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16 Places You Need To Visit For The Ultimate Fall Experience In Japan

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Cheng Sim  •  Sep 23, 2016

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Koyo, the Japanese term for autumn viewing, is as iconic as hanami (flower viewing) in Japan. The sound of leaves rustling in the cool breeze is calming for the mind and soul. Experience the breathtaking beauty of Japan’s autumn in both Tokyo and Kyoto 🍂
Credit: Giphy You can also find out the best time to experience koyo this year in this article.
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P.S. Don't forget to download the HHWT Travel Planner app, available on Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS, to plan your trip to Tokyo and Kyoto 🇯🇵

Tokyo

1. Rikugien
1 - Rikugien
Credit: amu-zen Enchanting as it is elegant, the Rikugien Garden is a splendid representation of a traditional Japanese garden. The fiery maple trees steal the spotlight during koyo season, and visitors often complement their picnic in the garden with a trip to the nearby teahouse for matcha and Japanese sweets.
1 - Rikugien Garden 2
Credit: japantimes Address: 6-16-3 Hon-komagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0021 Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 9:00am - 5:00pm Closed: 29 Dec - 1 Jan Entrance fee: ¥300 How to get there: Take the train to Komagame Station and walk about 5-10 minutes towards the south to reach the main entrance of Rikugien.
2. Hamarikyu
Hamarikyu
Credit:japan-web-magazine What Hamarikyu Garden has that most Japanese parks don’t is the prime location at the mouth of Sumida River.
2 - Hamarikyu2
Credit: kanpai-japan A spacious urban garden that is dotted with a mix of pine and maple trees, it also has a tea house nearby where locals and tourists frequent for traditional Japanese teatime. Address: 1-1 Hamarikyuteien, Chuo, Tokyo 104-0046 Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 9:00am - 5:00pm Closed: 29 Dec - 3 Jan Entrance fee: ¥300 How to get there: Take the train to JR Shimbashi Station and enjoy a 10-15 minute walk to reach Hama Rikyu.
3. Icho Namiki
3 - Icho Namiki
Credit: tokyobling Icho Namiki isn’t exactly ideal for picnic, but walking up and down this avenue is absolutely Instagram-worthy! 😎  Filled with gingko trees that turn into a landscape of gold during autumn, it certainly adds a wisp of freshness to the usual snapshots of crunchy autumn leaves. Address: Between the Gaienmae fashion district and the Aoyama Itchome business district Opening hours: 24 hours Entrance fee: Free How to get there: Take the train to Aoyama-itchome Station where the avenue is situated 5 minutes away
4. Shinjuku Gyoen
4 - Shinjuku Gyoen 2
Credit: ambassadors-japanFormerly the residence of the Naito family fromthe Edo period, it is certainly a privilege to have the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen as a national park. The sections of French, English and Japanese concept gardens offer a variety of ways to experience autumn in the big city. What’s left is finding a good spot for your koyo chill-out because the crowds are normally massive!
Shinjuku Gyoen
Credit: Takashi M. on Flickr Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0014 Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9:00am - 4:30pm (closed on Mondays) Closed: 29 Dec - 3 Jan Entrance fee: ¥300 How to get there: Take the train to JR Shinjuku Station and walk for 10 minutes towards the east to the Shinjuku Gate.
5. Koishikawa Korakuen
5 - Koishikawa Korakuen
Credit: zekkeijapan Solitude and serenity are gifts from Koishikawa Korakuen to visitors of this beautiful garden. Dubbed as one of the oldest gardens in Tokyo, the arrangement of the twinkling pond, maple trees and manmade hillsides are thoughtfully placed as a tribute to traditional gardens of Japanese and Chinese influences.
5 - Koishikawa Korakuen 2
Credit: hi-no-moto Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo, Tokyo 112-0004 Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 9:00am - 5:00pm Closed: 29 Dec - 3 Jan Entrance fee: ¥300 How to get there: Takethe train to Lidashi Station along the JR Chuo Line and enjoy a 5-10 minute walk to the Koishikawa Korakuen
6. Mount Takao
6 - Mount Takao
Credit: amu-zen The koyo experience at Mount Takao is slightly different. With natural hiking trails and zooming cable cars come complete with glimpses of autumn-perfect trees, a recreational trip to Mount Takao is dedicated to full-blown nature seekers.
6 - Mount Takao 2
Credit: zekkeijapan Address: Mount Takao, Takaomachi, Hachioji, Tokyo 193-0844 Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 8:00am - 5:30pm (cable car); 9:00am - 4:30pm (chair lift); 9:30am - 4:30pm (monkey park); 8:00am - 11:00pm (keio takaosan onsen gokurakuyu) Entrance fee: ¥480 for one way and ¥930 for return (cable car and chair lift); ¥420 (monkey park); ¥1200 (keio takaosan onsen gokurakuyu) How to get there: For the best value for money, take the Keio Railway to Takaosan that departs from the underground Keio Shinjuku every 20 minutes (¥390)
7. Showa Memorial Park
7 - Showa Memorial Park
Credit: afternoonusualTokyo has certainly won us over with sights of gingko trees in autumn and the Showa Memorial Park is a good alternative for your koyo retreat. The entire park is dotted with fountains, tree garden, clear lakes, bird sanctuary and more. Cycling is definitely our favourite way to explore theplace! 🚴🏻Address: Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-0014 Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 9:30am - 4:30pm Closed: 31 Dec - 1 Jan; the fourth Monday of February Entrance fee: ¥410 How to get there: Take the train to Shinjuku Station and switch to the Tachikawa Station where it takes a 20-minute walk to reach the park
8. Yoyogi Park
8 - Yoyogi Park
Credit: Tomi Mäkitalo on Panoramio Within the vicinity of Meiji Shrine and Harajuku, it’s difficult not to include Yoyogi Park into your itinerary. Shadowed by tall maple trees, autumn viewing will come with a dash of artsy flavours as Sundays at Yoyogi Park are filled with dancers, cosplayers and martial artists.
Maple Leaves Yoyogi
Credit: Mr Hayata on Flickr Address: 2-1 Yoyogikamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo 151-0052 Opening hours: 24 hours Entrance fee: Free How to get there: Take the train to Harajuku Station and enjoy a 5-minute walk to Yoyogi Park, which is situated next to Meiji Shrine
9. Imperial East Garden
Imperial East Garden
Credit: Guilhem Vellut on FlickrMany centuries ago, the Tokugawa shogun and Emperor Meiji performed their daily strolls at the Imperial Palace. Today, you get to experience the public garden the way they did. When autumn hits, the trees will blush in shadesof orange, burgundy and bright yellow. Just imagine how beautiful your koyo experience would be like 😍Address: Imperial Palace, 1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo 100-8111 Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 9:00am - 4:30pm Closed: 28 Dec - 3 Jan Entrance fee: Free How to get there: Take the train to the Otemachi Station and enjoy a short walk to the Otemon entrance of the East Garden
10. Valley of Mount Mitake
Mount Mitake
Credit: deepjapan Part of the attraction of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, Mount Mitake is a hidden gem for koyo viewing in Tokyo. Flourished with natural touches from gorges and hillside to clear streams, admire the pop of bold reds around the mountain and leave Mount Mitake with a few snapshots for your loved ones. Address: Mount Mitake, Mitakesan, Oume, Tokyo 198-0175 Opening hours: 24 hours (visitors centre closed on Monday) Entrance fee: Free How to get there: Follow the JR Chuo Line to Ome Station and switch to another train that will take you to JR Mitake Station. Once reached, hop on the bus to the lower station of the Mitake cable car that will take you to the summit.
11. Lake Kawaguchi
11 - Lake Kawaguchi 2
Credit: kanpai-japanLake Kawaguchi may bemiles away from Tokyo but we can’t resist adding this picturesque spot into our list of authentic koyo experiences. Surrounded by fiery autumn leaves and shady maple trees, what sets Lake Kawaguchi apart from other Tokyo sights is the view of snow-capped Mount Fuji. You can also maximize your time here with a trip to the hot spring bath, museum and amusement park.
11 - Lake Kawaguchi
Credit: yugakurita Address: Lake Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi Prefecture Opening hours: 24 hours Entrance fee: Free How to get there: Take one of the retro bus lines from Kawaguchiko Station: the Kawaguchiko Line that covers the lake’s eastern and northeastern shores or the Saiko Line that travels along the lake’s southern shore. It’s a dream to open our windows to a view of maple and gingko trees in autumn. If the turn of a new leaf can be this beautiful, the change of the seasons is definitely worth celebrating!

Kyoto

1. Arashiyama
Arashiyama is in the far west of Kyoto, tucked along the base of the Arashiyama Mountains (meaning “Storm Mountains”). This is a must-visit maple viewing spot in Japan. The plentiful crimson maples that litter the south side of the river have brought millions towitness them over time.
2 - arashiyama
Credit: yokoso-japan There is a “Saga Scenic Railway” which runs along the Hozugawa River between Arashiyama and Kameoka, which allows sightseers to absorb all the scenery at a leisurely speed. [caption id="attachment_3054" align="alignnone" width="900"]
4 - Hozugawa-river-kyoto-hhwt
Mix-colored trees are a sight to feast on along the Hozugawa River[/caption] Credit: Ann Hung The garden of Tenryuji Temple was the first to be designated as a National Historic Site and Special Place of Scenic Beauty by the World Heritage Site. Admission: 500yen to enter Tenryuji Temple, check here for the Saga Scenic Railway Opening hours: For Tenryuji Temple - 8:30 - 17:30, 8:30 - 17:00 (10/21 - 3/20) Bonus: Arashiyama is home to the Tenryuji Temple (lovely autumn foliage viewing spot) and the famous green bamboo grove How to get there: Alight at Saga Arashiyama Station or Keifuku Arashiyama Station More info: Website
2. Kiyomizu-dera
Kiyomizu-dera is a temple and one of Kyoto's star attractions, drawing 5 million annual visitors. The autumn foliage here is especially dazzling with about 1,000 trees turning red and yellow! [caption id="attachment_3055" align="alignnone" width="750"]
5 - kyoto-kiyomizudera-temple-autumn-sunset
Kiyomizu-dera temple, with wooden piling visible at its base. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure.[/caption] Credit: earthincolours[caption id="attachment_3057" align="alignnone"width="900"]
7 - kiyomizu-dera-momiji-light-up-26
Autumn is one of the few times the Kiyomizu-dera is illuminated. Make sure you visit it at night, too, for this spectacular display of lights![/caption] Credit: pahalatours Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Admission: 300yen Opening hours: 06:00 to 17:30 #HHWT Tip: The temple and much of the grounds will be illuminated (Nov. 14 – Dec. 6), 18:00 – 21:00, 400 yen How to get there: Kyoto City Bus 206, get off at Kiyomizu-michi More info: Website
3. Tofuku-ji
Tofuku-ji Temple is the oldest and largest temple in Kyoto. [caption id="attachment_3062" align="alignnone" width="900"]
12 - tofukuji-garden
Square-cut stones and moss are distributed in a small-sized checkered pattern in the North Garden[/caption] Credit: kimon Famous for its autumn leaves and the Sanmon gate (a National Treaure, the oldest Zen main gate in Japan), this temple was actually inspired by the great temples of Nara. Its original buildings were burned but were rebuilt in the 15th century according to the original plans.
tofukuji autumn leaves
Credit: Gregg Tavares Address: 15-778 Honmachi, Higayshiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto Admission: 400yen Opening hours: 08:30 – 16:30 #HHWT Tip: The temple and much of the grounds will be illuminated (Nov. 14 – Dec. 6), 18:00 – 21:00, 400 yen How to get there: Alight at Tofuku-ji station,or take Bus 6 or 16 from Shijo-Karasuma More info: Website
4. Kyoto Gyoen Imperial Palace Park
A green sanctuary at the heart of Kyoto city, the Kyoto Gyoen (Kyoto Imperial Palace Park) is Kyoto’s Central Park. This is the most quickest and convenient place to view the fall trees and leaves, if you are staying in the city. [caption id="attachment_3063" align="alignnone" width="900"]
13 - kyoto-gyoen
The Kyoto Gyoen park has a rich history. In the Meiji Era it was a small settlement of about 200 houses for court nobles who would frequent the Palace. However, most of the houses were removed and turned into the park you could enjoy today.[/caption] Credit: regex
14 - kyoto-gyoen
Credit: regex Address: 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 602-0881, Japan Admission: Free Opening hours: 9:00 to 17:00 (April to August) 9:00 to 16:30 (September and March) 9:00 to 16:00 (October to February) Admission ends 40 minutes before closure. How to get there: Alight at Imadegawa Station More info: Website
5. Sanzen-in
Located in Ohara, Kyoto, Sanzen-in temple is Ohara’s main attraction. The temple dates from the 12th century, and is renowned for its lush moss-covered garden set among tall cedar trees. There are many maples flanking the temple gate stairs, and also in its upper garden areas. [caption id="attachment_3065" align="alignnone" width="768"]
15 - sanzenin
Soft sunset-dabbled maple trees in Sanzen-in[/caption] Credit: mshades
18 - sanzenin autumn koyo
Credit: matome Sanzen-in Temple, also called Kajii Monzeki, Nashimoto Monzeki or Enyu-in Monzeki, is one of the five Tendai Monzeki temples. Monzeki temples are a special kind of temple, where in days gone by, the chief priest was a member of the imperial family. Address: 540 Ohara Raikoin-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 601-1242 Admission: 700 yen Opening hours: 08:30-17:00 How to get there: Alight at Kokusaikaikan Station, then take the Kyoto City Bus 19 to Ohara, it's a 10 min. walk uphill from Ohara bus stop More info: Website

It’s a dream to open our windows to a view of maple and gingko trees in autumn. If the turn of a new leaf can be this beautiful, the change of the seasons is definitely worth celebrating!

P.S. Don't forget to download the HHWT Travel Planner app, available on Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS, to plan your trip to Tokyo and Kyoto 🇯🇵

 

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