Autumn in Japan is almost as famous as spring. Visitors can't get enough of the Japanese maple leaves and other vivid fall foliage colors! Plan a trip to Japan between October and December, and you can enjoy many beautiful places with autumn colors.
The peak season for autumn leaves in Japan varies by region. Check the official fall foliage forecast according to the Japan Meteorological Corporation and make the most out of autumn in Japan!
- Table of Contents
- When is the autumn season in Japan?
- 1. Hokkaido (Sapporo/Hakodate)
- 2. Tohoku (Sendai/Aomori)
- 3. Kanto (Tokyo/Yokohama)
- 4. Hokuriku (Kanazawa/Fukui)
- 5. Chubu (Gifu/Nagoya)
- 6. Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka)
- 7. Chugoku (Hiroshima/Okayama)
- 8. Shikoku (Kagawa/Tokushima)
- 9. Kyushu (Fukuoka/Kagoshima)
- When to start planning your autumn trip to Japan
When is the autumn season in Japan?
Autumn in Japan is from September to November. Foliage starts to change from Hokkaido southward by mid-October. By the end of November, the leaves in many areas will be at their best. This is the best time to visit Japan for foliage.
Japan has two foliage waves: one for yellow leaves and the other for red-colored leaves. From the end of October to early November, ginkgo trees will turn yellow in greater Tokyo. This is followed by Japanese maple trees and their red leaves.
Depending on elevation and weather conditions, the autumn colors may peak in late November/early December in some areas.
1. Hokkaido (Sapporo/Hakodate)
As Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido sees the first autumn colors in the country. Since the island is covered with trees, it is one of the more spectacular areas to visit.
Hokkaido's fall colors start from Mount Asahi in the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group and move south. A unique feature of the mountains in Hokkaido is various broadleaf trees, and conifers are mixed, such as maple, Japanese rowan, black locust, Ezo spruce, and Sakhalin fir. For this reason, three leaf colors - red, yellow, and green - come together and create something special.
Notable places for autumn leaves in Hokkaido include:
・Sapporo City - Home to multiple breathtaking spots for fall foliage, especially around Hokkaido University and Nakajima Park.
・Jozankei Onsen - A hot springs resort near Sapporo; autumn colors line the sides of the tranquil Toyohira River here.
・Sounkyo - A beautiful area in central Hokkaido ringed by stunning tall cliffs, waterfalls, and colorful leaves.
・Noboribetsu - A volcanically active area in Southwestern Hokkaido where bubbling pools of water are ringed by firey foliage.
- Best time to see: From October 8-18
- Jozankei Onsen
- Best time to see: From October 13-24
- Sapporo City
- Best time to see: Around November 6
Browse recommended places to stay in Hokkaido
2. Tohoku (Sendai/Aomori)
The Tohoku area is in the northern part of Honshu, the largest of Japan’s main islands.
The best time to see autumn leaves in Tohoku is between mid-October and late November, relatively early compared to fall foliage in Japan, just like Hokkaido.
Notable places for autumn leaves in Tohoku include the Naruko Valley in Miyagi Prefecture’s Osaki City. It takes about 10 minutes by car from Naruko Onsen Station, and once there, indulge in stunning scenery with wild cliffs that are 100 meters high and stretch on for 2.5 kilometers. During fall, the entire valley shines in vivid red, gold, and orange.
- Oirase Gorge (Aomori)
- Best time to see: From October 23-30
- Naruko Gorge (Miyagi)
- Best time to see: From October 25-November 8
- Ginzan Onsen (Yamagata)
- Best time to see: From October 27-November 6
- Mt. Kurikoma (Iwate)
- Best time to see: From October 6-21
- Zao Mountain Range (Yamagata)
- Best time to see: From October 9-31
- Kakunodate (Akita)
- Best time to see: From November 3-13
Browse recommended places to stay in Tohoku
3. Kanto (Tokyo/Yokohama)
The Kanto area offers a plethora of popular autumn leaf spots. The Nikkō area and the golden ginkgo avenue in Meijijingū Gaien (Meiji Shrine Outer Garden) are especially famous, while the colorful trees of the Hakone Museum of Art are particularly popular while also relatively devoid of crowds.
For fall foliage in Japan, it's important to note that Japanese gardens are also amazingly tranquil spots to savor the vivid colors of autumn. While peak time varies from spot to spot, this year seems to be late November to mid-December.
- Mt. Takao (Tokyo)
- Best time to see: From November 14-27
- Lake Chūzenji (Nikkō)
- Best time to see: From October 23-November 5
- Kamikochi (Nagano)
- Best time to see: From October 17-November 2
Browse recommended places to stay near Tokyo
・Mt. Takao area
4. Hokuriku (Kanazawa/Fukui)
The Hokuriku area stretches over central and northern Honshu and is known for an abundance of high mountain ranges and Japan’s heaviest snowfall.
The best time to see autumn leaves in Hokuriku is in mid-November. But if you’re planning a trip, take into account that some spots might be earlier.
Notable places for autumn leaves in Hokuriku include Kenroku-en in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. It’s a special scenic spot that is also part of Japan’s Three Great Gardens and is exceptionally beautiful in every season, but autumn stands out among them all. The vivid trees are lit up after sunset, creating a fantastical atmosphere sure to enchant.
- Kenrokuen Garden (Kanazawa)
- Best time to see: From November 12-27
- Tateyama between Murodo-Daira and Kurobe Dam (Toyama)
- Best time to see: From September 29-October 14
- Kuzuryu Gorge (Fukui)
- Best time to see: From October 31-November 11
Browse recommended places to stay in Hokuriku
5. Chubu (Gifu/Nagoya)
The Chubu region is home to Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. Of course, there are plenty of spots boasting beautiful autumn colors not only at Mount Fuji itself but also in the Fuji Five Lakes area. The most popular of these lakes is Lake Kawaguchi.
Every November, there’s the “Autumn Leaves Festival” on its northern shores and an absolute must-see is the “Momiji Corridor,” offering a stunning scenery of Mount Fuji and fall foliage in one picture. It’s a sight often portrayed on postcards and tourist websites, so seeing it for yourself will certainly be a highlight of your trip.
- Shirakawa-go (Gifu)
- Best time to see: From October 30-November 12
- Lake Kawaguchi/Mount Fuji Area (Yamanashi)
- Best time to see: From November 10-18
Browse recommended places to stay in Chubu
6. Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka)
The Kansai region is the home of major, historic cities including Kyoto and Osaka.
Notable places for autumn leaves in Kansai include:
Autumn in Osaka is incredible. Some of the iconic foliage spots include Osaka Castle Park, Minoo Park, and Midosuji.
Kyoto is incredibly famous for its stunning autumn scenery, combining traditional Japanese buildings with autumn colors at spots such as Daihonzan and Enkō-ji Temple.
You can also enjoy autumn foliage in the ancient city of Nara, which has glorious colors at its many historic shrines and temples, at Nara Park, or at Mount Yoshino.
Metasequoia Namiki Avenue is another spot that has gained quite a reputation thanks to a TV drama that became a national hit. Located in Takashima City in Shiga Prefecture, it features about 500 metasequoia trees lining both sides of a road of about 2.4km, boasting breathtaking colors during autumn. It impressed so many people, it was chosen as one of Japan’s “New 100 Scenic Avenues.”
- Arashiyama (Kyoto)
- Best time to see: From November 20-December 5
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Kyoto)
- Best time to see: From November 21-December 4
- Minoh Falls (Osaka)
- Best time to see: From November 16-29
- Osaka Castle Park (Osaka)
- Best time to see: From November 13-December 2
Browse recommended places to stay in Kansai
7. Chugoku (Hiroshima/Okayama)
Chugoku is in the western part of Honshu and is made up of five prefectures, including Hiroshima and Okayama. Momijidani Park is one of the most representative autumn spots of the area, located on the famous Miyajima Island (officially called Itsukushima) in Hiroshima Prefecture. Here, numerous Japanese maple trees dip the park into a vivid red, making it almost seem like the branches are on fire.
Notable places for autumn leaves in Chugoku include Miyajima, which is most famous for the large torii gate standing in the water. Its many historic buildings keep fascinating people from all around the world. It’s a stunning destination for a day trip, offering one of Japan’s most iconic spots dressed in autumn colors.
- Okutsu Valley (Okayama)
- Best time to see: From November 3-16
Browse recommended places to stay in Chugoku
8. Shikoku (Kagawa/Tokushima)
Shikoku in southwestern Honshu is a fascinating place full of lush, untouched nature. Especially Kankakei in Kagawa Prefecture is famous for its autumn colors. It is also one of Japan’s Three Beautiful Valleys, covered in vivid foliage during fall.
In 2015, the valley’s ropeway was renewed and offers a mesmerizing panorama of the entire area. Furthermore, Shikoku is dotted with several other noteworthy places for fall foliage in Japan, including Iya Valley in Tokushima and Nametoko Gorge in Ehime. Those are particularly recommended for sightseeing in autumn!
- Kankakei Gorge (Kagawa)
- Best time to see: From November 11-30
- Nametoko Valley (Ehime)
- Best time to see: From November 16-26
- Befukyo Gorge (Kochi)
- Best time to see: From November 10-20
Browse recommended places to stay in Shikoku
9. Kyushu (Fukuoka/Kagoshima)
Kyushu’s climate is relatively temperate, gaining popularity as a resort area.
Notable places for autumn leaves in Kyushu include Yabakei in Oita’s Nakatsu City, which is one of the area’s many colorful autumn leaf spots.
There’s a pleasant promenade that leads you through the gorge, so make the most out of this beautiful natural spot by taking a leisurely autumn walk. The vivid trees of Yabakei are lit up after dark, dipping the entire scenery in an enigmatic glow. We recommend visiting just before sunset and watch it transform from light to dark.
- Yabakei Gorge (Oita)
- Best time to see: From November 8-23
- Takachiho Gorge (Miyazaki)
- Best time to see: From November 21-29
- Hyugami Gorge (Fukuoka)
- Best time to see: From November 8-18
Browse recommended places to stay in Kyushi
When to start planning your autumn trip to Japan
Those wishing to enjoy momijigari in Japan are encouraged to start planning their autumn travel at least 5 months in advance.
As with cherry blossom season in the spring, hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto can fill up quickly for the fall foliage season, so it's ideal to book a stay as soon as your travel dates are set.
Source: Japan Meteorological Corporation
Photos: Shutterstock.com (except the main image)
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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