Autumn is one of the most popular times to travel to Japan and for a good reason we might add. With pleasant temperatures and an abundance of sunny days autumn is for many the best time to explore the country. The autumns colored leaves create to most spectacular vistas of Japan and like sakura in spring, watching the rich colored leaves in autumn is a super popular activity. For centuries Japanese people have enjoyed observing the autumn leaves, and now the tourists have discovered this amazing natural phenomenon too. The best time to see the autumn colored foliage is between mid-september and november, but the exact timing depends on the region. In this blog we will give you an introduction to the expected schedule for the best time to see the autumn leaves, know as koyo, all around Japan for 2021!
What is koyo and why is it so special?
In Japan, watching the leaves turn red, orange, brown and yellow is immensely popular. Each season of course has its own beauty, but autumn is arguably the best time to come to Japan. As the hot and humid summers come to an end and the temperatures drop to a pleasant level, the colors of the leaves change and colorful trees flourish everywhere. This color change of the leaves is known as koyo (紅葉) or momiji, both written with the same two kanji: 紅葉. Koyo literally means red leaves, but is used to describe all autumn colored leaves. Momiji specifically refers to the red colored maple leaves that create a spectacular sight in autumn. There is also a word to describe the hunt for koyo or momiji: momijigari. And this hunt for the autumn colored foliage has been super popular in Japan for many years!
Koyo viewing events 2021
Hunting for the autumn colored leaves has gained popularity among the locals as well as the (international) tourists. There are maple-shaped cakes and cookies and sometimes the leaves are used as decoration when serving meals. The leaves themselves are also eaten as maple leaf tempura, there are in fact various varieties! In addition, many events and activities are organised in autumn, many gardens are illuminated at night and near the momiji tunnel in Kawaguchi food stands will sell some tasty street food. Below are some of our recommendations of koyo viewing events, be aware that these places get super crowded especially on the weekends.
- Fujikawaguchiko Momiji Autumn Leaves Festival, Kawaguchi
- Rikugien Garden night autumn colors, Tokyo
- Arashiyama Momiji Festival, Kyoto
- Karuizawa Momiji Festival, Karuizawa
Koyo viewing forecast 2021 (UPDATED)
When the temperatures drop, the leaves started changing their colors too. Starting in northern Japan in Hokkaido, generally in mid-September, the koyo season slowly travels south reaching its peak somewhere late November. The viewing season lasts for about 3 weeks on average, but the exact timing and the peak viewing depend on a number of factors including geographical location and temperature.
Each year, the JMC (Japan Meteorological Corporation) releases a forecast of the dates when the koyo is expected and an estimation of the best viewing dates. After that it will be updated several times. This year the official 1st forecast was published on September 2nd, see below. As soon as a new forecast is released we will update this page again.
|Location||Best time to see red leaves||Best time to see yellow leaves|
|Hokkaido, Sapporo||Mid-October to early November||End October to mid November|
|Aomori, Sendai||End November to early December||End November to early December|
|Tokyo||Early December to end December||End November to mid December|
|Nagoya||Early December to end December||Mid November to early December|
|Kyoto||Late November to early December||Late November to early December|
|Osaka||Late November to early December||Late November to early December|
|Fukuoka||Early December to end December||Late November to early December|
Where to see autumn leaves in Tokyo
The peak season for koyo viewing in Tokyo is usually end of November and there are several spots in Tokyo where you can find the breathtaking autumn foliage. In the several public parks in Tokyo and (botanical) gardens, you can enjoy the seasonal color change of the leaves and some places will temporarily be illuminated for the occasion.
Best places to see autumn leaves in Japan
Japan in the land of mountains and forest and the beautiful autumn colors can be spotted all around the country. If you time it right, you can enjoy the autumn foliage for several weeks in a row! Some of the best places to see the multi-colored autumn leaves are Kyoto, Nikko, the national parks in Hokkaido and Hiroshima’s Miyajima. Of course there are some places that attract more visitors than others because of their breathtaking beauty. Our top recommendations are:
- Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido (Mid September to Mid October)
- Lake Towada and Oirase Stream, Aomori (Late October)
- Rikugien Garden, Tokyo (Late November to Early December)
- Nikko, Tochigi (Early October to Mid November)
- Fuji Five Lakes, Yamanashi (Late October to Mid November)
- Arashiyama, Kyoto, (Late November to Early December)
- Kiyomizudera, Kyoto (Late November to Early December)
- Miyajima Island, Hiroshima (Mid November)
- Nara Park, Nara (Late November to Early December)
Japan Wonder Travel Tours
For the best experience possible, we recommend you join a guided tour in Japan at least once. A local guide will help you get a better understanding of the Japanese culture, can show you the best places and share the best experiences possible. All of our tours are customizable according to your requests and time. We would love to help you make your stay in Japan the best, safest and memorable experience ever!
We hope you have a wonderful time in Japan in autumn. Where ever you will go in Japan, you will be able to see the beautiful autumn foliage in its radiant red, orange, brown and yellow colors. The sight is truly something to enjoy when travelling in Japan!
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