Summertime is now over here in the UK, and it is the beginning of dark winter days…. however, it is the time to enjoy those beautiful autumn colours in Japan. There are 4 seasons in Japan, cherry blossoms in spring, fresh verdure in summer, red and yellow foliage in autumn and fallen leaves and white snow in winter.
‘Hana-mi,’ cherry blossom viewing, is very well known and popular event in Japan. Do you know that the popular outing in Autumn season in Japan is called ‘Momiji-gari’? ‘Momiji’ means autumn foliage and ‘gari’ means hunting though you do not literally go on a hunt It basically means to go out to enjoy the breath-taking view of autumn colours. Spring in Japan is amazing, but we strongly recommend that you visit Japan in Autumn time too for the spectacular mountain view! To help you decide where to visit for autumn foliage, here are the top 5 autumn colour viewing spots in Kanto area voted by members of The Japanese Shop!
Hakone is in Kanagawa prefecture and easy to access from Tokyo, it only takes about 90 minutes. It is possible to get off the train between Tokyo and Osaka so you could squeeze a visit there whilst you are in Japan! Ashinoko Lake, located in Hakone offers you a lovely view of Mt Fuji. It is a hot spring town as well so you could soak yourself in a hot bath and relax after enjoying autumn colours in the surrounding mountains. Colour changes from Ashinoko Lake area then goes down to the hot spring area That means autumn colour season lasts for an extended period of time here. You can also enjoy the view from Hakone Tozan (alpine) railway or a ropeway. The season usually starts from late November.
View from Ashinoko Lake.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nikko Toshogu is in Nikko, Tochigi prefecture. Fairly easy to access by train or bus but if you can drive you may want to rent a car and drive up to the famous Irohazaka, one of ‘the best 100 roads and streets in Japan.’ Irohazaka is a pair of winding roads that connect the lower elevations near central Nikko to the higher elevations of the mountains of Okunikko and is famous for 48 hairpin turns! There is also a ropeway to take you up to Akechidaira Observatory deck where you can enjoy spectacular views. Autumn foliage from mid-October to early November.
Irohazaka - the winding road with hairpin turns.
Why don’t you make a little trip to an urban oasis in Tokyo? This gem is found in the concrete jungle with easy access by Tokyo Metro Hibiya line. Located next to Royal Palace and only a couple of minutes’ walk from Hibiya Station. Hibiya Park is of course famous for cherry blossom in spring; however, it is also famous as a viewing spot for beautiful gingko yellow leaves and Japanese maple red leaves in autumn. There are many photographic stands and a particularly large gingko tree, which is believed to be planted by Tokugawa family around 1590. Dr Seiroku Honda, who designed Hibiya Park, decided to move the tree by 450m to save it from being cut down!
The large gingko tree that was saved from being cut down.
Famous for its Buddha statue, Kamakura has some fabulous autumn colour viewing spots. Genji Park which is located on a mountain, gets covered with red, orange, and yellow leaves. If you are lucky, you can see Mt Fuji from there too on a bright, cloudless day. Tsuruoka Hachimangu shrine is another spot for Japanese maple trees. You can enjoy an evening light-up event at Hase Temple where you can appreciate the contrasting views from daytime to night time of the foliage. For this year, the event will be held from 18th November to 11th December.
Image of autumn foliage light up.
Meiji Jinguu Gaien
One last spot that we recommend is Meiji jinguu Gaien in Tokyo. Being in the centre of Tokyo, it is easy to access by Tokyo Metro and only 5 minutes’ walk from the closest station. This is the spot for the stunning yellow colours, there runs a 300m tree-lined avenue! 146 gingko trees welcome you there with bursting yellow leaves when in season. It is so ‘instagrammable’ with a carpet of yellow leaves and beautifully trimmed trees!
Beautifully trimmed gingko trees.
The Japanese government finally decided to open its border to all travellers on 11th October 2022 after having strict boarder restrictions due to pandemic. Autumn colour changes normally start from November in Japan. If you ever visit Japan around this time, makes sure you visit some of these places to soak in the incredible beauty of autumn in Japan!
At The Japanese Shop we have a range of products that have an Autumn colour theme: elegant red, just like Japanese maple leaves (Momiji in Japanese), Momiji Premium Japanese Ramen Bowl. Book of Japanese Gardens – A journey introduces outstanding Japanese gardens. Autumn at the Golden Temple Japanese Card would be a good seasonal choice too!