Now that the weather has cooled down and the shops are filled with all kinds of autumn delights like persimmon, nashi pears and pumpkins, it is the perfect time to venture out and explore Japan. Here are some day trip from Tokyo ideas to see fall foliage.
Karuizawa is an idyllic village located in the mountains about an hour by shinkansen from Tokyo. It is a popular summer retreat for those in Tokyo to escape the scorching heat, but is just as lovely in the autumn. The area has a distinctly Western feel, with trendy cafes, boutiques and cosy restaurants abound. There are lakes, waterfalls and autumn colours galore to see.
We recommend renting a bicycle to get around as you will be able to travel easily and make the most out of your day. You can do this near the train station.
Some sights to see are the Kumoba Pond, which is surrounded by colourful trees in autumn, with the pond's water reflecting the vivid colours. You can walk around the pond to admire it from all angles.
There is also the Karuizawa Kogen Church, which is a picturesque Western-style church, and the Hoshino Area across from it which sits beside a river and contains upmarket cafes, restaurants and shops.
There is a visitor’s desk at the train station where you can pick up maps of various sightseeing routes.
Be warned – Karuizawa is colder than Tokyo, dress well!
Best time to visit:Mid-October to early-November
Access:Take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Karuizawa
2. Hananuki Gorge
Hananuki Gorge in Ibaraki Prefecture is an amazing day trip to see autumn leaves.
The area has hiking trails which are, of course, filled with trees is various shades of beautiful, as well as several waterfalls and the highlight - the Shiomi Falls Suspension Bridge from which you have a view of the autumn leaves from all sides.
The good thing about this spot is that, although the bridge itself is busy, the hiking trails are sparsely filled, giving you a more peaceful hiking opportunity than more popular places.
Opening hours:Mid-late November
Access:Take the JR Joban Line to Takahagi, then a special fall leaves shuttle bus to the gorge. This bus runs on weekends only. Be careful to check return bus times as it is infrequent in the evening. On weekdays, take a taxi.
3. Mt. Mitake
Mt. Mitake is located in Ome, in the Okutama area in West Tokyo. It is considered a sacred mountain and provides ample hiking opportunities, both popular trails full of crowds, and quiet, serene experiences.
If you're not after a huge climb, you can take a cable car from the midway Takimoto Station to Mitakesan Station which is 831m up the mountain.
From there, the summit is a further 30 minutes. Or you can walk which takes about 1.5 hours. The cable car is surrounded by fall foliage in November, making it an impressive site, although quite busy.
Best time to visit:Mid-Late November
Access:From Ome Station, take the JR Ome Line to Mitake Station then take a West Tokyo Bus to "Cable Shita Bus Stop" and walk to Takimoto Station from there (5 minutes).
Heirin-ji Temple is situated in the city of Niiza in Saitama, Tokyo's quieter neighbour.
The temple was founded in 1375 and occupies expansive forested grounds. Unlike most temples, the highlight is not the temple buildings but the gardens and forest that surrounds it.
You can spend about one to two hours strolling through the forest, enjoying the fall leaves and taking photos of the highlights. It's a great place for children as it's flat ground and they can freely run around without parents worrying about traffic.
Best time to visit:Late-November to early-December
Access:Take the Tobu Line from Ikebukuro to Niiza
Oyama-dera was founded by the same monk who founded Nara's legendary Todaiji Temple. During autumn, the temple is famous for its maple leaf tunnel. Ascend the stairs to the temple under a canopy of flaming red leaves.
You can take the most popular course from the cable car station which is called the Onnazaka course. This course has seven hidden wonders hidden along the route which you should keep your eye out for. Be sure to also hike to the summit to see the Oyama Afuri Shrine, which boasts amazing views over the fall scenery.
At nighttime they hold an Autumn Leaf Festival. During this festival, the gardens are illuminated, and people can stroll around enjoying night foliage.
Best time to visit:Mid-late November
Access:Take the Odakyu Limited Express Romance car from Shinjuku to Isehara, then take the Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu bus to "Oyama Cable". Walk 3 minutes from Oyama-dera Station which can be reached via the Oyama Cable Car.
6. Mt. Takao
Mt. Takao is a very convenient day trip from Tokyo, being only an hour away from Shinjuku. You have probably heard of it already, as it is the closest proper mountain hiking spot to Tokyo. In autumn, Mt. Takao is at its most beautiful, completely resplendent in vermillion.
Mt. Takao is suitable for everyone, even those with small kids in strollers. There is a cable car to take you part of the way up, and a paved road to walk on. If you want a more authentic hiking experience, of course there are more difficult trails as well. At the top of the mountain you can find some food stalls and a soba shop, where you can try the local speciality tororo soba (soba topped with grated yam).
Warning, the main path gets quite busy during peak autumn leaves and expect long lines for the cable car. If you wish for a more peaceful experience, we recommend taking a less frequented and more challenging trail, of which there are plenty.
After your hike, there is actually an onsen next to the train station that you can try out to soothe your aching muscles.
Best time to visit:Mid-late November
Access:Take the limited express Keio Line from Shinjuku to Takaosanguchi
Kawaguchiko is a famous destination year-round, due to the picturesque Fuji Five Lakes area that offer amazing views of Mt. Fuji. In autumn it is as beautiful as ever, with a momiji corridor which is lit up every evening until 10pm outside the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum.
Although the most famous shot of Fuji is with cherry blossoms in the foreground, maple leaves make an equally impressive combination. Walk around the Northern side of Kawaguchiko lake and see what views you can find.
There are lots of hiking trails in the hills surrounding the lake, so that is another option which is not done by most tourists, who tend to stick to the lake. Also, while you are there, all the usual sightseeing spots are open, such as the ropeway and the boat tours.
Best time to visit:Early-late November
Access:Take a bus from Shinjuku or Tokyo Station to Kawaguchiko Station then take a bus to Itchiku Kubota Art Museum stop, or rent a bicycle
Much like the delicate cherry blossom is a symbol of Japan, the fiery red, yellow and orange foliage that adorns the mountains and parks in autumn is a quintessential Japanese seasonal delight. In order to make the most of your time in Japan, be sure to get out there and experience this!
Article courtesy : OMAKASE Tour https://omakase-tour.com/