People around the world know that Japan goes crazy during cherry-blossom season. What few people know is that the whole process is repeated during foliage season in the fall! Weather forecasts report on the progress of the foliage and thousands of photography aficionados dust their tripods and take their cameras out for a walk to capture the ensemble of color.
Below we listed some of the top areas in and around Tokyo for foliage. Enjoy!
Nagatoro (長瀞, Saitama) -- Walker Plus magazine ranks Nagatoro as the best viewing spot for fall foliage in the Kanto area. Take a walk along the Aragawa river and watch maple and oak trees in full color. The river is located a short walk from Nagatoro station, and the trip from Tokyo takes about two hours. Leafs start changing colors around the end of October and last until mid-November
Meiji Jingu Gaien (明治神宮外苑, Aoyama) -- Located in the heart of Aoyama, the gardens at Meiji Jingu Gaien offer unparalleled views of Japanese cherry trees, ginkgo trees and Japanese zelkova. Various activities during foliage season, including refreshment booths and crafts. Leafs start changing at the beginning of November and last until the end of the month.
Omotesando (表参道, Aoyama) -- Omotesando Avenue, otherwise known as the champ elysees of Tokyo, is flanked by massive Japanese zelkova. During foliage season, many cafes in the area set tables outside so you can people-watch and tree-watch at the same time. The views from the bridges that cross the street are especially recommended. Leafs start changing in mid-November and last until the beginning of December.
Ryuokyo (龍王峡, Nikko) -- Located north of Nikko, this spectacular park is well worth the 2.30 hour trip from Tokyo. The valley features natural rock formations that provide a stunning counterpoint to the fall foliage. Since it’s north of Tokyo, the season starts earlier, with leafs changing in mid-October and lasting until the beginning of November. The Tobu Kinagawa line services Ryuokyo station, and they run express trains (with reserved seats) from Shinjuku and Asakusa stations.
Takao-san (高尾山, Hachioji) -- One of Tokyo’s most popular hiking trails and one of the few spots inside the city where fall foliage is in full display. If you’d rather not hike to the top (takes about two hours), there’s a cable car available, from where you can see the colors on full display. If you’re driving, be sure to take the road that starts at the 甲州 highway crossing, which leads to the northern exit of Takao station. The road was planted in 1927 with over 770 gingko trees, which makes for a beautiful drive. Leafs start changing in mid-November and last until the end of the month.
Showa Kinen Park (国営昭和記念公園, Tachikawa) -- Several rows of gingko trees line up the canal at the Showa Kinen park, producing beautiful reflections on the water. There are also several trees surrounding the exercise area, and you can rent bikes to tour the park. Leafs start changing at the beginning of November and last until mid-to-end of the month.
Rikugien (六義園, Ikebukuro) -- This Japanese garden is a favorite among residents and travelers alike. During cherry-blossom season they are known for a beautiful weeping cherry tree, but in the fall the whole pond lights up with the reflections from the trees. Leafs start changing in mid-November and last until the beginning of December.
Mount Tsukuba (筑波山, Tsukuba) -- One of Japan’s most famous mountains after Mt. Fuji. The twin peaks are believed to be male and female and are worshiped in Shinto religion. There’s a main shrine at the bottom, as well as two small ones on each peak. If you’d rather not climb the 887 vertical meters, there’s a cable car to the top. Mount Tsukuba is home to numerous tree varieties. The foliage season starts in mid-October but reaches its peak in the first half of November. To get there, take the Tsukuba express line to Tsukuba station, and transfer to the Mount Tsukuba shuttle bus (40 minutes).
Mukoujima Hyakka-en (向島百花園, Asakusa) -- This garden is considered a national place of beauty. During the spring and summer the flowers take center-stage, but in the fall beautiful foliage grabs the attention of visitors. Leafs start changing at the beginning of November, but don’t reach their peak until mid-to-end of the month.
Yoro valley (養老渓谷, Chiba) -- The Yoro valley is a popular hiking course near Tokyo in the southern tip of Chiba. The trails lead to the maboroshi waterfalls, where water drops 30 meters forming a veil in its path. Hiking courses last anywhere from 1-4 hours and start from the station. Leafs start changing in the beginning of November, and are at their peak in the second half of the month and first few days of December.
Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑, Shinjuku) -- The gardens are divided into three sections -- English, Japanese and French. The large avenues of the European gardens and the reflections on the pond at the Japanese garden allow you to admire the foliage in different ways. Leafs start changing in mid November and last until the first half of December.