Where to marvel at stunning autumn foliage in Japan’s capital
After last week’s blog post on the best spots to see Sakura Cherry blossoms in Tokyo, today we are going to be taking a look at the 2nd most popular season to visit Japan: autumn color season. From around mid-to-late November to December, trees in Japan are illuminated in vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, creating a beautiful atmosphere around the country. Here are my favorite spots to see them in Tokyo:
1. Nezu Shrine
I’ll say it straight; Nezu Shrine is Tokyo’s best shrine (sorry, Senso-ji). Besides the beautiful autumn colors, this place is also famous for the many red Torii gates it features, giving it an almost Fushimi-Inari-like atmosphere. It is also located in the Yanaka area which is one of Tokyo’s most underrated areas that you should not miss out if you want to see old-style Japan.
2. Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens
One of Tokyo’s finest Japanese landscape gardens turns into a beautiful mirror for splendid autumn colors. With a big pond in the center and many small, hidden areas you can easily spend many hours exploring this beautiful area, and it can also be combined with the next spot.
3. Koishikawa Botanical Garden
Located close to the Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens, this is a less popular but nevertheless great spot for autumn colors. The main attraction is this beautiful autumn tunnel in orange and red which is a great photo spot. Among all the places on the list, this one is certainly the most peaceful one when it comes to crowds.
4. Shinjuku Gyoen
I already mentioned this spot in the best places to see Sakura blog post, when I said that Shinjuku Gyoen is worth visiting any time of the year. Fall is no exception with many bright yellow Ginko leaf trees providing a typical Tokyo scenery.
The Okutama region on the edge of Western Tokyo is a completely different world from the busy city. Untouched forests, waterfalls and great nature can be found in this massive area compromising many mountains, cities and even villages. Especially during fall, hiking here can be a magical experience with the beautiful natural scenery that can be found here. A great autumn color hike for example is the Hatonosu Canyon which meanders through a ravine flanked by beautiful autumn scenery.
Technically not in Tokyo, but doable as a day trip out of the city. Kawaguchiko is one of Mt. Fuji’s five lakes and is a popular weekend getaway for Tokyoite's throughout the entire year. But especially during Fall when the beautiful red maple leaves contrast with snow-capped Mount Fuji, this place becomes a prime autumn color viewing spot. It is also however easily the busiest of all the places on this list, so I would avoid going on a weekend if possible.
Just like during the Sakura season, these are just a few of my personal favorites to see the autumn colors in and around Tokyo; but there are countless more hiding in every corner of the city. So, if you happen to be in Japan during Fall, I encourage you to go out and discover your own favorites!