15 Best Places To See Autumn Leaves In & Around Tokyo
Visitors heading to Tokyo in October and November are in for a treat as the city’s parks and gardens turn-on a spectacular show with some of the best autumn leaves. On this page you will find the following information:
When listing the best places to enjoy the leaves in Tokyo, it’s impossible to list all possible destinations. There are just too many. The list below introduces some of the most popular and celebrated spots in the city and a number of destinations within easy reach of Tokyo. The list is not intended to be a ranking of the very best down but instead serves as a guide as to where and when you can find some fantastic autumn leaves in the capital. Following-on from that, we’ve also provided information about the best autumn leaves in our home region of Nagano and Central Japan. Within easy reach of Tokyo by train, the autumn leaves start earlier and last longer here thanks to the huge variation in elevation across the region and cooler climate. We hope that we can tempt you away from the capital but let’s start there, with our suggestion of the:
BEST LEAVES IN & AROUND TOKYO
If you’re visiting Japan from abroad, chances are that you’ll spend at least some time in Tokyo. Visitors heading there in autumn are choosing the best time of year to explore the capital as the weather is ideal and its many parks and gardens are at their best with the spectacular mosaic of the autumn leaves. The list below starts in Tokyo with some of the best parks and gardens at which to enjoy them before moving just outside the capital, but staying within two hours reach by train, to some beautiful autumn destinations. We have provided a typical ‘best time’ of year to see the leaves in each location but please note, this can vary between years and is only intended as a guide. Now let’s jump in with our suggestion of the fifteen best spots to enjoy the leaves:
1 / MEIJI JINGU GAIEN / best time: mid-Nov. to early Dec.
Stretching 300 metres along both sides of a road, Meiji Jingu Gaien is one of the capitals most spectacular autumn sights. The avenue of 146 gingko trees put on a spectacular show in autumn, as they turn a rich shade of yellow, an even more fantastic sight at sunset as the fading light bathes the trees in glowing light. The trees can be enjoyed any time of day and being on a public street, are accessible free of charge.
2 / SHINJUKU GYOEN / best time: mid-Oct. to mid-Dec.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is comprises three gardens – Japanese, British and French – which form one of Tokyo’s best parks. The Japanese section has beautiful red ‘momiji’ while the British garden has equally spectacular yellow gingko trees. The French garden has an array of trees that turn colour in autumn with the added beauty of rose bushes that bloom at the same time. Entry to the garden is open daily (except Mondays) from 09:00 to 16:30, with last entry at 16:00. Entry is JPY500 for adults and JPY250 for school-age children. The best time to visit is spread-out over a decent period given the variety of trees in the garden, which turn colour at over a period of two months.
3 / RIKUGIEN GARDEN / best time: mid-Nov. to early Dec.
Established in 1702, Rikuigen is one of Japan’s most spectacular autumn gardens. Boasting four hundred and fifty momiji along with another six hundred other maple varieties and gingko trees, the garden is truly spectacular and especially so at night, when many of the trees are illuminated. The garden is open daily throughout the year from 09:00 to 17:00 with hours extended until 21:00 during autumn, with last entry at 20:30. Admission is JPY300.
4 / HIBIYA PARK / best time: late Nov. to early Dec.
Opened in the early 20th century, Hibiya was Tokyo’s first Western-style park. Bordering the Imperial Palace, the park is within walking distance of Tokyo Station and Shimbashi Station making it a convenient option when searching for autumn leaves in the capital. The parks lots of flowerbeds, ponds and a fountain with plenty of trees that turn colour, usually in late November to early December, including large yellow gingkos. The park is accessible at all times of day and free to enter.
5 / YOYOGI PARK / best time: late Nov. to mid-Dec.
Perhaps Tokyo’s best known park, Yoyogi is an expansive open area adjoining Meiji Jingu and always popular Harajuku. As such, the park is a gathering point for Tokyo-ites including all manner of subcultures, clubs and groups who use the park to meet and perform. In autumn, the park’s approximate one hundred momiji, two hundred gingko and one thousand zelkova trees all turn in colour and carpet the park with a carpet of leaves. Entry to Yoyogi is free with the park open at all times of day.
6 / KOISHIKAWA KORAKUEN / best time: late Nov. to early Dec.
Another of Tokyo’s oldest gardens, Koishikawa Korakuen was established during the early Edo Period (1603-1868). Designed as a circular garden, it centres a pond surrounded by trees that turn in colour – the most famous spot in the garden. The leaves reflect off the water creating a picturesque scene and one that is popular with photographers. Other popular spots in the garden include the ‘Autumn Leaves Forest’, where trees from a tunnel-like canopy of colour while the garden also hosts a festival while the leaves are at their best. The garden is open daily (except Mondays) from 09:00 to 16:30, with last entry at 16:00. Admission costs JPY500 for visitors aged 16 and over, and JPY150 for children aged 6 to 15.
7 / HAMARIKYU GARDEN / best time: mid-Nov. to early Dec.
Hamarikyu Gardens is one of Tokyo’s best gardens. Surrounded by high-rise buildings, the gardens are a traditional and serene oasis within the dense city. These expansive landscaped gardens include traditional features such as arched bridges and teahouses allow for a truly pleasurable experience, not to mention some great photography. Momiji and other trees that turn in colour throughout the gardens, imbuing the area with serene beauty and one of the capital’s most pleasant outdoor spaces. Accessible by train, the gardens can also be reached using river boats along the Sumida River from Asakusa. The gardens are open daily from 09:00 to 17:00, with last entry at 16:30. Admission is JPY300.
8 / SHOWA KINEN PARK / best time: late Oct. to mid-Nov.
With a total area of 180 hectares, Showa Kinen Park or Showa Memorial Park, is the largest park in Japan. The vast park boasts many areas and numerous trees including large gingko that turn a fantastic shade of yellow in autumn. The 200 metre ‘Canal’ road is lined with gingkos on both sides, and as autumn progresses and the leaves fall, a carpet of yellow covers the ground. You will also find momiji dotted through the park along with teahouses and small cafes. Opening hours vary through the year but in October are 09:30 to 17:00 and in November are 09:30 to 16:30. Admission is JPY450.
9 / MIZUMOTO PARK / best time: late Nov. to early Dec.
Mizumoto Park is the largest riverside park in Tokyo, located in the north-east of the city. Visiting the park offers a unique autumn experience with its estimated 1800 dawn redwoods putting on a spectacular show. Given its location a little away from the centre of the city the park isn’t the top of visitors lists however for those who do make the journey, you won’t be disappointed. The large redwoods are at their most beautiful from late November to early December. Wandering among them offers escape, relaxation and the chance for some great photography.
10 / MOUNT TAKAO / best time: November
Lying around 1 hour from Shinjuku Station by train, Mount Takao is the best-known hiking area nearby central Tokyo. Easy to get to, there are multiple trails on the mountain along with a cable car running between Kiyotakie Station and Takaosan Station. Through November the mountain is awash with colour as the trees turn and the area hosts events on weekends and holidays to celebrate the season. Mount Takao offers an attractive escape from Tokyo at all times of year but none more so than in autumn.
11 / MITAKE GORGE / best time: mid-Oct. to mid-Nov.
Around 1.5 hours from Tokyo and accessible using the Ome Line from Shinjuku to Mitake Station, Mitake Gorge is another ideal autumn destination within easy reach of the capital. From the station, walking trails follow the Tamagawa River with others also heading into the surrounding mountains. The river trail is around 4.5km and takes around one hour to walk with a riverside terrace along the way offering drinks and refreshment. Through the middle of October until the middle of November, a festival is held to celebrate the season with some trees also illuminated at night.
12 / HIKAWA GORGE / best time: mid-Oct. to November
A little further away from Tokyo at around 1 hour 45 minutes, Hikawa Gorge follows the Tama River – an area lined with beautiful trees and turn a mosaic of red, amber and yellow each autumn. Starting from Okutama Station, there is a walking route of around 4km past numerous momiji, gingko and other trees. The valley sits in the wider Okutama region, an area of mountains, lakes and rivers and a destination to itself for anyone looking to escape the hustle and hum of the city.
13 / HAKONE / best time: mid-Oct. to mid-Nov.
Hakone is one of Japan’s most famous ‘onsen’ (hot spring) areas, located only 1 to 1.5 hours from Tokyo by train – depending on which service you choose. Typically occurring in Hakone from October to November – depending on the location and weather conditions that year – Japanese will go great distance to see the beautiful leaves of autumn, including Hakone – considered one of Japan’s best spots to see them. Hakone has long been known for its stunning display of autumn leaves, which can be enjoyed at numerous spots across the region. There are many spots including some fantastic museums and surrounding gardens that boast beautiful autumn leaves with the Gora area of Hakone regarded as particularly spectacular which can be accessed using the picturesque Hakone Tozan Railway. On clear days, the area’s two ropeways afford fantastic views of Mount Fuji making this one of Japan’s most popular autumn destinations. For directions to Hakone from Tokyo, see our ‘How To Get To Hakone’ page.
14 / KAWAGUCHIKO / best time: November
Surrounding the base of Mount Fuji, ‘Fujiko’ or the ‘Fuji Five Lakes’ is (unsurprisingly) a grouping of five large lakes offering fantastic views of the mountain. Of those five, Kawaguchiko (Kawaguchi Lake) is the easiest to get to and is regarded as offering the best views of Mount Fuji. In autumn, the area enjoys some beautiful autumn leaves which combine of create some fantastic photos of the mountain in the background. On the north shore of the lake, the ‘Maple Corridor’ is another terrific spot to enjoy the leaves while nearby Itchiku Kubota Art Museum is another worthwhile destination. The area surrounding the lake has many excellent guesthouses and hotels, many of which have hot springs with fantastic views of the mountain. The journey from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko takes approximately 2.5 hours by train. For directions, see our ‘How To Get To Mount Fuji’ page.
15 / KARUIZAWA / best time: mid-Oct. to early Nov.
The popular mountain resort town of Karuizawa is one of the best spots in Central Japan to enjoy the leaves, which thanks to the town’s higher elevation at around 1000 metres above sea level, come earlier than most other areas. Karuizawa boasts some great spots to enjoy the leaves including Shiraito Falls, Kumoda Pond and by walking the Usui Toge Trail. The town is well-known for its range of high-end accommodation, restaurants and shopping making it an ideal autumn destination within easy reach of Tokyo – 65 to 75-minutes – using the Hokuriku Shinkansen. For directions, see our ‘How To Get To Karuizawa’ page.
BEST LEAVES IN & AROUND NAGANO
Captivating and beautiful, you’ll find some fantastic autumn leaves across the parks and gardens of Tokyo, and as the list above shows, just outside the city where you can enjoy the more open spaces of Mount Takao, Mount Fuji or the mountain resort town of Karuizawa. As you do so, you are leaving the capital and heading into Central Japan – a region we call home and one blessed with some of the country’s best autumn leaves.
Nagano and the surrounding region of Central Japan boast most of Japan’s tallest mountains. As such, the autumn leaves typically occur earlier than in Tokyo thanks to the higher elevation of the region – which ascends to well-over 3000 metres. In higher areas such as Shiga Kogen, Hakuba, Kamikochi, Tateyama-Kurobe (pictured above) and other spots rising over 2500 metres, the leaves can turn as early as mid-September while lower areas will be at their best as late as mid-November. This allows plenty of time and options when seeking-out the best autumn leaves in Nagano.
Our ’20 Best Places To See Autumn Leaves In & Around Nagano’ page lists our suggestion of some of the best spots in the region, most of which can be easily reached using trains or other public transport. Nagano Station is only 80 to 110-minutes from Tokyo Station – depending on which service you use – on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line. Running all the way to Kanazawa on the north coast, using the Hokuriku opens-up Central Japan and some of Japan’s best autumn leaves destinations including the Togakushi and its forested pilgrimage trails (pictured above) the World Heritage-listed villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama (pictured below).
Starting earlier and lasting longer than in Tokyo thanks to the region’s huge elevation range and cooler climate, Nagano and Central Japan is the perfect destination to enjoy some of the best autumn leaves in the country – a spectacular adventure into the mountainous heartland of Japan.
AUTUMN LEAVES IN JAPAN: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Occurring anytime between mid-September and mid-December depending on the region of the country, the autumn leaves are eagerly anticipated every year in Japan. Our ‘Autumn Leaves’ main page has everything you need to know including this year’s autumn leaves forecast, where to find them and our range of group and private tours in Nagano and Central Japan.
WHERE TO STAY IN TOKYO?
Not just the largest city in Japan but also the largest city in the world, Tokyo is a sprawling giant that must be experienced at least once. Knowing where to stay when visiting Tokyo can make a huge difference when it comes to getting around the city and ultimately, getting the most out of your time there. Our ‘Where To Stay In Tokyo?’ page breakdowns the best areas to stay including accommodation listings.
HOW TO GET TO TOKYO
As Japan’s sprawling capital, Tokyo is the start and end point of numerous train lines and express bus services making it easy to reach from all over the country. Our ‘How To Get To Tokyo’ page includes detailed information about just how to get there from popular starting points including Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagano and beyond.
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