Japan Autumn Leaves Calendar 2018 - Seasonal Forecast And Famous Spots!

Japan Autumn Leaves Calendar 2018 - Seasonal Forecast And Famous Spots!

2018.08.22

If you're visiting Japan in the fall, you cannot avoid seeing the spectacular autumn colors! Peak seasons depend on the temperature in each region. This is a guide providing the best times and destinations to go to for viewing beautiful fall leaves.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by MATCHA

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The Peak Season for Autumn Leaves Varies by Region

Once it becomes autumn and morning temperatures fall to six to seven degrees, deciduous maple and gingko trees will prepare to shed their leaves and paint Japan in crimson and gold. The leaves begin to change colors in cold regions, beginning from north to south and from high to low elevations in Japan.

We’ve summarized the best destinations to see autumn leaves and when to see them for you. The peak season of the leaves change depending on temperature differences, region, and the year, so be sure to check again once your trip nears!

Table of Contents

Click on the region’s link and to view an introduction of major destinations in that area.

RegionMajor SpotAnnual Peak Season
1. HokkaidoSapporo, Hakodate, Shiretoko PeninsulaMid to late October
2. Tohoku RegionSendai, AkitaMid-November
3. Kanto RegionTokyo, Hakone, Nikko, KamakuraLate November
4. Kansai RegionOsaka, KyotoEarly December
5. Chubu / Hokuriku RegionsNagoya, Kanazawa, NiigataLate November
6. Chugoku / Shikoku RegionsHiroshima, KagawaMid-November
7. Kyushu RegionFukuoka, Takachiho Gorge, KagoshimaLate November

Hokkaido: Mid to Late October

Hokkaido, situated at the northernmost tip of the Japanese islands, is visited early by fall and reaches the peak autumn leaves period first in Japan.

1. Hokkaido University (Sapporo)

北海道大学

At the nature-abundant Hokkaido University, a row of 70 gingko trees change into a beautiful golden color once it becomes autumn. The Hokkaido University Golden Leaves Festival also takes place every year at the end of October.

There are illuminations during the night which envelop the area in a magical ambiance.

Details on the Hokkaido University Golden Leaves Festival will be announced on their official website, so please look for more information in October.

You can find the gingko trees at by the Kita-Jusan-Jo gate. The nearest station is Juni-Jo Station, but the area can also be accessed by walking from JR Sapporo Station.

Hokkaido University
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Kita, Kita-Hachi-Jo 5 Google Map
Access: 7 minute walk from JR Sapporo Station
Official Website: https://www.global.hokudai.ac.jp/

2. Shiretokogo Lake (Shiretoko Peninsula)

知床五湖

Shiretokogo Lake, located in central Shiretoko Peninsula, is a World Natural Heritage Site consisting of five lakes surrounded by a primeval forest. There are two paths nearby that you can take a stroll on while gazing at the lake and beautiful scenery.

Stroll on the Elevated Wooden Path to enjoy one of the lakes. The entire path can be completed in about 20 minutes. The Ground Pathways is where you can walk around the remaining four lakes in the area.

In order to take these pathways, you must pay for a lecture (not required from October 21 — mid-November). Stop by the Shiretoko Field House for more information.

Shiretoko Goko Lakes Field House
Address: Hokkaido, Shari, Shari, Onnebetsumura Google Map
Access: An hour and a half by Shari Bus from Shiretoko-Shari Station (2,000 yen), then exit at the Shiretoko Goko Lakes stop. Shari Bus official website
Official Website: https://www.goko.go.jp/multilingual_eng/index.html

3. Kosetsu-en (Hakodate)

香雪園

Picture courtesy of Hakodate City Tourism Department

We recommend Kosetsu-en if you want to enjoy the both a Japanese garden and the autumn leaves in Hokkaido. Approximately 150 types of trees will be dyed red and yellow.

Illuminations also take place during the nighttime at the Hakodate MOMI-G Festa, a festival that takes place from late October to early November. After paying a fee, you can also wear kimono and enjoy the autumn leaves.

The festival will be held in 2018 from October 20 (Saturday) to November 11 (Sunday).

Kosetsu-en
Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Miharashicho 56 Google Map
Access: 40 minutes by bus (route 14) from in front of Hakodate Station (270 yen), exit at Kosetsu-en, then walk for 1 minute.

Tohoku Region: Mid-November

In the Tohoku Region, you can view the reddening autumn leaves in the middle of nature and mountain streams.

4. Oirase Stream (Akita)

Koyo zensen photo05

Oirase Stream is a river that flows from Lake Towada in Aomori. The stream runs for approximately 14 kilometers from Nenokuchi in Lake Towada, with the breathtakingly beautiful scenery of its waterfalls and clear streams.

Trees hang along the sides of the stream as if it were a tunnel. A promenade and roadway are paved under the trees, making it feel like you’ve strayed off into the autumn leaves when you take a walk in the autumn.

5. Nyuto Onsen Village (Akita)

乳頭温泉

Picture from Superb Fall Colors And Hot Springs! 6 Destinations In Northern Japan

Seven secluded hot springs collectively called Nyuto Onsen Village are scattered along the base of Mt. Nyuto, which stands at the border of Iwate and Akita.

The area is surrounded by a primeval Japanese beech forest and is an ideal location for relaxation.

Outdoor bathsare found in all of the public bathhouses. Visitors will be able to enjoy the autumn leaves while soaking in the hot springs.

Nyuto Onsen Village
Address: Akita, Semboku, Tazawako Obonai GoogleMap
Access: 45 minutes by bus from Tazawako Station, then exit at Nyuto Onsen (820 yen)
Official Website: http://ryokan.glocal-promotion.com/

Kanto Region: Late November

The Kanto Region is home to famous sightseeing areas including Tokyo, Hakone, and Kamakura. The region is also home to several famous autumn leaves spots, so be sure to add a stop to your sightseeing plans.

6. Koishikawa Korakuen (Tokyo)

小石川後楽園

Picture from Tokyo's Beautiful Autumn Leaves: The Best 10 Spots To Visit In 2018

Koishikawa Korakuen is a Japanese garden that recreates famous views, including Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest lake, and a river in Arashiyama, Kyoto. During the autumn season, the garden's 480 Japanese maple trees become vividly colored in red and gold.

The Autumn Leaves Festival is also in November. At this event, visitors can enjoy tea ceremonies and traditional performing arts.

The garden is near close by to the station, nearby several entertainment facilities like Tokyo Dome City. A visit to this garden is an easy addition to your sightseeing plans.

7. Ryuzu Falls (Nikko)

竜頭の滝

Picture courtesy of Nikko City Tourism Association

Ryuzu Falls is a major waterfall in the Oku-Nikko area. Together with Kegon Falls, located near Lake Chuzenji, and Yudaki Falls, which runs from Yuno Lake, Ryuzu Falls is regarded as one of Oku-Nikko’s Three Great Waterfalls.

The falls are split into two by a large boulder near its basin. The sight of the water gushing from that viewpoint is simply stunning. There is also an observation deck, teahouse, and walkway nearby.

Nikko also boasts other beautiful autumn leaves spots such as Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine. During the season, the city bustles with visitors.

Ryuzu Falls
Address: Tochigi, Nikko, Chugushi GoogleMap
Access: 60 minutes by bus from Nikko Station, then exit at Ryuzu Falls (1,400 yen)

8. Ashinoko Lake (Hakone)

箱根

Ashinoko Lake, one of the most representative areas of Hakone, is a picturesque location where you can gaze at Mt. Fuji behind reddening mountains. Take a photo of the Mt. Fuji together with the torii gate of Hakone Shrine, and you’ll have taken a picture of the perfect Japanese landscape.

In Hakone, you also can visit hot springs, art museums, and temples, together with the autumn leaves. We suggest staying for a night in town.

Ashinoko Lake Sightseeing Cruise (Moto-Hakone Port)
Address: Kanagawa, Ashigarashimo, Hakone, Moto-Hakone 45-3 Google Map
Access: 30 minutes by Hakone Tozen Bus on the Hakone Line (bound for Hakone Port) from Hakone-Yumoto Station (960 yen) and immediately outside after exiting at Moto-Hakone Port

9. Meigetsu-in Temple (Kamakura)

明月院

Picture courtesy of Meigetsu-in Temple
Meigetsu-in Temple is a Zen temple constructed in 1934. Hydrangeas ("ajisai" in Japanese) blossom fully in June, and are so beautiful that the temple is also nicknamed the Ajisai-dera Temple.

During the autumn, see the landscape of the back garden from the round windows in Meigetsu-in’s main building. Trees dyed in red and yellow will be framed by the window, making it appear as if you’re looking at a painting.

There are also other temples and shrines where you can enjoy the autumn leaves in Kamakura, including Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine and Hasedera Temple. We suggest going outside and enjoying a stroll on a sunny autumn day.

Meigetsu-in Temple
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yamanouchi 189 GoogleMap
Access: 10 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station

10. Sankeien Garden (Yokohama)

三渓園

Picture courtesy of JNTO

Sankeien Garden is made up of two Japanese gardens: an outer and inner garden. It also contains historical buildings that were dismantled and reconstructed from other regions, like Kyoto and Kamakura. Flowers bloom in every season. The sight of the changing Japanese maple and gingko leaves together with red spider lilies, which produce red flowers, are especially beautiful in the autumn.

There are also four teahouses in the garden where you can try Japanese cuisine, including Japanese sweets, udon, and soba.

Buses to the garden leave from Yokohama Station, Sakuragicho Station, and Motomachi-Chukagai Station, making it easy to stop at Sankeien Garden while you are visiting Yokohama.

Sankeien Garden
Address: Yokohama, Naka, Honmokusannotani 58-1 GoogleMap
Access: 35 minutes on the route 8 or 148 city bus from Bus Terminal 2 at the east exit of Yokohama Station. 25 minutes from Terminal 2 at Sakuragicho Station or 15 minutes from the area near Exit 4 at Motomachi-Chukagai Station at 220 yen each. Exit at the Sankeien Iriguchi stop and walk for 5 minutes.
Official Website: http://www.sankeien.or.jp/en-about/index.html

Kansai Region: Early December

The Kansai Region is home to historical structures such as Osaka Castle or the temples and shrines of Kyoto. The sight of these landmarks together with the autumn leaves is splendid.

11. Osaka Castle (Osaka)

大阪城

Osaka Castle Park, home to a tenshukaku, or castle tower (*1) with an sweeping view of the Osaka streets, shrines, and teahouses, where you can enjoy rows of gingko trees colored in gold.

There are many ways to you can experience the castle, through photographing the fall leaves with Osaka Castle in the background and celebrating the arrival of autumn at the park.

It will take about ten minutes from Osaka Station to get to the castle via train. There are also food stalls and cafés inside the park, so you can have a fulfilling day outdoors with history and local Osaka snacks.

*1 Tenshukaku: the tallest structure built in a Japanese fortress that acts as a symbol of that castle.

12. Hoshida Park (Osaka)

ほしだ園地

Picture courtesy of Osaka Prefectural Corporation for Agricultural Land Development and Greenery-Environment Promotion

Autumn is the perfect season for exercising in Japan, due to the mild climate. In fact, this season is often referred to as Sports Autumn. At Hoshida Park, a quasi-national park, you can spend your day hiking and rock climbing and work out surrounded by the red and yellow mountains.

Star Swing, a suspension bridge 180 meters in the air, is the largest bridge you can walk across in Japan. The view of the autumn leaves seen from the bridge is incredible.

13. Kifune Shrine (Kyoto)

貴船神社

Picture courtesy of Kifune Shrine ©Yasuhiro Imamiya
Kifune Shrine is approximately an hour from Kyoto Station, using the subway and transferring to a bus. Kifune Shrine has a long history and enshrines the god that governs water.

The shrine is located a bit of a distance from famous sightseeing spots like Kiyomizu-dera Temple, but you should definitely visit when you come to Kyoto. You will discover scenery that is breathtakingly beautiful throughout the year.

Illuminations take place from early to late November and bring out the beauty of the autumn foliage. Events like the Ohitaki Festival and the Onikkukoin Grand Festival also take place every year on November 7. On this day, there is a 1.5-meter tall bonfire, and purifications are performed by Shinto priests.

Kifune Shrine
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Sakyo, Kuramakibunecho 180 GoogleMap
Access: 5 minutes by Kyoto Bus from Kibuneguchi Station on the Eizan Railway (160 yen). Exit at the Kifune bus stop and walk for 5 minutes.
Official Website: Kifune Shrine (Japanese)

14. Hakuryuen (Kyoto)

白龍園

Picture from Hakuryukan: A Secret Garden In Kyoto

Hakuryuen, open for a limited time from early October to early December, is a special garden that limits its visitors to just 100 people per day.

The verdant moss spread across the grounds and leaves dyed in reds and yellows create the beauty of Hakuryuen. Public entry is from 10:00 to 12:30. Same-day tickets for the garden are sold at Demachiyanagi Station on the Eizan Railway. During October, the entrance fee is 1,300 yen, while the fee in November to December is 1,600 yen.

Hyakuryuen
Address: Kyoto, Sakyo, Kuramaninosecho 106 GoogleMap
Access: Exit at Demachiyanagi Station on the Keihan Railway and transfer to the Eizan Railway (380 yen). 7 minute walk from Ninose Station
Official Website: Hakuryuen (Japanese)

15. Arashiyama (Kyoto)

嵐山

Arashiyama, famous for its Bamboo Forest and Togetsukyo Bridge, is also home to gorgeously colored trees in fall. You can appreciate the foliage from various areas.

For example, you can gaze at the leaves from inside the Sagano Romantic Train or view the multi-colored trees reflected in the pond of Sogenchi Garden in the World Heritage Site of Tenryu-ji Temple.

Kyoto in autumn is immensely popular with all types of travelers. For those who are worried about the crowds, we recommend sightseeing early in the morning, as soon as the temples open.

Arashiyama (Saga-Arashiyama Station)
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Sakyo, Saga-Tenryuji Kurumamichicho GoogleMap
Access: 15 minutes by the JR Sagano Line from JR Kyoto Station (240 yen)

Chubu and Hokuriku Regions: Late November

The Chubu Region is composed of ten prefectures with Nagoya, Kanazawa, and Shizuoka located at its center. The region has many areas with beautiful snowy landscapes, but you also can’t leave out the autumn leaves.

16. Tokugawa Garden (Nagoya)

徳川園

Picture courtesy of the Nagoya Convention & Visitors Bureau (public foundation)

Tokugawa Garden was once the residence of the hanshu (*2) that governed over this region. The garden was built in 1889. Here you will, of course, find autumn leaves dyed in red. There are also autumn flowers such as the Chloranthaceae which produces small red fruits. Illuminations also take place at the end of November.

The garden is characterized by its various views, like the Black Gate, which has stood in the garden since 1900, Ryusen Lake, resembling the sea, and the Ozone Waterfall that falls from a height of six meters in three tiers. Take a leisurely stroll while gazing at the autumn leaves.

*2 Hanshu: a group that governed over a section of the region (a feudal domain) in the Edo period.

Tokugawa Garden
Address: Aichi, Nagoya, Higashi, Tokugawacho 1001
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Nagoya Station Bus Terminal 10 (210 yen), exit at the Tokugawa-en Shindeki bus stop, and walk for 3 minutes
Official Website: https://www.tokugawaen.aichi.jp/english/index.html

17. Saito Villa (Niigata)

新潟

Picture from Enjoy Japan's Four Seasons At The Saito Villa In Niigata

The Saito Villa was the vacation home of the Saito family, a merchant household, that was built in the Taisho period.

The garden and architecture form a landscape built based on the concept of the fluidity between garden and home allow the garden to be enjoyed from the indoors.

The fall scenery viewed from the banquet halls of the villa are especially impressive. The autumn leaves are visible past the unique window frames on the second floor, allowing visitors to enjoy both the interior and nature.

Chugoku and Shikoku Regions: Mid-November

The Chugoku and Shikoku Regions are home to various types of sightseeing spots such as Hiroshima, a nature-rich and historical spot, the remote islands of the Seto Inland Sea that are famous for art, huge Japanese gardens, and much more. Trees everywhere will begin to change colors come November.

18. Momijidani Park (Hiroshima/Miyajima)

紅葉谷公園

Picture courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture

The Great Torii which appears to be floating in the sea during high tide, is a symbol of Miyajima. After a six-minute walk from Itsukushima Shrine, located close to the Great Torii, you will arrive at Momijidani Park, a location famous for autumn leaves.

The view near the vermillion-painted Momijibashi Bridge is a must-see. There are also wild deer nearby, you can also try to take a picture the deer together with the foliage.

Momijidani Park
Address: Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, Miyajima, Momijidani GoogleMap
Access: 10 minutes by boat from Miyajimaguchi Pier, exit at Miyajima Pier (180 yen), then walk for 20 minutes

19. Ritsurin Garden (Kagawa/Takamatsu)

栗林公園

Picture courtesy of the Kagawa Prefecture Tourism Association

Ritsurin Garden is a Japanese garden composed of six ponds and thirteen man-made hills. The unification of the garden and the towering Mt. Shiun in the background creates a magnificent image.

Make sure to visit for the autumn illumination. The crimson Japanese maple trees illuminated by the lights create a mystical ambiance in the garden. You can also travel Nanko, a pond, riding in a traditional Japanese boat.

You can purchase a ticket from the east gate ticket office to ride the boats. Be sure to check out the garden!

Ritsurin Garden
Address: Kagawa, Takamatsu, Ritsurincho 1-20-16 GoogleMap
Access: 3 minute walk from JR Ritsurin-Koen-Kitaguchi Station or 10 minute walk from Kotoden (Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad) Ritsurin-Koen Station
Official Website: https://www.my-kagawa.jp/en/sightseeing/sightseeing01

Kyushu Region: Late November

The Kyushu Region is full of things to do and see including food, hot springs, and World Heritage Sites. Please enjoy the autumn leaves together with amazing view spots.

20. Kamado Shrine (Fukuoka)

Zenkoku Koyo photo04

Picture courtesy of Homangu Kamado Shrine

Kamado Shrine located in Fukuoka is a shrine dedicated to human connections and relationships at the foot of Mt. Homan, a mountain once revered as a home of gods.

The stairs that lead into the shrine transform into a tunnel of autumn leaves come fall. As the season continues, the shrine road will fill with fallen leaves. In the evenings the area is lit up during the autumn leaves season, making it a shrine you can enjoy day and night.

21. Ohori Park Japanese Garden (Fukuoka)

舞鶴公園

Picture courtesy of Fukuoka City

Ohori Park’s Japanese garden was designed to commemorate the park’s 50th anniversary. Here you can enjoy the beauty of Japan with a large pond representing the ocean, three waterfalls of different sizes that flow from the landscaped hills, and a dry landscape garden that expresses wabisabi (*3).

Once it becomes autumn, you can enjoy Japanese maple trees in the traditional garden and Japanese zelkova leaves in Ohori Park. We also recommend Maizuru Park located right next door. The combination of the stone wall remains of Fukuoka Castle and the fall foliage are perfect for photographing.

*3 Wabisabi: a type of Japanese aesthetics; specifies something simple and quiet.
Ohori Park Japanese Garden
Address: Fukuoka, Chuo, Ohori Park 1-7 GoogleMap
Access: 10 minute walk from Ohori-Koen Station on the subway
Official Website: http://www.ohorikouen.jp/en/

22. Shiranoe Botanical Garden (Fukuoka)

白野江植物園

Picture courtesy of Shiranoe Botanical Garden

Shiranoe Botanical Garden offers 30 minutes to one-hour walking courses. Around 800 Japanese maple trees will reach a golden color come fall.

Japanese maple trees will tower over you in the Deciduous Forest on the 30 minute Refreshing Soft Breeze Course. In addition to the autumn leaves, you’ll also be able to see camellia sasanqua flowers as they reach full bloom in November on the 60 minute Circle Course.

After doing a sufficient amount of walking, you can also enjoy Japanese sweets at the teahouse in the garden.

Shiranoe Botanical Garden
Address: Fukuoka, Kita-Kyushu, Moji, Shiranoe 2-7 Google Map
Access: Take the Nishitetsu Bus (route 41) from the front of JR Mojiko Station, then exit at the Shiranoe 2 stop (takes 20 minutes, 290 yen). Walk for 2 minutes
Official Website: http://www.shiranoe.com/index.html (Japanese)

23. Takachiho Gorge (Miyazaki)

高千穂峡

Picture courtesy of Takachiho Tourist Association

Takachiho Gorge is a destination in Kyushu with a breathtaking view. The gorge was created by a pyroclastic (hot gas and volcanic matter) flow that erupted from Mt. Aso, Kumamoto pouring into the area. The 80-meter tall cliffs extend as long as seven kilometers.

You can adequately enjoy your time here with trekking, but you can also ride a rental boat and view the cliffs together with the autumn leaves. Near Manai Falls, where water cascades down from a height of around 17 meters, you will discover gorgeously colored Japanese maple trees.

Takachiho Gorge (Boat Wharf)
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki, Takachiho, Oshioi Mitai Google Map
Access: 13 minutes by Takachiho Sightseeing Bus (**) from Takachiho Bus Center, then exit at Takachiho Gorge
Official Website: https://takachiho-kanko.info/sightseeing/taka_boat.php (Japanese)
** The Takachiho Sightseeing Bus operates on the weekends, holidays, and busy periods

24. Kirishima Shrine (Kagoshima)

霧島神宮

Picture courtesy of © K.P.V.B

Kirishima Shrine is a shrine with a rich history. Ninigi-no-Mikoto, a descendant of Amaterasu-omikami, the god at Ise Grand Shrine, is enshrined here.

During autumn the three torii gates are especially stunning. The vermillion painted torii gates harmonize perfectly with the red of the autumn leaves.

Kirishima Shrine
Address: Kagoshima, Kirishima, Kirishimataguchi 2608-5
Access: 10 minutes by bus from JR Kirishima-Jingu Station (250 yen)
Official Website: http://www.kirishimajingu.or.jp/ (Japanese)

Enjoy The Unique Scenery of This Season

The peak period of the autumn leaves lasts for just under a month. We hope you enjoy this truly unique scenery that can only be seen during this season.

Original Author: Eri Okubo
** This article is a revision updated for 2018 of an article originally published on September 14, 2016.

Autumn leaves start changing from the north, beginning in the middle of September in Tohoku. From mid-October to mid-December you can enjoy the scenery throughout the country. In this special feature, we introduce details on the fall foliage for each area in Japan, from famous spots to areas that are lesser known. With MATCHA’s articles as your guide, please enjoy Japan's gorgeous fall foliage!

Autumn Leaves Spots

Hokkaido

Tohoku

Kanto (Tokyo)

Hakone

Kyoto and Osaka

Hiroshima and Kyushu

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