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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?

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Orange footbridge leading over the water to Daigo-Ji temple, Japan
Looking out over Lake Yamanakako and Mount Fuji in the mist
Feeding wild deer at Nara Deer Park in Japan
Prayer tablets at a temple in Kyoto, Japan
Ninenzaka Temple at blue hour with streets and shop houses lit up, Kyoto.

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?

Orange, yellow and red Japanese maple leaves in Autumn
A large silver ball exhibit at the Hakone Open Air Museum
Orange torii gate overlooking lake Ashinoko in Hakone
A train bridge over a river and Autumn trees in japan

Hakone

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.

View and Book Hotels in Hakone here

Daigo-Ji Temple surrounded in Autumn Japanese maple leaves
Quaint pebble streets and shop houses in Kyoto
A Japanese bride wanders the streets of Gion at sunset.
Kiyomizu-dera temple at sunset overlooking Kyoto city.
A girl walks through the orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan
The morning sun peeping through the tall bamboo trees at Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, Japan
Japanese orange foot bridge in Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto

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.

View and Book Hotels in Kyoto here

A hill blanketed in red Kochia plants at Hitachi Seaside Park, Japan
Ferris Wheel at Hitachi Seaside Park in Japan
Misty Lake Yamanakako near Mount Fuji in Japan
Red Kochi plants at Hitachi Seaside Park in Japan

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.

View and Book Hotels in Tokyo here

The Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan
A cheeky monkey at Arashiyama forest in Kyoto, Japan
A beautiful swan on a misty lake in Japan
Entrance to the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
Massive lantern at Senso-Ji Temple in Tokyo

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…

Read More Articles About Japan:

20 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Japan for the First Time

A Complete Guide to Hakone, Japan

Finding Relaxation at Hotel Hakone Gora Byakudan

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25 stunning photos of Japan in Autumn. See the stunning colours in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka in autumn. #Japan #Kyoto #Osaka #Fall
Japan Photography Travel Guide - the stunning landscapes in Autumn #Japan #Autumn #Photography