8 Beautiful Places in Japan to View the Autumn Colors
Most of Japan turns into a beautiful rainbow-colored wonderland during the autumn season with vibrant shades of red, green, yellow and orange. Referred to as 'koyo' or 'momiji' in Japan, this floral phenomenon is a national event, where locals and tourists seek out the most picture-perfect spots to view this incredible natural eye-candy. The fall season is one of the best times to visit Japan, to see famous places covered in colorful foliage, if you're planning to travel there during this time then here are some of the best spots you can go to.
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A popular spot for its ancient temples all year round, Nikko is particularly stunning during autumn, when its tree-covered landscape transforms into a wonderland of colors. Make sure to head to Chuzenji Lake, for some of the best scenery in the area, along with the famous Shinkyo Bridge, both of these places are great spots for viewing the vibrant leaves.
Meigetsuin Temple, Kanagawa
At just an hours train ride from Tokyo, Meigetsuin is a great day trip from the capital, famous for its well-kept gardens with some stunning autumn foliage. Walking around the temple grounds has a somewhat spiritual atmosphere that's only heightened by the beautiful scenery here.
Hozugawa River, Kyoto
Snaking through the mountains outside Kyoto city, the Hozugawa River and its surrounding valley offers some incredible scenery. The perfect way to take in the stunning views here is to hop on one of the many boats that sail down the river and admire the ambiance as you float gradually downstream. The boat ride costs 4100 yen and is stopped during bad weather or when the water level is high.
Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Hokkaido
Head up to Hokkaido for some of the best scenery in Japan, and in the autumn it's no exception. Hokkaido is the first area in Japan to start seeing autumn foliage appear, typically in September or early October. The national park is an easy day trip from Sapporo, known for its beautiful lakes of Shikotsu and Toya.
Mount Takao, Tokyo
For those staying in Tokyo during November, there's no better place to revel in beautiful fall colors than Mount Takao. Around an hours train ride from Tokyo station, the mountain is a fairly easy climb and is covered in colorful leaves, with a stunning panoramic view over Tokyo from the top. Takao is especially popular at the weekend when much of Tokyo's working population come there for a day out, so plan for traveling there during the week unless you don't mind some crowds.
Jozankei Onsen, Hokkaido
One of the most scenic of Japan's onsen towns, Jozankei is a hot spring resort nestled in the mountains outside of Sapporo. The town straddles the Toyohira River that runs through the center surrounded by colorful foliage in the autumn that gives the area its iconic view. The waters and baths here are high in minerals and are said to have healing properties for those taking a soak there.
Shiretoko National Park, Hokkaido
One of the most beautiful places in Japan, Shiretoko is incredible whatever the season, but particularly beautiful in winter and autumn. The name of this area is derived from the local Ainu language meaning 'edge of the world' and it certainty feels like it as you trek around this wild, unexplored stretch of nature in Hokkaido's far north. It's also a great spot for nature watching, with a wide variety of animals calling the park home, although you'll need to watch out for bears. Shiretoko has the largest population of bears in Japan living there.
Another idyllic valley setting, Korankei is located just outside Toyota city the Momiji Matsuri, Autumn Leaves Viewing Festival is held every year in November and people flock from all corners of Japan to see the thousands of beautiful maple trees. Make sure to stay around until evening, the trees at the bank of the river are lit up during night time which looks particularly stunning.
While the autumn leaf forecast generally stays around the same period of time each year, the peak time always changes to make sure to check online beforehand. While these are some of the most beautiful places, there are parks full of stunning foliage all over the country, apart from further south in Okinawa which doesn't tend to see autumn colors.