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 - RikugienCredit: 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 2Credit: 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

HamarikyuCredit: japan-web-magazine

What Hamarikyu Garden has that most Japanese parks don’t is the prime location at the mouth of Sumida River.

2 - Hamarikyu2Credit: 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 NamikiCredit: 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 2Credit: ambassadors-japan

Formerly the residence of the Naito family from the 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 GyoenCredit: 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 KorakuenCredit: 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 2Credit: 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: Take the 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 TakaoCredit: 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 2Credit: 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 ParkCredit: afternoonusual

Tokyo 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 the place! 🚴🏻

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 ParkCredit: 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 YoyogiCredit: 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 GardenCredit: Guilhem Vellut on Flickr

Many 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 shades of 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 MitakeCredit: 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 2Credit: kanpai-japan

Lake Kawaguchi may be miles 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 KawaguchiCredit: 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 to witness 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.

4 - Hozugawa-river-kyoto-hhwt
Mix-colored trees are a sight to feast on along the Hozugawa River

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!

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Kiyomizu-dera temple, with wooden piling visible at its base. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure.

Credit: earthincolours

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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!

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.

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Square-cut stones and moss are distributed in a small-sized checkered pattern in the North Garden

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.

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.

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.

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Soft sunset-dabbled maple trees in Sanzen-in

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 🇯🇵

 Download_on_the_App_Store 

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