Autumn Colors in Japan: 2017 Fall Foliage Forecast

Mount Fuji in autumn
Posted on Categories Travel Guides

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 (06/11): Autumn leaves have fully changed in the northern falt of the country. In central Honshu, the highlands in Shiga Kogen (near Nagano) and Bandai Azuma Skyline (Fukushima) have also reached their peak, as wells as in Nikko, they have already reached their peak. In southern-central Japan (Tokyo-Nagoya-Kyoto) the best time to see the autumn leaves should be from next Monday November 13th to December 1st.

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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41 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!

  7. Hi, I am going to Kamikochi and Karuizawa on 21st & 22nd Oct, do you think I can see autumn leaves there? And will it be peak period?

    1. Hello Mayme,

      Karuizawa’s autumn begins a little earlier than Tokyo’s, and every year the highlight of the season is in October, when visitors can fully enjoy the beauty of Karuizawa’s nature. In case of Kamikochi, particularly beautiful during the autumn foliage season, the peak period is usually in mid October. Therefore, you will be able to enjoy autumn colors spots in the area while you are in Japan.
      Have a look at our travel guide, If you are looking for best spots to see autumn leaves

      Have a nice trip

      Kind regards

  8. Hi! Thank you for this article! Your update on 9/29 mentions that with above average temperatures the autumn leaves have not quite changed yet. Does this also affect the red Miharashi no Oka in Hitachi Seaside Park? Will it change in November instead?
    What about the leaves in Nikko? Will that also be later in November? I plan to be in Japan Nov 17-24 so I’m hoping to catch these areas!

    1. Hi Lena,

      For the red Miharashi no Oka in Hitachi Seaside Park, we wouldn´t say it will last until November since the peak period goes from mid-September to mid-October. So, even if this year the autumn colors come later, November may be to late for the viewing.
      The coloring season in Nikko is long because of the wide range in elevation from the mountains of the Okunikko region to the Nikko town area down in the valley. The colors usually first arrive in the high elevations of Okunikko around early October, reach Lake Chuzenji in mid October and the Irohazaka Winding Road in late October before descending to the town of Nikko in early November. Note that the best colors are found in the Okunikko region, while the town area of Nikko is dominated by evergreen trees and does not offer too many colors.
      Here you have our 10 best places to see autumn leaves in Japan
      Hope this info helps

      Have a lovely trip to Japan

  9. I will be visiting Osaka, Kyoto & Nara from 4 -12 Nov with Hong Kong relatives. Can we see Autumn colours in Japan?

    1. Hello,

      In comparison with the fall colors of Kyoto or Tokyo, Osaka seems a less popular destination. However, Minoo Park, Osaka Castle Park, Midosuji Avenue and Kanshinji Temple are the best points to see the autumn leaves there. The best time to view autumn foliage in Osaka is from early-November to late-November. If you visit Osaka in mid-November you expect to experience the peak season.

      Nara is stunning all year round, but in the autumn, nature decorates it with vibrant colors. To experience magnificent fall colors in Nara you have got to come there on time, between late-November to early-December.

      And kyoto… Kyoto is a heaven of autumn colors.

      Listed here are our favorites 10 spots to see autumn leaves in Japan. Would you like to visit more than one location? Doing so is easy and affordable when you travel by train using your Japan Rail Pass.

      Hope this information helps you 🙂

      Regards

  10. I will be going Hokkaido on 15 oct to 23 oct. Is the autumn foliage already started there now? Or during the week I reach ? Really hope we can see it the time we arrive.

    1. Hello Adam,

      As usual, the fall foliage is expected to be seen in mid September. Don´t miss any update of our Fall Foliage Forecast for 2017. Based on this forecast the best time to see colorful fall foliage in Hokkaido is between early to mid October. If you arrive in Hokkaido on the given time then I must say you will nailed it! Now get ready to explore the best fall foliage trips in Hokkaido.
      The best places to enjoy the koyo there may include Shiretoko, Daisetsuzan National Park, Miharashi Park, Hokkaido University, Shikotsu-Toya National Park and Onuma Park among other…

      Hope you have a magical trip to Japan 🙂

  11. Hi, i will be visiting Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka from 21 – 29 oct..
    Do you think i will be able to see Autumn colours since the forecast is around mid nov?

    1. Hello Martha,

      You can feel the autumn atmosphere in different places from Mid October to Early December except Hokkaido region. Though some part of Kanto and Chubu regions provide plenty of incredible fall colors in early October.
      Within your itinerary there are many locations where you will be able to enjoy the koyo, but here you have our list of best places to see autumn leaves in Japan

      Hope you have a nice trip!

  12. Hello i will be visiting japan in the first week of november and would love a recommendation for a good place to see the autumn leaves in that period (hopefully not too far from a major airport as it will be a short trip). Also would be great if it were close to some nice onsens!

    1. Hi Mike!

      In this article you are reading you have our best recommendations for seeing the fall foliage in Japan! We recommend you to check it weekly since as soon as more information appears this article is updated.

      Have a nice trip

  13. Hello! 🙂

    I will be in Kyoto Nov 24-26. Any chance of seeing peak autumn foliage then? Or is it going to be beyond peak during that time?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi KM!

      As you can see in this article, the estimated best viewing of the fall folliage in Kyoto is from mid November to early December. However please come back to check this article before your trip since we keep updating it with latest information.

      Have an amazing trip!

    1. Hi Gracia!

      You can find them all in this article. Please check locations that are expected to be at its best viewing in late October. We recommend you to keep an eye in this article since it gets constantly updated with the latest news.

      Happy travels!

  14. Hello, I am coming to Japan between 7th to 13th November. Can you kindly devise which are the places to experience best fall foliage? I am thinking of going Hakone, Nikko, Nara or Kyoto but not too sure which one are a better place to go during this period and what type of JR line should I buy for the location you recommended. Many thanks for your advise.

    1. Hi Jacqueline!

      In this article you are reading you will find all available details regarding fall foliage in Japan. The best places to see autumn colors will largely depend on when you travel. We recommend you to carefuly check this forecast for information on when different regions reach peak viewing season. Keep in mind this article’s information will be updated with the lateast available information so please make sure you read it more than once!

      The most adequate pass will be entirely based on the itinerary.

      Have a nice trip!

    1. Hi Mary!

      The best viewing days always depend on nature – the best we can do is providing you the best forecast 🙂 In Kyoto the best viewing times typically range from mid-October through early December so you might get to see the city parks at its full fall colors. However, Osaka’s best estimated viewing is Mid November to Early December. We strongly recommend you to keep visiting this article since it gets updated with the latest available information.

      Very happy travels!

  15. Hi, I will be in Otsu,Shiga on Dec2-5.
    Where is the best place to see colored momiji aside from Kyoto and Osaka? I want to stay in Shiga most of the time.
    Thank you very much!

    1. Hi Beth!

      In this article you are reading you get to see the estimated best fall foliage viewing in each area of Japan. According the last update of the forecast, in southern-central Japan the best time to see the autumn leaves should be from next Monday November 13th to December 1st. We recommend you to come back check this article since we keep updating it with the latest available information.

      Have an amazing trip!

  16. Hi, i’m going to Tokyo and Kyoto next week from 13 to 24 November. Please recommend me some waterfalls and ropeway in the region with good autumn view. I will be travelling between Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya and Kobe.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Justin!

      Located near Tokyo in the Kanto region, Nikko is among Japan’s most popular destinations. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to historic shrines—including Toshogu, the most decorated shrine in Japan—and natural wonders such as onsen and waterfalls. This park makes a good day trip or overnight trip from Tokyo.

      Have an amazing trip!

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