Highlights: Arashiyama is a scenic area on the western outskirts of Kyoto, known for its stunning mountain views and historic sites. The iconic Togetsukyo Bridge over the Katsura River offers a picturesque setting with mountains draped in a palette of autumn colors.

Activities: Visitors can enjoy boat rides on the river, explore the lush bamboo groves, and visit several temples and gardens that showcase the season’s beauty.

Minoo Park, Osaka

Season: Late October to Late November

Highlights: Just north of Osaka, Minoo Park is a forested valley known for its accessible walking trails and the Minoo Waterfall. The park is especially popular in autumn when the maple trees turn deep red and gold, creating a stunning contrast with the waterfall.

Activities: Walking the paved path to the waterfall, trying the local specialty, momiji tempura—deep-fried maple leaves—which is a unique seasonal treat.

Koyasan, Wakayama

Season: Late October to Mid-November

Highlights: Koyasan is a sacred mountain and a major pilgrimage site with a stunning complex of Buddhist temples. The area becomes a tapestry of fiery hues in autumn, providing a mystical atmosphere that complements its spiritual significance.

Activities: Join guided temple tours, participate in meditation sessions, and stay overnight in a temple lodging to experience the full spiritual and natural beauty of Koyasan.

Essential Tips for Visitors

  • Cultural Etiquette: When visiting religious sites, dressing modestly and showing respect at temples and shrines is important.
  • Travel Efficiently: The Kansai region is well-connected by public transport. Utilizing day or multi-day transport passes can save money and simplify navigation between cities and attractions.

6. Chugoku Region

The Chugoku region, located in the western part of Japan’s main island, Honshu, offers a mix of coastal, mountainous, and rural landscapes, making it a vibrant spot for autumn leaf viewing. This region is less traveled compared to its eastern counterparts, providing a more serene and intimate experience with nature’s fall display.

Miyajima (Itsukushima)

Season: Early to Mid-November

Highlights: Famous for its “floating” torii gate, Miyajima is a stunning sight in autumn when the surrounding maple trees turn a fiery red. The contrast of the vermilion gate and the colorful foliage against the backdrop of the sea is truly picturesque.

Activities: Exploring Itsukushima Shrine, hiking up Mount Misen for panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea, and sampling local street food like momiji manju (maple leaf-shaped cakes).

Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park

Season: Mid-October to Early November

Highlights: Although known for its flower displays, in autumn, Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park transforms with brilliant hues of chrysanthemums and cosmos, complemented by the changing leaves of various trees. The park’s vast landscape becomes a canvas of golds, reds, and oranges.

Activities: Strolling through the themed gardens, participating in flower arranging workshops, and enjoying the evening illuminations that highlight the autumn colors.

Okayama Korakuen Garden

Season: Late October to Mid-November

Highlights: Ranked as one of Japan’s three best landscape gardens, Okayama Korakuen offers a tranquil setting with traditional tea houses, streams, and expansive lawns surrounded by colorful foliage. The garden’s historical ambiance is accentuated by the autumnal colors, making it a peaceful retreat.

Activities: Tea ceremony experiences, garden tours explaining the history and design of Korakuen, and photography sessions to capture the picturesque scenery.

Essential Tips for Visitors

  • Best Travel Practices: Check weather forecasts regularly as autumn weather can be unpredictable. Layered clothing is recommended.
  • Cultural Insights: Engage with local customs and festivals if visiting during autumn to enrich your travel experience. The Chugoku region is known for its harvest festivals, which are vibrant and welcoming to visitors.

7. Kyushu

Kyushu, the third largest island of Japan, is celebrated for its volcanoes, hot springs, and lush landscapes. During autumn, Kyushu transforms into a vibrant showcase of colors, from the coastal regions to the mountainous interiors, making it an excellent destination for those seeking both natural beauty and cultural depth.


Season: Mid- to Late November

Highlights: Kujukushima, which translates to “Ninety-Nine Islands,” is a stunning area in Nagasaki Prefecture. The islands themselves, seen from observatories or via cruise tours, are surrounded by waters that reflect the vivid autumn colors, creating a mesmerizing mosaic of hues.

Activities: Sailing around the islands offers a unique perspective of the autumn colors. Land-based viewing from observatories also provides spectacular panoramas.


Season: Late October to Early November

Highlights: The Kirishima mountain range is an active volcanic area with dramatic landscapes that serve as the perfect backdrop for the vivid reds and yellows of autumn. The area is dotted with hot springs, where visitors can relax after a day of hiking.

Activities: Hiking the various trails which offer views of both the autumn foliage and volcanic features, such as the Onami Pond, the highest crater lake in Japan.

Takachiho Gorge

Season: Mid-November to Early December

Highlights: Takachiho Gorge in Miyazaki Prefecture is famed for its sheer cliffs lined with maple trees that turn deep shades of orange and red. The gorge can be explored by rowboat, allowing visitors to see the stunning Manai Waterfall surrounded by autumn leaves.

Activities: Boating through the gorge gives a close-up view of the waterfall and the foliage. There are also walking paths along the top of the gorge for those who prefer to view the scenery from above.

Essential Tips for Visitors

  • Climate Considerations: While Kyushu is warmer than the northern parts of Japan, the weather can still be quite variable in autumn, so appropriate attire is advised.
  • Local Delicacies: Autumn is a great time to try local specialties like sweet potatoes, chestnuts, and other seasonal produce that are prominent in Kyushu’s cuisine.

Tips for Autumn Leaf Viewing

Experiencing the autumn foliage in Japan is a highly anticipated event for both locals and tourists. Here are some expert tips to enhance your autumn leaf-viewing experience:

1. Timing is Everything

Peak Colors: The timing of peak foliage varies by region. In general, colors start to change in the northern regions in late September and move southward through late November. Utilize online resources to track the progress and peak times of fall colors in specific areas.

Avoid Crowds: Weekdays and early mornings are usually less crowded. Popular spots can get especially busy on weekends and holidays.

2. Weather Preparedness

Dress Appropriately: Autumn weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers to adjust to changing temperatures throughout the day.

Rain Gear: Always carry an umbrella or a raincoat, as sudden showers are common in autumn.

3. Cultural and Natural Integration

Cultural Sites: Many temples, gardens, and historical sites offer stunning views of autumn leaves. Visiting these sites provides a dual experience of enjoying both cultural heritage and natural beauty.

Natural Parks: Exploring national parks and nature reserves can offer more secluded and expansive areas to view fall foliage away from urban crowds.

4. Photography Tips

Golden Hours: For photography enthusiasts, the best light conditions are often during the golden hours—shortly after sunrise and before sunset—when the light is softer and warmer.

Composition: Use water bodies like lakes or rivers in your compositions to capture reflections of the fall colors. This can add depth and interest to your photos.

5. Local Delicacies

Seasonal Foods: Many regions offer seasonal snacks and dishes that enhance the leaf-viewing experience. Look for local specialties like sweet potato treats, roasted chestnuts, or warm sake in colder areas.

6. Travel and Accessibility

Public Transport: Japan’s efficient public transport system makes it easy to reach many popular viewing spots. Consider purchasing regional travel passes to save on costs.

Walking and Hiking: Some of the best views require a bit of hiking or walking. Wear comfortable shoes and check the trail’s difficulty level beforehand.

7. Stay Informed

Local Resources: Check local tourism websites and visitor centers for the latest information on foliage conditions, special events, and any access restrictions, especially in natural parks and protected areas.

By following these tips, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience viewing the autumn leaves in Japan. Whether you are wandering through ancient temples draped in red and gold leaves or hiking vibrant forest trails, autumn in Japan offers a breathtaking spectacle not to be missed.


Autumn in Japan offers spectacular colors that blanket the country from north to south, providing visuals that captivate both the eyes and the soul. 

Ready to embark on a journey through Japan’s autumn splendor? 

Whether you seek a tranquil escape in the serene landscapes of the Chugoku region or the historic ambiance of Kyoto’s temples wrapped in autumnal hues, Japan offers unmatched beauty waiting to be discovered.

Embrace the enchanting autumn season in Japan—a journey of beauty, tranquility, and cultural richness awaits you. Don’t wait, the mosaic of fall colors is a fleeting masterpiece best witnessed in person. Plan your visit today and immerse yourself in one of the most spectacular natural events on earth!

The information provided in this article was accurate at the time of publication. However, it's important to note that dates, times, fees, and other related details are subject to change without prior notice. We will always make every effort to update the information whenever possible.

Leave a comment
- Advertisement -

Newsletter Signup

Start a journey of discovery with our exclusive travel newsletter. Sign up to receive the latest on breathtaking destinations, unbeatable deals, innovative travel products, and inspiring stories that will fuel your wanderlust.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the globe — subscribe now and let the adventure begin!