A List of the Best Times for Autumn Leaves in Japan

Autumn leaves (also known as autumn colors, fall foliage, etc) are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful things to see in Japan. Not only Japanese people, many international travelers visit Japan to stroll in the red and yellow leaves.

For you who are planning a trip, I am listing the cities and tourist spots that are famous for autumn leaves in Japan. In this article, you can learn when in the peak in each place. When you open the links, you can find the travel information on each place at the bottom of each link. Hope this will be helpful for you!

Mt. Fuji Hillside: Early October

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Mt. Fuji from its hillside

Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. As a result, autumn comes earlier in its hillside than any other places in Japan. There are shuttle buses, so you don’t need to make a painstaking effort at all to go to the Hillside 5th Station. Hikers cannot climb to the peak in this season, but there are some hiking courses with autumn leaves around the 5th Station.

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Autumn Leaves in the 5th Station

Mt. Fuji – Fall Foliage and the First Snow

Nikko (Lake Chuzenji): Early to Middle October

Nikko is a popular destination from Tokyo among international travelers. The temperature is low there, so Nikko is one of the front runners of autumn leaves in Japan. In some areas in Nikko such as Ryuzu Falls, autumn comes even earlier.

Hiraizumi: Late October to Early November

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Chusonji Temple, Hiraizumi, Japan

Autumn comes to cold places first such as North East Japan (Tohoku region) – It is a natural conclusion. Hiraizumi is a World Heritage Site in Iwate Prefecture. I recommend this place very much on Tokyo Direct Diary – If interested, have a look at the link below!

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Pure Land Garden in Motsuji Temple, Hiraizumi, Japan

A Trip to Hiraizumi: Heaven in Northern Japan

Fukuroda Falls: Early to Middle November

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Fukuroda Falls, Japan

Fukuroda Falls is a day trip destination from Tokyo which has been a popular place for autumn leaves among Japanese locals. If your travel schedule is too early for Tokyo City, it will be a good choice.

A Trip to Fukuroda Falls – Photos of Autumn Leaves & Visitor Information

Lake Kawaguchi: Middle November

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Maple Tunnel, where Autumn Leaves Festival in Lake Kawaguchi is held

Lake Kawaguchi holds Autumn Leaves Festival in November every year. This lake is at the foot of Mt. Fuji. As a result, the temperature is lower than in Mt. Fuji hillside, so autumn comes later.

The Maple Tunnel is very famous. It is a good idea to stay there to enjoy the views of Mt. Fuji fully.

30 Best Photos of Mt. Fuji & Lake Kawaguchi Autumn Color Festival

Western Tokyo: Middle November

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Mt. Takao, Tokyo, Japan

Autumn comes earlier in the western districts than in the city in Tokyo. Maple Leaves Festival in Mt. Takao is great to visit because it is a friendly place for both of casual tourists and serious hikers. Not only red maple leaves, you can explore the very unique culture there!

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A Tengu Statue in Mt. Takao

Mt. Takao in Japan (Part 1) – a Guide to Tokyo’s 3-Star Sightseeing Spot

Tokyo City: Late November to Early December

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Rikugien Garden, Tokyo, Japan

It is completely wrong to think that you must go to some isolated place in some mountain to see autumn leaves. Actually, I recommend Tokyo City the BEST for autumn leaves!

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Rikugien Garden, Tokyo, Japan

There are some great Japanese gardens built by samurais in Tokyo City, and they are just amazing when autumn comes – Samurais planted maple trees, maidenhair trees and others to look so beautiful in their gardens. What’s great is that the gardens are NOT jammed by tourists!

I especially recommend Rikugien Garden and Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. Why not have an easy trip from your hotel in the city and relax in the large Japanese gardens?

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Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, Tokyo, Japan

Rikugien Garden in Tokyo City – Red Maple Leaves & Genuine Matcha

The Japanese Garden of Koishikawa Korakuen – Autumn Colors in Tokyo City

Kyoto, Osaka, Nara: Late November to Early December

If you are a traveler who like to stay in cities rather than nature, remember that Japanese cities except those in North Japan welcome autumn leaves at the same time.

If you are traveling in the famous autumn leaf spots in Kyoto, the most important thing is to visit there as early in the morning as you can. Autumn leaves are so beautiful that they attract so many people – Even Japanese locals say that those places are too crowded in the afternoon!

Kamakura: Late November to Early December

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The Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan

In my opinion, Kamakura is the best day trip destination from Tokyo. This old capital is famous for autumn leaves, too. You can meet The Great Buddha with red and yellow leaves!

Kamakura – Samurais’ Old Capital with The Great Buddha & Autumn Colors



2 Facts in Conclusion

Fact 1: Autumn Leaves Last Longer than Cherry Blossoms in Spring

Have you ever tried to plan a sakura viewing trip to Japan in spring? The problem is that the standard kinds of cherry blossoms last only for 10 days. On the contrary, red maple leaves last much longer. Speaking exactly, you can find some places where autumn leaves are at the peak in Japan throughout autumn. Moreover, the peak of autumn leaves is more stable than that of cherry blossoms.

Fact 2: There are Early Kinds of Red & Yellow Leaves

Even if you came to Japan too early, it is highly possible that you come across red and yellow leaves in streets and the cities. Not only maple and maidenhair leaves, there are many kinds of “autumn leaves” as “cherry blossoms”. If you are not very sure, just go to some Japanese gardens or big temples. You have chances to say, “Wow!”

(cf: Trip Planning Advice for Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Festival Visitors to Japan by a Local)

So you have many chances to meet the best natural beauty in autumn. I hope this article will be a good help for you to plan a trip for autumn leaves.

Have a great trip in Japan in autumn!

Travel Information

If you are thinking of visiting some places that are not very convenient to visit (such as Mt. Fuji and Fukuroda Falls), it is a good idea to join a tour. It is also a good idea to find a combined train ticket that offers great saving.

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