Autumn Colors in Japan: 2017 Fall Foliage Forecast

Mount Fuji in autumn

When many people picture the beautiful scenery of Japan, they imagine the swaying springtime blossoms of ume, or plum, and sakura cherry trees. While the flowering white, pink, purple, and red trees of spring do bespeckle the landscape with breathtaking color, there is another turning of the seasons in Japan that is not to be missed.

In Japan, the viewing of colorful fall leaves is known as koyo or momijigari, and it is a popular pastime for residents of Japan. As the weather cools, red maples, Japanese maples, and other deciduous trees ablaze with shades of red, orange, and yellow. When is the best time to experience autumn in Japan? What are the best viewing locations? This handy guide is designed to help you plan the perfect momijigari vacation.

When does autumn foliage season begin in Japan? 

The turning of the leaves in Japan varies due to temperature, elevation, and latitude. What does this mean for you? Mountainous regions and the islands to the north will experience autumn colors earlier than other regions. You should also take note of autumn color reports such as this one, as well as weather forecasts, as these will keep you up to date on fall color changes due to temperature. When temperatures turn cold early, the fall colors appear sooner – up to several weeks early – and vice versa.

In general, the autumn foliage season begins in mid-September on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost island. In other parts of Japan, like Tokyo and Kyoto he best viewing times typically range from mid-October through early December. Peak viewing in each area typically lasts between two weeks to more than one month.

Where to see the autumn leaves

The best places to see autumn colors will largely depend on when you travel. Check the forecast below for information on when different regions reach peak viewing season.

The fact is, any place in Japan is a good area for koyo viewing. If you are feeling adventurous, consider hiking the meandering trails of one of Japan’s mountains. Even if you are visiting a bustling city such as Tokyo, city parks offer thousands of trees. Another option is simply looking out the window while traveling by train.

Likely, you already plan to travel from place to place using your Japan Rail Pass. Between stations, you will see the local countryside in all its autumn glory. For a truly unique koyo experience at a relaxed pace, consider a ride on the Sagano Scenic Railway. 

2017 foliage forecast by region 

The following dates are estimates based on average best viewing times from previous years and can be helpful in timing your vacation.

Check this report often for further updates to the fall colors 2017 forecast. The regions, cities, and parks are arranged in alphabetical order for your convenience.

Update (15/09): In Hokkaido (north of Japan) the average temperature is a little higher than usual so the turning of the leaves has not started in most areas.

Japan fall foliage forecast map
Japan fall foliage forecast map. Source: Tokyocheapo.com.

Aichi

Estimated best viewing: Mid November

Alpine Route

Estimated best viewing: Mid October to Mid November

Aomori

Estimated best viewing: October

Chubu

Estimated best viewing: Late October to Early December 

Chugoku

Estimated best viewing: November 

Daisetsuzan National Park (Hokkaido)

Estimated best viewing: Early September to Early October 

Hakone

Estimated best viewing: November 

Hiroshima

Estimated best viewing: November 

Hokkaido

Estimated best viewing: Late September to Late October 

Iwate

Estimated best viewing: October

Japan Alps

Estimated best viewing: Early October to Mid November 

Kamakura

Estimated best viewing: Mid November to Early December

Kamikochi

Estimated best viewing: Early to Mid October 

Kanazawa

Estimated best viewing: Mid November to Early December 

KANSAI

Estimated best viewing: Early November to Early December 

Kanto

Estimated best viewing: Late October to Early December 

KYOTO

Estimated best viewing: Mid November to Early December 

Kyushu

Estimated best viewing: November 

Lake Towada

Estimated best viewing: October 

Miyaji

Estimated best viewing: Mid October to Early November 

Miyajima

Estimated best viewing: November 

Mount Fuji

Estimated best viewing: Early November to Early December

Nagano

Estimated best viewing: Early October to Mid November

Nagoya

Estimated best viewing: Mid November to Early December 

Nara

Estimated best viewing: Early November to Early December

Nikko

Estimated best viewing: Early October to Mid November 

OSAKA

Estimated best viewing: Mid November to Early December

Sakurayama

Estimated best viewing: November 

Shikoku

Estimated best viewing: Mid November to Early December 

Takayama

Estimated best viewing: Mid October to Mid November 

Tohoku

Estimated best viewing: Early October to Early November

TOKYO

Estimated best viewing: Late November to Early December

Experiencing fall in Japan is nothing short of unforgettable. Don’t forget to acquire your JR Pass in order to travel between viewing locations in a simple, efficient, and affordable manner.

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15 thoughts on “Autumn Colors in Japan: 2017 Fall Foliage Forecast”

  1. Dear Team,
    Thank you for your good article. Would you please advise in more specific time, if it said autumn from mid November to early December. Does it mean from 15 November to … December ( usually what date that refer to ‘early’?
    I am sorry to ask you this, but I real want to see momiji gari in Tokyo, kyoto, osaka this year.
    Thank you,
    Maria

    1. Hi Maria,

      Early December usually means the first week. However, depending on the weather it can mean the first two weeks of December. We advise you check our weather-forecast back in October for more details.

  2. Regarding your best viewing windows, does that mean that if I go to say Kyoto before the middle of November, that there won’t be any leaves? Or just not as good as if I went in mid-November?

    1. Hi Joshua,

      That’s the estimated best viewing, but you may actually see the red autumn leaves before mid-November. Please check back this article for future updates.

      Cheers!

  3. I have a question, when is the best ideal time to go to Aomori – Hirosaki Castle to view the Autumn colors? October 24 or 30th?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Christopher,

      Mid to late October should be the best time so both should be good times, but it’s hard to say yet. Please check back this forecast for further information!

      Thank you!

  4. Planning to do a mini honeymoon in Hokkaido October 24-27. Will we expect to see koyou fall colors in furano, biei, asahikawa, daisetuzan? Is there a map link I can find updates to the forecast?

    1. Hi Jonathan!

      Congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

      In general, the autumn foliage season begins in mid-September on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost island. Usually the estimated best viewing dates are between Late September and Late October based on average from previous years. This article will be updated with 2017’s forecast so don’t forget to review it weekly!

      Happy travels

    1. Hi tanggg!

      According to past years’ experience, the estimated best viewing for the fall foliage in Sapporo would be from mid October to late October. However we recommend you to follow closely this article as it will be updated with the latest forecasts available.

      Have a nice trip!

  5. Hello everyone,

    I am Yen from Ho Chi Minh. I wonder which week in Oct, Nov, Dec to see beautiful autumn (yellow and red leaf)?
    Been to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto for cherry blossoms last year and still love to see another beauty of Japan.
    I like to see something new or I dont mind to see same place before. Is there any chance that I can see snow in the north of Japan same time this time?

    Thanks for your helpful advise.
    Cheers,
    Yen
    Mysaigonhome.com

    1. Hi Yen!

      In general, the autumn foliage season begins in mid-September on the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost island. In other parts of Japan, like Tokyo and Kyoto, the best viewing times typically range from mid-October through early December. We recommend you to check this forecast to help you decide on which month to visit Japan depending on the region you want to visit. Snow season in Japan goes from mid-December until late March so if you wish to see snow you might want to travel on December.

      Have a nice trip!

  6. My family and I will be in Tokyo end of Oct to early Nov this year. Which specific places in Tokyo would you recommend if we were to try to see some autumn foliage (assuming they’d be there already)? Thank you!

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