Translated by Sandy Lau
Japan Autumn Leaves Calendar 2020 - Seasonal Forecast And Famous Spots!
Written by MATCHA
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.
The Peak Season for Autumn Leaves in Japan Varies by Region
From: Weathernews (2019/09/04)
Once it becomes autumn and morning temperatures fall to six to seven degrees, deciduous maple and ginkgo trees will prepare to shed their leaves and paint Japan in crimson and gold. The leaves begin to change colors in cold regions, starting 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 changes depending on temperature differences, region, and the year, so be sure to check again once your trip nears!
For tips on weather, clothing, and recommended dining in Japan in the fall, check out our Fall Colors 2020 feature.
Table of Contents
Click on the region’s link and to view an introduction of major destinations in that area.
|Region||Major Spot||Annual Peak Season|
|1. Hokkaido||Sapporo, Hakodate, Shiretoko Peninsula||Mid to late October|
|2. Tohoku Region||Sendai, Akita||Mid-November|
|3. Kanto Region||Tokyo, Hakone, Nikko, Kamakura||Late November|
|4. Kansai Region||Osaka, Kyoto||Early December|
|5. Chubu / Hokuriku Regions||Nagoya, Kanazawa, Niigata||Late November|
|6. Chugoku / Shikoku Regions||Hiroshima, Kagawa||Mid-November|
|7. Kyushu Region||Fukuoka, Takachiho Gorge, Kagoshima||Late November|
Hokkaido: Mid- to Late October
Hokkaido, situated at the northernmost tip of the Japanese archipelago, is visited early by fall and reaches the peak autumn leaves period first in Japan.
1. Hokkaido University (Sapporo)
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 ginkgo 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.
2. Shiretokogo Lake, Shiretoko Peninsula
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
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 was held in 2018 from October 20 (Saturday) to November 11 (Sunday).
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
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.
Oirase Stream is located in Towada-Hachimantai National Park, in the middle of nature. It takes around 120 minutes via bus from Shinaomori Station or 90 minutes from Hachinohe Station, which are both Shinkansen stops.
5. Nyuto Onsen Village, Akita
The area is surrounded by 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 Google Map
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
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
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.
Address: Tochigi, Nikko, Chugushi Google Map
Access: 60 minutes by bus from Nikko Station, then exit at Ryuzu Falls (1,400 yen)
8. Ashinoko Lake, Hakone
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. Meigetsuin Temple, Kamakura
Picture courtesy of Meigetsuin Temple
Meigetsuin 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 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.
Address: Kanagawa, Kamakura, Yamanouchi 189 Google Map
Access: 10 minute walk from Kita-Kamakura Station
10. Sankeien Garden, Yokohama
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 ginkgo leaves together with red spider lilies, which produce red flowers, are incredibly 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.
Address: Yokohama, Naka, Honmokusannotani 58-1 Google Map
Access: 35 minutes on 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
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 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 of a Japanese fortress.
12. Hoshida Park, Osaka
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.
Hoshida Park is closest to JR Hoshida Station or Keihan Kisaichi Station; it is about a 70-minute walk to the park from Hoshida Station or a 40-minute walk from Kisachi Station.
13. Kifune Shrine, Kyoto
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 far from famous sightseeing spots like Kiyomizu-dera Temple, but you should 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 Shinto priests perform purifications.
Address: Kyoto, Kyoto, Sakyo, Kuramakibunecho 180 Google Map
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
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 from November to December is 1,600 yen.
Address: Kyoto, Sakyo, Kuramaninose 106 Google Map
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
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 Tenryuji 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 Kurumamichi Google Map
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
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 created 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.
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
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 is 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.
From JR Niigata Station, take the Niigata tourist roundtrip bus bound for Toki Messe (Bandaiguchi Bus Terminal Line 2). Get off at Northern Culture Museum Niigata Annex Entrance. Another option is to take the bus bound for Hakusan Park. Buses depart at 70-minute intervals.
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, Miyajima, Hiroshima
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 of the deer together with the foliage.
Address: Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, Miyajima, Momijidani Google Map
Access: 10 minutes by boat from Miyajimaguchi Pier, exit at Miyajima Pier (180 yen), then walk for 20 minutes
19. Ritsurin Garden Takamatsu, Kagawa
Picture courtesy of the Kagawa Prefecture Tourism Association
Ritsurin Garden is a Japanese garden composed of six ponds and thirteen human-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 evening illumination. The crimson Japanese maple trees lit up creates 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!
Address: Kagawa, Takamatsu, Ritsurin 1-20-16 Google Map
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. In late fall, it is a great destination to enjoy the gorgeous autumn scenery.
20. Kamado Shrine, Fukuoka
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.
To get to Kamado Shrine, ride the Mahoroba bus from Dazaifu Station (Nishtetsu Dazaifu Line), or take a 40-minute walk from the station.
21. Ohori Park's Japanese Garden, Fukuoka
Picture courtesy of Fukuoka City
Ohori Park’s Japanese garden is a traditional garden that commemorates 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 wabi-sabi (*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 Google Map
Access: 10 minute walk from Ohori-Koen Station on the subway
Official Website: http://www.ohorikouen.jp/en/
22. Shiranoe Botanical Garden, Fukuoka
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
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
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 incredibly stunning. The vermillion painted torii gates harmonize perfectly with the red of the autumn leaves.
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.
Original Author: Eri Okubo
*This article is a revision updated for 2020 of an article originally published on September 14, 2016.