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21 Scenic Spots to Visit in Japan During Autumn

There are many great reasons to visit Japan, whether you are on a budget or not. Whether you are in for some quirky experiences in the country or would like to scare the heck out of yourself, there is always something for you that Japan has to offer. What’s even better, you can visit the Land of the Rising Sun any time of the year. Go there during the winterspringsummer or autumn and you will be guaranteed to have the time of your life.

The Japanese love to take a day in their busy work schedule to simply watch their surroundings. While the winter season in Japan is basically spent hitting the slopes, the rest of the seasons have much slower activities: spring is the time for hanami (or literally, “flower watching), summer for hanabi (fireworks viewing) and autumn for koyo (watching of autumn leaves). From mid-September to mid-November, these are the best places that you should visit in Japan to watch their beautiful foliage.

1. Imperial Palace East Gardens –Tokyo

When To Visit: late November to early December

Just a short walk from the Tokyo Station, in the center of Tokyo, is a large park area surrounded by moats and massive stone walls. The current Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan is where the Edo Castle, the seat of the Tokugawa shogun, is formerly located. The variety of trees and the Japanese style garden in the park make it a perfect place to visit to watch the autumn foliage.

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2. Hitachi Seaside Park – Ibaraki

Do not adjust our smartphone or monitor! The surreal image you’re seeing is true, and it isn’t just an edited picture made a Photoshop geek. With a fabulous array of colors on display, a layover to the Hitachi Seaside Park in autumn will make you feel are stepping inside a world of fantasy and anime. But, there is more to this prismatic park than its numerous crimson Kochi buses and cosmos flowers. Here, tourists can enjoy strolling, jogging or biking around its picturesque trails. Plus, the park also has a small amusement park with a lovely Ferris wheel.

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3. Kyoto Gyoen

When To Visit: mid-November to late November

Just like the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, the Kyoto Gyoen (Garden) is located right in the heart of Tokyo, surrounding the Kyoto Imperial Palace and Sento Gosho. The park is lined with sakura (cherry blossom) and maple trees making it a great venue not just for hanami but also for watching the leaves change color during autumn season.

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4. Shinjuku Gyoen

The Shinjuku Garden had originally been the residence of the Naitou family back in the Edo period but became a garden being managed by the Imperial Household Agency of Japan. Not only is this garden full of history, its 58.3-hectare area is also covered by more than 20,000 trees which includes about 1,500 cherry blossom trees. The garden, which is a 10-minute walk from the Shinjuku Station, features three unique styles: Japanese traditional in the south and French Formal and English in the north.

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5. Kiyosumi Garden –Tokyo

When To Visit: end of November to early December

This traditional 81,000-sqm Japanese stroll garden located in Fukugawa, Tokyo boasts of a lake with three islands, all connected with a bridge. Stepping stone pathways called iso-watari also lead visitors to a shallower area of the pond, allowing the visitors of a closer view to its magnificent autumn scenery. This beautiful park is located right next to the Fukugawa Edo Museum.

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6. Koya Pond – Niigata

The Koya Pond in Niigata is beyond words. Located in Itami City, this beautiful pond is a popular stopover for many migratory birds during the autumn and winter seasons. Not only is the place perfect for watching trees change color, it is also the best place to spot many types of water birds — such as wild ducks, for example — that arrive in the area.

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7. Usa Shrine – Oita

The Usa Shrine is located at the base of the Kunisaki Peninsula and is the head among thousands of shrines dedicated to Hachiman, the god of archery and war. The shrine is very thickly covered with trees that make it hard to have an unobstructed view of the building — but make it a great place for visiting during the autumn as the color of the leaves start to change.

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8. Ooi River, Arashiyama – Kyoto

When To Visit: mid to late November

Watching the autumn foliage is slightly different in this attraction because here, you will have to ride a boat along the Ooi River in the middle of the Arashiyama mountain in Kyoto in order to get a closer look.

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9. Bishamondo – Kyoto

When To Visit: mid-November to late December

Strolling past the wide walkway in Bishamondo will make you feel like you have been transported to some place else. It is so beautifully covered with trees that during the autumn, you will find yourself seemingly under a spell due to the orange and red hues that surround you.

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10. Saimyoji Temple – Shiga

Saimyoji is a picturesque temple located in a mountain northwest of Kyoto, just above the Kiyotaki River. The temple in itself is surrounded by cherry blossom trees that create a beautiful combination of colors during the autumn season. All parts of the temple, including the bridge leading to it, offer the best views for watching the leaves change their color.

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11. Koudaiji – Kyoto

When To Visit: end of October to beginning of December

The best time to visit Koudaiji is during the night when the trees, in its beautiful autumn foliage, become wonderfully lit. The waters in the lake found in the garden provides an added value to this masterpiece, as it projects a panoramic reflection of the trees around it.

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12. Enrian – Kyoto

When To Visit: November 1 to December 7

You may have never seen so much red in your life until you’ve visited Enrian in Kyoto. During the peak of autumn, so many leaves fall into the ground that it becomes almost impossible for anyone to see another color other than red. Pretty sure your mind will be left with a beautiful memory of red once you’ve left the place.

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13. Nara Park

The Nara Park is a public park in Japan that was established back in 1880. Its gorgeous landscape offers such a breathtaking panoramic view and turns into red, yellow and green during the autumn season. Nara Park is also a great place to try feeding a deer — but do it only if they bow first.

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14. Kenroku Garden

The Kenroku Gardens is considered as one of the three great gardens in Japan because of its wonderfully designed landscapes. It is being recommended to visit Mount Yamazaki (or Momiji Mountain) first and then head back down towards the Kasumiga Pond as it gets illuminated when evening comes.

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15. Ise Grand Shrine

The Ise Grand Shrine may be popular to tourists all year round but its view becomes even more fantastic during the fall season. Many people recommend visiting the shrine not just to see the autumn foliage but also to get to see and smell fresh wood as well as the old structures in the area.

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16. Takao-san

Mount Takao is among the closest areas to visit in central Tokyo for natural recreation purposes. Aside from the postcard-perfect scenery, the place also has a majestic temple and also provides its visitors with a lot of opportunities for hiking. The place is dotted with beautiful trees everywhere you look and it becomes even more impressive during the fall season.

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17. Hama Rikyu Garden

When To Visit: end of November to beginning of December

The Hama Rikyu Garden is among one of the best places to see autumn leaves in Japan due to the Shiori Pond which sits right in front of the Sumida River. Tourists visiting the place are treated to refreshments at the tea house with matcha and Japanese sweets being offered in a traditional Japanese tea-ceremony style. The whole park is surrounded by seawater moat which is filled by the Tokyo Bay.

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18. Ginkgo Avenue – Icho Namiki

When To Visit: end of November to beginning of December

Icho Namiki is the best place to visit in the fall season if you want to see something new. The roadway called Ginkgo Avenue, is fondly called that because of the ginkgo (elm) trees that line it. While autumn foliage in Japan mostly offer shades of red and orange, those in Icho Namiki offer yellows and other earthly golden hues making it a very unique experience.

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19. Rikugi-en Garden

When To Visit: end of November to beginning of December

Rikugi-en means Garden of the Six Principles of Poetry and is located in Bonkyou-ku. Among the features of the park include a pond, trees, a man-made hill and a Japanese-style garden. The park used to offer illumination shows during the evenings but is nevertheless a beautiful sight to see even with the sun up.

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20. Kiyomizudera – Kyoto

When To Visit: late November to early December

Kiyomizudera (or literally, “Pure Water Temple”) was added in 1994 into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its wooden stage is its most popular feature, which allows visitors to get a good view of the various cherry blossom and maple trees surrounding the area. It is particularly beautiful to go and admire the autumn foliage here as the sun starts to set.

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21. Toufukuji – Kyoto

When To Visit: mid November to early December

The Toufukuji temple is a Buddhist temple which is also considered as one of the Kyoto Gozan (or “five great Zen temples of Kyoto”). The current garden in the area was designed by Mirei Shigemori back in 1930s and has since been flocked by tourists during the autumn season. It has become a tradition for people to look at the beautiful autumn colors of the maple tree leaves from the Tsuuten-kyou bridge.

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