Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons in Japan, thanks to the stunning autumn colors known as koyo that transforms the country into a breathtaking landscape of vibrant red, orange and gold leaves. Seeing Japan's fall foliage in person is a must if you visit at this time of year. There is a wealth of amazing places to do so, from epic national parks with picturesque hiking trails to serene temples and shrines surrounded by Japanese maple trees in gorgeous hues of crimson. Read on for our recommendations of the top spots where you can admire them in nature
Plan ahead: Make a note of when's the best time to see Japan's fall colors by consulting the 2023 fall foliage forecast.
17 of the Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Japan
Here are some of our top recommendations for where to see fall foliage in Japan:
- Daisetsuzan National Park (Hokkaido)
- Hachimantai (Tohoku)
- Okunikko (Tochigi)
- Korankei (Aichi)
- Rikugien Garden (Tokyo)
- Meiji-Jingu Gaien (Tokyo)
- Mt. Takao (Tokyo)
- Kawaguchiko (Yamanashi)
- Eikando Temple (Kyoto)
- Arashiyama (Kyoto)
- Tofukuji Temple (Kyoto)
- Osaka Castle (Osaka)
- Mino Park (Osaka)
- Hoshida Park (Osaka)
- Nara Park (Nara)
- Tanzan Shrine (Nara)
- Miyajima (Hiroshima)
1. Daisetsuzan National Park (Hokkaido)
Rugged Daisetsuzan is the largest national park in Hokkaido and usually boasts the first fall foliage Japan sees. The hike from the Ginsendai trailhead to the peak of Mount Akadake offers some of the best panoramic views of the colorful slopes carpeted in vivid shades of red and orange.
2. Hachimantai (Iwate)
The mountains of Hachimantai span three prefectures and are among Tohoku’s best areas to enjoy koyo. Some epic locations include the picturesque Onuma Pond, which has an easy one-kilometer hiking route around the perimeter, and the volcanic Goshogake Onsen.
3. Okunikko (Tochigi)
Okunikko, to the north of Tokyo and west of Nikko, is bursting with stunning spots to see the autumn leaves in Japan. Ryuzu Waterfall finds itself surrounded by fiery red and orange trees, while the majestic 100-meter-tall Kegon Waterfall and scenic Lake Chuzenji are also extra impressive at this time of year.
Check out our guide on where to eat in Nikko to learn about the local specialties.
4. Korankei (Aichi)
Korankei Gorge near Nagoya is renowned as one of the best places in the whole Chubu region to view fall foliage. There are around 4,000 Japanese maple trees along the Tomoe River and the path towards Kojakuji Temple, which were planted by a priest and local residents. One of the most photogenic spots is the bright vermilion Taigetsukyo Bridge, which has become a symbol for the area.
Join the Regional Nagoya Food Tour and discover popular local dishes in Aichi Prefecture's capital.
5. Rikugien Garden (Tokyo)
An Edo-era strolling garden designed to replicate scenes from six famous poems, Rikugien is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful spots for koyo in the country. Head for the Tsutsuji no Chaya teahouse and Togetsukyo Bridge to admire the leaves, and consider staying late for the striking evening illuminations.
6. Meiji-Jingu Gaien (Tokyo)
The Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue in Meiji-Jingu Gaien Park is a spectacular sight. The road is lined with towering ginkgo trees that turn a dazzling gold in the fall to create a vivid tunnel over you and blanket the path beneath your feet with bright yellow leaves.
7. Mt. Takao (Tokyo)
Mt. Takao is one of the closest hiking spots to Tokyo, making a fantastic day trip if you want to go walking among autumn leaves in Japan. Alternatively, you can take the cable car halfway up and admire the view in comfort. Be sure to stop by the colorful Yakuoin Temple on your way to the summit.
8. Kawaguchiko (Yamanashi)
Located at the base of Mt. Fuji, Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi) offers an unbeatable opportunity to view fall foliage and this iconic peak at the same time. The Momiji Corridor, lined with about 60 Japanese maple trees, is a gorgeous spot and is lit up during the area's fall festival.
Join this cooking class and learn how to make Yamanashi Prefecture's specialty, hoto noodles.
9. Eikando Temple (Kyoto)
Kyoto is overflowing with breathtaking koyo locations, one of the most famous being Eikando. The temple’s striking Tahoto Pagoda offers fantastic views out over the grounds as they’re transformed into a sea of vivid red and orange, while the garden circling Hojo Pond is delightful to stroll around – especially when illuminated after dark.
10. Arashiyama (Kyoto)
The Arashiyama district in western Kyoto might be best known for its bamboo grove, but it's also a wonderful spot to view autumn leaves in Japan. The image of the Togetsukyo Bridge with the forested mountainside behind it ablaze in hues of red and yellow is unmissable. For a truly serene experience, rent a boat and enjoy the views from the water.
11. Tofukuji Temple (Kyoto)
Easily one of the most legendary spots in Japan for koyo, the fall colors at Tofukuji Temple will take your breath away. The highlight here is Tsutenkyo Bridge, which soars across a valley of Japanese maple trees.
12. Osaka Castle (Osaka)
Osaka Castle is one of the city's most iconic and beautiful sights, and it becomes even more attractive during the fall when the ginkgo trees turn a glorious golden hue. Climb to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of Osaka in all its autumn splendor.
13. Minoh Park (Osaka)
This forested region just outside the bustling city is one of Osaka’s top spots for viewing fall foliage in a natural setting. Take the three-kilometer hiking path to the cascading Minoh Waterfall to reach the most picturesque location — be sure to pick up some sweet fried maple leaves on your way.
Join the Minoh Falls Japanese Craft Beer Hike with a certified craft beer expert for an experience with a foodie twist.
14. Hoshida Park (Osaka)
The 280-meter-long Hoshi no Buranko suspension bridge in Hoshida Park is one of the absolute best places to view autumn leaves in Japan — as long as you’re not afraid of heights! Soaring 50 meters above the ground, it offers unrivaled views of the forested valley below.
15. Nara Park (Nara)
To enjoy the fall season in Japan with an extra cute vibe, Nara Park is the place to go. Here you can watch adorable deer frolic among the golden ginkgo leaves and crimson Japanese maple trees, as well as admire the sights of Kasuga Shrine, Todaiji Temple, and Kofukuji Temple’s stunning five-storied pagoda.
16. Tanzan Shrine (Nara)
This stunning shrine to the south of Nara Prefecture was built especially for viewing fall foliage. Approximately 3,000 Japanese maple trees surround its unique 13-storied pagoda, and the balcony of the shrine's main hall is lined with dark metal lanterns that contrast beautifully with the red leaves beyond.
See our list of must-do activities in Nara for more travel inspiration.
17. Miyajima (Hiroshima)
Miyajima island’s Momijidani Park and sacred Mount Misen are both transformed into oceans of blazing red and orange in the fall. Hike up to the summit for a magnificent aerial view, or stroll across the scenic vermilion Momijibashi Bridge to feel as though you’re walking through a painting.
Hit downtown Hiroshima with a tour guide and taste local specialties during the Food Tour Adventure in Hiroshima at Night!
These are just some of the many achingly beautiful locations to see fall foliage in Japan. The sight of the gorgeous red and gold fall foliage will be something you never forget, so try and get out and explore as many koyo spots as you can!
Fall in Japan is also synonymous with seasonal delights. Check out byFood's roundup of fall experiences and restaurants with seasonal menus.