[2018 Edition] 3 Must-Visit Spots in the Kansai Region for Fall Foliage in October
Many people say that the best time to view fall foliage in Japan is from early October all the way to the end of December. However, this is actually a rough estimate: In reality, it differs by region due to different plant species and climates. We've decided to create the ultimate guide to the best autumn foliage viewing spots in Japan, separated by area and month, for the year of 2018. This is part 3 out of 5, focusing on the ever-popular region of Kansai, which includes classic tourist cities like Kyoto, Osaka, and Nara. Keep reading to find out more!
Oct 16 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
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 2018. 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.
Admire the Brilliant Fall Colors in the Kansai Region this October
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!
Take in a Unique Green-and-Red View From Within Shisendo (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!
There's many things that you can see and do in Kyoto, with eating being one of the best of them! If you're looking for souvenirs or a snack, perhaps these culinary delights will interest you?
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!
Shiga Prefecture neighbors Kyoto, yet so few people know about it. If you plan to take the trek to Biwako Valley, do think about exploring the other spots in the article below!
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 and all of our upcoming articles in this series!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.