Whenever someone asks me ‘when is the best time to visit Japan?', my answer is easy. Japan in Autumn is absolutely spectacular. The scenery, the lack of crowds, the pleasantly mild weather and of course, the colours!
For a long time, I dreamt about visiting Japan during Sakura (Cherry Blossom season). But, my husband and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Japan in November. Basically, Qantas released a bunch of last-minute redemption tickets from Australia and I managed to snag us both return Business Class flights using points. So, we thought – Japan in Autumn instead of Spring? Why not?
Japan is dubbed by many as the land of the rising sun, long line-ups, amazing food, and robotic loos. Seriously, the toilets there could just about drive a car if you let them. They even make rainforest noises. Though I’m sure you didn’t click through to this article to see these kinds of visuals. If you’re interested in reading about the weird and wonderful things to expect in Japan, check out this article: First Time Visitors Guide to Japan.
But on a more serious note…
Why Visit Japan in Autumn?
After doing a little research, I discovered that the scenery in Japan in Autumn is apparently meant to be just as spectacular as Sakura, but without the extra crowds. Nor is it quite as pricey. That sounds like two very good reasons to me!
Having now visited twice during this time of year, I can honestly say that Japan during Autumn (or Fall, whatever you might call it) is simply stunning! The mixture of yellows, oranges, reds and greens is nothing short of spectacular. I loved it so much that I returned for a second visit this past October.
Where are the Best Fall Foliage Viewing Spots?
Honestly, the best fall foliage spots we found were outside the main cities. I would highly recommend making a beeline for a little mountain region called Hakone. Located approximately 90-minute train journey south of Tokyo, the mountains around Hakone are dotted with quaint little villages and there is fall foliage literally everywhere.
There are so many unique things to do in Hakone, including admiring the beautiful autumn vistas. Some of our favourite fall foliage viewing spots were: Hakone-Yumoto township, the Hakone Shrine on the shores of Lake Ashi and the Hakone Open Air Museum.
It’s possible to see Hakone on a day trip from Tokyo, but I would highly recommend staying at least a night or two, to experience a beautiful Onsen hotel or guesthouse. During our time in Hakone, we stayed at a private Onsen hotel called Hakone Gora Byakudan, which had views overlooking a valley and amazing vistas of fall foliage.
When people think of old-world Japan, Kyoto is usually the first place that comes to mind. This beautiful city has some of the best fall foliage viewing spots including; Daigo-ji Temple, Kyomizudera, Kinkaku-Ji (The Golden Temple) and if you’re visiting for the first time, of course, you can’t go past the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. If you’re prepared to take a train ride outside the city, the Nara Deer Park also has spectacular fall foliage as well as cute wild deer.
There are so many places to visit in Kyoto. You could easily spend 4 or 5 days exploring Kyoto city and its surrounds. Kyoto is accessible from Tokyo via Shinkansen (Bullet Train) in only a few hours. Kyoto is also 30 minutes away from Osaka.
Hitachi Seaside Park
About 90 minutes train ride north of Tokyo is the Hitachi Seaside Park. The park features vast green spaces, spectacular fields of flowers and a family-friendly theme park. But the main attraction in the Autumn is most definitely the field of blooming Kochia (Summer Cypress) plants.
Sometime in early October, the Kochia plants begin to change from green to bright crimson red. This phenomenon is quite a spectacular sight, with 32,000 plants resembling a crimson carpet that blankets the hills overlooking the sea near the city of Hitachinaka. This lasts for approximately 2-3 weeks before they change back to their usual colour.
If I haven’t yet convinced you to book a trip to Japan in Autumn, then take a few moments to check out this collection of stunning photos I’ve collected during my last two trips…
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