Below is a list of some of Nikko's most popular autumn color spots with the approximate timings for best viewing in the average year.

The coloring season in Nikko is long because of the wide range in elevation from the mountains of the Okunikko region to the Nikko town area down in the valley. The colors usually first arrive in the high elevations of Okunikko around early October, reach Lake Chuzenji in mid October and the Irohazaka Winding Road in late October before descending to the town of Nikko in early November. Note that the best colors are found in the Okunikko region, while the town area of Nikko is dominated by evergreen trees and does not offer too many colors.

Due to the popularity of Nikko's autumn scenery, traffic to and within the Okunikko area can become congested during the peak of the season. To reduce the crowds, it is advisable to avoid weekends and to go early in the day. Travelers with a rental car could consider accessing the Okunikko region through the less busy backdoor from Numata in Gunma Prefecture along National Route 120. No public transportation is offered along that route.

Early Season

Ryuzu Waterfall

Early to mid October
Ryuzu Waterfall is one of the most popular autumn color spots in Nikko. Perhabs due to its shadowy location, it is also one of the first spots to change colors. The trees along the waterfall usually start coloring already in early October, about a week earlier than the trees on a similar elevation.

Yumoto Onsen

Mid October
The autumn colors around Yumoto Onsen Town typically arrive around early October and reach their best around mid October. Here, you can enjoy lovely fall scenery in combination with the picturesque Lake Yunoko, as well as take a hot spring bath at one of the ryokan in town.

Yudaki Waterfall

Mid October
The spectacular Yudaki Waterfall is located immediately south of Lake Yunoko. Nice colors can be observed in combination with the waterfall around mid October.

Mid Season

Senjogahara Marshland

Early to late October
The Senjogahara Marshland displays beautiful autumn scenery during most of October. The early provider of autumn colors is the marshland's grass that gradually changes into brilliant yellows before turning slightly reddish. Later during the month, the larch trees provide some of the best golden colors that nature has to offer.

Lake Chuzenji

Mid to late October
The forested slopes of Mount Nantai and the other mountains surrounding Lake Chuzenji provide excellent fall scenery typically from mid to late October. The colors can be enjoyed from Chuzenjiko Onsen or from sightseeing cruises on the lake. Spectacular views of the lake can also be enjoyed from the Hangetsuyama Observation Deck on the mountain southeast of the lake.

Kegon Waterfall

Mid to late October
Ranked as one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, Kegon Waterfall is a sight to behold, particularly around late October when beautiful autumn colors enhance its surroundings.

Irohazaka Winding Road

Late October to early November
The Irohazaka Winding Road connects the town of Nikko with Okunikko. Great views of autumn foliage can be seen along the road and from the observation deck at Akechidaira Plateau. Colors usually start to become pleasant in mid to late October at the top of the slope, before gradually moving down to the bottom by early November.

Late Season

Shoyoen Garden

Early to mid November
Shoyoen is a small pond garden which belongs to Rinnoji Temple. The garden has many maple trees which provide some saturated autumn colors typically during the first half of November. It is one of only a few colorful spots situated in Nikko's town center where evergreen trees are otherwise predominant. Shoyoen is illuminated on evenings during the autumn color season.

Getting there and around

Hotels around Nikko