Translated byLester Somera
Just a Kansai guy trying to get by
If you're visiting Japan in fall 2017, you have to see the leaves! The best time to see foliage depends on the temperature in each region. We'll explain the approximate best times to visit each region for beautiful foliage viewing.
In the fall, when morning temperatures drop to 6 or 7 degrees, deciduous trees like maple and gingko prepare to shed their leaves and start to change color. Since this phenomenon begins in cold areas, the change progresses from north to south, and from high elevations to low elevations.
In other words, even throughout Japan, the best time to see the fall colors is different in each region.
The image above is the official autumn leaves forecast for 2017.
We’ve put together a fall foliage guide to help people who don’t know when and where to go in order to catch the fall foliage. However, since regional temperatures can vary from year to year, the best times may change slightly, so don’t forget to double-check before you plan your trip.
Fall comes to the northernmost island of Hokkaido early, and the island is the first place to welcome the color changes.
Photo courtesy of: Jozankei official homepage
The Jozankei Ravine is located 30 km southwest of Sapporo, and is easily accessed by an hour-long bus ride from Sapporo.
You’ll definitely refresh your mind and body if you take a canoe tour that weaves a path through the orange-leafed trees alongside the Toyohiragawa River. There are also many hot spring onsens close by for day trippers, and you can have a luxurious soak as you enjoy the colors.
Typical best time: Early-to-late October
Tohoku’s best time for foliage viewing is from late September to mid-November.
The Oirase mountain streams flow from the Towada Lake in Aomori prefecture. Here you can appreciate the beauty of water currents, vividly-colored tree canopies that blot out the sky, strangely-shaped boulders and moss. The walking paths along the streams are well-maintained, which makes for easy strolls.
Typical best time: Late October to Early November
The best time for foliage in the Kanto region is from early October to early December. There are many places to admire the foliage at this time.
Photo courtesy of: The National Gardens Association, Website of the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Spread out over 58.3 hectares, the massive Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden contains both Asian and European park spaces, with English, French and Japanese gardens, among others. There are many ways to enjoy the garden, such as having a picnic on the lawns of the English park or strolling through the Japanese and French parks.
Typical best time: Early November to Early December
In the Kansai region, home to Osaka and Kyoto, the foliage arrives in mid-October and stays until early December.
Photo courtesy of: Kyoto Free Photo Materials, Kiyomizu Temple
The sight of up to a thousand flaming-red trees on the grounds of Kyoto’s leading tourist spot, Kiyomizu Temple, is incredibly beautiful. While it’s a great place to visit during the day, those who visit at night will be treated to the fantastic sight of the trees illuminated by lights.
Typical best time: Late November to Early December
Trees are lit up from: 11/12 to 12/4
The foliage in the Kyushu region comes out a bit later than the rest of the country, appearing from late October to early December.
Photo courtesy of: Homangu Kamado Shrine
Kamado Shrine in Fukuoka, located at the base of Mt. Homan, is the home of the god of connections. The staircase to the shrine is a tunnel of autumn colors, and the road to the shrine itself becomes completely buried by scattered leaves. You can take a stroll amidst the colorful trees, which stretch out as far as the eye can see.
Typical best time: Mid-November to Late November
Every region in Japan has many beautiful places to see the autumn foliage. Double-check that the colors are at their best before you head out the door, and enjoy the leaves.