As the summer heat goes away and it gets cooler, we can feel that autumn is just around the corner. It is a perfect season to go on a refreshing drive to visit scenic spots and take a relaxing walk outside. In Japan, we enjoy autumn foliage, the colorful leaves that turn red, green, and yellow to fascinate tourists with a totally different view from other seasons. Along with spring, when beautiful cherry blossoms are in full bloom around Japan, autumn is considered as an ideal season to appreciate the beauty of nature. In this article, we introduce the best autumn destinations in Japan!
1. Sengokuhara Susuki Grass Fields
Sengokuhara Susuki Grass Fields is a beautiful spot located in Hakone area, a famous hot spring resort in Kanagawa prefecture. Selected among the top 50th scenic spots in Kanagawa, it welcomes visitors with the stunning view of Susuki grass (also known as Japanese silver grass) from September to November. The scenic Susuki grass field covers the slope of Mt. Taigatake, approximately 18 hectares while changing its color from lush green to shiny gold depending on the season. There is a pathway stretching through the center of the field which allows you to take a relaxing stroll while taking memorable pictures. At the end of the pathway, you will find a stunning view of Mt. Hakone, a range of giant mountains. Make sure to bring warm clothes as the temperature occasionally drops in the early mornings!
2. Senjojiki Cirque
Senjojiki Cirque refers to a glacial landform sitting under Mt. Hoken which is a part of Kiso Mountains (also known as the Japanese Central Alps), located in Nagano prefecture. Sitting at 2,600 meters above sea level, it is home to a range of Alpine plants, creating amazing scenery in summer. In spring, the cirque partly turns into a ski field which attracts many skiers. Autumn is the best season to enjoy watching Mt. Hoken, the 2,931 meters symbolic mountain completely covered with colorful autumn leaves! Easily accessible by a ropeway departing from Shirabi-daira station.
3. Koya Pond
Koya Pond is a scenic pond which is located along the hiking trail in Mount Hiuchi, the 2,462 meters tall mountain located in Niigata prefecture. The pond boasts a variety of alpine plants which creates impressive scenery especially when they start to sprout in the early summer. Hakusan-kozakura is a lovely, small flower native to the area with pink petals. During the autumn season, it attracts a number of tourists who enjoy hiking or the beautiful mountains dressed with colorful autumn leaves. Koya Pond Mountain Hut is a cozy mountain hut offering accommodation and an amazing view of the pond!
4. Tashirotai Marsh
Tashirotai Marsh is a vast wetland sitting on the plateau located in the north of Hakkoda Mountains in Aomori prefecture. It was originally a caldera formed by a volcanic eruption dating back about 2 million years ago, turning into the biggest marsh around the area later. Boardwalks help you explore the marsh easily and safely while watching the alps plants dancing in the comfortable breeze coming down from the giant mountains. In autumn, the marsh turns to gold, creating a breathtaking view! As it is relatively less crowded compared to other scenic spots during peak season, it is a perfect spot for those who prefer a peaceful atmosphere away from crowds!
Goshikinuma is a cluster of ponds and lakes situated in Bandai plateau of Mt. Bandai in Fukushima prefecture. Each pond and lake fascinate visitors with different colors of water, some of which are deep blue color whereas others are close to emerald green. It is surprising that all the colors are not artificial, but completely created by nature! The colors possibly change according to several factors including climate, season, and time of the day! The 3.6 km trekking course allows you to walk around the area while surrounded by beautiful autumn colors.
Nakatsukyo is a beautiful valley located in Chichibu city, Saitama prefecture. It is widely recognized as a popular spot for autumn colors and is officially designated as a scenic spot by the prefecture. The valley offers a fascinating view of Nakatsu river running through 100 meters-tall steep cliffs stretching about 9 kilometers. The V-shaped valley features giant rocks in a unique shape, creating a photogenic scenery with plenty of nature around. Enjoy lovely azaleas in spring, or visit there in summer when the valley is covered with lush green plants. Of course, autumn is the perfect season to catch the impressive scenery while walking around the refreshing forests!
7. Dakigaeri Valley
If you get a chance to travel Akita prefecture, don’t forget to visit Dakigaeri Valley which is about a 15-minute drive from Kakunodate station. The scenic valley stretches about 10 km in the middle of Tamagawa river which boasts the emerald green stream and lush greenery around. Mikaeri Shrine is a small, sacred shrine that can be found at the entrance of the valley. Kami-no-iwahashi is a red suspension bridge creating a striking contrast with the blue water. Passing through the symbolic bridge, you will finally reach Mikaeri-no-taki, a stunning waterfall with refreshing splashes!
Daikanbo is a scenic spot located near Kurobe Dam, the biggest artificial dam in Japan in Toyama prefecture. It is known for the observation deck offering a panoramic view of Tateyama Mountain Range and Kurobe Lake from an elevation of 2,316 meters. At Unjo Terrace, you can take a break at a wooden table and chair while overlooking the stunning scenery. You need to take a cable car from Kurobe dam to reach the observation spot, which also gives you an opportunity to enjoy the stunning view from the window with nothing to block your view. During the autumn season, a number of people flock there to catch the view created by autumn colors covering the giant mountains!
9. Showa Kinen Park
You don’t need to travel far to get amazing autumn leave views, actually, Tokyo boasts a number of beautiful parks and nature spots to offer scenic beauty during the autumn season! Showa Kinen Park is a national public park located in Tachikawa city. It enchants visitors with a large collection of flowers and seasonal plants, making it a peaceful park enjoyable all year round. The 165.3 hectares park contains a swimming pool, golf course, scenic ponds, and a traditional Japanese garden. The Cosmos field gets filled with pink, white, and red flowers in the early autumn, and the golden yellow ginkgo trees fascinate you with a natural golden carpet lying on the street!
10. Ebino Kogen
Ebino Kogen is a scenic plateau located at the altitude of 1,200 meters in Kirishima mountain range in Miyazaki prefecture. Surrounded by giant mountains such as Karakuni-dake and Shiratori-yama, the plateau serves as a gateway to several hiking trails. Volcanic lakes including Rokkannon-miike can be spotted with intact wildlife which represents the untouched nature of Kyushu. Around the end of August, part of the plateau is covered with Susuki grass, which is usually gold or yellow but looks painted red there because of the volcanic gas containing sulfur!
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Most of the tourist attractions we introduced above feature great scenery of autumn colors. Make sure to check when is the perfect time to visit each of them to enjoy the best autumn leaves, as it significantly depends on the location and temperature. Remember to dress warmly especially when you go out in the early morning or at dust to protect yourself from the drastic change in the temperature!
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