It is finally the season of colorful leaves (koyo). If you are staying in Japan during autumn, you will be able to do some autumn leaves viewing while traveling through your holiday destinations. Koyo is the equivalent of cherry blossoms viewing in the spring in Japan. This is also a popular activity among the Japanese for centuries and also draws a lot of locals and tourists today. There are many good koyo spots in Japan as the leaves start to become colorful starting from Hokkaido in mid-September until the southern parts of Japan towards late November. There are trees in the Tokyo and Kyoto area though that still remains colorful even during the early parts of December.
If you are in Japan from Septemer to November, it would be the perfect time for you to enjoy the colors of autumn. It is great if you can see the beautiful scenery in the parks or up in the mountains. You can take a stroll in the parks or go hiking in the mountains to see the colorful mountain slopes. Some gardens and temples illuminate the trees during the evening and you will enjoy an almost surreal sight of nature surrounding various structures. Here are seven places to enjoy the autumn scenery in Japan:
1. Daisetsuzan National Park
The largest national park in Hokkaido boasts a large mountainous area of unspoiled wilderness. Lovers of the great outdoors will fall in love with Daisetsuzan. You can enjoy a great view while hiking there during the first part of autumn. There are deers and brown bears in the vicinity. Daisetsuzan is always the first place to have snow and experience autumn colors in Japan. There are many places to visit in Daisetsuzan but the places you can take note of are Asahidake Onsen, Kogen Onsen, Sounkyo Onsen, Tokachidake Onsen, Ginsendai, Mount Kurodake and Tennikyo Onsen. You can enjoy the hot springs surrounded by warm autumn colors.
2. Shiretoko National Park
You will find Shiretoko National Park in the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido. This is also one of Japan’s unspoiled natural parks that offer beautiful sceneries. This is the perfect place for trekking. You will find a variety of wildlife in Shiretoko. You will find brown bears, deers and foxes in the area. It is considered as a World Heritage Site for its value in the peninsula’s biodiversity and ecosystem. In the winter, you can see a lot of drift ice floating in the Okhotsk Sea. You can take a cruise along the peninsula’s western coast and enjoy the park’s autumn foliage. Shiretoko also has five beautiful lakes that you can visit. Other places you can visit inside Shiretoko National Park are the Furepe Waterfall, Kamuiwakkayu Falls, Rausu Town, Shiretoko Pass, Oshinkoshin Falls and Utoro.
This is a famous mountainous region in the northern Akita and Iwate Prefectures. It makes up the southern part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. You will enjoy the rustic hot springs with the best views of the countryside away from the metropolis. You can take a hike through the many trails along volcanic landscapes. Some of the famous attractions in Hachimantai are the Nyuto Onsen, Tamagawa Onsen, Akita-Komagatake, Goshogake Onsen, Fukenoyu Onsen, Mount Hachimantai, Lake Tazawa and Matsukawa Onsen.
4. Lake Towada
It is part of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park. Lake Towada is the largest caldera lake found in Honshu (Japan’s main island). You will find Lake Towada in the border between Akita and Aomori Prefectures. The lake is a famous area to enjoy the autumn views. The most recommend koyo spot would be Oirase Stream. Other attractions in Lake Towada are Mount Hakkoda and Towada Art Center.
5. Tofukuji Temple
This large Zen temple is found in the southeast area of Kyoto. This is also one of the famous koyo spots in Japan. The most popular place to view the autumn colors is on the Tsutenkyo Bridge where you will find a valley of lush maple leaves. It will normally be very crowded late in November because the covered walkway is one of the best spots for autumn viewing.
6. Arashiyama and Sagano
This is a popular district for tourists in the western area of Kyoto. Arashiyama is a very popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) and koyo (autumn viewing). You can go to the Togetsukyo Bridge for a great autumn view. It is Arashiyama’s famous, central landmark. You can also visit Tenryuji Temple, walk along the famous bamboo grooves or take a leisure boat ride along the river. The north area of the Togetsukyo Bridge is known as Sagano. You can rent a bicycle near the train stations and head out to the Sagano area. You can cycle through the rural areas and along fields while you visit the temples and other popular spots in Arashiyama.
7. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
This is a unique route you can take through the Northern Japanese Alps. You can traverse this route via cable cars, trolley buses or a ropeway. The Tateyama Kurobe Alphine Route connects Toyama City (Toyama Prefecture) with Omachi Town (Nagano Prefecture). Private vehicles cannot enter the area between Tateyama Station and Ogizawa. This year, the Alpine route is accessible only from April 16 to November 30. You will see the magnificent views of the Tateyama Mountain Range. This is part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park. You will see sweeping landscapes, alpine flowers and wonderful fall colors especially in Murodo and Daikanbo.
Autumn is truly the season to enjoy colorful leaves. There are many great sights and wonderful places to visit. These are just seven of the top places to enjoy the autumn scenery in Japan. Wherever you choose to spend your autumn viewing this season, I hope you have a great time!