Discover the gardens and valleys of Kanto in Tokyo and beyond.
While many people may only be familiar with Tokyo, the Kanto region is comprised of six additional prefectures: Kanagawa, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi, Chiba, and Ibaraki. Peak viewing time for autumn leaves varies. It generally falls between late October and early December. Ibaraki and Tochigi are the first in the region to turn colors.
After a sweltering summer, and being pummeled with rain during typhoon season, everyone is anxiously awaiting cooler fall temperatures. Thankfully, Kanto has loads of scenic spots offering a full array of autumn colors in Tokyo and beyond.
For the outdoorsy but not-really-in-shape amongst us who want to enjoy a leisure autumn hike, there’s Mount Takao. At only 599 meters high, the small summit provides a stunning backdrop of color and a taste of fresh mountain air. If you’re totally lazy, take the cable car or chairlift halfway up the trail.
One of Tokyo’s oldest Japanese landscape gardens, Koishikawa Korakuen was created during the Edo period (1603-1868) for the Tokugawa clan. The garden has numerous photogenic spots flooded with bright red maple leaves, but the full moon bridge is the most popular. Food trucks selling seasonal fare and Japanese sweets will be on-site, allowing you to taste the flavors of autumn while enjoying the spread of colors.
Todoroki Valley is perfect for those who can’t be bothered to venture out of Tokyo but still want to surround themselves in nature. Take your time walking the kilometer-long trail along the Yazawa River and across the red bridge for a quiet reprieve from the crowds.
Right in the heart of Tokyo, Meiji Jingu Gaien is one of the most popular koyo spots in the capital. Around 150 golden trees line 300 meters of the avenue, turning into a spectacularly bright tunnel. After taking a brisk walk down the tree-lined path, sample regional food from all over Japan at the Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival. After the leaves have fallen and left the trees bare, Meiji Jingu Gaien gets covered in a golden carpet that’s just as pretty as seeing the leaves still on the branches.
Vibrant red and golden-hued leaves turn this quiet garden in Japan’s second-largest city of Yokohama into an autumn paradise. The spacious garden features a three-storied pagoda transplanted from Kyoto and is big enough that it doesn’t feel crowded.
Autumn is the perfect opportunity to explore all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Nikko. Shoyo-en Garden, on the grounds of the ornately-decorated Rinno-ji Temple, has a fiery nighttime light up from the end of October to mid-November. If you want to fully immerse yourself in the bountiful nature Tochigi has to offer, head up to Chuzenji lake to take in the autumn scenery away from crowds of tourists.
Take a daring walk across the Shiomitaki Suspension Bridge in Ibaraki for one of the most breathtaking koyo experiences imaginable. The valley has several spots for camping, or you can simply take a relaxing hike around the gorge.
The mountains and rivers of Nagatoro provide not only excellent opportunities for hiking but numerous vantage points for autumn foliage. View the sea of red and gold below as you ride the ropeway to the top of 497-meter high Mount Hodo, or see the nighttime illumination at Tsukinoishimomiji Park.
This charming onsen town in Gunma offers hiking, fruit picking, and of course hot springs among a picturesque autumn backdrop. Take the Ikaho Ropeway up to Mount Monokiki and then stroll leisurely along the path to Ikaho Shrine and Kajika Bridge. The bright red bridge is illuminated at night and is the most popular koyo spot in the area. Top it off with a dip the open-air hot spring baths.
This mystical cave where you can see an image of a heart reflected in the water if you time your visit right became famous after being featured on National Geographic. Even if you can’t visit during the time the whimsical heart appears, Kameiwa Cave is like something out of a fairytale during any season. In autumn, the cave’s opening is surrounded by deep red and yellow creating a scene so beautiful you’d have to see for yourself to believe.
If you travel to one of these spots, use #GaijinPotTravel on your Instagram photos for a chance to be featured in our Top 10 Reader’s Photos of the Month!