From day trips to Japanese gardens, these fall wonders will leave you speechless.
Come November in Japan, there’s a definite nip in the air but don’t go diving under the kotatsu (heated table covered by a blanket) just yet! Fall is definitely one of the best times to experience Japan. Autumn’s crisp air and clear skies are perfect for koyo (changing autumn leaves) viewing.
The Japanese go crazy for koyo so why not join in the national pastime of ogling those fall colors? Instead of retreating indoors to Netflix and chill, check out the fall foliage while you still can. Here are 12 places where you can see autumn leaves in and around Tokyo. (Keep in mind: Estimated viewing times are approximate, depending on the weather.)
If you’re after the picturesque momiji (red maple leaves), head to one of the city’s oldest Japanese landscape gardens. These gardens were created for the Tokugawa clan during the Edo era (1603-1868). Enjoy koyo at different viewpoints along the trail and don’t miss the photogenic full moon bridge and Edo Daikagura performances.
Todoroki Valley in Setagaya is not at all dorky during autumn. Unlike its more coiffed garden pals in the city, this spot is for those who prefer to see koyo in a more natural habitat. Escape the frantic crowds and catch the leaves at a more leisurely pace from the kilometer-long trail along the Yazawa River.
This Tokyo park is not just a meeting place for quirky locals and expats. Yoyogi Park is also one of the best locations in the city to watch the trees perform their own version of cosplay. Head to the southern side of the park to explore Gingko Forest.
Nagatoro in Saitama is the perfect fall getaway for the bleary-eyed Tokyoite. Highlights include watching the leaves reflected on the Arakawa River, seeing mountain foliage while riding the ropeway to the top of 497-meter high Mount Hodo, and enjoying koyo at night in Tsukinoishimomiji Park.
This rustic koyo destination is located in the western part of Tokyo. Walk the four kilometer-long trail that snakes along rivers and mountains for all the autumn feels. Two of the best viewpoints are Okutama Lake and Hatonosu Canyon.
Otaki is a castle town located near Narita Airport in Chiba. Catch lots of koyo in the Yoro Valley. Stroll along the 1.2-kilometer-long Nakase Yuhodo Promenade and stop at temples and waterfalls along the Yoro River. Don’t miss Yoro Gorge and the 100-meter high Awamata Falls.
Like Koishikawa Korakuen, Rikugien is one of Tokyo’s oldest Japanese landscape gardens (completed in 1702). The garden of six poems is located in the northern part of the city. Watch koyo illuminated at night while sipping tea from one of its traditional tea houses.
Mount Takao is an accessible destination for Tokyoites chasing the koyo front. Ascend the 599 meter-high summit and watch the cityscape against a stunning backdrop of color. If you don’t feel like hiking the entire path, take the cable car or chairlift halfway up the trail.
Located in Koganei along the Nogawa River, this park is popular with local university students. Catch its famous momiji along the river bank. This park is also one of the few free places in the city where you can have a BBQ but reservations are required.
This public park is located in Tachikawa in Western Tokyo. It’s so massive that you need a bike to fully explore its grounds. There is a 300-meter trail lined with gingko trees. Not to mention lots of grassy areas perfect for a fall picnic. Fido can also roll around in the leaves without a leash in the dog park.
Inokashira Park is squished between Kichijoji and Mitaki and is famous for momiji in fall. This local favorite turned 100 years old in 2017. Here, you can enjoy koyo from the comfort of boats on Inokashira Pond and savor sunsets that filter between the leaves of gold and crimson.
During fall in Japan, the momiji gets a lot of attention but nothing can rival the golden splendor of ginkgo leaves along this 300 meter-long avenue. There are 146 trees here so get snap-happy or eat your heart out under the leaves during the Gingko Festival.
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!