Some say fall is Japan’s greatest season. And don’t you feel like you’re missing most of it holed up in the city? Although nature can feel far away, spectacular displays of koyo (autumn viewing) foliage and Japan’s native fall flowers, like cosmos, are only an hour or two away by public transit. Make the most of your weekends with day trips out of the city this autumn that won’t break your budget or require you to rent a car to get there.
From photogenic bridges to fields of scarlet kochia (summer cypress) bushes, read on for your next-day trip getaway.
1. Akigawa Valley (Tokyo)
Located about an hour from central Tokyo, Akigawa Valley is the perfect place for a hike, fantastic views and a relaxing soak in a hot spring. Set out from Musashi-Itsukaichi station, the tourism center has plenty of maps and brochures detailing local attractions. If you’re looking to take a trek through mountainous terrain or trace a path along the Akigawa River, the station has a number of routes nearby, with the longest ones taking up to six hours to complete.
One of the highlights of the area is Ishibunebashi Bridge which is accessible via the Jyurigi Bus Stop just outside of the station. Measuring ninety-six meters long, this suspension bridge fully immerses you in the Akigawa River’s natural serenity and provides numerous vantage points to enjoy the valley’s autumn colors.
Looking to soothe your body after a day of hiking? Continue onto the other side of the bridge and find the popular Seoto-no-yu Spa. Whether you only have time for a free foot bath or a full-on dip in the onsen, this hot spring is a lovely way to end your day trip before heading back into Tokyo’s hustle and bustle.
Peak season: Late November
1420 Tokura, Akiruno, Tokyo - Map
Nearest station: JR Itsukaichi Musashi-Itsukaichi
2. Hasedera Temple (Kanagawa)
As one of Japan’s ancient capitals, Kamakura has its fair share of attractions for day trippers from Tokyo. Autumn travelers should make time for Hasedera Temple, a site renowned for its seasonal flora which includes plum blossoms in the winter, cherry blossoms in the spring, hydrangeas in the summer and Japanese maples in the fall.
Constructed in 736, Hasedera Temple, the spiritual sibling of a temple by the same name in Nara, houses a Kannon statue measuring over nine meters tall, hundreds of jizo (small guardian statues protecting children), an inari (fox) shrine and more. If you’re looking to take a break during your exploration of the temple complex, check out Kaikoan Restaurant and enjoy the fantastic view alongside curries and pastas or opt for a snack at Teraya Cafe.
For a rare autumn treat, head to Hasedera between the end of November and the middle of December when the temple and its foliage are illuminated after sunset. Take a walk around the temple grounds and marvel at the orange and red trees seemingly glowing against the night sky and reflected in the waters below.
Peak season: Late November to mid-December
3-11-2 Hase, Kamakura, Kanagawa - Map
Nearest station: Enoden Hase
3. Hitachi National Seaside Park (Ibaraki)
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