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Japan’s Autumn Leaves: 2018 Fall Foliage Calendar

Japan’s Autumn Leaves: 2018 Fall Foliage Calendar

Date published: 5 November 2018

Autumn in Japan is almost as famous as spring, boasting stunningly vivid autumn leaf colors! If you plan a trip to Japan between October and November, you absolutely cannot miss the many beautiful spots for fall foliage. However, peak time for this natural spectacle varies by area. Generally speaking, when temperatures fall in autumn (between September and November), the coloration is earlier, but if it is warm longer than usual, expect it to be late. If your visit doesn’t happen right at peak time, you’ll miss the phenomenon – at least that’s what many people think.

That’s why we’re here to introduce the peak times of popular autumn leaf spots all around Japan with a thorough “Japan Autumn Leaf Calendar!” Fall of 2018 promises regular or slightly delayed coloration for northern Japan while east and west Japan seem to be earlier than usual. Check our calendar and plan your trip to make the most out of autumn in Japan!

1. Hokkaido

1. Hokkaido
Jouzankei (Sapporo city)

One of Hokkaido’s most iconic autumn leaf spots is Hokkaido University’s Ginkgo Avenue. Situated on the premises of the university, it features 70 trees lining 380 meters of the avenue. During fall, the road is covered in a golden canopy. Hokkaido is also called the “northern land” and the only area of the country with a subarctic climate, meaning that fall foliage can be admired much earlier compared to the rest of Japan.

Famous Spots
- Hokkaido University Ginkgo Avenue (Sapporo)
- Jouzando (Sapporo)
- Miharashi Park (Hakodate)
- Lake Akan (Kushiro)

Peak Time
October 10 to October 31

Average Temperature in Autumn
7.5℃/45.5℉ (Sapporo City, Hokkaido Prefecture, October)

2. Tohoku

2. Tohoku
Zao Mountain Range (Yamagata Prefecture)

The Tohoku area is in the northern part of Honshu, the largest of Japan’s main islands. The best time to see autumn leaves is between mid-October and late November, relatively early compared to the rest of Japan, just like Hokkaido. Tohoku is rich in beautiful foliage spots such as Naruko Valley in Miyagi Prefecture’s Osaki City. It takes about 10 minutes by car from Naruko Onsen Station and once there, indulge in a 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.

Famous Spots
- Naruko Valley (Miyagi)
- Mt. Kurikoma (Iwate)
- Zao Mountain Range (Yamagata)
- Oirase Gorge (Aomori)
- Kakunodate (Akita)

Peak Time
November 10 to November 30 (places with high altitude such as the Zao Mountain range: early to mid-October)

Average Temperature in Autumn
11.2°C/52.16℉ (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, October)

3. Kanto

3. Kanto
Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture)

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 the crowds. Japanese gardens are also amazingly tranquil spots to savor the vivid colors of autumn and while peak time varies from spot to spot, this year seems to be late November to mid-December.

Famous Spots
- Meijijingū Gaien (Meiji Shrine Outer Garden, Tokyo)
- Hakone Museum of Art (Hakone)
- Lake Chūzenji (Nikkō)

Peak Time
November 30 to December 20

Average Temperature in Autumn
12.1℃/53.6℉ (Tokyo, November)

4. Hokuriku / Chubu

4. Hokuriku / Chubu

Hokuriku

Kurobe Dam (Toyama Prefecture)

The Hokuriku area stretches over central and northern Honshu and is known for an abundance of high mountain ranges and Japan’s heaviest snowfall. Mid-November promises to be the best time to see autumn leaves there in 2018, but if you’re planning a trip, take into account that some spots might be earlier. Hokuriku’s most iconic autumn spot is Kenroku-en in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. It’s a special scenic spot that is also part of Japan’s Three Great Gardens and 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.

Famous Spots
- Kenroku-en (Kanazawa)
- Tateyama between Murodo-Daira and Kurobe Dam (Toyama)
- Natadera Temple (Komatsu)
- Kakusenkei Park (Kaga)
- Lake Kuzuryu (Fukui)

Peak Time
November 10 to November 20 (places with high altitude such as Tateyama: mid- to late October)

Average Temperature in Autumn
7.7℃/45.86℉ (Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, November)

Chubu

Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Fuji (Yamanashi Prefecture)

The Chubu region is the home of 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.

Famous Spots
- Korankei (Toyama)
- Iwayado Park (Seto)
- Gero Onsen (Gero)
- Shuzenji Nature Park (Izu)
- Lake Kawaguchi (Yamanashi)

Peak Time
November 30 to December 20

Average Temperature in Autumn
1.7℃/35.06℉ (around Lake Kawaguchi/Mt. Fuji, Yamanashi Prefecture, November)

5. Kansai

5. Kansai
Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Kyoto Prefecture)

The Kansai region is the home of major, historic cities including Kyoto and Osaka. Especially Kyoto is incredibly famous for its stunning autumn sceneries, combining traditional Japanese buildings with fall foliage at spots such as Daihonzan and Enkō-ji Temple. Metasequoia Namiki Avenue is another spot 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 Japan’s “New 100 Scenic Avenues.”

Famous Spots
- Arashiyama (Koyoto)
- Daihonzan (Kyoto)
- Kyomizu-dera Temple (Kyoto)
- Enkō-ji Temple (Kyoto)
- Hieizan (Otsu)
- Mino Falls (Osaka)
- Metasequoia Namiki Avenue (Shiga)

Peak Time
November 10 to November 30

Average Temperature in Autumn
7.8℃/46.04℉ (Kyoto Prefecture, November)

6. Chugoku

6. Chugoku
Daishoin (Hiroshima Prefecture)

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. Numerous Japanese maple trees dip the park into a vivid red, making it almost seem like the branches are on fire. Miyajima is most famous for the large torii gate standing in the water and 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 the colors of autumn.

Famous Spots
- Momijidani Park (Miyajima, Hiroshima)
- Ozekiyama Park (Hiroshima)
- Daisen-ji (Tottori)
- Tsuyama Castle (Okayama)
- Okutsu Valley (Okayama)
- Chomonkyo Gorge (Yamaguchi)

Peak Time
November 20 to November 30

Average Temperature in Autumn
8.5℃/47.3℉ (Hiroshima Prefecture, November)

7. Shikoku / Kyusyu

7. Shikoku / Kyusyu

Shikoku

Ritsurin park (Kagawa Prefecture)

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 autumn leaf spots, including Iya Valley in Tokushima and Nametoko Gorge in Ehime – those are particularly recommended for sightseeing in fall!

Famous Spots
- Kankakei (Kagawa)
- Kotohira-gū (Kagawa)
- Ritsurin park (Kagawa)
- Mount Tsurugi (Tokushima)
- Iya Valley (Tokushima
- Nametoko Gorge (Ehime)
- Befukyo Canyon (Kochi)

Peak Time
Around November 30

Average Temperature in Autumn
8.5℃/47.3℉ (Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, November)

Kyusyu

Kyushu’s climate is relatively temperate, gaining popularity as a resort area. Yabakei in Oita’s Nakatsu City is one of the area’s many colorful autumn leaf spots all around the area. 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. Our warmest recommendation is to enjoy the sunset at Yabakei and watch it transform from light to dark.

Famous Spots
- Mount Kujū (Oita)
- Yabakei (Oita)
- Takachiho Gorge (Miyazaki)
- Kirishima Onsenkyo (Kagoshima)
- Kirishima Shrine (Kagoshima)
- Kiyomizu-dera Garden (Fukuoka)
- Hyugami Gorge (Fukuoka)
- Dazaifu Tenmangū (Fukuoka)

Peak Time
November 30 to December 20

Average Temperature in Autumn
10.2℃/50.36℉ (Fukuoka Prefecture, November)


Source: Japan Weather Association
Photos: Shutterstock.com (except the main image)

*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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