HOME Fall Colors 2019: Top 25 Breathtaking Places For Autumn Leaves In Japan
Fall Colors 2019: Top 25 Breathtaking Places For Autumn Leaves In Japan

Fall Colors 2019: Top 25 Breathtaking Places For Autumn Leaves In Japan

Date published: 11 November 2019
Last updated: 12 November 2019

Japan is famous for having fantastic four seasons. Although every time of the year has its own beauty, we can't deny that fall colors are one of the best! So, where you should go to make the most of your autumn stay in Japan? Check them out in this article and have a lovely fall day-trip.

Top 25 Places For Autumn Leaves In Japan
1. Eikando Temple/Zenrinji Temple
(Kyoto)
2. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
(Tokyo)
3. Tofukuji Temple
(Kyoto)
4. Giouji Temple
(Kyoto)
5. Tenryuji Temple
(Kyoto)
6. Okada Museum of Art
(Hakone)
7. Oirase Keiryu Mountain Stream
(Aomori)
8. Rikugien Garden
(Tokyo)
9. Entsūin Temple
(Miyagi)
10. Toji Temple
(Kyoto)
11. Mii-dera Temple/Onjoji Temple
(Shiga)
12. Naruko Gorge
(Miyagi)
13. Hitachi Seaside Park
(Ibaraki)
14. Kinkaku-ji Temple (The Golden Pavilion)
(Kyoto)
15. Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion)
(Kyoto)
16. Mino Falls
(Osaka)
17. Genko-an Temple
(Kyoto)
18. Sanzen-in Temple
(Kyoto)
19. Jōjakkō-ji Temple
(Kyoto)
20. Ritsurin Garden
(Kagawa)
21. Mount Takao
(Tokyo)
22. Meiji Jingu Gaien
(Tokyo)
23. Showa Memorial Park
(Tokyo)
24. Nagatoro
(Saitama)
25. Irohazaka
(Tochigi)

Quick Word on Photographing Autumn Leaves In Japan

Many of the places listed in this article are famous temples around Japan. As these spots can become quite congested, for safety reasons, most temples will prohibit the use of tripods/monopods. They may also restrict use of selfie sticks. Be sure to check at the entrance if you have questions.

As is the case for many famous places for autumn leaves in Japan, most spots mentioned in this piece will offer extended evening hours for when foliage is illuminated.

1. Eikando Temple/Zenrinji Temple (Kyoto)

1. Eikando Temple/Zenrinji Temple (Kyoto)

Zenrinji appeared in historic Japanese waka (a sort of poem) collection "Kokin Wakashu" which was compiled by the order from emperor Daigo in 905. Since then, this place has been recognized as a famous spot for autumn leaves in Japan.

There are about 3000 Japanese maple trees. From the November 6 to December 6, the breathtakingly beautiful trees are lit up at night.

The best time to visit to see autumn leaves is after the mid-November. However, it starts to color from the end of October.

  • Eikando Temple/Zenrinji Temple
    永観堂 禅林寺
    • Address 48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
    • Nearest Station Access: 3 minute walk from the city bus stop Nanzenji Eikando-michi
    • Phone Number 075-761-0007

    Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
    9:00-17:00
    *Entrance gate is closed 1 hour before the closing time.
    Lighting-up opening hours (Nov. 7 – Dec. 6)
    5:30pm – 8:30pm
    Admission fee: 600yen

2. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (Tokyo)

2. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (Tokyo)

Do you know there is a massive park in the middle of the city in Tokyo? It was originally made for the royal family. And then, it was open for the public after the war, and now it's become locals' oasis in the concrete jungle. They have a variety of trees that show lovely autumn leaves in red, yellow and amber all over the park.

The best time for autumn leaves here is from early November to early December.

Opening hours:
9:00-17:00 (15/3-30/9)
9:00-16:30 (1/10-14/3)
*Entrance gate is closed 30 minutes before the closing time.
Opening days: Tuesday-Sunday
*Open on Monday when it is a national holiday and is closed the day after.
Admission fee: 500 yen

3. Tofukuji Temple (Kyoto)

3. Tofukuji Temple (Kyoto)
Photo credit: THONGCHAI.S / Shutterstock.com

What makes Tofukuji outstanding is not only its breathtaking autumn leaves but also the refreshing sound of the stream which flows through the temple grounds. Here there is also a valley called Sengyokukan, which is filled with around 2,000 maple trees.

From the Tsutenkyo Bridge, which overlooks the valley, you can gaze out at the combination of vividly colored autumn leaves and the river. However, you need to bear in mind that due to safety reasons, you might not be allowed to stop and take a picture when the bridge is crowded.

The best time for autumn leaves is from mid to late November.

Opening hours:
9:00-16:00 (4/1-10/31)
8:30-16:00 (11/1-the first Sunday of December)
9:00-15:30 (The second Monday of December-3/31)
Admission fee: 400 yen

4. Giouji Temple (Kyoto)

4. Giouji Temple (Kyoto)

Giouji is a convent (temple) that showed up in a renowned historic Japanese literature "Heike monogatari". It is surrounded by bamboo groves and Japanese maple trees. This contrast between vivid greens of bamboo and moss and reds of maple leaves makes this place especially stunning in autumn!

The best time for autumn leaves is from late November to early December.

Opening hours: 9:00-17:00
*Entrance gate is closed 30 minutes before the closing time.
Admission fee: 300 yen

  • Giou-ji Temple
    • Address 32, Sagatoriimotokozakacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 616-8435
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Torokkoarashiyama Station (Sagano Sight-seeing Tram)
      16 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 075-861-3574

5. Tenryuji Temple (Kyoto)

5. Tenryuji Temple (Kyoto)

Tenryuji was built in 1339 in order to pray for the departed soul of emperor Go-Daigo. As the temple is immersed in rich, vivid greenery, spectacular spots to see autumn leaves are spread throughout the site. One of the best of these is Sougenchi-teien, a garden with a pond. This garden still remains in the almost same shape as when it was created some 700 years ago. You’ll see the pond reflecting vividly colored autumn leaves, which is beyond amazing!

The best time for autumn leaves is from mid-November to early December.

Opening hours:
8:30-17:30 (3/21-10/20)
8:30-17:00 (10/21-3/20)
*Entrance gate is closed 30 minutes before the closing time.
Admission fee
Garden: 500 yen
*To see other buildings in the site, you need to pay an additional fee: 300 yen.
Lecture hall: 500 yen

  • Tenryu-ji Temple
    • Address 68, Sagatenryujisusukinobabacho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 616-8385
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Arashiyama Station (Keifuku Dentetsu-arashiyama Line)
    • Phone Number 075-881-1235

6. Okada Museum of Art (Hakone)

6. Okada Museum of Art (Hakone)
Image credit: shikema / Shutterstock.com

Mokichi Okada established this museum in 1952, intending to have an art museum in a garden which would blend natural and artificial beauty. Beside the art collections, there is a traditional Japanese house in which Mokichi Okada used to live, a chashitsu (tea room), and several Japanese/Asian gardens exhibited outside, where you can enjoy gazing at the lovely seasonal change in nature.

The best season for autumn leaves is from early November to late November.

Opening hours:
9:30-16:30 (April-November)
9:30-16:00 (December-March)
*Entrance gate is closed 30 minutes before the closing time.
Admission fee: 900 yen

7. Oirase Keiryu Mountain Stream (Aomori)

7. Oirase Keiryu Mountain Stream (Aomori)

This 14km long stream is located within the Towada Hachimantai National Park in the northern prefecture of Aomori. The area is said to have Japan’s deepest snowfall, which creates stunning landscapes and is one of the region’s key draws. A famous spot for autumn leaves in Japan, the Oirase Stream is carpeted with moss and ferns, making for a stunning contrast amid the deep reds of Japanese maple trees. You can enjoy trekking alongside the stream, taking about four and a half hours.

The best season for autumn leaves is late October.

  • Oirase River
    • Address Oirase Keiryu building, Towada-shi, Aomori larger section of a village Okuse character Tochikubo 183, 034-0301
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shichinohe-towada Station (Tohoku Shinkansen / Hokkaido Shinkansen)
    • Phone Number 0176-74-1233

8. Rikugien Garden (Tokyo)

8. Rikugien Garden (Tokyo)
Photo credit: Takashi Images / Shutterstock.com

Rikugien was created in 1695 after 7 years of planning and construction. Since then, it's been renowned as one of the most significant parks in Tokyo and a frequented spot for autumn leaves in Japan. Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa, who worked for Edo bakufu, was given this area to build his suburban residence, so he designed Rikugien and directed the construction himself.

Rikugien shows Yanagisawa's deep knowledge of literature. For example, the name Rikugien (六義園) is taken from the Rikutai (六体), which comprise the 6 categories of Japanese poetry. Known as Waka, these were set by Tsurayuki Kino in the 9th century in a manner to distinguish from ancient Chinese poetry.

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid-November to early December.

Opening hours: 9:00-17:00
*Entrance gate is closed 30 minutes before the closing time.
Admission fee: 300 yen

  • Rikugien Gardens
    • Address 6, Honkomagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0021
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Komagome Station (JR Yamanote Line / Tokyo Metro Namboku Line)
      7 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3941-2222

9. Entsūin Temple (Miyagi)

9. Entsūin Temple (Miyagi)

Entsūin Temple is located in Matsushima city in Miyagi Prefecture, where is said to have one of the top 3 significant views of Japan. There are alluring Japanese gardens in the site that show the beauty of four seasons through nature such as cherry blossom, hydrangea and so on.

In autumn, Entsūin Temple holds its foliage illumination event from October 26 to the November 17. It’s a magical sight that’s fully worthwhile. If you are interested in attending, you will need to purchase a special night admission ticket from the temple or nearby shops and restaurants. As it's generally hectic around the main gate at the event, it is advisable to buy a ticket in advance for smooth entry.

The best season for autumn leaves are:

Around rock garden - from late October to mid-November
Shinji no Ike Pond - from early-November to late-November
Sankeiden - from mid-November

The lighting-up event hours: 17:30-21:00
*Entrance gate is closed at 20:45.
Admission fee:
Adult (Ages 16 and over) Weekday -500 yen, Weekend and national holiday -800 yen
Child (Ages 7 - 15) -200 yen
Under 6 -Free

  • Entsuuin Temple
    • Address 67 in Matsushimacho, Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi, 981-0213
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Matsushimakaigan Station (Senseki Line)
      5 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 022-354-3206

10. Toji Temple (Kyoto)

10. Toji Temple (Kyoto)

Toji is a World Heritage Site that’s just a stone's throw from Kyoto station, and it becomes even more marvelous in autumn. The view of the Goju-no-toh (five-storied pagoda) with surrounding foliage makes for postcard-perfect photos that are simply beyond stunning - among the very best for autumn leaves in Japan.

And if you stop by in the evening, you are in for a special treat. While autumn foliage illumination events from October 26 to December 8, the ones at Kondo (金堂) and Kodo (講堂), which normally close at 5pm, are open exclusively at night. And that's not all! You can also see inside the five-storied pagoda, which is generally closed to the public, between October 26 and November 25.

The best season for autumn leaves is from late November to early December.

Lighting-up opening hours: 18:30-21:30
*Entrance gate closes at 21:00
Admission fee: 1000 yen

  • To-ji Temple
    • Address 1, Kujocho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 601-8473
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Toji Station (Kintetsu-kyoto Line)
      10 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 075-691-3325

11. Mii-dera Temple/Onjoji Temple (Shiga)

11. Mii-dera Temple/Onjoji Temple (Shiga)

Miidera is especially famous in spring, for its cherry blossoms, and in autumn, for its spectacular fall foliage. While Kyoto, where many temples and shrines are located quite close to each other, is typically super busy during this season and full of eager travelers, Miidera Temple is a relatively undiscovered gem and remains rather calm and quiet in comparison. So, if you'd like to immerse yourself in beautiful autumn foliage to unwind, this would be the one for you.

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid to late November.

  • Miidera (Onjoji)
    三井寺
    • Address 246 Onjojicho, Otsu-shi, Shiga
    • Phone Number 077-522-2238

12. Naruko Gorge (Miyagi)

12. Naruko Gorge (Miyagi)

Visit Tohoku during autumn and you’re bound to see posters sporting similar spectacular views of Naruko Gorge. The 100-meter deep gorge will be covered with vivid autumn foliage from mid-October to early November. You can grab the best view from the observation deck at Naruko Rest House, a restaurant and souvenir shop. There is also a 2.2km long trail called Obukasawa Yuuhodo which affords superb views of foliage, rock formations, and the Daiya River.

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid-October to early-November.

  • Naruko-kyo
    鳴子峡
    • Address Hoshinuma Narukoonsen, Osaki, Miyagi
    • Phone Number 0229-82-2102

13. Hitachi Seaside Park (Ibaraki)

13. Hitachi Seaside Park (Ibaraki)

Feeling like unique autumn foliage? Then you should visit the Hitachi Seaside Park - about 2 hours away from Tokyo. What colors the park in vivid red hues is not Japanese maple trees but rolling hills covered by balls of kochia, a tumbleweed-shaped plant.

Kochia's peak only lasts for 7-10 days. However, it shows a stunning color changing from green to pink, and from red to gold before and after autumn foliage. So, you won't be regret visiting there even though you miss the peak.

The best season for autumn leaves is mid-October.

Opening hours: Vary seasonally. Please check the website (https://hitachikaihin.jp/guide/schedule.html)

Admission fee:
Adult (Ages 16-64) -450yen
Elder (Over 65)-210yen

14. Kinkaku-ji Temple (The Golden Pavilion) (Kyoto)

14. Kinkaku-ji Temple (The Golden Pavilion) (Kyoto)

Kinkakuji is said that it substitutes for Gokuraku-Jodo, the Pure Land of Perfect Bliss in Buddhism, on the land of the living. In fact, the combination of the golden reliquary hall and autumn foliage is too beautiful to be true! On clear autumn days, the shining reflection of the Golden Pavilion with blue sky and foliage in the pond is simply poetic. You’ll love wandering around the grounds and finding the perfect shots for your Facebook feed.

The best season for autumn leaves is from late November to early December.

Opening hours: 9:00-17:00
Admission fee:
Adult (Ages 16 and over) 400 yen
Child (Ages 7-15) 300 yen

15. Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion) (Kyoto)

15. Ginkaku-ji (Temple of the Silver Pavilion) (Kyoto)

Ginkakuji, named as a twin of Kinkakuji, is another must-visit place in Kyoto where you can feel the beauty of Japanese autumn. Although it is considered as a twin to Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji has quite a sober look to it. This is because Yoshimasa Ashikaga, the eighth general of the Muromachi shogunate, reflected his sense of beauty, which emphasized simplicity and sophistication, through the construction of Ginkakuji. During autumn, you'll be able to experience the sense of Japanese "Wabi-Sabi" (an aesthetic view embracing acceptance of transience and imperfection) with beautifully colored leaves.

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid-November to early December.

Opening hours:
8:30-17:00 (May-November)
9:00-16:30 (December-February)
*Gate completely closes 20 minutes after the closing time.
Admission fee:
Adult (Ages 16 and over) 500 yen
Child (Ages 7-15) 300 yen

16. Mino Falls (Osaka)

16. Mino Falls (Osaka)
Photo credit: NU sniper / Shutterstock.com

If you are a nature lover, Mino Falls in Osaka can't be missed. Winding up to the falls from the nearest train station is a peaceful, 2.7km long path alongside the Minoo River. Along the stroll up you can enjoy not only autumn foliage but also the soothing gurgle of the river and fresh air filled with the sweet aroma of loam and falling leaves.

Tip: if you visit by taxi, ride directly to the falls and then walk down the trail to the station.

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid-November to early December.

17. Genko-an Temple (Kyoto)

17. Genko-an Temple (Kyoto)

Genko-an, which has around a 670-year long history, is renowned for "Satori no mado" and "Mayoi no mado", two picturesque windows offering outstanding vistas. Satori no mado, which means the Window of Enlightenment, symbolizes the mind of Zen with its circle. Mayoi no mado, which means the Window of Hesitation/Ambivalence, symbolizes the life of human beings with its square shape.

And the garden full of autumn colors seen through the windows is absolutely fascinating – one that you wouldn't want to miss!

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid to late November.

*Note that Genko-an has been under construction for repairs since June 1, 2019. It will re-open around autumn in 2021.

  • Genko-an Temple
    源光庵
    • Address 47 Takagamine Kitatakagamine-cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto
    • Phone Number 075-492-1858

18. Sanzen-in Temple (Kyoto)

18. Sanzen-in Temple (Kyoto)

Besides the solemnity of the temple, which has a history running back some 1200 years, one of the charms of Sanzen-in is its cute little Jizo statues, called Warabe (Child) Jizo. These playful stone figures come in a variety of forms. You'll see many of them posing in different ways, from sitting and laying down, around the pond and temple grounds. In the season of autumn foliage, the leaves fall off on Warabe Jizo and make the scenery seem even more mysterious.

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid to late November.

Opening hours:
9:00-17:00
8:30-17:00 (November)
9:00-16:30 (December-February)
Admission fee:
Adult (Ages 19 and over) 700 yen
Teenager (Ages 13-18) 300 yen
Child (Ages 7-12)

19. Jōjakkō-ji Temple (Kyoto)

19. Jōjakkō-ji Temple (Kyoto)

Situated on the slope of Mount Ogura-yama, Jojakkoji Temple is surrounded by Japanese maples and other kinds of trees that also change color during autumn. The temple immersed in a serene forest of reds will give you a fantastic memory to keep close to your heart forever!

Opening hours: 9:00 - 17:00
*Entrance gate closes 30 minutes before the closing time.
Admission fee: 500 yen

  • Jojakko-ji Temple
    • Address 3, Sagaogurayamaoguracho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto, 616-8397
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Sagaarashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line / JR San-in Line)
      15 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 075-861-0435

20. Ritsurin Garden (Kagawa)

20. Ritsurin Garden (Kagawa)

Ritsurin Garden is an extensive garden and important cultural property which took more than 100 years to finish construction. There are 6 ponds and 13 artificial hills around the site, which is breathtaking in each season. Autumn is exceptionally fantastic. One of the most famous sceneries here is the fall leaves with their reflection across the mirror-like surface of the pond. You can enjoy the views by strolling through the park, or from a Japanese boat as the Tonosama feudal lords did in ages past!

  • Ritsurin Garden
    栗林公園
    • Address 1-20-18 Ritsurin-cho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa
    • Phone Number 087-833-7411

    Opening hours: Generally, from sunrise to sunset.
    *Opening/Closing time varies monthly. Please check the website.
    Admission fee:
    Adult (Ages 16 and over) 410yen
    Child (Ages 7-15) 170yen

21. Mount Takao (Tokyo)

21. Mount Takao (Tokyo)

When you think of Tokyo, neon, urban images of Shibuya or Shinjuku might come first to mind. But did you know that the city is actually home to one of the world’s most popular mountains – attracting some 2.6 million visitors annually? Mount Takao is one of the best places to see autumn leaves, and is easily accessible from downtown Tokyo.

To the top, where you can encounter the most beautiful views of autumn foliage, there are various courses. You can choose one to suit your condition/level of confidence in hiking. And if hiking isn’t quite for you, no worries: there is even a cable car to take you close to the top.

The best season for autumn leaves is from mid to late November.

  • Mt. Takao
    • Address Takaomachi, Hachioji-shi, Tokyo, 193-0844
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Takaosanguchi Station (Keio Takao Line)
      5 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 042-661-4151

22. Meiji Jingu Gaien (Tokyo)

22. Meiji Jingu Gaien (Tokyo)
Photo credit: Supermop / Shutterstock.com

Here is another suggestion for autumn leaves in Tokyo! This street, Meiji Jingu Gaien is a popular filming location known for its beautiful rows of golden gingko trees. You might've seen it before in Japanese TV programs/films. In late autumn, the gingko trees all go yellow and their fallen leaves cover the street. It is refreshing to walk through the tender yellow tunnel, and you might even forget that you are in the middle of Tokyo’s hustle and bustle.
The best season for autumn leaves is from mid-November to early December.

23. Showa Memorial Park (Tokyo)

23. Showa Memorial Park (Tokyo)

Autumn foliage for a night owl? Yes, there it is in Tokyo, too!

One of Tokyo’s largest parks, Showa Kinen Park holds its Autumn Leaves Festival from the November 2 to 24. During this period, the park is exclusively open at night. As a part of the festival, they light up a row of gingko trees and the Japanese garden as the Autumn Night Walk.

The best season for autumn leaves is from early to late November.

Opening hours:
9:30-16:30 (General)
16:30-21:00 (Autumn Night Walk)
Admission fee:
General entrance fee -450 yen
Day & Night ticket -610 yen
Night ticket -450 yen (You can only enter in the venue of Autumn Night Walk)

24. Nagatoro (Saitama)

24. Nagatoro (Saitama)

The laid-back village of Nagatoro is popular for its traditional cruises down the Arakawa River – a tour called the Line Kudari that simply can't be missed! In autumn, the trees all along the river turn into reds and yellows, which make for an extraordinary view when reflected in the water. In addition to the boating experience, you can also enjoy other choices such as train or ropeway, to enjoy the autumn foliage in the surrounding area.

The best season for autumn leaves is from early to late November.

25. Irohazaka (Tochigi)

25. Irohazaka (Tochigi)

For those who love driving, Irohazaka would be the best place to see the autumn foliage. It is a long, curvy mountain road connecting Nikko, Lake Chuzenji, and Oku Nikko. When you want to stop by to take in some of the fresh air or to snap a picture of the wonderful view, there are some observation stops along the road.

Written by:

Nao

Nao

A Japanese writer who is from a city by the sea. Started writing from the age of ten. Since then, pen and notebook have always been the best friend. Loves travelling, tea, and books.

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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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