[2018 Edition] 3 Must-Visit Spots in the Tohoku 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 4 out of 5, focusing on Tohoku, a northern region of Japan full of nature, wide open spaces, and a rich history. Keep reading to find out more!


Things to Do

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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.

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

Enjoy the Fall Colors in Tohoku this October

Enjoy Breathtaking Fall Foliage from a Retro Train (Fukushima)

The scenic JR Tadami train line is popular with train lovers, photographers, tourists, and everyone in between! Every year, a special train called the "Kazekko Tadami Line Koyo-go" goes on four journeys over two days during peak momiji-gari season.

This train line lets you enjoy stunning fall scenery along with views of Mt. Bandai and the cultivated fields of Nishiaizu and Uonuma from the comfort of a train seat.

But don't worry if you miss the two days of the special fall foliage train! This is still a normal train line, after all, so you can make this journey on a regular train on any day throughout the year, although you should note that getting a place to sit down is not guaranteed.

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

Fall in Love with the Romantic Autumn Scenery at Hirosaki Park (Aomori)

The 49 hectare Hirosaki Park is a designated Important Cultural Property that contains castle gates and towers that are over 400 years old. During the fall, the already atmospheric area around the old castle become even more spectacular, as the area becomes filled with the beautiful red and yellow colors of the surrounding trees.

At night, the area around the castle is lit up, creating an almost mystical atomosphere that is totally different from the scenery during the day. Try to come just before sunset so you can see both views in one trip!

Take a Stroll Along a Dynamic Natural Landscape at Genbikei Gorge (Iwate)

Visit Genbikei Gorge to get a look at the dynamic and unique natural landscape that follows the Iwai River flowing down from its source on Mt. Kurikoma, which includes giant's kettles (large, natural potholes), strange rock formations, and an undulating riverbed.

In the fall, you can enjoy the stunning visual contrast between the red and yellow leaves of the trees against the bright blue water and grey stones.

This spot is so beautiful that it has been registered as a Natural Monument of Japan.

If you're in the area, be sure to also check out the autumn colors in the nearby Chusonji Temple and Motsuji Temple in Hiraizumi, Iwate!

While Tohoku doesn't have huge metropolises to rival Tokyo or Osaka, it has some of the most stunning nature in all of Japan, as well as fascinating history and delicous cuisine. It's a bit off the beaten path when it comes to Japanese tourism, so you can defintely have a unique experience different from most other tourists if you give Tohoku a shot!

Look to the articles below for some more ideas for things to do in this northern region of Japan.

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!


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 tell us through this Google Form!

Tohoku Feature

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

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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.
  • Tons of tips from tsunaguJapan writers for a memorable Japan trip!

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