One of the best seasons to visit Japan is autumn when the leaves of the kaede (Japanese maple) turn from a bright green to earthy tones of yellow, orange and red. Compared to previous years, the change in color is slightly delayed this year.
Unlike cherry blossoms, autumnal foliage starts changing from the north to south.
Hokkaido and Tohoku
The northern parts of Hokkaido see the change in color first. Oirase Gorge in Aomori and Lake Tazawa in Akita are popular spots. Since the temperature change during the day and night is extreme, you see a larger variation in color.
Best time for Hokkaido: Mid to late October
Best time for Tohoku: early to mid November
Tokai and Hokuriku
On the west coast of Japan, Kanazawa’s Kenrokuen (garden) enjoys popularity in autumn.
Best time for Hokuriku: mid to late November
Best time for Tokai: Late November
Coastal areas in the Kanto region see the change in color earlier than those inland. If you’re looking for some easy day trips from Tokyo, Yokohama’s Sankeien and Kamakura’s Hasedera offer some spectacular views! Check out our feature on Irohazaka in Nikko.
Best time: Mid November to early December
Kinki, Chugoku and Shikoku
Since Kyoto gets very crowded in autumn, avoid having a tight schedule. The Aya valley in Tokushima and Zuiganzan Enkoji in Kyoto are popular spots.
Best time: Mid to late November
Kyushu and Okinawa
If you plan to visit Japan in late November or early December, then your best bet to get some autumn foliage is down South.
Best time: Early December to mid December