If parks just don’t do it for you, here are some great autumn leaves day trips from Tokyo that will give you all those fall feelings.

Autumn leaves give cherry blossoms a run for their money in our opinion — and what better way to escape the busy streets of the capital than with a relaxing day trip to enjoy them? Whether you prefer a hike, want an easy stroll, or love seasonal festivals, there’s a perfect Tokyo autumn destination for everyone.

The 2023 autumn leaves forecast

The first 2023 fall leaves forecasts for Japan and for Tokyo have now been released by the Japan Meteorological Corporation, so we can all get planning our fall sightseeing.

The leaves start changing color in Hokkaido, and work their way down south. | Photo by TC Team
  • Northern Japan: Higher altitude areas are expected to peak from early October to mid-November, while lower altitude areas peak from late October to late November. Yellow leaves will peak from early November to late November.
  • Eastern Japan: Higher altitude areas are expected to peak from late October to early December, while lower altitude areas peak from late November to mid-December. Yellow leaves will peak from early November to early December.
  • Western Japan: Higher altitude areas are expected to peak from late October to early December, while lower altitude areas peak from late November to mid-December. Yellow leaves will peak from mid-November to mid-December.

Note: Yellow leaves (ginkgo) usually turn sooner than the main attraction, red leaves (maple).

1. Nikkō

Autumn leaves forecast (Central Nikko): Early to mid-November
Autumn leaves forecast (Lake Chūzenji): Late October to early November
1 hour 50 minutes from Asakusa Station
2-day pass available: ¥2,120 (round-trip) (does not incl. limited express fare)

Nikko autumn leaves
Cable car view of Nikkō in autumn. | Photo by iStock.com/thanyarat07

A popular day trip throughout the year, Nikkō really comes into its own during fall, with flowing waterfalls and mountains blanketed in golden-hued trees. There are countless falls, gorges, lakes, and mountains to explore here, so take your pick!

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Kegon Falls provides one of the most stunning views in Japan during autumn, with water rushing down a 97-meter drop from Lake Chūzenji. This is the highest natural lake in Japan, with views of Mt. Nikkō and Mt. Nantai from the walking path surrounding it (as well as from the ferry). The leaves here peak from late October to mid-November. Alternatively, you could visit the Ryūōkyō Gorge and walk along a 6-km nature trail with hot springs at each end. This area is expected to peak around mid-November.

Shinkyō Bridge is another popular spot for Tokyo autumn day-trippers, right in central Nikkō. The traditional arched red bridge meets colorful leaves on either end as it crosses the bright-blue Daiyagawa River. Central Nikkō peaks from early to mid-November, slightly later than the falls and lake as the altitude is lower.

Pro-tip: The Nikkō All Area Pass includes all travel between Tokyo (Asakusa), Nikkō, and the area around Kegon Falls and Ryūōkyō Gorge — which saves a bit of money and trouble over individual ticket-buying.

Have a read of our full article on Nikkō for more information, including more on discount travel passes, and also check out our article on getting from Tokyo to Nikko.

2. Okutama

Autumn leaves forecast: Mid- to late November
2 hours from Shinjuku Station
¥1,110 (one way)

Okutama autumn leaves
Photo by iStock.com/yuruphoto

Enjoy the mountain views of Okutama while you stroll alongside the lake or rivers, feeling a million miles away from the frenetic streets of Tokyo. The Hikawa Keikoku Valley is a few minutes’ walk from Okutama Station, and there is a 4-km promenade along the Nippara River, Tama River, and Mt. Atago, with stunning views of the surrounding autumn leaves.

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There are boat rides available across Lake Okutama, which is a whopping 45 km in circumference. With views of Mt. Kumotori, Mt. Kawanori, and Mt. Gozenyama, you won’t be short of breathtaking moments, especially if you are a fan of hiking. You can take the 10-km Mukashi-Michi Trail from the station, which takes you towards the lake; it is a largely paved route, with some steep sections (catch a bus back from the lake if you prefer).

Okutama may be more popular as a summer destination thanks to the river activities, but autumn is a stunning time to see the area — towns string persimmons to dry, and weatherwise it’s still pleasant enough for a picnic.

3. Mt. Takao

Autumn leaves forecast: Late November to early December
55 minutes from Shinjuku Station
¥390 (one way)

A kaleidoscope of autumnal colors. | Photo by Getty Images

November is set to be the Kantō region’s prime fall foliage period this year, and Mt. Takao, on the outskirts of Tokyo, is listed (by the Michelin Green Guide, no less) as one of the best places to see momiji.

Here you can also hike the scenic trails, check out Biwa Falls, visit Takao Yakuo-in Temple and the Ju-itchome Teahouse, get a delicious lunch, gaze upon the summit of Mt. Fuji (on a clear day), and soak your weary bones in an onsen. There’s also the Mt. Takao Momiji Festival.

For more details on Takao, how to get there, and what to do once you’ve arrived, check out our full Mount Takao article.

4. Mt. Mitake

Autumn leaves forecast: Mid- to late November
1 hour 20 minutes from Shinjuku Station (plus 10-minute bus to ropeway)
¥950 (train one way); ¥340 (bus one way)

Photo by Getty Images

The mountains of Tokyo are an ideal spot to see the fall colors and don’t require too much strenuous exercise — especially if you opt for the ropeways. Mt. Mitake is a bit further to the west than the much more crowded Mt. Takao, but still keeps the crinkle of leaves underfoot, tranquil shrines, moss-covered stones, and cascading waterfalls. During autumn, there is also a special illumination near the station.

More on how to hike Mount Mitake in our dedicated guide.

5. Lake Kawaguchiko

Autumn leaves forecast: Mid- to late November
2 hours from Shinjuku Station
¥2,200 (one way)

View of fuji with maple tree
Photo by iStock.com/thitivong

What better way to see Mt. Fuji than surrounded by stunning autumn leaves? One of the highlights in Kawaguchiko — which is at the base of Mt. Fuji — is the Maple Corridor (near the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum). There’s an annual festival here with food stalls, souvenirs, crafts, and more. The area is also illuminated with LED lights into the night and looks truly incredible, making this a good spot to visit later in the day. There is also the Momiji Tunnel — famed for getting an iconic Mt. Fuji autumn shot — only a 20-minute walk from Oishi Park.

Pro tip: If you’d like to take it easy, then this bus tour includes the famous Chureito Pagoda.

Take a look at our full Kawaguchiko day trip guide for all the info. Full details on getting to Mount Fuji from Tokyo here.

6. Kamakura

Autumn leaves forecast: Early to mid-December
1 hour from Shinjuku Station
¥950 (one way)

Kamakura fall day trip
Photo by iStock.com/Patryk_Kosmider

It helps that Kamakura is an awesome place to visit anyway, but throw in some spectacular autumnal leaves and you’ve got an extra-great day out. Due to the coastal location, the autumn leaves in Kamakura start to turn a little later, meaning the best time to visit is around late November to mid-December.

The famous temples and shrines of the area all look amazing with a backdrop of gold and red leaves, so be sure to visit Kōtoku-in Temple — the home of the giant Buddha — as well as the pathway up to the main hall of Hasedera Temple, which is lined with beautifully lit maple trees in the evening.

Meigetsu-in Temple is famed for a unique view through a circular window into the bright autumnal foliage, and Engaku-ji Temple is surrounded by aged trees glowing with fall colors. There are also multiple hiking routes through the area if you want to get right into the forests.

Pro tip: There are some really good guided tours of Kamakura available.

For a full run-down of what’s on offer and how to get there, see our Kamakura mega guide

7. Hakone

Autumn leaves forecast: Mid- to late November
1 hour 30 minutes from Shinjuku Station
¥2,470 (one way) or get the Hakone Free Pass

Snow capped Mt Fuji in the background with Lake Ashi in the foreground
A beautiful autumn scene of Mount Fuji and Lake Ashi. | Photo by Getty Images

Home to hot springs galore, onsen eggs, mountains, and teahouses, Hakone is one of the most popular day trips from Tokyo no matter the time of year. But, in autumn something a bit more fiery is added into the mix.

Hakone is a nature-based escape, so you can find plenty of red leaves on hiking trails, as well as around Gōra Park and the Hakone Open Air Museum. Head higher up the mountains to the Pola Museum and be treated to even redder hues. That’s not to say Lake Ashi won’t be getting a touch of crimson, but the change will come slightly earlier than the higher areas.

Read more about the things you can get up to in Hakone and other options to get there in our full Hakone guide!

8. Shuzenji Onsen

Autumn leaves forecast: Late November to early December
2 hours from Tokyo Station
¥4,640 (one way)

Photo by Getty Images

Grab a rickshaw, rent a kimono, and bask in the tranquility of this sleepy onsen town. Shuzenji Onsen is known for its crimson foliage in autumn when many of the already beautiful local sights get a dust of gold. Here you’ll find one of the oldest hot spring baths in Izu, Tokko no Yu (look, don’t touch); a bamboo grove down a narrow path; a vermillion “lovers” bridge; and Shuzenji Temple, which often holds events throughout the year.

You can take the Odoriko train directly to Shuzenji Station from Tokyo, but the journey is even quicker — around 1 hour 30 minutes — if you grab the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station and change to the Izuhakone Tetsudo-Sunzu Line at Mishima Station. A special bus liner for only ¥2,000 operates during the autumn season.

Bonus: Longer autumn trips from Tokyo

These extra autumn trips may either take a little bit more effort to plan or they deserve longer than a day.

9. Shosenkyo Gorge

Autumn leaves forecast: Early to late November
2 hours 30 minutes from Shinjuku Station
¥4,810 (one way)

The rock Kakuenpou is a highlight of Shosenkyo Gorge. | Photo by Getty Images

Shosenkyo Gorge is one of Japan’s most beautiful gorges. While doable in a day, we’ve added it as a bonus because it requires some planning to get there.

We recommend doing a hike to take in the magic. There’s a 4-km route that goes along the Arakawa River from the Nagatoro Bridge to the Sengataki Waterfall. Interestingly the rocks are shaped and resemble different animals.

At the top of the mountain, there is a sweet little village. This is made up of souvenir shops and restaurants, feeding those hungry hikers. There is the terminal bus stop Shosenkyo Taki Ue too. Do wander around this village as it is the departure point for the Shosenkyo Ropeway, the observation point that gives you panoramic views of Mount Fuji on clear days and the magnificent Southern Japanese Alps too.

Find out how to get to Shosenkyo Gorge here.

10. Karuizawa

Autumn leaves forecast: Early to mid-November
1 hour 10 minutes from Tokyo Station
¥5,820 (one way) or use the Tokyo Wide Pass

karuizawa autumn day trip from tokyo
Photo by iStock.com/primeimages

Deep in the valleys of Nagano are plenty of beautiful autumn viewing spots, from famous bridges to quiet towns. The easiest to visit is Karuizawa. Renting a bicycle here is the perfect method to explore the forests and streets.

Be sure to cycle to Kumoba Pond, where you can see golden leaves and blue skies (hopefully) reflected in the waters. You can also catch the Karuizawa-Kusatsu bus from the station to see the famous Shiraito Falls (pictured above), which are amazing throughout the year, but especially so in autumn.

Note: The 2023 edition of the Karuizawa Momiji Festival is already underway.

Karuizawa is around an hour from Tokyo Station by bullet train, and is covered by the handy Tokyo Wide Pass which lasts three days, covers the Kantō region, and is available for residents as well as visitors. Read more about the Tokyo Wide Pass or simply book yours here.

Find more on what to do in Karuizawa and transport options in our handy Karuizawa guide.

While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in 2017 and last updated in September 2023. Special thanks to Kylie Van Zyl for her contribution to the Takao section.

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