[2021 Edition] 3 Gorgeous Fall Foliage Spots in the Kansai Region for October

Japan is known for its gorgeous fall scenery. Every year, many tourists fly to the country just to get a glimpse of it. It's said that the best time to view the fall foliage in Japan is from early October all the way to the end of November, but this is actually a very rough estimate, as it wildly differs by region. Let us take a bit of the guesswork out of your travel planning through this short list of our top fall foliage spots in the Kansai region—a popular tourist destination that's home to Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara—for October. Even if you can't come to Japan in time to see these spots, they're always worth putting on your travel plans for next time!


Things to Do


Fall Foliage in Japan

The act of viewing autumn leaves is called "momiji-gari" in Japanese. You can find places all over Japan that are famous for their beautiful autumn foliage, including easily-accessible places like city parks and temples to more remote locations like mountain peaks and deep forests. In other words, there should be a spot to satisfy everyone!

The above picture is a forecast map for Japan's fall foliage in 2021. If you're interested in practicing momiji-gari, you need to acquire a good, accurate forecast map. We've done our research, but please keep in mind that the dates are ultimately estimates.

If you're not into viewing the fall colors, there are several other reasons why you should visit Japan in the autumn. Just check out the article below!

You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!

Admire the Brilliant Fall Colors in the Kansai Region

The following three "momiji-gari" (autumn-leaf viewing) spots are all located in the Kansai region of Japan. Though it is not the most populous part of the country, it is home to incredibly well-known sightseeing cities such as Kyoto and Osaka.

Enjoy Tea, Treats, and History at Zuihoji Park (Hyogo)

Zuihoji Park is a grove in Hyogo Prefecture that is full of beautiful momiji (Japanese maple) trees, which are said to have been beloved by the prominent daimyo (Japanese feudal lord), Toyotomi Hideyoshi, way back in the 1500s. Nowadays, it is famous for being one of the best places in Hyogo to view autumn foliage.

There is even a cafe within the park called "Momiji Chaya" that only opens during the momiji-gari season (late October - late November). Why not get some dango (sweet mochi dumplings) or zenzai (sweet red bean soup) and some hot tea, and enjoy your meal under the gorgeous red leaves of the momiji trees all around you?

The cafe will most likely serve sweets other than the ones mentioned above. If you visit and you're not sure what some of the sweets are, try searching for them in the below article!

You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!

Take in the Unique Green and Red View From Within Shisendo Temple (Kyoto)

Shisendo was constructed by the early Edo period (1603 - 1868) scholar, Ishikawa Jozan, in the year 1641, after which he spent 31 years there in isolation. It is known for the wall portraits of 36 Chinese poets, as well as for its beautiful garden, which looks like a painting itself.

During the fall foliage season, the deep red of the maple trees contrasts sharply with the bright green of the moss-covered rocks underneath, creating a unique view in which you can see the colors of fall and summer all at once.

You will also be able to see these adorable Bodhisattva statues called "Jizo" (or "O-Jizo-sama", if you want to be even more reverent) around the premises. It's impossible to look at their smiling faces and not be cheered up. Try to find them all!

Soar Above the Huge Lake Biwa on the Biwako Valley Ropeway (Shiga)

The Biwako Valley Ropeway is equally enjoyable during all four seasons, with cherry blossoms in spring, beautiful greenery in the summer, fall foliage in the autumn, and striking snowy landscapes in the winter. That said, the fall view of the whole mountain painted in the deep colors of maple and Mongolian oak trees is particularly stunning.

It is the fastest ropeway in all of Japan, and you will surely enjoy the view of the landscape folding out below you as you make the 1,800m journey to the mountain peak. The view from the top of the beautiful fall colors and the enormous Lake Biwa will take your breath away!


As you can see, the Kansai region has a wide variety of places to enjoy fall foliage, from centrally located temples to lakeside mountain peaks. From huge metropolises to grand nature and quiet temples, the region of Kansai really has it all! If you're in the middle of planning your Japan autumn-leaf viewing itinerary for October, refer to this article as well as our other top October fall foliage picks in other parts of Japan:
Kanto region
Koshinetsu region
Hokkaido region


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Kansai Feature

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

About the author

An American living and working in Tokyo after spending a few years in the Japan countryside. I love video games, tennis, and cooking.
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