11 Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan

Autumn in Japan is magical. As summer transitions into fall, the mountains and forests burst into vibrant colors, creating picturesque landscapes perfect for hiking enthusiasts. It’s the perfect time to explore the best fall foliage hikes in Japan.

From the crimson leaves of the Japanese maple trees to the golden hues of the Japanese larch, the natural beauty of this season is simply breathtaking.

Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan - Jigatake Fall Hike
Source: Mike Humphrey

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or someone who loves nature, Japan offers an array of amazing hikes that showcase the best of its autumn foliage.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the best 11 fall foliage hikes in Japan, providing all the details you need to plan your adventure.

Hiking Trails in Japan

Japan is a small but rugged country. Between the urban sprawl and concrete jungle of skyscrapers and bustling streets, is hidden a hiker’s paradise.

From idyllic mountains to serene forests and forest trails, the country offers countless opportunities for outdoor exploration.

Hiking is deeply rooted in Japan’s cultural and spiritual history. Shintoism, Japan’s indigenous religion, regards nature as sacred. The kami or spirits of shinto can be found in the mountains, rivers, and forests of Japan. Many hiking trails are home to sacred shrines that celebrate these gods.

Hiking in Japan is a physical and spiritual journey that deepens one’s connection to nature.

Fall in Japan

Autumn is one of Japan’s most popular seasons for hiking, thanks to the stunning fall foliage.

The fall season in Japan varies depending on location. Generally, fall starts in late September in northern regions like Hokkaido and gradually moves south as the cooler temperatures cause the leaves to change color.

The autumn leaves season lasts until late November or early December.

Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan

Here is our list of some of the Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan

1 – Mount Takao, Tokyo

  • Location: Tokyo
  • Hike Length: 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

Mount Takao is just an hour’s train ride from central Tokyo, making it a popular destination for city residents. It’s also an excellent day trip option for visitors staying in Tokyo. The well-marked trails lead to the summit, where you can enjoy panoramic views and vibrant autumn colors. The hike is family-friendly and suitable for beginners.

2 – Mount Odake & Mitake, Tokyo

  • Location: Tokyo
  • Hike Length: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

Located in the Okutama region, this hike offers a more challenging experience than Mount Takao. The trail takes you through lush forests and past ancient shrines with stunning fall foliage. You will encounter rock formations and boulders requiring you to use chains for support. Proper footwear is a must for this hike.

3 – Nikko National Park, Tochigi Prefecture

Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan - Nikko National Park
Source: Canva
  • Location: Tochigi Prefecture
  • Hike Length: Varies
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Difficult

Nikko National Park is famous for its historic temples and natural beauty. It is also known for its pilgrimage route, a popular trail in the Edo Period when the Tokugawa Shogunate was founded. The park offers hiking trails, from strolls around Lake Chuzenji to more strenuous climbs up Mount Nantai. The fall colors here are spectacular, especially around the waterfalls and lakes.

4 – Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, Yamanashi Prefecture

Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan - Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki
Source: Canva

Location: Yamanashi Prefecture
Hike Length: Varies
Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

Chichibu-Tama-Kai is renowned for its stunning waterfalls and gorges. The park features a variety of hiking trails suitable for all levels, from beginners to advanced hikers. These trails traverse deep river valleys, dramatic waterfalls, narrow ridgelines, and rocky peaks.

Notable peaks within the park include Mount Kobushigatake, Mount Kita-Okusenjo, and Mount Kimpu, some of which are among the highest mountains in the region and offer scenic views of Mount Fuji in the distance.

The Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki Water Falls, a five-tiered waterfall, is a highlight and can be reached via a two-hour hike.

5 – Kamikochi, Nagano Prefecture

  • Location: Nagano Prefecture
  • Hike Length: Varies
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Kamikochi, a valley in the Northern Japanese Alps, is part of the renowned Japan Alps and is known for its pristine beauty. The surrounding mountains provide panoramic views that enhance the hiking experience. The easiest day hike follows the Azusa River from Taisho Pond to Myojin Bridge. This mostly flat trail is suitable for beginners and takes a few hours. For more experienced hikers, trails lead to surrounding peaks like Yakedake, Nishihotakadake, and Okuhotakadake. The fall foliage season in Kamikochi is brief (2 – 3 weeks) but incredibly beautiful. The Kamikochi-Yari-Hotaka Circuit is a multi-day hike with some exhilarating knife-edge ridges and beautiful scenery.

6 – Fukiware Falls, Gunma Prefecture

  • Location: Gunma Prefecture
  • Hike Length: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

Fukiware Falls, located in Numata City, Gunma Prefecture, is often called the “Niagara of Japan” due to its impressive size and powerful flow. The falls are a nationally designated Place of Scenic Beauty and a Natural Monument, making them a popular destination for nature enthusiasts and hikers. Fukiware Falls offers a picturesque and accessible hiking experience, especially beautiful during fall.

7 – Yatsugatake, Nagano Prefecture

  • Location: Nagano Prefecture
  • Hike Length: Varies
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

Yatsugatake, located on the border of Nagano and Yamanashi Prefectures, offers diverse hiking trails with stunning autumn foliage. This mountain range is known for its alpine summits, lush forests, and unique volcanic landscapes, making it a prime destination for nature enthusiasts. The area is part of the Japanese Alps and consists of three different mountains, providing countless hiking and trekking opportunities. The rich biodiversity allows hikers to enjoy views of colorful forests, alpine plants, and volcanic landscapes.

8 – Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture

Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan - Hakuba Hppo Ike Fall
Source: Canva
  • Location: Nagano Prefecture
  • Hike Length: Varies
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Difficult

Hakuba, nestled in the Japanese Alps, is a premier destination for hikers, offering some of the best hikes in Japan. Fall hiking in Hakuba perfectly blends comfortable temperatures and stunning scenery. The fall leaves start changing on the peaks, slowly moving into the valley, making for an extended fall hiking season in Hakuba.

List of Hikes in Hakuba:

  • Tsugaike to Mt. Shirouma Hike (multi-day hike)
  • Happo Pond Hike (half-day hike)
  • Tsugaike National Park (family hike)

9 – Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki Prefecture

  • Location: Ibaraki Prefecture
  • Hike Length: 1 – 3 hours
  • Difficulty Level: Easy

While not a traditional mountain hike, the park transforms into a vibrant tapestry of autumn colors, making it an ideal destination for hiking and nature walks in the fall. The famous “Kochia” bushes that turn bright red in autumn create a beautiful display. The park’s well-maintained trails are perfect for a leisurely walk.

10 – Oze National Park, Gunma Prefecture

Best Fall Foliage Hikes in Japan - Oze National Park Autumn
Source: Canva
  • Location: Gunma Prefecture
  • Hike Length: Varies
  • Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Oze National Park offers a unique fall hiking experience with its combination of alpine marshlands, mountain scenery, and vibrant autumn colors. The well-maintained boardwalks and trails make it accessible for hikers of all skill levels.

11 – Myoko-Togakushi Renzan National Park, Niigata Prefecture

  • Location: Niigata Prefecture
  • Hike Length: Varies
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult

Myoko-Togakushi Renzan National Park offers a rich and varied fall hiking experience with its combination of volcanic landscapes, cultural sites, and stunning autumn foliage. Whether seeking challenging mountain hikes or leisurely walks through colorful forests, this park offers something for every nature enthusiast. The hike to Mount Myoko is a popular choice for its panoramic views, and for thrill-seekers, the park features exhilarating routes that require previous trekking or climbing experience.


Autumn in Japan is a season of unparalleled beauty, and there’s no better way to experience it than by hitting the trails. From easy walks to challenging climbs, these 11 fall foliage hikes offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a resident or a visitor, explore these breathtaking destinations and immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of Japanese autumn.

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

The best time to see fall foliage varies by region and altitude. In general, the colors start changing in late September in Hokkaido and the Japanese Alps and continue to late November and early December further south in areas like Tokyo.

What should I pack for a fall hike in Japan?

Pack layers to adapt to changing temperatures, a good pair of hiking boots, a rain jacket, and plenty of water and snacks. Don’t forget your camera to capture the stunning scenery!

Are there guided tours available for these hikes?

Many tour operators offer guided hikes, especially for popular destinations. Check online for reputable tour companies that provide guided experiences.

Can beginners enjoy these hikes?

Absolutely! Many of the hikes listed, such as Mount Takao and Hitachi Seaside Park, are suitable for beginners. Always check the difficulty level and prepare accordingly.

Is it safe to hike alone in Japan?

While Japan is generally safe, hiking with a partner is always a good idea, especially in remote areas. Inform someone of your hiking plans and check weather conditions before heading out. Some trails, particularly rock climbing with rock formations, boulders, and technical terrains, may require extra caution. Many routes have mountain huts or rest areas where you can find assistance if needed.

Is it possible to see fall foliage in the city?

Yes, many parks and gardens throughout Japan’s cities offer stunning autumn colors. Some popular spots include Ueno Park in Tokyo, Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, and Odori Park in Sapporo.

Are there any cultural events that coincide with the fall foliage season?

Yes, several festivals and events are held during the fall foliage season. The most famous is the Takayama Autumn Festival, where elaborately decorated floats parade through the streets of Takayama. Other popular events