17 Best Spots for Fall Foliage in Japan’s Kansai Region (2023 Edition)

While autumn foliage is beautiful across the country, Japan’s Kansai region, which is home to Kyoto and Osaka, is one of the best areas to catch the vibrant Japanese autumn season and view gorgeous “momiji” Japanese maples and gingko trees for yourself. In this article, we’ll introduce a list of the top 17 autumn foliage spots in the Kansai region, each with its own unique charm and allure!

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What Is Japan’s Kansai Region?

Situated in the western part of Japan’s main island of Honshu, Kansai includes Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Nara, Wakayama, and Shiga. The Kansai region features the best of new and old, tradition and modernity. Ancient temples in Kyoto and atop Mt. Koya have remained unchanged for centuries. Meanwhile, urban metropolises like Osaka and Kobe are a dynamic rush of the cosmopolitan. The region itself has so much to do and while visiting anytime throughout the year is sure to be an unforgettable experience, there is something about the autumn in Japan that gives it just a little bit more spark.

When Can You See Fall Colors in Japan’s Kansai Region?

Japan has two waves of fall foliage; the first is the yellow season for the Japanese Ginko tree, which is predicted to peak around late November in Kansai. It will then be followed by the red season with the Japanese Maple tree that should swipe through Kansai about one week later at the start of December. 

2023 was a particularly warm year in Japan, and so the fall foliage, especially the Japanese maple, is coming at a later date this year than usual. That being said, in terms of weather, expect it to be cool but not yet bone-chillingly cold.

Where to Stay - Best Hotels in the Kansai Region

With so much to do and see in Kansai during the fall, where does one even begin to start planning their trip? We recommend starting in Kyoto and basing yourself out of “The Blossom Kyoto” for a comfortable stay in the heart of the city. From here, not only do you have easy access to cultural landmarks like Kiyomizudera Temple, but you also can make day trips here and around the Kansai Region to see all the incredible sights and foliage during the season.

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Kiyomizudera Temple - Explore One of Kyoto's Most Iconic Temples in the Enchanting Autumn Season

Kiyomizudera is one of Kyoto's most iconic temples and in the enchanting autumn season, the towering wooden terrace offers panoramic views of red, orange, and yellow foliage. The temple's ancient architecture, coupled with the vibrant fall hues, creates an unforgettable experience, making Kiyomizudera a must-visit destination during this magical time of year.

Arashiyama - Visit the Popular Bamboo Forest Area During the Fall for an Otherworldly Atmosphere

The scene of a  tall, verdant bamboo forest that is nearly synonymous with the image of Japan is brought to life in Arashiyama, and the fall creates an otherworldly atmosphere. Alongside the picturesque Hozu River, visitors can enjoy rickshaw rides or perhaps even get aboard a leisure cruise to immerse themselves in the spirit of Arashiyama fully.  

Daigoji Temple - View Rich Autumn Colors and Spectacular Ancient Buildings

The five-story pagoda of Daigoji Temple, known as the "Gojunoto," stands as a symbol of Kyoto’s ancient past, and offers spectacular views of the surrounding gardens and Kyoto cityscape. Located in the southeastern part of Kyoto, Daigoji Temple is a significant cultural and historical site in Japan whose beauty is only exaggerated by the rich autumn colors in the fall. The temple complex also includes various sub-temples and beautiful gardens, making it an exciting destination to explore as you find your way through each nook and cranny.



Mino Park - Discover a Natural Oasis Just Outside the City of Osaka

While many think of highrises and bustling urbanscape as the epitome of Osaka,  just outside the city is a delightful natural oasis with much to offer, Minoo Park. Cherished by locals for its serene landscapes, stunning waterfall, and vibrant autumn foliage, Minoo Park is quite popular in the fall as its vast network of walking trails leads visitors through lush forests, past tranquil streams, and towards the highlight of the park, Minoo Waterfall. Minoo Park is also famous for its local specialty, deep-fried maple leaf tempura, which is worth the visit on its own and makes it a lovely day trip from Osaka to get away from the stress of the big city.

Osaka Castle - Stop By This Must-Visit Osaka Spot for Mesmerizing Autumn Hues

When one thinks of Osaka, one of the first spots that comes to mind is the iconic Osaka Castle. First built in 1597, Osaka Castle is a testament to the greatness and prestige of the city and stands as one of the most magnificent castles in Japan. In the fall, one can climb to the tallest castle tower and take in a breathtaking panoramic view of the city, making this one of the highlights of your trip to Kansai for sure.


Katsuoji Temple - Enjoy the Mystical View of Thousands of Daruma Dolls and Gorgeous Autumn Foliage

Katsuoji Temple is a revered Buddhist temple known for its stunning natural surroundings and vibrant autumn foliage. One of the most notable features of Katsuoji Temple is its unique red color, seen throughout the temple complex and highlighted by the red maples of the season. The temple grounds are also home to thousands of daruma dolls, which visitors can purchase and leave behind as an offering, symbolizing their wishes and desires.


Zuisekizan Eigenji Temple - Relax at This Zen Temple Amidst Crimson Foliage

Hidden amidst the silent mountains overlooking the Echi River Gorge, Eigenji Temple was founded in the 14th century and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty. The main building of the temple is one of the largest thatched-roof structures in Japan and the imposing Sammon Gate has been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Shiga Prefecture.

During the autumn foliage season Eigenji's lush grounds are a symphony of red and gold and the temple is illuminated for a limited period, with throngs of visitors coming to enjoy the shimmering crimson maples.

Former Chikurinin Temple - Witness Astonishing Reflections of the Autumn Foliage

This temple, once a secluded retreat for priests, boasts a spacious garden and is graced by the pristine waters of the Omiyagawa River and the majestic backdrop of Mt. Hachioji. The gardens of Chikurinin Temple are recognized as a nationally designated site of scenic beauty, and visitors to the temple have the opportunity to savor matcha tea while gazing upon this captivating garden, which features two exquisitely crafted tea houses. One of the buildings houses low lacquerware tables creating astonishing reflections of the garden outside.

Hiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine - Take in the Unique View of Lake Biwa and Surrounding Lush Forests

Nestled at the base of Mount Hiei, the shrine is known for its beautiful natural setting overlooking Lake Biwa and surrounded by lush forests. In the fall, the shrine`s colorful and intricate architecture is brought to life by the foliage colors and elegant structures.

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Zuihoji Park - Enjoy Tea, History, and Splendid Autum Colors

Zuihoji Park is a grove in Hyogo Prefecture that is full of beautiful momiji 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?

Himeji Castle - Admire This UNESCO Heritage Site Coming to Life With the Glow of Autumn

In a country of hundreds of castles, only one has been elevated to UNESCO status, Himeji Castle. The pride of Hyogo, Himeji Castle, was originally built between 1601 and 1609 and is the largest castle in Japan. In the fall, the grounds of Himeji come to life with the glow of autumn, and a fiery flare of maple makes this historic site a seasonal spectacle. The castle’s white facade is sure to stand out, especially during this season, making it a site that you cannot miss!

Kogenji Temple - Marvel at Intricate Architecture and Vibrant Foliage

Kogenji Temple embraces autumn in its own breathtaking way, nestled amidst the tranquil landscapes of the Hyogo countryside. Most popular to visit in the fall, as the leaves of maple trees and ginkgo trees surrounding the temple gradually shift from verdant greens to fiery reds and shimmering golds, the temple's traditional wooden architecture, adorned with intricate details, stands in harmonious contrast to the vibrant foliage. 

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Nara Park - Encounter Sacred Deer and Wonderful Autumn Colors

 Nara Park is one of the most famous attractions in Nara as it is home to over a thousand deer that have lived alongside mankind for centuries. When you encounter these sacred deer, it is not unusual that one will bow their head to you. In this case, it is expected that, of course, you present them with their favorite treat, a deer cracker. While the park is a blast throughout the year, the fall creates an immaculate atmosphere that is hard to top.


Nara Hasedera Temple - Immerse Yourself in the Beauty of Nara’s Fall Foliage at This Off-The-Beaten-Path Temple

As the crisp air carries the faint scent of incense, visitors are drawn to the temple's spiritual aura, highlighted by the serene atmosphere and the wooden statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. Hasedera Temple was impressively found in 686 and has stood the test of time. With the backdrop of seasonal foliage, Hasedera’s lush gardens and cascading staircase create a scene of unparalleled tranquility and natural calm, making Hasedera Temple the perfect escape from the city.

Muroji Temple - Seek a Spiritual Retreat Into Nature

Seeking a spiritual retreat or a peaceful escape into nature? Dating back to the 8th century, Muroji Temple features various structures, including the main hall, pagoda, and bridges, that integrate the serene landscape into the charm of the temple. Muroji Temple is especially popular during the autumn season when the surrounding trees and foliage change color, creating a breathtaking scene that attracts both pilgrims and tourists alike.

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Mt. Koya - Add One of Japan's Most Sacred Spots to Your Autumn Itinerary

Buried in the depths of Wakayama lies Koyasan or Mt. Koya, one of the most sacred spots in all of Japan. This holy site is home to a cluster of monastic buildings, temples, and a serene cemetery amidst the densely forested mountains. One of the most popular experiences at Mt. Koya is staying in traditional temple lodgings known as "shukubo," where you can participate in morning rituals and eat “shojin ryori” Buddhist cuisine. The surrounding forested landscape adds to the ethereal atmosphere, making Mount Koya a place of contemplation, natural beauty, and profound spirituality worthy of its UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

Kizetsu Gorge - Venture Amidst Spectacular Cliffs and Waterfalls

Running through the center of Tanabe City, the magnificent cliffs of Kizetsu Gorge are speckled with unusually shaped boulders, and the crown jewel of the area is none other than Fudo Falls. Here, three massive Buddhas are carved into the cliffside, making you feel as if you are just a speck of dust to a giant.

Explore Japan's Kansai Region This Autumn


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 for October, refer to this article as well as our other top fall foliage picks in other parts of Japan:

Kanto region
Koshinetsu region
Hokkaido region


If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our FacebookTwitter, or Instagram!

Kansai Feature

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

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About the author

Alexander Litz
Having moved to rural Yamagata Prefecture after junior high school, Alexander bounced around Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei until he eventually returned to Yamagata, where he carved out a career as a travel writer and tourism professional. A serial traveler, feverous nature enthusiast, and advocate for adventure, Alexander has explored over 40 countries and all 47 prefectures of Japan. He has made it his life’s work to bring sustainable tourism to rural areas in order to promote, protect, and preserve local culture, traditions, and ways of life.
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