With the cooling temperature and nice, crisp weather, Autumn is the perfect time to explore the outdoors and its changing scenery. If you are living in Tokyo and wondering about what to do on a day trip during the autumn season, you might want to visit some of these places.
The leaves are changing into their golden shades, which is a great time to go hiking. If you don’t want to go too far but still want to enjoy the gorgeous season, here are 10 autumn leaves day trips for those who would like to enjoy autumn leaves.
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Autumn Leaves Day Trips
1. 大山寺 (Ōyama-dera)
Ōyama-dera is located in Kanagawa, a roughly 1.5 hour drive from central Tokyo. When you arrive here, you are welcomed by the bright red colored leaves around the stairs of Oyama-dera Temple and Oyama Afuri Shrine. The best time to see the leaves is from mid to late November. The stone lanterns and autumn leaves lined up on the stairs create a mysterious atmosphere. It is a popular spot where you can enjoy the crimson autumn leaves and the scenery overlooking Sagami Bay day and night.
2. 箱根 (Hakone)
Hakone is a popular day trip or weekend spot from Tokyo but in autumn, it is even more popular. The autumn leaves of Hakone start from Lake Ashi, all the way to Sengokuhara, Gora and Kowakudani. One of the most beautiful points is the Hakone Museum of Photography in Gora, where the autumn leaves shine in the moss garden and bamboo garden.
Hakone Gora Park is also a famous place, and the scenery of the maple trees planted around the fountain and Hakuun-dong Tea Garden and the thatched roof of the fountain and tea room are also beautiful.
Owakudani is a volcanic valley in Hakone, which was created by the last explosion of Hakone volcano about 3,000 years ago. You can enjoy the contrast between white smoke and autumn leaves. On a clear day you can even see Mt. Fuji and enjoy a spectacular view that is different from if you were just walking.
3. 三溪園 (Sankei-en)
Sankei-en is in Yokohama area and it is a Japanese garden opened by businessman Tomitaro Hara in 1897. From late November to mid-December, when the trees are in full bloom, maple and ginkgo leaves turn beautiful shades of red and gold in various parts of the park.
The area around Rinshunkaku and Harukusahiro in the inner garden and the area around Yokofuan and Rindoan in the outer garden are especially spectacular. You can enjoy the scenery of autumn leaves in Yokohama, making it feel like an ancient city.
From November to December, Rinshunkaku and Roh Harukusa, an important cultural property, are open to the public. The valley promenade at the back of Rinshunkaku is also open, and you can enjoy a spectacular view of the three-storied pagoda.
4. 丹沢湖 (Tanzawa Lake)
Tanzawa Lake has been selected as one of the 50 scenic spots in Kanagawa. It is a beautiful lake where greenery and autumn leaves are reflected on the quiet lake surface. The autumn leaves begin to change color in early November and reach their peak in mid-November.
Here at Tanzawa Lake, you can take a boat out and enjoy a 360-degree view of the autumn leaves from the lake. There are many restaurants in the area where you can enjoy the rich nature of Lake Tanzawa such as yamame trout and venison. In the area, there is also a day trip hot spring, making it an ideal spot to relax and enjoy the autumn leaves.
5. 三ツ池公園 (Mitsuike Park)
Mitsuike Park is a park of about 300,000 square meters surrounded by rich forests, along with three ponds. There are sports facilities such as a baseball field, a multipurpose open space and a tennis court, as well as a Korea Garden, which was built to commemorate the friendship between Kanagawa Prefecture and Gyeonggi Province in South Korea.
In the fall, a flock of winter birds crosses over here, and you can see the winter in the ponds. The trees are coloured in mid-November, and the autumn leaves are in full bloom in early December, so you can take a leisurely stroll through the park while enjoying the red and yellow forests.
In autumn, the maple trees and ginkgo trees here are coloured, making it a famous spot for hunting for autumn leaves. Besides red leaves, you can enjoy autumn flowers such as cosmos, cockscomb, and sanguisorba officinalis in the flowerbed of the flower plaza. You can also enjoy picking up acorns in the thickets.
6. 日光 (Nikko)
You simply can’t talk about red leaves without mentioning Nikko. Nikko is a small town in Japan and it is famous for its beautiful autumn leaves. The Nikko’s leaves change colour to red between late October and early November. If you are living in Tokyo, you can take a day trip to Nikko during this period of time to enjoy the best of the fall season.
There are many incredible spots in Nikko to enjoy the red leaves. Here are some of the most popular spots.
Lake Chuzenji is located at the entrance of Oku-Nikko. At an altitude of 1,269m, it is the highest lake in Japan, and you can see Mt. Nantai from the foot of the lake. You can take a walk while watching the autumn leaves reflected in the lake, or take a sightseeing boat to enjoy the lake.
Mount Nantai is another magnificent spot to see the autumn leaves. The season of autumn leaves turns red and yellow as the days go by, and you can enjoy the scenery along with the beauty of the mountain. Hiking through the mountain, you will be able to see the gorgeous view of the red leaves.
Kegon Falls is another must-visit spot in Nikko. At a height of about 100 metre, Kegon Falls runs down the quay from Lake Chuzenji at once. It is one of the three major waterfalls in Japan. You can get off at the waterfall basin by elevator, so it is recommended that you can see the waterfall up close while enjoying the colors of the autumn leaves.
There are many more gorgeous spots around Nikko, check out this blog post for more information about travelling in Nikko.
7. 谷川岳 (Tanigawadake)
Mount Tanigawa is one of the 100 famous mountains in Japan, at an altitude of 1977m. It is located on the border of Gunma Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture in Japan. The view from the ridgeline as well as the summit is wonderful, and in early October, the autumn leaves begin to turn red when the rowan around the Tenjin ridge is dyed red.
You can enjoy the autumn colours from the ropeway leading to the mountaintop, and when you go down, you can overlook the fiery red colours of the mountains and the sky.
The contrast between the steep rock surface and the autumn leaves seen from the ropeway is a big attraction in autumn. Since the seasons of autumn leaves and the first snow overlap, if you are lucky, you can enjoy the snowfall on the summit of Mt. Tanigawa and the surrounding autumn leaves at the same time.
8. 尾瀬 (Ozegahara)
Ozegahara is Japan’s largest marshland located in Fukushima. It takes a little longer than 3 hours to get to Ozegahara from central Tokyo. The autumn leaves of this marshland are called Kusamomiji, and the grasslands turn golden from mid-September to early October. From late September, hardwoods turn red and yellow, showing a beautiful contrast with green conifers.
Ozegahara is designated as a special memorial and special protection area, where you can enjoy many natural beauty such as the mountain beauty of Mt. Shibutsu and Hiuchigatake and the alpine plants that bloom in the high moor.
Oze has many different hiking trails and entrances where visitors can enter. The hiking trails are well maintained and around the Ozegahara marshland and Ozenuma Pondand, you can find elevated wide boardwalks, allowing you to comfortably explore the area. The hiking trails aren’t too tough and many of the hiking trails can be completed within six to eight hours.
9. 伊香保温泉 (Ikaho Onsen)
Ikaho Onsen in Gunma Prefecture is a famous hot spring. Around the Kajika Bridge, you can find the rich nature of the Haruna Mountains, where the trees start to change colour all at once every year from around October 20th. The red leaves peak in early November and you can enjoy the wonderful autumn colors. Light-up is also carried out from late October to mid-November every year, and it is so powerful that the autumn leaves seem to be burning bright red. You can enjoy a fantastic landscape with a completely different atmosphere from the daytime.
From the ropeway leading from the hot spring town to the summit of Uenoyama Park, you can see the colors of the mountains in the distance.
10. 国営昭和記念公園 (Showa Kinen Park )
Showa Kinen Park is located in the Tachikawa area and it has two ginkgo tree areas. There is the Katarai Ginkgo Trees area with 98 trees and Tachikawaguchi “Along the Canal” with 106 trees. They are popular spots that show up as golden tunnels during the yellow leaves season. About 300 maple trees also turn red in the Japanese garden of the park.
During the autumn season, the park stays open in the evening, so you can enjoy the colourful trees all lit up, matching the ambience of the park’s traditional Japanese garden.
Autumn is such a gorgeous season to visit nature in Japan and check out the stunning red leaves. Which of these day trips would you be interested in taking? If you get a chance, try to drop by one or more of these places for a day trip or even a weekend trip.