15 fantastic places to see autumn leaves in Japan
Autumn is considered by many as the most amazing moment of the year in Japan as "The land of the rising sun" seems to be surrounded by yellow and red colors of plants and flowers.
The Japanese call the red leaves season as Momiji. The stunning scenery with red maple leaves tinged with a little quietness has enchanted so many tourists to come to this country in autumn.
1. Ashahidake Mount (Hokkaido)
Maybe you've heard the name of Hokkaido with the gorgeous field of flowers in summer and the famous Sapporo Snow Festival in winter. But actually, autumn is the best season to take a trip to Hokkaido. In autumn, Hokkaido becomes strangely charming, tourists will have a chance to admire the incredibly romantic setting with ravishing beauty of yellow leaves, red leaves. In Hokkaido, leaves begin turning to red from early September to early November and usually lasts for about 50 days.
Asahidake Mount is the highest mountain in Daisetsuzan National Park (2290m). In mid-September, the park attracts a large number of pedestrians as this is the first place where leaves in red in Japan. You can come here by cable car and the go down the mountain at Sugatami station. If you take a walk around the lake on 1.7 -kilometer- long road at Sugatami station for an hour, you can watch delightfully the red leaves and autumn flowers at their most beauty in the backdrop of magnificent mountains.
Best time to see: from mid-September to early October
Location: Higashikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
How to get there: by bus "ideyu-go" from JR Asahikawa to Asahidake station (1 hour and a half), then travel by cable car to Sugatami station (about 10 minutes).
Price: 2800 yen (27 USD) (one way by cable car)
2. Oirase (Aomori) Stream, Tohoku
Oirase Stream now is Towada Hachimantai national park, rooted in Lake Towada, spread about 14km. The vibrant and constantly changing beauty of the stream is displayed by the depth between parts of the stream and a range of 14 magnificent waterfalls.
Situated on the border between Akita and Aomori District, this area is known for the color lighting performances especially in surrounding area of Oirase stream. This is one of the most famous spots for feeling the coming autumn in Japan.
Oirase stream. Photo: en-aomori.com
You can walk along the bank of the stream, under dense maple leaves canopies. And do not forget to take a 2.9 km long walk from Ishikedo to Kumoi waterfall, along the way, you can behold the beautiful waterfall called Ashura and rocks with special shapes such as Makado rock or Byobu rock.
Best time to see: : early October
Location: Towadako-machi, Kamikita-gun, Aomori
How to get there: by bus from JR Hachinohe Station (Tohoku Shinkansen line) to Ishikedo station, about 90 minutes, then walk into the stream.
3. Lake Chuzenji (Tochigi)
Lake Chuzenji, 1269m above the sea level, is the highest lake in Japan. Beside the lake is a forest of oak trees and various kinds of maple trees with leaves in different colors, creating a beautiful setting for you.
Crystal-clear and quiet water is what makes Lake Chuzenji is one of the greatest places to see the red leaves. Taking a walk along the lakeshore or taking a boat trip to enjoy the natural beauty is highly recommended.
Lake Chuzenji. Photo: zekkeijapan.com
Best time to see:: late September to early November
Location: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi
How to get there: take a bus from Tobu Nikko station (JR or Tobu) to Chuzenji-ko-onsen (about 50 minutes), then walk about 5 minutes.
4. Jingo Temple (Kyoto)
Built on Mount Takao, Jingo Temple is in the northwest of the city of Kyoto. This is the place where monks Kukai has lived and worked for 14 years after returning from China. After climbing up the steep steps, you will admire one of the most beautiful scenery of red leaves in Japan. From the garden of Jizo, also known as Kin'unkei, you will have a panoramic view of the river of Kiyotaki covered in red leaves.
Within the precincts, you can also watch the red leaves of the maple trees like Takao-kaede. In addition, you can join in the game named "Kawarake-nage" by throwing small unglazed plates into a large garden, as a form of exorcism.
Jingo temple. Photo: welcomekansai.com
Best time to see: : from the mid to late November
Location: 5 Takao-cho, Umegahata, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
How to get there: take a bus JR from Kyoto Station to Yamashiro-Takao, then walk for about 20 minutes.
Price: 500 yen (5 USD)
Opening hours: from 9:00 to 16:00
5. Momijidani Park (Hiroshima)
Momijidani Park is situated in the foothills of Miyama, behind Itsukushima shrine (one of the three most beautiful places in Japan) and is regarded as a natural heritage of Japan. Similar to the name Momijidani (red leaves valley), this park put on extremely colorful clothes in autumn.
From the Momiji bridge, overlooking a beautiful backdrop with small deer walking around the woods. Plus, more than 100 different of maple trees with distinctive red color promises to give you the feeling of ecstasy.
Momijidani Park . Photo: zekkeijapan.com
Best time to see: From the early to mid-November
Location: Miyajima-cho, Saeki-gun, Hiroshima
How to get there: 5 minutes walk from JR Miyajima-guchi Station (San-yo Line) to Miyajima-guchi Sanbashi, then take a boat to Miyajima Sanbashi for about 10 minutes, then walk about 20 minutes.
6. Hitachi Seaside Park - hitachinaka, Ibaraki
Hitachi Seaside Park is surely a can't miss attraction for those coming to Japan in autumn.
With an area of over 3.5 hectares, Hitachi Seaside Park is always gorgeous with fields of flowers blooming year round.
Every hills are for different kinds of flowers. Coming here in autumn, the carpet weaved by flower Kochia which looks like hundreds of fluff fluttering in the wind, in red in cool climate.
7. Kamikochi - Nagano
Kamikochi is part of Chubu-Sangaku national park, Nagano. Dubbed as the Alps of Japan, Kamikochi is renowned for unspoiled natural beauty, many lakes, and stunning mountain peaks.
Especially, the trees here begin to turn to yellow in autumn, that create a wonderful scenery and attract a huge number of tourists visit and take artistic photos.
8. Rikugien - Tokyo
In Tokyo, the best destination to view autumn leaves is Rikugien garden. In autumn, the trees in the garden begin to change colors to yellow, orange and red, and the whole scenery is as stunning as in a fairy tale. In particular, Rikugien garden offers lighting equipment at night for tourists to go sightseeing in peak season.
Rikugien gardens usually open from 9:00 am to 17:00 every day, but in peak season, open until 21:00, last admission 20:30.
Rikugien garden at night. Photo: amu-zen.com
9. Kodaiji - Kyoto
Kodaiji temple was built in 1606 by a widow to commemorate her husband - a warrior. Today, the temple is a famous monument of the ancient capital of Kyoto with the quiet and breathtaking gardens.
Tourists usually go to this temple to enjoy the traditional garden, to explore the history of Japan and immerse in the tranquility of the tomb area.
Situated in the center of Arashiyama, Tenryuji Temple was built in 1339, through many ups and downs of history, the temple was burned 8 times and was rebuilt. In 1994, Tenryuji temple has been recognized by UNESCO as this World Heritage Site. This temple is famous for its picturesque campus, and the highlight here is Sogen Chiteien garden.
Sogen Chiteien garden is designed in the walking style with walking paths filled with nature, surrounded by a poetic lake. Sogen Chiteien garden includes natural part of the mountain such as Arashiyama, Kameyama ... Thanks to that, in autumn, the beauty of the garden becomes fascinated by the romance of red maple leaves. Especially, if you come here in October, you will have the opportunity to attend the festivals: Zuiki and Dai Ginza Matsuri.
11. Lake Kawaguchi - Fujikawaguchiko
Kawaguchi is a beautiful lake in the town of Fujikawaguchiko and is in the chain of five lakes at the foot of Mount Fuji. This is the lake with the longest lakeshore, the lowest absolute height, the second largest, and the third depth of Fuji Five Lakes. In the middle of the lake, there is a small island called Unoshima.
Currently, Kawaguchi is an attractive spot for many tourists because this is an ideal place to stay after the arduous journey to Mount Fuji. Lake Kawaguchi is blessed with different sceneries in each season, you will be watching the cherry blossoms in spring, the lavender in summer, and autumn is the time when the whole scenery is in red of the maple leaves.
12. Korankei Valley - Toyota
Known as a very popular place for red leaves watching in autumn with more than 4,000 maple trees that change the appearance of the valley. From late October to the end of November is the ideal time for you to feel the autumn in Korankei valley and enjoy the romantic atmosphere created by maple trees. This is definitely a perfect place for couples.
What is more, in early November every year, the Koran-kei Momiji festival lasts almost 1 month, during this time, the maple trees will be hung by beams of lights. Tourists around the globe flock here to delight in the magical space at night when everything is covered by the hanging lights.
13. Shirakawa-go - Gifu
Shirakawa-go is one of the unique historic villages in Japan. The village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. With the sloping roof cottage architectural style with hands folded style Gassho zukuri, they are likened to praying roofs. The village has 114 ancient houses, the village's oldest house there is more than 400 years old.
In autumn, the trees in the village begin to turn color, along with moats, plots, all these factors make up a beautiful getaway for adventure-lovers. Gifu is really a great place to discover when traveling to Japan.
14. Nyuto-onsenkyo - Semboku
Nyuto-onsenkyo not only attracts tourists with impressive natural scenery but also famous for hot springs. The characteristic of this place is the source of the hot spring very close to the place to the bath where you can dip in the hot springs while watching the boiling water.
Surrounded by primeval forest, this hot spring is very special due to you can hear the sound of leaves rustling in the wind along with the singing of the birds, that will help you relax. In addition, there are some restaurants and hostels near Nyuto-onsenkyo, tourists get a chance to taste the delicious dish and spend a night.
Nikko is a perfect spot for those who love adventure and seeing autumn leaves alike. Especially, if you are adventurous, then visit Irohazaka in Nikko will give you an unforgettable memory. Irohazaka is a pair of winding road connecting the lower areas near the center of Nikko with the highest region in the mountainous Okunikko. Best time to watch the maple leaves turning color is in late October and early November.
Besides, tourists will visit the waterfall Ryuzu which means "dragon head waterfall" in Japanese. The name implies the shape of the waterfall, like the head of a dragon. On the two side of the waterfall, leaves turn yellow and bright red. The combination of turquoise blue water and red color of the leaves make people imagine the appearance of the dragon in autumn.