Autumn is widely considered as one of the best times to visit Japan. The beautiful red leaves combined with the mild weather, and without the crowds of spring.
Today, I will show to you some of the best places to visit in autumn, as decided by H.I.S. Japan trend research.
1. Echizen Ono Castle (Fukui prefecture)
Floating in a sea of clouds: the castle in the sky
This castle is located in central Ono, in Fukui prefecture.
It was built over a period of 5 years, by Kanamori Nagachika after receiving 30,000 stones from Oda Nobunaga. Since then, in 1775 it burnt down, with the castle that stands now having been rebuilt in 1968.
Surrounded on all sides by mountains, Echizen Ono castle has drawn attention in recent years as a “Castle in the Sky”.
The castle surrounded by a sea of clouds can be seen from October to April, with the best chance of seeing it in November.
By the way, to get the best views of the castle surrounded by clouds, we recommend climbing up to the Inuyama castle ruins approximately 1km to the west.
The area around the castle is full of beautiful scenery, and is said to be reminiscent of Kyoto. So even if the sea of clouds is not visible, you can still enjoy the visit.
The base of Inuyama Castle ruins is 50 minutes drive from Hokuriku Expressway Fukui IC, or 30 minutes walk from JR Echizen-Ono station.
From the base of the castle, the photography spot is a further 20-30 minutes walk. (3 climbing routes which take a slightly different amount of time.)
2. Arashiyama and Togetsukyo Bridge, Kyoto
Top autumn spot popular among local and international tourists in all seasons
Kyoto is famous within Japan for its beautiful autumn scenery, and Arashiyama in particular brings many tourists every year who come to enjoy the nature.
Togetsukyo Bridge, spanning across the Oigawa River with a length of 155m, is a famous spot within Arashiyama.
The name Togetsukyo, meaning “crossing moon bridge”, was coined by Emperor Kameyama, who noticed the way the moon looked over the bridge.
The scene of the river underneath the bridge gently flowing, and the yellow and red leaves of Arashiyama behind make for a truly picturesque landscape!
7 minutes walk from Arashiyama station, Hankyu Arashiyama line
4 minutes walk from Arashiyama station, Keifuku Electric Railroad Arashiyama line
12 minutes walk from Saga-Arashiyama station, JR San’in Main Line
3. Red Spider Lilies in Kinchakuda, Saitama prefecture
A red carpet that spreads as far as the eye can see
In western Hidaka city in Saitama prefecture, surrounded by the Koma River is a park called Kinchakuda. From September to October every year, the Koma riverbank is painted red with 5 million red spider lilies (amaryllis).
During the flowering period, a “red spider lily festival” is held, with many tourists coming to see the red blossoms.
Listening to the babbling river while seeing the beautiful flowers is a joy of autumn in Japan.
At just over 1 hour from Ikebukuro, it is easily accessible from Tokyo.
15 minutes walk from Koma station, Seibu Ikebukuro line
40 minutes drive from Kan’etsudo Tsurugashima IC, via Route 407
Red spider lily festival dates (2016):
Saturday 17th September to Sunday 2nd October
4. Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi prefecture
Autumn leaves overlooking Mt. Fuji
Kawaguchiko, as one of the Fuji Five Lakes, is located in Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi prefecture.
It has been registered as a world cultural heritage site, as part of the area surrounding Mt. Fuji.
Throughout November, the banks of the lake are stained with autumn leaves, and the Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival is held.
A spot to take notice is the “tunnel of leaves” along the northern bank, where the trees showing their autumn colors stretch along for 150m.
With Mt. Fuji in the background, this could be considered as one of the best autumn views in Japan.
5. Okuhida Onsen, Gifu prefecture
Enjoy the view while relaxing in the open air onsen
The hot spring village Okuhida Onsen, surrounded by the 3000m Mt. Norikuradate and the northern alps, consists of the five hot springs Hirayu Onsen, Fukuji Onsen, Shinhirayu Onsen, Tochio Onsen and Shinhotaka Onsen. It is one of the top villages in Japan for hot springs.
With a variety of water sources, you can enjoy the different waters in each area.
Many of the inns have open air baths, where you can enjoy the autumn scenery while bathing.
It also makes a convenient base for sightseeing, with places such as Kamikochi, Norikura, Takayama and world heritage site Shirakawa-go nearby.
Unfortunately it is not easily accessible by public transport, so taking a hire car may be the most convenient option for visiting the area. There are also some highway buses available.
1 hour 20 minutes from Nagano Expressway, Matsumoto IC
6. Iruma Air Festival, Saitama prefecture
Art in the sky: acrobatic flight by Blue Impulse
Iruma Air Festival is held at the Iruma Self-Defense Force base in Iruma, on November 3rd (Culture Day).
As the largest aviation festival in Japan, with its close proximity to Tokyo, it draws a crowd of 200,000 people every year.
Held in the base that cannot normally be entered by the public, you can see aircraft exhibits and parachute drops up close. The event even has free admission.
Among the exhibits, one that cannot be missed is the acrobatic flight by Blue Impulse.
With hearts and star marks, and even works of art such as trees drawn in the city, the skillful show draws great attention.
Direct access via Inariyama-koen station, Seibu Ikebukuro line
(Temporary ticket gate for use only on the festival day)
20 minutes walk from Sayama station, Seibu Shinjuku line
7. Hojo coast, Chiba prefecture
The sky is dyed red for sunset over the bay
The Hojo coast, in Tateyama city, with shallow water and quiet waves, has the longest coastline in the city. It is a popular summer seaside resort.
Since the waves are so soft, it is sometimes called Kagamigaura, or “mirror inlet”.
The air is particularly clear in autumn, allowing the picturesque Mt. Fuji to be seen in the distance. After the summer crowds leave, you can enjoy a quiet, calm atmosphere with a beautiful sunset along Tateyama bay.
15 minute drive from Futtsu Tateyama road, Tomiura IC
5 minute walk from JR Tateyama station
8. Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki prefecture
Fluffy red carpet of Kochia grass
Hitachi Seaside Park is an expansive national park in Hitachinaka City, Ibaraki prefecture where you can enjoy flowers in full glory in any season.
Along with the blue nemophila blossoms of early summer, another popular flower is the Kochia grass, where a 3.5 hectare Miharashi Hill is dyed red.
Kochia Carnival 2016 dates:
Saturday 17th September to Sunday 23rd October
Free entry on 2nd October and 23rd October!
1km from Hitanachinaka tollroad, Hitachi Seaside Park IC
15 minute bus ride from Katsuka station, JR Joban line
9. Yoyoya Valley, Nagano prefecture
Enjoy a soothing hot spring after viewing the autumn leaves
Yokoya Valley is located in Okutateshina onsen village, Chino city, Nagano prefecture.
There is a boardwalk where you can go for a walk while enjoying the scenery, and during mid to late October the valley is taken over by vivid red leaves, leading to its popularity as one of the top autumn walking trails in eastern Japan.
There are four waterfalls along the course, which you can view alongside the orange and red leaves. From Yokoya Onsen Kannon observatory, you can see superb views such as Otaki village and the distant mountains.
You can also enjoy hot springs here after seeing the beautiful autumn leaves.
45 minute drive from Chuo Expressway, Suwa IC
30 minutes drive from Chuo Expressway, Minami Suwa IC
10. Sumatakyo, Shizuoka prefecture
Suspension bridge across the emerald green lake
Sumatakyo, in Kawane-honcho of central Shizuoka prefecture, is known for its scenic fiews of Oigawa and Sumatagawa rivers.
Among them, the “suspension bridge of dreams” spans across the man-made lake, stopped by Oma dam at the foot of the southern alps.
There is even rumours that prayers of love made on the bridge are answered!
The area is particularly popular in autumn, where the red leaves offer a stunning contrast to the lake.
As it is around a 1.4km walk from the parking area to the suspension bridge, it is a good idea to wear clothing and shoes suitable for walking.
20 minute walk from Sumatakyo parking area
(Bridge is one way in tourist season)
During one way period, it takes around 2 hours to get back to the parking area.
With an abundance of beautiful scenery to enjoy, let’s make the best of autumn in Japan!
Source from H.I.S. trend research.