If there’s one place we’d rather be right at this moment, it would be Japan where autumn has now rolled in and the colors of foliage have begun to transform. In contrast to the largely pink palette of cherry blossoms during spring, the fall season in Japan strikes many spectators for its more diverse hues of red, orange, amber, and gold. The colors are so warm and passionate, which is exactly the kind of inspiration we need right now.
Autumn in Japan lasts from mid-September and until early December. If the pinkness of spring is not your style, then daydream with us and take note of the most stunning fall destinations in Japan below.
Tokyo’s Ueno District is home to Ueno Park, a historic urban park popular among locals and tourists alike. During autumn, trees like ginkgo, maple, and cherry trees that populate the park flush red and amber adding vibrancy to the place.
The park is a very convenient fall leaves or koyo viewing spot as it is located near other popular city landmarks like Ueno Zoo and Tokyo National Museum.
Get the Tokyo subway 72-hour ticket on KKday to get around the city with ease.
Location: Uenokoen, Taito City, Tokyo, 110-0007
Best Time to Visit: Mid-November to early December
Lake Kawaguchi, Fuji Five Lakes
An ideal day trip from Tokyo, Lake Kawaguchi is one of the best year-round destinations for people seeking a stunning close-up view of Mount Fuji. The mountain itself stays frosted throughout the year, but it’s the foliage that frames your view of Mt. Fuji that makes it worth seeking during the fall season in Japan. Kawaguchiko also abounds with natural hot springs, where you can combine a relaxing dip with views of Mt. Fuji and fall leaves.
If you’re unable to travel right now, ease the travel itch a bit by looking at image feeds from live cameras around Mt. Fuji and Kawaguchiko.
Location: Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0304
Best Time to Visit: Late October to mid-November
If you’re after the best views of fall foliage in Kyoto, Arashiyama is the place to be. Its most iconic landmark is the historic Togetsukyo Bridge that’s backdropped by mountains covered by various pops of autumn colors. You can traverse the bridge on foot and explore areas on both sides of the river. Other places of interest are the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, the UNESCO-inscribed Tenryuji Temple, and Monkey Park Iwatayama.
A popular way to go sightseeing around Arashiyama and other parts of Kyoto is through a romantic vintage train ride on the Sagano Scenic Railway.
For a unique experience, book an Arashiyama rickshaw tour on KKday.
Location: Arashiyama Park, Saganakanoshimacho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto 616-8383
Best Time to Visit: Late November
Kegon Falls, Nikko
While Nikko is dotted with many waterfalls, its Kegon Falls prevails as one of the three great waterfalls of Japan. During fall in Nikko, this sparkling 96-meter cascade stands out amid the deep autumn colors of the vast forests that bound it. There is a free observation deck, but you can also take a 550-yen elevator to get you closer to the base of the waterfall.
With a Nikko Pass, you can combine your visit to Kegon Falls with other historical sites like the Toshogu Shrine.
Location: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1661
Best Time to Visit: October
The scenery of fall colors splashed on the surrounding lush mountains also make this UNESCO World Heritage Site the perfect place for koyo viewing. Savor the colorful foliage at your own pace, along the peaceable community roads or through the windows of your traditional gassho-style accommodation in Shirakawa-go.
While daydreaming about your trip, have a look at the changing colors surrounding this quaint village through the official Shirakawa-go Live Camera.
Location: Shirakawa Village, Ohno District, Gifu
Best Time to Visit: Late October to late November
Shinhotaka Ropeway, Takayama
Also in Gifu Prefecture, Shinhotaka Ropeway is a twin cable car system that can take you up to 2,156 meters, from which you can relish sweeping views of Japan’s Northern Alps in color. It boasts the only double-decker gondola in Japan, which can carry up to 120 passengers at a time. Aside from alpine fall foliage sightseeing, there are a lot of things you can do at the ropeway’s four stations—shopping, dining, hiking, and even dipping in an open-air natural hot spring bath.
Location: Shinhotaka Onsen, Okuhida Onsen-go, Takayama, Gifu 506-1421
Best Time to Visit: Late September to October
Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki
Designated as a National Scenic and Natural Monument, Takachiho Gorge is an enchanting place to be in during the fall season in Japan. You can go on a romantic boat tour along the winding Gokase River bounded by towering cliffs draped in fall foliage. Watch out for the Manai Falls, a magical place that glows in its mist and the sunlight leaking through the narrow gorge.
Location: Takachiho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki 882 – 1103
Best Time to Visit: Mid to late November
Noboribetsu is a perfect change of scenery—quite literally as it’s hard to find any other place like this. Jigokudani’s combination of a volcanic landscape, hot steams oozing out of the earth, and the thriving forests exudes an exotic charm. Thanks to said rich landscape, natural hot springs abound in Noboribetsu Onsen Town, many of which are open-air style letting you savor the fall foliage while relaxing.
Location: Noboribetsuonsencho, Noboribetsu, Hokkaido 059-0551
Best Time to Visit: Mid to late October
Can’t get enough of Japan? Browse all of the country’s sights and experiences for every season on KKday!
Words by Rei Leano
Featured image from Unsplash