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Autumn Leaves in Japan – The Underrated Season that Rivals Cherry Blossom

Autumn Leaves in Japan – The Underrated Season that Rivals Cherry Blossom

Without a shadow of a doubt, one of our favourite times of year to tour Japan is autumn, when strikingly colourful foliage blazes through the country.


This enchanting country is arguably at its finest while its leaves burst into a remarkable spectrum of vibrant hues during October, November and December. You may recognise the most acclaimed of these – fiery red maples – but this is just the first taste of the ravishing colours, which span from rich scarlets and oranges to golds and bright yellows. Known as ‘koyo’ in Japan, this natural season really is a sight to behold, and gives the much-hyped cherry blossom season a run for its money!

Not only will you avoid the mad rush of visitors that flock from far and wide in their thousands to admire Japan’s spring ‘sakura’ petals, as this pretty season is no secret worldwide; but the lesser-known autumnal season is equally, if not more, spectacular. Although the natural phenomena of vivid leaves is renowned for its beauty by domestic visitors, it is only just beginning to catch on to international recognition – so we recommend experiencing it while it still hovers relatively under the radar.

What’s more, visiting later in the year also comes with other perks, from surprisingly balmy weather (averaging around a comfortable 18°C) and bright blue skies to Japan’s many autumn festivals.


Sweeping the breadth of the country from North to South, we will plan your tailor-made itinerary to follow the Japanese cities and countryside in the most fitting order, so you will witness how each location comes alive with this magnificent flora. The autumn leaves start high in the Hokkaido region and trickle down through to the middle of the country (where you will find some of our favourite locations to see the colourful leaves in all their glory, most notably Kyoto and Kanazawa), before moving down further to Hiroshima and Miyajima, as well as Kurashiki and Naoshima Art Island. Of course, we cannot forget the unmissable Hakone or Tokyo, which both provide some of the best viewing points (our top recommendations being Lake Ashi and Rikugi-en Gardens).

Augusta and Lola were lucky enough to see the autumn leaves in full effect on their last research trip to Japan. Here are some of their best photos to tempt you to visit Japan at this phenomenal time of year:


Gliding downstream along the canal in the Bikan quarter, Kurashiki


Spectacular autumn leaves at Ryoan-ji rock garden, Kyoto


The renowned red fiery leaves at Daigo-ji temple, Kyoto


Seasonal decorations are beautifully crafted into Japanese cuisine, especially 'kaiseki' gourmet meals


Delicate maple leaves at Gio-ji Moss Temple, Kyoto


Lola and Augusta underneath Ginkgo leaves at Ni-jo Castle, Kyoto


Contrasting colourful trees framed in the pavilion in Shinjuku Gyoen Park, Tokyo


Picasso sculptures blend easily into the autumnal colour palette in Hakone Open-Air Museum


Akihabara's shocking bright colour emphasised by yellow trees in Tokyo

For more information or to start planning your tailor-made holiday to Japan, please get in touch:

info@ampersandtravel.com   //  +44 (0) 207 819 9770