21 Best Spots for Fall Foliage in Japan’s Kanto Region (2023 Edition)

As the temperatures cool, Japan undergoes a breathtaking transformation and the landscape bursts into a symphony of reds, yellows, and oranges. “Momiji” Japanese maples and “icho” gingko trees, along with countless other species, turn hillsides and urban streets into a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of autumn hues. While fall colors are beautiful across the country, Japan’s Kanto regionーhome to big cities like Tokyo and Yokohamaーis one of the best and most easily accessible areas to catch the vibrant fall foliage and experience the time-honored tradition of “momijigari” autumn leaf-viewing for yourself. Let us help you plan your next trip to Japan through this list of the top autumn foliage spots in the Kanto region!

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What Is Japan’s Kanto Region?

The Kanto region is located in central-Eastern Honshu, the largest island of Japan. One of the country's major geographical regions, Kanto includes Tokyo, the capital and largest city in Japan, as well Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest city. Kanto also encompasses Tokyo’s surrounding prefectures:  Gunma, Tochigi, Saitama, Ibaraki, Chiba, and Kanagawa, and contains approximately one third of the total population of Japan. This region is known for its economic importance, cultural significance, and a wide range of attractions, including historic sites, modern skyscrapers, and beautiful natural landscapes - beauty only accentuated by the vibrant colors of the autumn season.

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

Fall foliage in Japan comes in two main waves - the first is the “yellow season”, named for the golden hues of the Japanese ginkgo tree,  followed by the “red season”, when the Japanese maple casts a scarlet tinge on the landscape. 

Leaves do not typically start changing in the Kanto area until late October (mountain areas) or mid November (urban, low altitude areas), so leaves are not yet falling in Kanto during the month of October. This can change based on the temperature each year, causing the peak of the fall color season to come several weeks earlier or later than usual. 

2023 was a particularly warm year in Japan, meaning that the fall foliage, especially the Japanese maple, is predicted to peak at a much later date this year than usual. Gingko trees are predicted to peak around late November while Japanese maples are predicted to peak about one week after the yellow season. Plan to visit Tokyo between the very end of November to the very beginning of December to enjoy both the “yellow season” and “red season” in the city.

Finally, expect the weather this fall to be quite cool but not yet freezing. Dressing in layers is important as indoor areas and public transportation will be heated, but parks and other outdoor areas can be a bit chilly.

What Area Has the Best Fall Foliage?

Autumn in Japan is beautiful across the entire nation, but visiting a location with less crowds means more tranquil leaf-viewing and more opportunity to absorb the beauty around you. While Kanto is very densely populated, locations such as Okutama in western Tokyo or Chichibu in Saitama are not as well-known to tourists, offering a markedly more relaxed momijigari experienceーas well as easy access due to their convenient locations in the Kanto Region. That being said, each of the locations on this list has been chosen for its outstanding autumn beauty, so there is no wrong choice when deciding where to go. Check out the locations in the list below to see which one will make it on to your autumn in Japan bucket list!

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Where to Stay - Best Hotels in the Kanto Region

Looking for a place to stay in Kanto this autumn? Look no further than The Gate Hotel Tokyo by HULIC. Just a two minute walk from Ginza and Yurakucho Station, The Gate Hotel Tokyo is a high-class and high-comfort hotel offering a relaxing atmosphere, modern design, and of course, the best views of the city. Guests are welcomed to enjoy dinner and a drink in the classy restaurants, bar, and lounge, while gazing out at the lights of Tokyo.

The Gate Hotel Tokyo is also located in walking distance from must-see locations in Tokyo such as Tokyo Station and Imperial Palace, as well as Hibiya Park - featuring a large fountain, pond, and gardens, the park is another top spot for fall foliage in Tokyo.



Koishikawa Botanical Garden - Walk Through Tunnels of Scarlet Japanese Maple Trees

The oldest botanical garden in Japan, Koishikawa Botanical Garden was created by the Tokugawa shogunate over 300 years ago to be a medicinal herb garden. Covering 40 acres in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward, Koishikawa Botanical Garden contains 4,000 different plant species and is operated by the prestigious University of Tokyo.

While the garden makes for a lovely stroll year-round, it absolutely cannot be missed during the autumn months. As temperatures gradually drop, the garden's diverse collection of trees, including Japanese maple, ginkgo, and cherry, burst into brilliant shades of red, orange, and gold. The charm of the garden's winding paths and tranquil koi ponds is amplified by the vibrant fall foliage, creating a colorful haven where one can savor the essence of autumn in Japan.

Okutama and Hatonosu Gorge - Admire Striking Fall Colors in Western Tokyo

In Western Tokyo lies the peaceful Okutama area, less than two hours by train yet worlds away from the urban hustle and bustle of the inner city. The majority of Okutama lies within the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, a mountainous and forested region known for its natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere.

Visitors can enjoy hiking and various other outdoor activities throughout the park, but one of the best places to view fall foliage in Okutama is Hatonosu Gorge, created by the Tama River gradually eroding the jagged rocks over millennia. The gorge is home to small waterfalls, rock formations, and old-growth forest, the beauty of which is only magnified by the fiery hues of fall in Japan. Access to Okutama (and Hatonosu) is easy by train from Tokyo on the JR Ome Line.

Rikugien Garden - Enjoy One of Tokyo’s Most Beautiful Traditional Gardens and Autumn Colors

Rikugien Garden, constructed between 1695 and 1702 for the fifth Tokugawa shogun, is a classic example of a traditional Japanese garden. The name Rikugien means “garden of the six principles”, referring to the six elements of Japanese “waka” poetry, and it’s easy to see how the garden inspires poetry in the hearts and souls of those who visit - the garden reproduces scenes from 88 famous Japanese poems through its carefully-curated hills, forests, and pond that reflects the surrounding greenery.

Each area of the garden is connected by a system of trails, making it the perfect place to take a relaxing stroll through the colorful foliage and enjoy the Edo-era atmosphere of the garden on a brisk autumn day.


Hotokuji Temple - Polished Floors Reflecting Red Japanese Maples Like a Mirror

Established in around 1450, Hotokuji Temple is a pristine Zen Buddhist temple known for its Japanese rock garden and floor polished to resemble a mirror. Outside the temple are over 100 Japanese maple trees, the fiery red leaves of which are reflected in the temple floor during the autumn season - a sight that truly cannot be missed.

The sight is so magnificent that the temple even calls it “yuka momiji” or “floor maple” season, and holds a limited-time evening illumination of the autumn leaves during November each year. Yuka momiji season begins October 20th and runs through the end of November in 2023 and the evening illumination runs from November 11th to the 28th.

Kajika Bridge - A Bright Vermillion Bridge Meets the Timeless Red of Japanese Maples

Near the spring source of Gunma’s Ikaho Onsen lies a strikingly red and unquestionably Japanese arched bridge. Surrounded by momiji, the bridge creates stunning contrast with the greenery in spring and summer months, and becomes a fiery red spectacle when the leaves begin to change in the fall. During the autumn months, the bridge is lit up at night for spectators to enjoy the vibrant colors of fall.

Ikaho Onsen itself is a famously charming hot spring resort town featuring indoor and outdoor baths and plenty of traditional Japanese inns - a wonderful day trip or overnight retreat for weary travelers who want to experience authentic Japanese hot spring culture.


Watarase Keikoku Railway - Chug Along Through Captivating Views of Japanese Maples on This Scenic Train

The Watarase Keikoku Railway, opened in 1911, has been carrying passengers through the breathtaking scenery of Kanto’s Watarase River gorge for over a century. Connecting Kiryu in Gunma and Nikko in Tochigi, the 80-minute ride takes passengers through the lush Watarase Valley, beautiful year-round, but especially so during the peak season of autumn foliage. Aside from regular trains, there are also special “torokko” trolley trains with no windows, available mainly on weekends and some other days during peak foliage season.

Changes in altitude along the way mean that passengers get to enjoy various stages of autumn foliage throughout the journey, making for the perfect activity for any traveler looking to experience autumn in Japan.


Toshogu Shrine - Gilded Eaves Meet Golden Leaves at Nikko’s Most Luxurious Shrine

Together with Futarasan Shrine and Rinnoji Temple, Toshogu Shrine forms the Shrines and Temples of Nikko UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate which ruled Japan for over 250 years between 1603-1867, Toshogu is one of the most lavishly decorated shrines in all of Japan and a true gem of the Kanto region.

While Toshogu deserves a visit during every season, the autumn foliage is particularly beautiful surrounding the shrine complex as golden ginkgo and red momiji leaves provide a magnificent backdrop to the gilded shrine -  a sight to behold during the fall months.

Lake Chuzenji - Momiji Reflecting off of the Pristine Surface of Japan’s Highest Natural Lake

The autumn foliage season is long in Nikko due to the differences in elevation, with leaves beginning to change in October in the mountains of Okunikko and working their way down to the valley, where Lake Chuzenji and the winding roads of Irohazaka lie.

Lake Chuzenji was created by a volcanic eruption about 20,000 years ago, a blue oasis in the forested mountains of Nikko. During the fall season, the lake shores come alive in brilliant golden and scarlet hues, a sight that visitors can enjoy through the many lakeside walking trails and sightseeing boats that depart daily from Chuzenji Onsen (boats available from April through the end of November).

Irohazaka - Winding Roads Taking Visitors on an Unforgettable Journey Through the Stunning Autumn Foliage of Nikko

The Irohazaka winding road is a pair of serpentine roads that link the lower terrains in central Nikko to the elevated reaches of the mountainous Okunikko region, offering an exhilarating journey up the mountains of Nikko.

As the autumn season unfolds, the dense forests along the route transform into a breathtaking canvas of reds, oranges, and yellows. Each twist and turn reveals a new vista, as the foliage blankets the slopes in a radiant display. Travelers and nature enthusiasts flock to Irohazaka in the fall to witness this picturesque sight, making it a must-visit destination during the autumn season in Japan. The road is best enjoyed in a rental car or aboard the Tobu Nikko Sightseeing Bus, but weekends can quickly become very crowded, so shoot for a weekday (preferable early in the day) to avoid the bulk of the traffic.

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Chichibu - Float Down the Arakawa River to Witness Gorgeous Autumn Colors

The western Kanto Region includes the often-overlooked gem of Saitama Prefecture - easily accessible from the urban metropolis of Tokyo, yet brimming with beautiful scenery and traditional Japanese charm. Chichibu in particular, with its picturesque natural landscapes,  has been a popular escape for Tokyo-dwellers since the 1800s.

Visitors can enjoy the mountains and valleys of Chichibu year-round, but the spirit of the area comes alive in the fall, when the landscape is set ablaze with the changing of the leaves. We recommend a leisurely ride down the Arakawa River on a traditional Japanese river boat from Nagatoro, about 10 kilometers downriver from central Chichibu. The bright red leaves of the Japanese maple and the yellow-orange of the ginkgo reflected in the river’s surface is truly a feast for the eyes - and for the soul.

Kawagoe Kitain Temple - Scarlet Momiji and Golden Ginkgo Await Visitors to This Peaceful Temple

Located in the city of Kawagoe, Saitama, known for its charming historical flair as a preserved Edo-period town, lies Kitain Temple. Established in 830 and often patronized by the Tokugawa shogunate throughout the Edo period. The temple houses over 500 stone statues of “rakan” or disciples of Buddha, each with a unique pose and facial expression.

The temple gardens feature Japanese maples and a brightly lacquered vermillion bridge, turning the whole garden red during the autumn months. As Kitain is a religious institution, the temple grounds are serene and quiet - the perfect atmosphere to experience the beauty that is autumn in Japan.

Tove Jansson Akebono Children's Forest Park - Catch Autumn Colors at This Park Seemingly Straight Out of a Fairytale

This park was named after Tove Jansson, the world-famous Finnish children’s writer and beloved creator of Moomin, and inspired by the adventurous joy found within the pages of her stories. Although this is a children’s park, those of all ages can enjoy the quirky architecture of the wooden pavilions and the cozy cafe, seemingly straight out of a fairytale.

As the park is located in a forest, it is a prime place to catch autumn colors once the weather starts to get cooler. The park also features illumination on weekends and holidays from sunset to 9pm. Any child or child at heart is sure to appreciate the magic of this charming little park.


Hananuki Gorge - An Enchanting Suspension Bridge Cocooned in Autumn Colors

In the enchanting embrace of autumn, Hananuki Gorge undergoes a remarkable transformation, leaving you breathless. Stretching from the Hananuki Dam to the Kotakizawa Campsite,  the emerald green leaves of the forest burst into vibrant shades of orange and red, and the crisp, cool air with the soothing sound of rushing water rejuvenates the soul.

The main draw of this hidden gem is the long suspension bridge hanging over the gorge that treats those brave enough to cross it with stunning views.  


Hitachi Seaside Park - Stroll Through Magical Kochia Fields

Hitachi Seaside Park is celebrated for its stunning floral displays, open spaces, and diverse recreational activities and is often hailed as one of the top things to do in Ibaraki Prefecture. An easy day trip from Tokyo, throughout the year, visitors can witness a changing array of seasonal flowers, with the most famous being the vast fields of nemophila that blanket the park in brilliant blue during the spring season.

In sharp contrast, crimson drapes the hills with fields of kochia (summer cypress) during the fall and is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The park is a perfect place for picnics, outdoor sports, and family outings, making Hitachi Seaside Park just the right getaway from big city life.

Fukuroda Falls - A Serene Escape to Immerse Yourself in Japan’s Seasonal Beauty

With a total height of approximately 120 meters and a width of about 73 meters, Fukuroda Falls is often referred to as one of Japan's three most beautiful waterfalls, alongside Nachi Falls and Kegon Falls. The mesmerizing cascade of water is exceptionally breathtaking to witness during the fall season when the surrounding foliage bursts into vibrant shades. The vantage points around the falls offer visitors various perspectives of this spectacle.

Fukuroda Falls is not only a natural marvel but also a serene escape into the tranquil Japanese countryside, making it a sought-after destination for nature enthusiasts and travelers eager to immerse themselves in the seasonal beauty of Japan.


Kameiwa Cave - Explore Japan’s Most Instagrammable Cave

Kameiwa Cave's name translates to "Turtle Rock Cave" in English and takes its name from the distinctive turtle-shaped rock formation found at the entrance. Visitors can gaze at the cave’s intriguing structures, which have been naturally sculpted by the ocean's waves over the years. In recent years, Kameiwa Cave has been dubbed Japan’s most instagrammable cave as, twice per year in the early mornings, beams of light hit the smooth surface of the water just right and the shape of a heart beats into existence, making the perfect shot.

The cave has also often been likened to scenes from Ghibli masterpiece “Princess Mononoke” as the whimsical and mystical vibes that the cave gives off can seem surreal and offer visitors a glimpse into a world they thought only existed on screen.

Naritasan Shinshoji Temple - Appreciate Both the Changing Seasons and This Hidden Gem’s Spiritual Significance

Narita Airport is one of the first places that many overseas visitors to Japan reach when entering the country, and while your first instinct may be to rush directly to the electric streets of Shibuya after clearing customs, the town of Narita is a hidden gem in of itself. Naritasan Shinshoji Temple's serene grounds come alive with the warm, earthy colors of fall foliage, with maples and ginkgo trees bringing an incredible sense of seasonality to the atmosphere.

The tranquil pond and carefully cultivated gardens surrounding the temple enhance the natural beauty, creating a picturesque scene of wonder. As the leaves rustle and the scent of incense fills the air, visitors can immerse themselves in the serene atmosphere, offering a perfect opportunity for reflection and appreciation of both the changing seasons and the temple's profound cultural and spiritual significance.

Kominato Tetsudo Line - Hop Aboard This Scenic Train to View Giant Golden Gingko and Marvelous Valleys

Enjoy a slow, calming sojourn through the charming countryside of Chiba Prefecture when you hop aboard the Kominato Tetsudo Line during the fall. As the surrounding rice fields begin to turn a bewildering gold, the journey will take you across 18 stations, spanning nearly 40 kilometers, and is a great way to really take in the scenery during the season.

Along the way, hop off to explore the local stations, with exciting sites such as the Yoro Valley, the Yoro Hot Springs, and Kazusa Kubo Station with its giant gingko tree. Many of these local stations are havens for hikers, who make pilgrimage to this truly unique slice of Japan to take advantage of the cool weather and unrivaled nature during one of the most beautiful seasons of Japan.


Sankeien Garden - Gaze at the Fiery Reds and Golden Tones of Autumn in This Splendid Japanese Garden

Sankeien Garden is an ornately manicured Japanese garden originally designed by Sankei Hara in the early 20th century. Amidst the playful splashes of fall color, the garden's traditional tea houses, pagodas, and tranquil ponds are adorned with fiery reds and golden tones of maples, ginkgos, and other speckles of color. As you traverse the garden's bridges and pathways, fallen leaves gently drape in the ground in a carpet of multicolored brilliance, creating a scene that speaks to the wonder of the gardens that have stood the test of time.

Sankeien Garden in the fall offers a refreshing blend of traditional Japanese landscaping and the mesmerizing colors of the season, making it a place where culture and nature harmoniously converge to create an idyllic and timeless escape.

Oyama Temple - Panoramic Views and Foliage at This Temple Dating Back Over 1,200 Years

Dating back over 1,200 years, Oyama Temple is a great mountain getaway from the concrete jungles of Tokyo and is renowned for its spiritual significance, beautiful natural surroundings, and the challenging ascent to the mountaintop. During the fall, visitors to Oyama Temple can embark on a scenic pilgrimage by hiking to the summit of Mount Oyama, where the temple is perched. The journey is not only a physical challenge but also a spiritual one, with numerous religious relics, statues, and shrines to explore along the way.

Up on the peaks of Mount Oyama, those who are able to make the climb can be expected to be taken away by breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, enhanced by the flaming beauty of the foliage, making it a cherished destination for hikers, pilgrims, and nature enthusiasts alike.

Kamakura Daibutsu - Marvel at Kamakura’s Great Buddha Amidst the Fall Foliage

As autumn unfurls its tranquil charm, the Kamakura Daibutsu, or Great Buddha of Kamakura, takes on a different kind of majesty. Nestled within the serene settings of Kamakura, this colossal bronze statue, forged centuries ago, stands in stoic contemplation amidst the fall foliage.

The Buddha, one of Japan's most iconic sites, feels all the more esoteric as the surrounding maple and gingko trees don their fiery mantles, framing the Daibutsu in a mesmerizing display of nature's artistry. The rustling leaves and the cool breeze create a sense of timelessness, honoring both nature and the enduring cultural heritage of Japan.


Explore Japan's Kanto Region This Autumn

Have you decided where you’ll start exploring in the Kanto Region this fall season? There are so many options, and each so breathtaking it’s hard to choose where to start. We hope this list of the 21 best spots to view fall foliage in Kanto has been helpful in planning your next trip to Japan!

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JR Pass for Whole Japan

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Do you have plans to visit other parts of Japan as well sometime during the autumn? In that case, you definitely need to check out our other top October fall foliage picks in other parts of Japan:

Kansai region
Koshinetsu region
Hokkaido region


Thumbnail credit: PIXTA

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Kanto Feature

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

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About the author

Sarah Dean
Hailing from Washington State, a school trip to Japan with Sarah’s high school orchestra ignited her love for Japan. A high school exchange in Nagoya, a university study abroad semester in Tokyo, and a whole degree in the Japanese language later, Sarah found herself in the rural city of Nagai, Yamagata as the Coordinator of International Relations, where she unexpectedly found her forever home. With a dream of giving back to the community that welcomed her with open arms, Sarah devotes her energy and passion into showing the world what the hidden gem of the Tohoku Region has to offer.
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