17 Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots – Where to Travel

17 Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots – Where to Travel

Japan fall foliage is nothing short of magical.

Crisp air, clear skies, and the landscape ablaze with autumn colors. Nothing is as spectacular as seeing the world’s most spectacular shrines and temples surrounded by autumn reds, oranges, and gold.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a photographer, or simply looking for a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Japan’s fall foliage spots will leave you breathless.

This article will guide you through the will, from ancient temples to traditional gardens and awe-inspiring mountain peaks.

When to See Autumn Leaves in Japan

The fall season in Japan depends on the region. Cool temperatures start to change the leaves in Hokkaido as early as mid-September. As autumn moves southward, the colors change in central and northern Japan in early and mid-October. The peak of the fall foliage season is usually around late October to early November. Mid-November is the ideal time to experience autumn leaves at popular tourist spots like Meiji Jingu Gaien in Tokyo and Eikando Temple in Kyoto.

In southern Japan, including Kyoto and Tokyo, the best time to see the autumn colors is typically from late November to early December.

Japan Fall Weather

Dressing for fall in Japan can be tricky. The temperatures vary greatly depending on where you are in the country.

The weather can get chilly in Hokkaido and northern Japan, especially at night. Central and southern Japan have milder temperatures. However, it is best to pack layers as the temperature can fluctuate throughout the day.

Don’t forget to bring a jacket and comfortable walking shoes, as many of the best fall foliage spots require hiking.

17 Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots

1 – Lake Towadako and Oirase Stream, Aomori Prefecture

Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots - Towada Lake and Oirase Stream
Source: Canva

Lake Towadako and the Oirase Stream are prime spots to experience the breathtaking autumn leaves in Japan, with stunning views of fall colors. Over a dozen waterfalls cascade all along the length of the Oirase stream. The hiking trails along the stream are perfect for a serene and picturesque walk.

2 – Naruko Gorge, Miyagi Prefecture

Naruko Gorge (鳴子峡, Narukokyō) ranks among the Tohoku Region’s most picturesque landscapes. Nestled in northwestern Miyagi Prefecture, approximately 70 kilometers from Sendai, Naruko Gorge is a captivating destination. From late October to early November, it showcases fall foliage and is a spectacular sight.

3 – Hamarikyu Gardens, Tokyo

Hama Rikyu (浜離宮, Hama Rikyū) is a sprawling, picturesque landscape garden situated in the heart of Tokyo. Nestled beside Tokyo Bay, the garden boasts seawater ponds that rise and fall with the tides. The charming island teahouse allows visitors to relax and soak in the scenic beauty. This traditionally styled Japanese garden offers a striking contrast to the towering skyscrapers of the neighboring Shiodome district.

4 – Tofukuji Temple, Kyoto

Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots - Tofukuji Temple
Source: Canva

Tofukuji (東福寺, Tōfukuji) is a prominent Zen temple located in southeastern Kyoto, renowned for its stunning autumn colours. Established in 1236 by the influential Fujiwara clan, Tofukuji is one of Kyoto’s principal Zen temples.

Visitors across Japan flock to Tofukuji each autumn to witness its breathtaking fall colors. The most sought-after view is from the Tsutenkyo Bridge, which spans a valley filled with vibrant Japanese maple trees.

5 – Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kyoto

Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots - Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Source: Canva

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine (北野天満宮, Kitano Tenmangū) is renowned for its autumn splendor. The shrine opens its garden to the public during the peak of the autumn leaf season, from late October to early December. Hundreds of maple trees line the garden’s river, creating a breathtaking scene further enhanced by evening illuminations.

6 – Kodaiji Temple, Kyoto

Kodaiji (高台寺, Kōdaiji) is a remarkable temple located in Kyoto’s Higashiyama District. Established in 1606 by Nene, the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the temple commemorates one of Japan’s most significant historical figures.

The temple is bordered by stunning gardens designed by leading contemporary masters. The gardens are illuminated in the evening during the spring and autumn. In late November, the maple trees burst into brilliant shades of red and orange, showcasing Japan’s autumn season’s splendor.

7 – Kifune Shrine, Kyoto

Kifune-jinja Shrine is renowned for its picturesque stone steps flanked by red lanterns. Legend has it that a goddess arrived in Kibune on a yellow boat, and the shrine marks where she finally came ashore.

The village features traditional-style ryokan and restaurants lining the narrow road that follows the Kibune River. Kibune offers a retreat from Kyoto’s intense summer heat and is also a popular destination in Japan autumn when the leaves transform into a tapestry of vibrant colors.

8 – Eikando Temple, Kyoto

Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots - Eikando Temple
Source: Canva

Eikando (永観堂, Eikandō), officially known as Zenrinji Temple, is renowned for its breathtaking autumn colors and captivating evening illumination. The temple boasts a rich history, featuring a variety of buildings and a serene pond garden for visitors to explore.

The Tahoto Pagoda, nestled among trees on the hillside above the main building, offers a stunning view of the temple grounds and the city of Kyoto. This view is especially enchanting in autumn when the maple trees are ablaze with color. The best time to experience the vibrant autumn leaves is in mid-November.

9 – Hakuba, Nagano

Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots - Hakuba
Source: Events HakubaMike Humphrey

Known for its winter skiing, Hakuba’s fall foliage is spectacular. The mountain slopes become a vivid tapestry of autumn hues, attracting visitors from all over to its picturesque landscape. Hiking is a popular pastime in the valley and an excellent way to enjoy the fall colors. Hakuba’s peaks offer many hiking opportunities, from short hikes to multi-day adventures. There are a series of trails and mountain huts on the peaks for hikers to enjoy.

10 – Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, Kyoto

Renowned for its vibrant maple and ginkgo trees in autumn, the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden comes alive in fall with a spectrum of colors. The Gakushuin School and Gyokado Palace are particularly famous for their stunning displays.

11 – Hakuryuen Garden, Kyoto

Located in Arashiyama, Hakuryuen Garden is a lesser-known gem offering a quieter and more intimate autumn experience in Japan. Away from the bustling city, this tranquil garden is home to over 200 maple trees, providing a stunning to enjoy fall foliage viewing.

Visitors can stroll through the garden’s paths and admire the vibrant colors of the maples as they reflect on the peaceful pond. The combination of traditional Japanese architecture and natural beauty makes Hakuryuen Garden an ideal spot for experiencing the serene atmosphere of autumn in Japan.

12 – Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

The Philosopher’s Path (哲学の道, Tetsugaku no Michi) is a charming stone pathway in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. This scenic route, known for its beautiful cherry blossoms in spring, is named after Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most renowned philosophers.

Along the path, visitors will find various restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and several smaller temples and shrines just a short stroll from the canal. The path is particularly striking during fall.

13 – Yahiko Park Momijidani, Niigata

Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots - Yahiko Park Momijidani
Source: Canva

Nestled beside Yahiko Station, Yahiko Park spans an impressive 130,000 m² and is renowned for its stunning autumn foliage. At night, the illuminated leaves create an enchanting atmosphere.

The park is also home to various attractions, including the Yahiko Shrine, which holds a 1300-year history and hosts three major festivals throughout the year. Visitors can also visit the Kappa Temple, which is believed to protect against floods and droughts.

14 – Nikko National Park, Tochigi

Nikko National Park offers stunning views of autumn leaves against historic temples and shrines. Nikko National Park is a must-visit destination in autumn. The park also provides hiking trails and hot springs for those looking for outdoor activities. The nearby Lake Chuzenji is another beautiful spot to see autumn leaves reflected on the lake’s pristine surface.

15 – Kakusenkei Gorge, Ishikawa

Kakusenkei Gorge, located in Ishikawa prefecture, is a stunning natural wonder. Adorned with the picturesque Kurotani and Korogi bridges, its aesthetic appeal is undeniable. Beyond its natural beauty, the gorge offers a historical touch with a shrine honoring the renowned Edo period poet Matsuo Basho.

Regarding autumn foliage in Ishikawa, few spots rival the views at Kaga’s Kakusenkei Gorge. The valley transforms into a vibrant orange, yellow, and red each November. This fiery backdrop perfectly complements the flowing waters of the Daishoji River.

16 – Kurobe Gorge, Toyama

Best Japan Fall Foliage Spots - Kurobe Gorge
Source: Canva

Sculpted by the Kurobe River, the gorge is the deepest canyon in Japan. The river winds its way between the Tateyama and Ushiro-Tateyama mountain ranges.

The Kurobe Cable Car offers spectacular views of the gorge from above and takes just 5 minutes to ride. It gives passengers a birds-eye view of the lush forests and crystal-clear waters below.

The rushing rapids and cascading waterfalls offer a stunning backdrop for the lush colors of autumn.

17 – Nara Park, Nara

Nara, Japan’s first permanent capital, is a treasure trove of cultural history and home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In autumn, Nara Park transforms into a breathtaking spectacle with vivid red, yellow, and orange hues. Nara is a magical experience, blending natural beauty with deep cultural heritage.


Japan in the fall is a visual feast that offers more than just beautiful scenery—it’s an experience that engages all your senses. Whether hiking through national parks, exploring serene temples, or wandering through vibrant gardens, the fall foliage in Japan is sure to leave a lasting impression. Plan your trip around the peak foliage times and make the most of your visit.


What is the best time to see fall foliage in Japan?

The best time to see fall foliage in Japan varies by region. Northern areas like Hokkaido start seeing colors change in mid-September, while central regions like Tokyo and Kyoto peak from late October to early December.

Can I see fall foliage in urban areas like Tokyo and Kyoto?

Absolutely! Cities like Tokyo and Kyoto have numerous parks, gardens, and temples that offer stunning fall foliage views. Spots like Rikugien Garden in Tokyo and Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto are particularly famous for their autumn colors.

Which part of Japan is best to visit in autumn?

It ultimately depends on personal preference. However, some of the most popular regions to visit in autumn are Hokkaido for its vibrant colors and natural beauty, Kyoto for its traditional temples and gardens, and Nikko for its stunning fall foliage views. All regions in Japan have something unique to offer during autumn, so it’s worth exploring different areas.

When should I go to Japan for autumn foliage?

Plan your fall Japan trip during the peak foliage times in each region, typically between mid-September and early December.