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 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.
Related Post: A Complete Guide to Visiting Hakone, Japan
Accommodation in Hakone
Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Hakone:
- Hakone Gora Byakudan, Gora
- Gora Kadan, Gora
- Hakone Kowakien Tenyu, Kowakidani
- Kinnotake Tonosawa, Hakone-Yumoto
Related Post: Finding Relaxation at Hotel Hakone Gora Byakudan
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.
Related Post: Japan Autumn Itinerary: The Best Places to Visit in Fall
Accommodation in Kyoto
Here are some of our favourite places to stay in Kyoto:
- Park Hyatt Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward
- Hotel The Celestine Kyoto, Gion District
- The Thousand Kyoto, Shimogoyo
- Hotel Kanra, Kyoto Station Area
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.
Accommodation Near Hitachi Seaside Park
I would recommend staying in Tokyo and visiting Hitachi Seaside Park on a day trip. Here are our favourite hotels in Tokyo:
- Andaz Tokyo by Hyatt, Shinbashi
- Conrad Tokyo, Shiodome
- Aman Tokyo, Nihonbashi
- ANA Intercontinental Tokyo, Akasaka
- Imperial Hotel Tokyo, Ginza
Other Great Places to Visit in Japan in Autumn
Honestly, you can’t really go wrong visiting Japan in Autumn. Check out these other great places to see fall foliage in Japan. We also recommend you go off the beaten path and check out some of these unusual places to visit in Japan!
- Lake Kawaguchiko near Mount Fuji
- Oze National Park in Nikko
- Ueno Park in Tokyo
- Mount Nasu in Tochigi
- Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido
We hope these beautiful photos have inspired you to add Japan to your travel Bucket List. If you have any other recommendations or questions about visiting Japan, please leave them in the comments below.
Planning a trip soon? Here is a list of the websites and resources we use for booking everything from flights, to accommodation, tours, and more:
- Skyscanner for booking the best flight deals
- Booking.com | Agoda | Hotels.com for the best rates on hotels
- Airbnb | HomeAway to find the best apartment and home rentals
- Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals
- Luxury Escapes for luxury package holiday deals and tours
- Get Your Guide for a great range of day tours
- Tourradar | Intrepid for multi-day experiential and adventure tours
- Priority Pass for airport lounge access in hundreds of locations around the world
- Skyroam to stay connected to WiFi everywhere I go
- iVisa to apply for entry visas for most countries in the world
- World Nomads for the most comprehensive worldwide travel insurance
About the Author:
Amanda Twine is the founder and creator of Fly Stay Luxe – a luxury travel blog sharing informative travel guides, food guides, hotel reviews, itineraries and tips about how to make luxury travel more affordable.