Best Autumn Color Spots

Autumn Color Report 2016

Autumn leaves can be enjoyed in various ways. During the early phase of the season, the colors are mostly found in the mountains where entire slopes turn orange, yellow and red, and provide some of the most amazing seasonal sceneries. Hiking is the most rewarding way to see the colorful leaves in the mountains, but many spots can also be conveniently reached by train, bus or ropeway.

In the second phase of the autumn leaf season, the colors descend into Japan's cities, where they can be viewed in parks and gardens. Among the highlights are the autumn colors in the temples gardens of Kyoto where they beautifully complement with the buildings' elegant architecture. Almost surreal is the sight of the trees during evening illuminations, which are held at selected gardens and temples.

Below is an incomplete list of some of the best autumn color spots across Japan:
Hokkaido - Tohoku - Tokyo - Around Tokyo - Kyoto - Central Japan - Western Japan

Ratings:    best of the best    best of Japan    outstanding


Daisetsuzan National Park
Mid September to mid October
The mountains of Daisetsuzan National Park are the first place in Japan to see autumn colors each year. Early in the season (mid to late September) spectacular colors can be enjoyed by hiking into the higher elevations around Mount Asahidake, Ginsendai or Kogen Onsen. Later in the season (early to mid October) the colors are good in lower elevations, such as around Sounkyo.

Shiretoko National Park
Late September to mid October
Among the best spots to see the colors on the Shiretoko Peninsula are the Shiretoko Pass in early October and the Shiretoko Five Lakes in mid October.

Early to mid October
The trees surrounding Noboribetsu's spectacular hell valley and around the sulfurous ponds further up the forested slopes, turn beautifully colorful in October.

Onuma Park
Mid to late October
Located near the southern tip of Hokkaido, Onuma Park sees autumn colors in the second half of October. The colors can be enjoyed on pleasant easy walk along the park's ponds.


Early to late October
Some of Japan's most spectacular autumn colors are found in the Hachimantai mountains. Good spots include the summit of Mount Hachimantai, Goshogake Onsen with nearby Onuma Pond, Tamagawa Onsen and Nyuto Onsen.

Lake Towada and Oirase Stream
Late October
One of Japan's most famous autumn leaf spots is Lake Towadako and its Oirase Stream in Aomori Prefecture. It is possible to follow the stream through the colorful forest for several kilometers along a walking trail.

Naruko Gorge
Late October to early November
Located about two hours inland from Sendai, the Naruko Gorge is one of the Tohoku Region's most famous autumn color spots. There are a few walking trails to enjoy the colors from. Most photographed is the view of Ofukazawa Bridge floating among the autumn foliage.

Early to late October
Urabandai is a pond dotted highland north of Mount Bandai popular for its hiking opportunities and attractive scenery. The popular autumn color destination also offers some spectacular sightseeing roads from which to view the autumn foliage.


Late November to early December
Rikugien is one of Tokyo's nicest Japanese landscape gardens. And its autumn leaves are among the best in the city. The garden is opened for special illuminations during the peak of the season.

Koishikawa Korakuen
Late November to early December
Alongside Rikugien, Koishikawa Korakuen is Tokyo's best landscape garden. As such, it is naturally also one of the city's most pleasant autumn color spots.

Icho Namiki (Ginkgo Avenue)
Late November to early December
The ginkgo (icho) is the official tree of Tokyo. The most famous of the many ginkgo lined streets in the city is the Icho Namiki or "Ginkgo Avenue" in the Meiji-jingu Gaien Park, whose trees are pruned in a quite spectacular fashion.

Mount Takao
Mid to late November
Takaosan, a wooded mountain with temple, is a pleasant place near central Tokyo to enjoy some hiking in an autumnal natural surrounding. The base of the mountain can be reached in just a 50 minute train ride from Shinjuku.

More autumn color spots in Tokyo...

Around Tokyo

Late September to mid October
Oze is a national park about 100 kilometers north of Tokyo. It offers beautiful hiking courses through mountainous marshlands and around a pond. Autumn colors start in late September in form of kusamomiji (grass autumn colors) when the grass covered marshlands turn into a beautiful reddish yellow.

Early October to mid November
The Okunikko region around Lake Chuzenji and Yumoto Onsen is particularly nice for autumn colors during most of October. Colors then descend into the town of Nikko where they can usually be seen into mid November. The autumnal spectacle attracts large crowds, especially on weekends in October.

Mount Tanigawadake
Mid to late October
Tanigawadake is a famous mountain range in Minakami a popular outdoor destination in Gunma Prefecture, where spectacular autumn colors can be enjoyed from hiking trails and a Tanigawadake Ropeway. In the lower elevations around Minakami, autumn colors last into mid November.

Mid November
Sakurayama is a unique place where winter flowering cherry blossoms can be seen in combination with autumn colors. It is located in Gunma Prefecture, about two hours north of Tokyo. Unfortunately, public transportation to the park is pretty bad, so it is best visited by rental car.

Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko)
Late October to mid November
The Fuji Five Lake region at the northern base of Mount Fuji offers some of the best views of the iconic mountain in combination with autumn colors. The northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko offer some particularly nice spots. Further up the mountain, around the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, the colors start in early October.

Shosenkyo Gorge
Late October to mid November
Often referred to as Japan's most beautiful gorge, the Shosenkyo Gorge outside of central Kofu City is particularly spectacular during the autumn leaf season.

Early to late November
A moderate amount of autumn colors can be enjoyed across the Hakone region from early November in the higher elevations to late November in the lower elevations.

Late November to mid December
Several of Kamakura's temples and shrines come with some autumn colors. Due to the town's mild climate, the peak of the season is often not reached until early December.


Mid to late November
Usually best in the second half of November, Tofukuji Temple displays some of Kyoto's most spectacular autumn foliage. The views of and from the Tsutenkyo Bridge are particularly impressive, and the temple gets very crowded.

Late November to early December
Arashiyama is a district at the outskirts of Kyoto. The forested mountains in the background and the trees on the grounds of Arashiyama's temples usually turn colors in the second half of November.

Late November to early December
The highly popular Kiyomizudera is also a spectacular autumn color spot. The trees around the temples large wooded stages usually turn red in the second half of November.

Late November to early December
With their abundance of autumn colors, the temple grounds of Eikando are another of Kyoto's most popular koyo spots. It is one of several temples that offer special illumination opening hours in the evenings.

Mid to late November
Similar to Kiyomizudera on Kyoto's eastern mountains (Higashiyama), Yoshiminedera is a temple on the slopes of Kyoto's western mountains (Nishiyama) with nice views over the city and beautiful autumn colors.

More autumn color spots in Kyoto...

Central Japan

Tateyama Kurobe Alpen Route
Late September to early November
Thanks to the great elevation range covered by the Tateyama Kurobe Alpen Route through the Northern Japanese Alps, autumn colors can be enjoyed somewhere along the route from late September all the way into early November.

Kurobe Gorge
Late October to mid November
The Kurobe Gorge is a steep, forested ravine in the rugged mountains of the Northern Japan Alps. Visitors can take in the autumn colors from sightseeing trains that travel about 20 kilometers into the gorge.

Mid to late November
Korankei is a valley near Nagoya reputed to be one of the best spots for autumn colors in the Chubu Region. Hundreds of maple trees line the river and walking trails around Mount Iimori. Various food stands provide for a pleasant festival atmosphere.

Western Japan (except Kyoto)

Mino Park
Late November
Mino Park is a valley with a temple and waterfall in the forested mountains north of Osaka, accessible from the city center in only 30 minutes by train. It is one of the city's most pleasant autumn color spots, but can become quite busy especially on weekends.

Late October to mid November
A moderate number of trees around the town of Koyasan provide attractive seasonal colors from around late October to mid November, making Koyasan a good destination for those too early to see the colors in the lower elevations of the Kansai Region.

Mount Daisen
Late October to early November
The highest mountain in the Chugoku Region, Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture, provides hiking and walking opportunities among attractive autumn colors.

Mid November
A moderate amount of autumn colors can be found in and around the small shrine town on Miyajima Island, just outside of Hiroshima. The highest concentration of colorful trees is found in the Momijidani (Maple Valley) behind the town.

Kuju Mountains
Early to mid October
The mild climate does not make Kyushu one of Japan's top destinations for autumn colors. Nevertheless, there are some nice spots to see the seasonal colors. Among the best are the Kuju Mountains, which contain the island's highest peaks and offer spectacular hiking in a volcanic landscape.

Ratings:    best of the best    best of Japan    outstanding

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Page last updated: September 16, 2015