During the peak of the autumn season in Japan, the leaves of the maple trees and ginkgo trees turn red and yellow in concert presenting you with beautiful scenery at every turn. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with visiting traditionally famous places to enjoy the autumn leaves, but what about trying something different this year? For example, you can take a walk down historical streets and enjoy the autumn colors, and in some places you can take in a panoramic autumn view while soaking in a hot spring. There are many ways to enjoy the autumn leaves.Autumn in JapanIn contrast with cherry blossoms, autumn colors start from the north. They can be seen first at the beginning of September in Daisetsuzan, a picturesque spot for the viewing of colorful autumn foliage in Hokkaido, and then they move southward and arrive in Kyushu where the best season is at the beginning of December. You can learn about where you can enjoy the changing of the autumn leaves in advance by having a look at the websites of famous spots and by checking out the “autumn leaves forecast” on the Internet.

Hida Takayama
Hida Takayama

Hida Takayama old streets in Autumn colors

Hida Takayama is located in Gifu Prefecture in the Chubu region that is in the center of Japan. Its urban district, which is divided into north and south sections by a national road that runs through its center from east to west, is lined by old houses and stores. There are old buildings standing side by side, and each of them is characterized by its grid like wooden window frames. As you walk down the street you may feel as if you have traveled back to the Edo or Meiji era. Each area has a promenade nearby that leads to a spot that is ablaze with beautiful fall colors.

Access to Hida Takayama and its old towns
Take the Tokaido Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station to Nagoya Station (about 1 hour and 50 minutes). Take the Takayama Honsen to Takayama Station (about 2 hours and 20 minutes). It’s a ten-minute walk from the station to the old towns.

Autumn in JapanRelax in a hot spring in the Autumn colors

Nyuto-onsenkyo is a hot springs area located at the foot of Mt. Nyuto in Akita Prefecture at the north of Japan. The area is dotted with 7 hot springs, and each of them differs from the other in the various colors and textures of the hot spring water. You can take an open-air hot spring bath whilst enjoying a great outdoor landscape. Accommodations are available at each of the 7 locations. If you purchase a “Hot Spring Stamp Book” (1,500 yen) at one lodging, you can visit the other hot springs using the “Yumegurigo” bus (reservation needed) as much as you want. Even if you don’t stay at the facilities, you can enjoy bathing in the hot springs for 400 to 700 yen.

Access to Nyuto-onsenkyo
Take the Akita Shinkansen from JR Tokyo Station to Tazawako Station (about 3 hours). Take a fixed route bus to “Nyuto-onsenkyo” (about 50 minutes).


Autumn Colours at Kinkakuji

The Golden Pavilion at Kinkakuji and the rock garden at Ryoanji are two of Kyoto’s most iconic sites and worth a visit any time of year. Right now though the autumn leaves make it just magical!

Kinkakuji is perhaps the most well-known temple in Japan. The main pavilion is covered in gold leaf and shimmers in front of a pond – kyoko-chi (Mirror Pond).  Kinkakuji is situated at the foot of Kinugasa Hill and in the north west of Kyoto, a short walk north from Hirano Shrine and Waratenjin Shrine.

Today Kinkakuji ranks with Kiyomizu Dera and Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) as one of the most visited sites in Kyoto.


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