Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #3 - Mount Takao 1
Destinations Tokyo

The 10 Best Autumn Leaves Spots In Tokyo You MUST Visit!

on
November 22, 2019

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo – If you actually stop to notice it, the best images of Japan come with cherry blossom backgrounds, snow white backgrounds, or red leaf backgrounds. The natural phenomenon that is the autumn foliage, also known as ‘koyo’, meaning changing autumn leaves, which happens in Japan every year is absolutely spectacular. It’s been an event that the Japanese people look forward annually for a long time, each person anticipating when the temperature drops slightly, the flowers have finished blossoming and in their place, momiji (‘red leaf’) appear. It’s such a big deal that people often plan their holidays around this period to travel domestically to the best regions in Japan to be able to capture the stunning images of the mountains and valleys awash with golden hues.

Momiji

For foreigners visiting Japan, it’s still an attraction that’s catching on, however, more and more are realising the beauty of the momiji that is almost on par with the famous sakuras of Japan. Just like the cherry blossoms, there is in fact an annual fall foliage forecast for the entire country that you can refer to, to plan where to go to see the momiji.

If you’re going to be based in Tokyo during the autumn season, you won’t need to travel hours out to the mountainous regions to experience this, because there are plenty of sites within Tokyo that are only train rides away! Below we’ve listed the top 10 best autumn spots in Tokyo you can visit to see this.

  1. Rikugien (Rikugi Gardens)
  2. Yoyogi Park
  3. Mount Takao
  4. Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens
  5. Mount Mitake
  6. Meiji Jingu Gaien
  7. Hamarikyu Gardens
  8. Omotesando Street
  9. Inokashira Park
  10. Showa Memorial Park

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #1 – Rikugien (Rikugi Gardens)

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #1 - Rikugien (Rikugi Gardens) 4

Rikugien is listed as the number one best autumn spot in Tokyo to take in the beauty during koyo for a reason. Though it is situated right in the middle of Tokyo, this traditional Japanese garden that was once a favourite spot for a Shogun exhibits a natural historic beauty quite unlike any other. It was established back in 1702, and to this day, remains a favourite for its spectacular display of momijis.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #1 - Rikugien (Rikugi Gardens) 4

There are roughly 450 Japanese maple trees located here alongside hundreds of other maple varieties, meaning at its peak, the abundance of colourful leaves will be hard to miss. Some of the top spots to take in the view include the hilltop viewpoint, around the Togetsukyo Bridge, and along the maple-lined canals. During the peak of the season, there is an illumination which happens at night at the garden, allowing visitors to walk through and take in the gorgeous scenery at night – highly recommended!

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #1 - Rikugien (Rikugi Gardens) 4 Illumination

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #2 – Yoyogi Park

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #2 - Yoyogi Park 1

How can we have a list of the best viewing spots without Yoyogi Park? This popular park located smack bang in the middle of Tokyo is one of the premiere destinations for any events happening in and around Tokyo, and for good reason. Its grounds is absolutely massive, and is home to many flora species. It’s one of the most classic places in all of Tokyo to view the autumn foliage. Plan a relaxing picnic sitting amongst six tree varieties (including Ginkyo, Maple, and Zelkova) with more than 1000 trees surrounding you in vibrant autumn colours. Most of the time, there will be events being held at the park on the weekends so keep an eye out for them!

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #2 - Yoyogi Park 1

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #3 – Mount Takao

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #3 - Mount Takao 1

Mount Takao is located within the Meiji no Mori Takao Quasi-National Park, in Hachioji City slightly west of Tokyo. It’s only an hour away by train, thus making it a very popular one-day trip for tourists throughout the year. However, it’s the autumn season that draws the biggest crowds there. At almost 600m high, you can bet the views of the surrounding mountains and cities will be simply spectacular. Coupled with the gorgeous golden hues of the momiji on the treetops, and you’ve got yourself an A-grade scenery.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #3 - Mount Takao 1

You can expect this trip to be quite eventful, as there are multiple trails which can be hiked up the mountain, a cable car or chair lift that will take visitors part way up, and the Mount Takao Maple Festival which happens in November which can be taken part of.

Spot #4 – Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

This popular momiji viewing garden is a tranquil option for those seeking a natural beauty that’s seemingly timeless and untouched. Located in the heart of Tokyo within the Bunkyo ward, the views here are said to be second to none. It’s one where photographers will be guaranteed a spectacular image, and one where even painters would be inspired to take out their brush and capture the picturesque scenery in front of them. It’s no surprise that Koishikawa Korakuen is part of our list of the 10 most beautiful gardens in Japan.

One of the most popular activities to do here is to watch the reflection of the momiji on the glassy surface of the massive garden pond of the garden. Why else would they have planted dozens of maple trees surrounding it? The pond itself was said to have been re-created to imitate the popular Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture.

The park itself is closeby to many other attractions such as Tokyo Dome City and Tokyo Dome Stadium, so it is worth it to plan a day trip to include all these activities.

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #5 – Mount Mitake

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #5 - Mount Mitake

For those in Tokyo slightly before the momiji start to fall, you can still experience the koyo if you head out to Mount Mitake, which is located within the Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, west of Tokyo. Throughout the year, this mountain is popular for its easy and fun hiking trails, shrines, a small village to visit and grab a bite when you want to rest, waterfalls, and generally great views of the surrounds.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #5 - Mount Mitake

This is one of the most tranquil ways to experience koyo as you’ll avoid the crowds, be amongst fresh autumn air, and be literally surrounded by hundreds of trees as you commence you trail walk. We recommend stopping in at the Ozawa Sake Brewery at the end of the promenade for some local tofu dishes and sake.

  • Address: Mitakesan, Ome, Tokyo 198-0175, Japan
  • Access: From Tokyo Station, you can catch the Chuo Line (which will eventually become the Ome Line at Ome Station) train to Mitake Station in just under two hours. It will cost 1,100 yen.

By the way, if you are looking for more tips about Tokyo, feel free to read these articles too: Tokyo Travel Tips.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #6 – Meiji Jingu Gaien

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #6 - Meiji Jingu Gaien

Rather than being a mountainous attraction or a Japanese garden attraction, this particular spot is a street-lined attraction – something a bit more unique. The Meiji Jingu Gaien is actually a famous site near the Yakult Swallows stadium. The creme de la creme of this area is actually the Ichi Namiki, which is the avenue that is lined with approximately 146 trees. During the peak of the autumn koyo season, all the leaves turn a bright golden hue, creating a majestic tunnel for photos.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #6 - Meiji Jingu Gaien

When they start to fall, a gorgeous carpet is formed on the floor of sunburnt colours. All in all, seeing this is definitely like seeing a romantic scene out of a movie. In fact, it’s often used throughout the year as a popular filming spot for dramas due to its beauty.

There is an annual festival held here called the Meiji Jingu Gaien Ginkyo Festival that goes over two weeks from mid-November. Enjoy delicious Japanese festival food amongst the gorgeous momiji!

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #7 – Hamarikyu Gardens

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #7 - Hamarikyu Gardens 2

As one of the most traditional looking gardens across Tokyo, the Hamarikyu Gardens boasts a massive expanse of land which is home to plenty of natural flora, walking paths, a gorgeous pond that is actually filled with seawater, and historic monuments. It’s actually located right in the middle of the city, so you will be able to capture the unique image of a traditional Japanese garden with looming futuristic skyscrapers in the background – something is quintessentially Japanese.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #7 - Hamarikyu Gardens 2

The most visited spot in this garden is the Japanese teahouse located on the islet. Here, you can relax over some matcha tea and Japanese sweets whilst taking in the gorgeous surrounding views of the momiji. You will need to cross a stunning traditional Japanese bridge to get to the teahouse. It’s an experience in itself!

Spot #8 – Omotesando Street

Omotesando street Autumn

An unlikely addition to the list, the ever-popular Omotesando Street, often referred to as the Champs-Elysees (one of the most beautiful avenues in the world located in Paris) of Tokyo, is a great place to take in the gorgeous autumn koyo whilst shopping to your heart’s content. It’s a massive 1.1km street that stretches from the Aoyama area all the way to the Meiji Jingu Shrine. Here, you can shop at trendy boutique shops, high brand stores, grab a coffee at hipster and stylish cafes, and dine at a plethora of restaurants. The Zelkova trees which line the street turn into the brightest hue of yellow during the peak of the autumn season, creating a beautiful tunnel to walk under and amongst.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #9 – Inokashira Park

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #9 - Inokashira Park

Inokashira Park is an all-in-one attraction that offers more than just a peaceful stroll through the park. On its grounds, it also boasts the Inokashira Pond, a promenade, Inokashira Park Zoo, and the ever-popular Ghibli Museum. It’s a great way to escape the sounds of traffic and the enormous sky-scraper views at any time of the year, but it is during autumn that the park really turns it up.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #9 - Inokashira Park

600 and more trees turn the park into a massive golden attraction, a view that’s so spectacular, you’ll need hours just to fully appreciate it. For those who really want to go all-in with the viewing experience, you can rent boats to ride out into the middle of the pond to take in the views of the trees from a different perspective. There are also bikes which you can rent for a few hours to ride around the park.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #10 – Showa Memorial Park (aka Showa Kinen Park)

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #10 - Showa Memorial Park (aka Showa Kinen Park) 2

Located under an hour away from central Tokyo, the Showa Memorial Park is an extremely huge man-made park that consists of several gorgeous gardens and recreational areas connected by a network of footpaths and cycling paths. It’s actually tipped as being one of the biggest parks in all of Japan! Boasting a massive 180 hectares of land, you can spend all day here and not even cover a quarter of what it has to offer.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #10 - Showa Memorial Park (aka Showa Kinen Park) 3

The various gardens that make up this massive park display the likes of tulips, sunflowers, and cosmoses. The real attraction during autumn here though, would be the bright golden ginkyo trees which frame the main entrance – utterly spectacular. After that, it would be the popular ‘canal’, consisting of a 200m path framed by gingko trees on both sides. There’s also a teahouse here where you can take a break to snack on matcha tea and Japanese sweets.

Best Autumn Leaves Spots in Tokyo #10 - Showa Memorial Park (aka Showa Kinen Park) 3

  • Address: 3173 Midoricho, Tokyo 190-0014, Japan
  • Access: From Tokyo Station, take the Chuo Line train to Tachikawa Station. This ride will take 40-minutes and cost 650 yen. From Tachikawa Station, it is a 10-minute walk to the park.

BONUS Spot – Gotokuji Temple

Gotokuji Temple 3

The top 10 best autumn spots in Tokyo listed above have definitely earned their right to be on this list, however, we couldn’t finish this without a special mention to Gotokuji Temple, Tokyo’s resident Lucky Cat Temple. This location is one that people don’t necessarily imagine to be a place to view the autumn koyo (seeing as how it’s located right in the middle of the city, not necessarily near any parks), however, it will definitely prove that point wrong.

Gotokuji Temple 3

Whilst the overwhelming attractor-factor of this temple is indeed the number of waving/beckoning cat statues, in November and December, the momiji leaves temporarily take the attention away with their gorgeous colours. Whilst it’s not the same as walking through an entire park of maple leaf trees, the amount of foliage at this temple is relatively spectacular for where it is. There is even a short footpath where the leaves create a tunnel for you to walk under. The best way to capture the view here is by capturing the way the leaves frame the pagoda. There’s just the right amount of foliage to frame the image without deterring from the beauty of the structure.

Address: 2 Chome-24-7 Gotokuji, Setagaya City, Tokyo 154-0021, Japan

Access: From Shinjuku Station, catch the train to Gotokuji Station (15-minutes, 190yen). From there, it is less than 10 minutes to get to the temple.

As the autumn viewing activity becomes aggressively more popular over the years, we can see this exploding into everyone’s itinerary when they come to realise just how gorgeous and unique of an experience this is within the country of Japan. The cooler weather means you won’t be sweltering under the heat, the autumn period means you won’t be running into as big of a crowd as the spring season, and the sights you will see will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s such a special phenomenon in Japan and we strongly urge you guys to look into building this sightseeing activity into your itinerary.

PS: If you are also visiting Kyoto during the Momiji season, make sure to check out our selection of the best autumn leaves spots in Kyoto!

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