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Tohoku Fall Foliage: 10 Best Places for Autumn Leaves in Miyagi and the Best Times to Do So!

Tohoku Fall Foliage: 10 Best Places for Autumn Leaves in Miyagi and the Best Times to Do So!

Date published: 10 July 2020
Last updated: 7 August 2020

Enjoying autumn leaves in Miyagi is magical. In fall, when many tree leaves turn into is a fundamental part of Japan's fall season, and where better to catch sight of their lovely hues than in Miyagi, a prefecture known for its closeness with nature and all the beautiful benefits it brings?

We've compiled 10 must-visit hotspots for autumn foliage within the prefecture into one handy list here for your convenience, including interesting places like impressive valleys and historical shrines. Hopefully, some of them will pique your interest!

Main image photo credits: Entsuin Temple

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Naruko Gorge: A V-shaped canyon covered in red and yellow
  2. 2. Entsuin Temple: Famous temple dressed in glamorous autumn leaves
  3. 3. Mount Kurikoma: AKA The Carpet of God
  4. 4. Tenshukaku Nature Park: Step into a fantasy world
  5. 5. Zao Echo Line: A mountain range of autumn leaves
  6. 6. Akiu Great Falls: The beautiful marriage of autumn leaves and waterfalls in Miyagi
  7. 7. Lake Choro: The epitome of picturesque autumn leaves in Miyagi
  8. 8. Jogi Nyorai Saihoji Temple: Impressive landscapes with distinctly Japanese aesthetics
  9. 9. Yokokawa Canyon: Surround yourself with autumn leaves from atop the Yamabiko Suspension Bridge
  10. 10. Nametsu Falls: You haven't seen grace in a waterfall until you see this
  11. Related Articles
  12. Book an unforgettable experience in Tohoku!

1. Naruko Gorge: A V-shaped canyon covered in red and yellow

1. Naruko Gorge: A V-shaped canyon covered in red and yellow
Photo credits: Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Division

The famous Naruko Gorge is about a 10-minute drive away from Naruko-Onsen Station on the JR Lines and contains one of the most recognizable autumn foliage scenery associated with Miyagi.

Late October to early November is the best time to visit Miyagi to catch sight of the gorgeous autumn foliage on display here. The valley - filled with the canopies of colorfully vivid beech and maple trees - is about 2.6 kilometers (1.61 miles) long and 100 meters (328 feet) deep.

A great view of these autumn leaves in Miyagi to visit is the observatory platform found on the premises of Naruko Gorge Resthouse. Here is where you can admire the valley's landscape, which comes with a curious bridge peeking out between the foliage for a harmonious picture of verdant nature and modern architecture.

2. Entsuin Temple: Famous temple dressed in glamorous autumn leaves

2. Entsuin Temple: Famous temple dressed in glamorous autumn leaves
Photo credits: Entsūin

Matsushima City is another destination with plenty of popular autumn leaf spots for visitors of Miyagi, foremost among which is Entsūin, a temple that was founded in 1647. It is a very accessible 5-minute walk from Matsushimakaigan Station on the JR Lines. The four gardens within temple grounds have been designed with traditional Japanese aesthetics in mind.

Photo credits: Entsūin

The best time to visit Matsushima for autumn foliage is between late October to mid-November. During this period, the temple gardens will be illuminated at night as well, which adds a touch of dramatic flair to its already audacious appearance. The must-see scene here is the sight of red maple leaves dangling upside-down as they are reflected on the clear and tranquil surface of the temple's Shinji Pond.

  • Entsuin Temple
    円通院
    • Address 67 Matsushimacho, Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun, Miyagi, 981-0213
    • Phone Number 022-354-3206
    • Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Late October to November: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; December to March: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.); Illuminations during late October to November: 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
      Entry fee: Adults 300 yen; High school students 150 yen; Elementary/Junior high 100 yen; Illuminations: Adults 500 yen; High school students 150 yen; Elementary/Junior high 100 yen
      Closed: Open daily

3. Mount Kurikoma: AKA The Carpet of God

3. Mount Kurikoma: AKA The Carpet of God
Photo credits: Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Division

The massive Mount Kurikoma straddles the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate, and Akita. The impressive layers of red, yellow, and orange autumn foliage here mainly consists of beech and rowan tree leaves, and this breathtaking view can be enjoyed from mid-September to mid-October. So strikingly beautiful is the scene when autumn is in full swing that the mountain has been fittingly dubbed, "The Carpet of God", making it among the most popular places for autumn leaves in Miyagi.

To trek up the mountain, new hikers can use the relatively easier route that starts from Miyagi, known as the Iwakagami Daira Trail Entrance, which can be reached in about 1.5 hours by car from Kurikoma-Kogen Station on the Tohoku Shinkansen. You can also hop on a shuttle bus from the station during weekends and public holidays that fall between the end of September to early October.

  • Mt. Kurikoma
    • Address Kurikomanumakura, Kurihara-shi, Miyagi, 989-5371
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Kurikomakogen Station (Tohoku Shinkansen / Hokkaido Shinkansen / Akita Shinkansen)
      90 minutes by car
    • Phone Number 0228-22-1151

4. Tenshukaku Nature Park: Step into a fantasy world

4. Tenshukaku Nature Park: Step into a fantasy world
Photo credits: Tenshukaku Nature Park

This nature park is located in the Akiu hot spring area on the outskirts of Sendai City, and a light-up event is held here every fall season. The mystical mood it evokes draws throngs of tourists and sightseers to the city every year.

The light-up event features lights and illuminations that evolve year-by-year through collaborations with local facilities such as glasswork factories or the Sendai Kaleidoscopes Art Museum. In fact, it once won second place in the event category of [d]arc awards, an awards ceremony celebrating the best in lighting design from around the world.

Photo credits: Tenshukaku Nature Park

The area is made up of Koyatate-Ato Teien Park, hot springs, and an autocamp site, though the light-up event will only be held in Koyatate-Ato Teien Park. This charming Japanese garden can be covered on foot in about half an hour, making it a perfect location for a daytime stroll as well.

To get to the park, hop on the Miyagi Kotsu Bus bound for Akiu Onsen at bus berth 8 near the West Exit of Sendai Station. Disembark at Akiu Onsen Yumoto bus stop and walk for about 15 minutes to arrive at your destination. If you'll be visiting during the day, you can also take Takeya Kotsu's Akiu/Kawasaki Sendai West Liner from bus stop 63 near the west exit of Sendai Station. Get off at Kinoekimae bus stop and walk for about 5 minutes to reach.

  • Tenshukaku Nature Park
    天守閣自然公園
    • Address Genbeebara 10, Akiumachiyumoto, Sendai Shi Taihaku Ku, Miyagi Ken, 982-0241, Japan
    • Phone Number 022-398-2111
    • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (subject to change without notification, may differ according to facility); Light-up Event 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. from late October to mid November
      Entry fee: March to November (except during the light-up event period) / 13 and above - 400 yen; 4 to 12 - 100 yen (half-price from December to February); Light-up event period / 13 and above - 500 yen; 4 to 12 - 200 yen (all prices including tax)
      Closed: Every third Friday from December to February, December 31, January 1

5. Zao Echo Line: A mountain range of autumn leaves

5. Zao Echo Line: A mountain range of autumn leaves
Photo credits: Miyagi Prefecture Tourism Division

If enjoying the autumn leaves in Miyagi from the comfort of your rental car is your kind of tourism, then absolutely plan for a road trip down Zao Echo Line, which is a sightseeing route that cuts through the Zaō Mountain Range from east to west.

Along the way, you'll pass by interesting areas such as the emerald green volcanic crater lake Okama; Takimidai, a platform where you can admire three different waterfalls from a safe distance; and the intimidating Fudō Myōō statue, amongst many other incredible places. This buffet of spectacular sights will enhance the beauty of the autumn leaves and add to your enjoyment.

Zaō's colorful fall leaves start turning red and yellow from the area near the mountaintop, and the period between late September to early October is the best time to catch them in their full glory here.

The coloring then moves down to the foot of the mountain, so mid-October to late October is the best time to see them at the base. It takes about 20 minutes by car to get to the entrance of the Zao Echo Line from Tohoku Expressway's Murata IC.

  • Zao Echo Line
    蔵王エコーライン
    • Address Togattaonsen, Katta Gun Zao Machi, Miyagi Ken, 989-0916, Japan
    • Hours: Access is only allowed between late April to early November
      Entry fee: Passage is free of charge
      Phone: 0224-34-2725 (Zaō Town Sightseeing Bureau)

6. Akiu Great Falls: The beautiful marriage of autumn leaves and waterfalls in Miyagi

6. Akiu Great Falls: The beautiful marriage of autumn leaves and waterfalls in Miyagi
Photo credits: (Public Corp.) Sendai Sightseeing International Association

Akiu Great Falls is counted among Japan's three most famous waterfalls, and this is the best spot to enjoy the spectacular sight of a vigorous waterfall framed by various shades of autumn leaves.

The area comes equipped with a recreation trail with steps to bring visitors nearer to the waterfall basin so that they can personally experience the heart-thumping sensation of standing so close to one of nature's most powerful scenes.

It takes about 30 minutes to reach the waterfall basin from the large carpark on foot. Since the steps of the trail are located near the waterfall, they are often wet and slippery, so be sure to have a pair of comfortable walking shoes on.

The best time to enjoy the sights here is between mid-October to early November. To get to the large carpark of the waterfall, take a municipal bus bound for Akiu Onsen / Futakuchi from berth two of Ayashi Station on the JR Lines and disembark at the Akiuootaki bus stop.

A shuttle bus is also available only on weekends and public holidays from Sendai Station on the JR lines. Hop on the bus from bus berth 8 of the West Exit and get off at the Akiuootaki bus stop.

  • Akiu Great Falls
    秋保大滝
    • Address Ootakizinai, Akiumachibaba, Sendai Shi Taihaku Ku, Miyagi Ken, 982-0244, Japan
    • Phone: 022-399-2323 (Akiu Onsenkyo Sightseeing Center)
      Free to tour

7. Lake Choro: The epitome of picturesque autumn leaves in Miyagi

7. Lake Choro: The epitome of picturesque autumn leaves in Miyagi
Photo credits: Shichikashuku Town Tourism Association

Lake Choro is a beautiful lake with a pristine blue surface that reflects its surroundings perfectly. During the fall season, therefore, when the surrounding beech, oak, and maple trees start donning their autumn leaves, the beautiful sight is reflected upon the lake's surface. This view is the very epitome of picturesque autumn leaves in Miyagi Prefecture!

Mid October to early November is the best time to catch this fantastical view. The most convenient way to get to Lake Choro is by car, but if you'll be using public transport, note that you'll have to transfer between buses that run infrequently, so be sure to include plenty of leeway in your schedule.

For bus access, take the Shichikashuku Town Bus bound for Yakuba from Shiroishizao Station on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen and get off at the last stop after about 45 minutes. Transfer to the Shichikashuku Town Bus bound for Yokokawa/Choro and get off at the last stop after about 25 minutes, then walk for about 10 minutes more to reach the lake proper.

  • Lake Choro
    長老湖
    • Address Choro, Katta Gun Shichikashuku Machi, Miyagi Ken, 989-0508, Japan
    • Phone: 0224-37-2177 (Shichikashuku Town Hometown Revival Department)
      Free to tour

8. Jogi Nyorai Saihoji Temple: Impressive landscapes with distinctly Japanese aesthetics

8. Jogi Nyorai Saihoji Temple: Impressive landscapes with distinctly Japanese aesthetics
Photo credits: (Public Corp.) Sendai Sightseeing International Association

This peaceful temple is located deep within the mountains on the outskirts of Sendai City. It opened its doors in 1706 and is said to bring blessings upon those who come to seek luck in romance, fertility, and personal safety.

When fall comes around to Miyagi, the trees within the temple start taking on beautiful autumn shades, making it look quite artistic, but in a tastefully Japanese way, especially with the 29-meter tall five-storied pagoda standing tall among the brilliant and beautiful leaves as they sway in the breeze.

Come during late October for the best views. To get here, take the Sendai City Bus bound for Jogi from bus terminal no. 10 outside the West Exit of Sendai Station on the JR Lines. Disembark at the last stop. The journey will take around 75 minutes, but it's a direct path from Sendai Station to the temple, so there's no need to worry about transfers.

  • Jogi Nyorai Saihoji Temple
    定義如来西方寺
    • Address 1 Joge Aza Okura Aobaku Sendai Miyagi 989-3213
    • Phone Number 022-393-2011
    • Free to visit

9. Yokokawa Canyon: Surround yourself with autumn leaves from atop the Yamabiko Suspension Bridge

9. Yokokawa Canyon: Surround yourself with autumn leaves from atop the Yamabiko Suspension Bridge
Photo credits: Shichikashuku Town Tourism Association

Both sides of the canyon are decorated with broadleaf trees like beech and oak, and early October to late November is the best time to catch them in their full autumn glory, especially from the middle of Yamabiko Suspension Bridge, the largest suspension bridge in Tohoku, measuring about 120 meters (393 feet) in length. Many have had their breaths taken away by the beautiful sight the place has to offer - and it sure wasn't because of being on a suspension bridge!

Although there is a bus stop nearby, the buses that ply this route are infrequent, so driving is still the best way to reach this place. If you have to use public transport, take the town bus bound for Shichikashukumachi Yakuba from Shiraishi Station on the JR Tohoku Main Line and get off at the last stop. Change to the town bus bound for Yokokawa/Choro and get off at the bus stop Seishonen Ryokomura, then walk for about five minutes to reach.

  • Yokokawa Canyon
    横川渓谷
    • Address Yokokawa, Katta Gun Shichikashuku Machi, Miyagi Ken, 989-0503, Japan
    • Phone: 0224-37-2177 (Shichikashuku Town Hometown Revival Department)
      Free to tour

10. Nametsu Falls: You haven't seen grace in a waterfall until you see this

10. Nametsu Falls: You haven't seen grace in a waterfall until you see this
Photo credits: Shichikashuku Town Tourism Association

Nametsu Falls is one of the most well-known waterfalls of Miyagi. It has a few layers of tuffs shaped like stairs, which also earned it the moniker, "Two-Storied Waterfall". The waterfall is 10 meters (32 feet) tall and 30 meters (98 feet) wide, and a large quantity of water constantly flows off the edges across its entire width, a powerful sight whether from afar or up close.

Surrounding the waterfall are beech, oak, and other broadleaf trees, which offer some of the best autumn leaves in Miyagi between mid-October to early November. A great viewpoint to visit is the Takimi Platform at the carpark of the nearby Shichikashuku Seasonal Market. The area also installs illuminations during the fall season every year to liven up the mood even further.

Take a bus from Shiraishi Station on the JR Lines and get off at the Shichikashukucmachi Yakuba bus stop. Change to a town bus and get off at the Nametsu Ootaki bus stop and walk for 2 minutes to reach. As mentioned, the bus runs on an infrequent schedule, so be sure to plan a lot of allowance into the schedule, just in case anything crops up.

  • Nametsu Falls
    滑川大滝
    • Address Nametsu, Katta Gun Shichikashuku Machi, Miyagi Ken, 989-0549, Japan
    • Phone: 0224-37-2177 (Shichikashuku Town Hometown Revival Department)
      Free to tour

We hope you've found the list useful! The exact best timing to catch the autumn foliage at its peak will differ from year to year, and the dates of events being held in these places, such as night illumination events, may change as well, so always check the location's official website for the latest information before heading down!

Text by: ShoePress. English translation by: Huimin Pan.

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*The above article is based on information from June 2020

*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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