Japan is a beautiful destination during all four seasons of the year, but while it’s famous for cherry blossoms in spring, the vibrant foliage during autumn is perhaps the most breathtaking sight to witness.
Fall in Japan is from late September to early December and sees magnificent red, orange, and yellow leaves on the trees around the country. These are some top places to visit for the most spectacular fall colors.
Kyoto is one of the cities that first-time travelers to Japan should visit for a chance to experience the historic districts, like Gion, and glimpse a slower pace of life than Tokyo.
Kyoto is Japan’s cultural capital and has many beautiful spots to explore. The best time to see fall colors here is typically November and early December.
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Eikando Temple, and Tofukuji Temple are a few of the most popular spots to admire the foliage and take photos.
A short day trip away from Tokyo, Nikko is an incredible natural area that outdoor enthusiasts visiting Japan will fall in love with.
It’s great for hiking and during the fall, the many trees and forests become even more stunning when the leaves turn crimson and orange.
Lake Chuzenji and Ryuzu Waterfall are two of the best spots for viewing the colorful foliage.
Located north of Tokyo, near the mountains and Nagano, Karuizawa is a gorgeous resort town with surrounding forests that are ideal for biking, hiking, and photography. October to mid-November is the best time to visit the area near Nagano for peak fall foliage.
After appreciating the colorful leaves in the surrounding forests, travelers can head to Kyu-Karuizawa, the Old Town, for a historical experience.
7 Lake Kawaguchi
Lake Kawaguchi is one of the Fuji Five Lakes and is accessible as a short overnight trip from Tokyo while exploring Japan. It’s worth spending a night or two in the town on the lake, Fujikawaguchiko, to get some incredible views of Mount Fuji in the distance.
One of the popular viewpoints of Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi is Chureito Pagoda. In the fall, colorful leaves frame the mountain in the distance making the view even more spectacular.
6 Mount Asahi, Hokkaido
Mount Asahi is the tallest mountain on the island of Hokkaido and is located near the town of Higashikawa. The mountain is an active volcano and is inside Daisetsuzan National Park, a vast rugged nature area with gorgeous, colorful leaves in the fall.
Due to the higher elevation of Hokkaido, the leaves begin changing color here earlier than in Tokyo or Kyoto, so travelers should plan to visit in mid-September for peak fall foliage.
Itsukushima, popularly known as Miyajima, is an island near Hiroshima, just off Japan’s main island of Honshu.
Miyajima is instantly recognizable by the impressive Great Torii Gate that is submerged in the water off its shore.
The island has many shrines and temples, which is how it got the nickname Miyajima. In the fall, the colors of the leaves make this an even more stunning place to visit.
Another place for great views of Mount Fuji in the distance is Hakone, which is a short trip away from Tokyo. Hakone is a popular spot for travelers to stay in a traditional Ryokan while they experience the onsen (hot spring) for the first time.
Because of its location, the best time to see peak fall foliage in Hakone is during mid-October and November.
Nara is a Japanese city near Kyoto and Osaka and that gets a lot of tourist attention for its deer park. The bowing deer excite visitors, but they aren’t the only reason to visit this city.
There are shrines and temples to explore, plus the lively Higashimuki shopping district just steps away from the deer park.
The deer park is at its most beautiful in mid-November when the fall colors are at their peak.
Kamakura is a coastal Japanese city close to Tokyo. It has played an integral role in the country’s history as a port city and today, it's a spiritual destination with plenty of Shinto Shrines and Buddhist Temples to visit.
The best time for fall foliage here is between mid-October and the beginning of December.
1 Hibiya Park, Tokyo
Travelers don’t need to leave the bustling metropolis of Tokyo to experience some of Japan’s finest fall colors.
There are many parks in the city that are beautiful this time of year, but Hibiya Park is especially worth checking out. Located in Chiyoda City, Tokyo, the park is close to the Imperial Palace.
There are three ponds in the park, making for stunning reflections of the vibrant red and yellow leaves on the water during autumn.
The best time to see the beautiful fall color in Tokyo is from mid-November to early December when they are at their peak.