10 places to experience the best of autumn in Japan

By Teni Wada

Autumn in Japan is coming late in 2019, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s still the most gorgeous time of year (sorry cherry blossom fans). It’s the season for perfect crisp weather, vibrant colors and gastronomic delights like chestnut and pumpkin as well as slightly less delightful mystery fruits and edible insects.

Whether you choose to hike or bike on forest trails, ride a ropeway up a mountain or take a scenic train route, there’s no shortage of spots across Japan to view the colorful displays of fall. Top it all off in one relaxing weekend getaway to maximize your experience by soaking in an onsen (hot spring) while taking in the sights of auburn, gold, brown and orange leaves—the autumn colors known as koyo in Japanese.

The act of deeply appreciating the autumn colors is culturally referred to as the “koyo season,” which typically begins in October in the north and creates a magnificent color gradient gently spreading to the rest of the country through November to early December.

For an onsen-and-fall-colors combo, we bring you 10 locations that will broaden your Japan horizons and offer the perfect weekend getaway across Japan, starting in northernmost Hokkaido all the way south to the remote island region of Shikoku.

2019 Japan Fall Foliage Forecast

According to the Japan Meteorological Corporation, the latest updates predict that the leaves will begin changing color from mid-October in the north part of the country (Hokkaido, Tohoku), and from late November on the west/south side (Osaka, Kyoto, Fukuoka) and the east side (Tokyo, Nagoya, Mt. Fuji).

Predicted peak viewing dates for yellow leaves

Predicted peak viewing dates for red leaves

For the destinations below, we’ve listed the dates when the koyo is predicted to be at peak photogenic-ness this year. That said, the leaves take between two to three weeks to fully turn—so you’ll be able to catch them if you visit in that 21-day window. Make sure to follow GaijinPot Travel for updates and more info on places to visit during autumn in Japan.

1. Jozankei Onsen, Hokkaido Prefecture

Jozankei ryokan and river skyline during the autumn

This hot spring town is just an hour’s drive from Sapporo. Statues of kappa, a Japanese water sprite, decorate Jozankei adding to the magical ambience of this quaint hamlet in the mountains. Take a ride on the Kouyou Kappa Bus, a tour that offers a 60-minute scenic ride of the best spots to take in Jozankei’s fall foliage and also includes a stop at the exhibition room of the Ainu Culture Promotion Center. The bus has already started running and will be available until October 21. Read more about Jozankei Onsen.

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© GaijinPot

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Go Leafs!

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Funny enough, these are also the 10 places to avoid if you don't like crowds.

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