Because we can’t get enough of autumn I felt I couldn’t let this opportunity pass without making a top of Japan’s best places to take in the autumn foliage. Japan is a colourful country, no doubt about that, and the thousands of trees surely announce the change of seasons. Because of the differences in climate, the autumn foliage can last from September to December depending on what part of the country you find yourself in.
Koudaiji in Kyoto is better seen from the end of October to the beginning of December. The temple’s gates open immediately after sunset and the final entry is at 9:30 pm. The panoramic reflection in the water and the light make this scenery a live masterpiece.
Kiyomizudera, also in Kyoto, is better to visit from late November to early December. This Buddhist temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto and with the setting sun completing the colours of the trees, you will most likely make you exclaim with wonder.
Chion-in is also a temple located in Kyoto and if you want to admire the autumn foliage you should think of visiting around November. It opens at 5:30 pm and closes at 9:30, with the final entry at 9. You can quietly stroll around the grounds and take in all the feelings that will come over you when you will see the beauty in front of your eyes.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, going on a boat ride on the Ooi River in the middle of Kyoto’s Arashiyama Mountains might be a perfect idea. Kyoto has many places that are worth visiting in the fall and this one makes no exceptions.
Kourankei is a valley in Aichi Prefecture and viewing the foliage from atop the bridge at sunset is something to be looking forward to. The golden and red leaves contrasted with the lights and the sound of water is more relaxing than you think.
Another Kyoto place where the autumn foliage is a nature’s wonder is the Toufukuji. The colours are at their best from mid-November to early December and you can visit it throughout the day. The architecture of the temple is beautiful complemented by the red nuances of the trees and the calmness ruling over the place will bring a little peace inside your mind.
In November you might want to consider also visiting Iwayado Park in Seto, Aichi and admiring the luxuriously lit foliage and enjoying the refreshing autumn breeze. The maple trees seem like they were brought from a fairytale and the river adds to the mysterious atmosphere.
Kyoto Gyoen National Garden spreads over 65 acres of land offering people endless possibilities of enjoying and admiring the nature. During autumn many people come to this place to take a moment of peace and think of nothing but being relaxed and one with the nature.
Nanzenji in Kyoto is a Zen Buddhist Temple and the place surely lives up to its name. The lights complement the colours and the dynamic red of the leaves creates a vivid contrast with the solemn garden. You will feel like whispering as to not disturb the peace of the place.
Enrian temple in Kyoto is without doubt one of the most beautiful places to visit during autumn, especially in November. The sight of red leaves is everywhere and there are so many you can’t even see the ground. This is certainly a place that will stick with you forever.
Momiji Kairou in Yamanashi is practically a corridor created by trees with a blend of orange and red. The gentles and beautiful scenery will unconsciously make you hum as you stroll down the alley and take in the autumn breeze.
If you feel like heading over to Hitachi Park Side in Ibaraki everything will look like a completely different world. This place is the real definition of autumn and the nuances of red and golden brown are a pleasure to the eye.
North of Tokyo in the Tochigi Prefecture is the city of Nikko and let me tell you, mountain climbing among the beautiful, colourful scenery is a never-to-forget experience. The multitude of colour of green, red, yellow and gold will draw you closer to the mountain and you will not want to go back.
Up north in Hokkaido autumn also bring impressive colours and breath-taking landscapes. As if modified in photoshop the Daisetsuzan National Park brings to life beautiful colours completed by the lake reflections that make up for a very impressive sight.
If you are with a car or have friends who can drive in Japan you should definitely drive up the Bandai Azuma Lakeline, a 13 km driveway connecting the town of Inawashiro and Kitashiobara village. The place is best visited mid-October and is one of those places where you will be completely surrounded by autumn.