Catching the autumn leaves – where and when to go?
In Japan the viewing of autumn leaves has been a popular activity for centuries and today draws large numbers of travelers to famous koyo spots both in the mountains and in the cities. Since Japan has a large extension from north to south, autumn leaves can be enjoyed for a quite large period.
And this season is coming soon, so if you are visiting Japan between October and November, you will be able to enjoy the colorful leaves around Kanto area!
Depending on your travel schedule, you might be worried about missing the view but no worries! In this post, I will tell you where to go and when between October and November to see the colorful leaves.
Nikko: from early October to mid November
Nikko is really famous for autumn season because there are so many opportunities to enjoy the colorful leaves since there are a wide range in elevation from the mountains of the Okunikko region to the Nikko town area down in the valley.
If you plan to go during early October, Ryuzu Waterfall is the place to go. There are a fall as the name suggests and Ryuzu Waterfall means “dragon head waterfall”. The name comes from the shape of the falls, which resembles the head of a dragon.
During mid October, a good place to visit at Nikko is around Yumoto Onsen Town. There you are able to enjoy lovely fall scenery in combination with the beautiful Lake Yunoko, as well as take a hot spring bath at one of the ryokan in town. Probably the best time to go to Nikko!
Towards the end of October, a good spot to admire the leaves are at Kegon Waterfall. This is one of the three most beautiful waterfalls in Japan, having around 100 meters tall. Early to mid November, one of the few places left is Shoyoen Garden, which is a small garden belonged to Rinnoji Temple.
However, the spots are very limited around Nikko during this time, so I would suggest to visit other locations to enjoy the leaves.
Hakone: early November until late November
Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, less than 100 kilometers from Tokyo. Famous for hot springs, natural beauty and the view of nearby Mt. Fuji, Hakone is one of the most popular destinations among Japanese and international tourists looking for a break from Tokyo. So to see autumn leaves, go to Hakone during early to late November!
Fuji Five Lakes, especially Lake Kawaguchiko, are nice spots to enjoy both the colorful leaves and Mount Fuji. Go there around early November to see the best autumn view.
Tokyo: Late November to early December
In Tokyo, there are several places to see the autumn leaves inside the city. A beautiful and popular spot is Rikugien, a Japanese garden meaning “six poems garden” and reproduces in miniature 88 scenes from famous poems. It is recommended as the number one park for autumn leaves in Tokyo.
Another very beautiful spot to watch the leaves is Koishikawa Korakuen, one of Tokyo’s oldest and best Japanese gardens. There is an avenue called Ginkgo or Icho Namiki that is good spot to see a beautiful line up of yellow trees. There are cafes along the street, so people usually walk around and stop to relax and drink a coffee while admire the view.
Kamakura Late November to early December
Kamakura is famous for the large bronze Buddha and shrines. It is an interesting place to check the colorful leaves while sightseeing.