The Koyo Front: Appreciating Fall Leaves in Japan

The Beauty of Fall Leaves in Japan throughout History

Nature is a big part of Japan’s culture, religion, and tourism. The Japanese people value the beauty and bounty they receive from their surroundings. This is the reason why there are a lot of festivals held to celebrate seasons throughout the year. Other than the Hanami, or Cherry Blossom Festival, the Japanese also enjoy the movement of the autumn foliage.

Known as the Koyo Front, this is the yearly color change that the country experiences during the autumn time. This is the time of the year when the leaves of the trees turn from the refreshing colors of yellow and green to the warm hues of brown, red, and orange in contrast to the slow cooling of the climate. Both the locals and the tourists enjoy the exquisiteness of fall – one of the most romantic seasons of the year.

The enjoyment of the autumn splendor is one of the reasons why a lot of Japanese castles and homes have gardens. It is so that families could enjoy a small party of tea and cakes in the backyard while appreciating the attractiveness of the falling leaves. The atmosphere is cool while the colors of nature are warm – a curious contrast to say the least.

Nowadays, a lot of places in Japan feature what is called as the autumn illumination where the colors of the trees are made even warmer and more romantic through the arrangement of lights. The presentations start from late September to early December. A perfect way to enjoy a short meal or take a relaxing walk – the autumn illumination is surely something travelers to Japan should not miss.

What to do in Japan during Autumn Time

What is interesting about the Koyo season in Japan is that it is not celebrated in the same way as the Hanami. Although a number of people enjoy walks in the park, picnics, and tea time under the autumn trees, most people celebrate the season through travels to the mountainside. Instead of eating under the trees to enjoy the falling leaves, people often go to the countryside for some camping, hiking, and fishing. This is so they could enjoy the wonderful scenery as well as the cooling temperatures of the season when it is neither too cold nor too hot for outdoor adventures.

Tsutanuma, Aomori

Where to Enjoy Koyo: Best Fall Leaves in Japan

Ryuzu Waterfall, Nikko National Park

The Ryuzu Waterfall located in Nikko National Park is one of the most amazing places to see the color changes of the trees during the autumn season. This particular waterfall is located at the northern portion of Lake Chuzenji, one of the popular tourist destinations in the area. Literally translated to “dragon head waterfall”, Ryuzu has a shape that resembles the head of a dragon.

With its incredible shape and rocky river, the Ryuzu waterfall becomes even more like a dragon during the fall season. With the fiery red of the leaves of trees surrounding the waterfall, it is as if the entire place is lit by fire. This place is jam-packed with travelers during the first weeks of October.

During this time, it is best to hike up the trail which is only about 300 meters long. The hike to the top gives an incredible view of nature filled with lush trees and plants. What tourists like about this place is that there are no admission fees to viewing decks to the waterfall. Anyone passing by Nikko during this time of year will surely enjoy the Ryuzu Waterfall.

Oze National Park, Tochigi

Since hiking is one of the best activities during the fall season, a popular go-to place is the Oze National Park found more than a hundred kilometers up north of Tokyo. This place, unlike other popular fall destinations in Japan, is more of a flat marshland and is home to the famous Ozenuma Pond. However, it is surrounded by beautiful views of mountains. It used to be a part of Nikko National park until it got its own park status in 2007.

This place is famous for the blooms of skunk cabbages during late May and early June. On the other hand, it is also a famous destination to see the blooms of yellow Alpine lilies during summer. Whilst during fall, all the grass on the marshland turns yellow and red that makes hikers look like they are walking on fire during a hike. It is a romantic place to go to enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer.

Sankeien Garden, Kamakura

Located in Yokohama Japan, the Sankeien Garden is one of the most popular traditional parks in the entire country. It is surrounded by lush trees and a gigantic lake. It stands a total of 175,000 square meters and has been a popular destination to view autumn foliage. The picturesque scenery makes for a traditional Japanese image best for postcards, commercials, and other media.

What is special about this place is that most of the structures located in the garden have been collected and transported from various parts of the country. It is the government’s way of preserving these historical structures. 

Hakkoda Mountain, Tohoku

This place is considered as one of the best places to view the falling leaves of Autumn in the entire Tohoku prefecture. A hike to the summit of Mount Hakkoda will give a full 360-degree view of the region. Among the best places to see the beautifully red maple leaves would be in the Tsutanuma pond and the Oirase Keiryu stream in Aomori. The Tsutanuma pond has trees with leaves so orange and red that the water gives off a flame-like reflection.

What is special about this place is that a trip during the end of October to early November can give travelers a view of the change in season from fall to winter. It is the time when the first snows are seen at the tips of the mountains. A fiery red bottom topped with snow so white – an incredibly unique scenery.

Daisetsuzan National Park, Mount Asahidake

A great spot to see unspoiled wilderness, this mountainous park of Daisetsuzan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Hokkaido. It is the favorite go-to place for hikers and campers. Those who love adventure would definitely this place. What is special about the Daisetsuzan National park is the fact that it is located in Hokkaido, one of the first places in Japan to see fall colors. During late October, travelers could also enjoy the start of the winter season.

In addition to the mountainous view, this national park is also best known for all of its onsen or hot spring resorts. Just imagine a relaxing dip in hot water, with the cool autumn air and the majestic scenery of trees changing its color from spring to fall – the ultimate paradise vacation.

Lake Towada, Aomori

This particular lake is known to be the largest caldera in all of Japan’s main island. It is so large that it could be accessed in different locations throughout the area. However, the best place to visit during the autumn foliage would be the Oirase Stream that gives off a mystic, fantastical view of nature’s wonders.

The favorite tourist activity in this area would be the sightseeing boats that offer close encounters with the entire peninsula. The trip around the lake usually costs about 1400 yen and lasts about 50 minutes. It takes visitors to all peninsulas surrounding the lake. However, it must be noted that since winter starts early in this area, the boats are non-operational starting early November.

Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route

The Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route is located in the Northern Japan Alps and is considered as one of the best places to enjoy any season in Japan. Although it is mostly a snow destination during the month of April, it is also a great place to go to during the winter time.

This particular destination is popular throughout the year and is open from April to early November. This place is most famous for exhibiting all seasons almost at once. For instance, the tip of the mountains is usually filled with snow during the fall season. However, during the late weeks of August, the middle portion of the mountains are already in autumn colors while the foot of the mountains is still lushly green. The autumn colors will not reach the bottom until late September to early October, gradually descending the slopes.

Nara Park, Nara

This place is a favorite go-to place to see deer freely roaming around the area. This particular park has been considered as a national treasure and a sanctuary for deer. Although they have received no prior training, the deer in this area are tame and well-acquainted with humans. The park even sells deer crackers that travelers could give to the friendly deer. This place has been established in the 1800s and spans hectares upon hectares of land. It is one of the best places in Japan to enjoy long walks, picnics, and a romantic viewing of the autumn foliage.

Hakone Ropeway, Hakone

The Hakone ropeway is one of the best places to see the region because it connects the Sounzan station to the Togendai station. These two stations are located at the summits of a valley that gives off a majestic view of Mount Fuji, Lake Ashinikoko, and the Owakudani Valley. The beautiful view of the mountains added to the warm, romantic hues of the falling leaves it is the perfect autumn getaway.

Momijidani Park, Miyajima

The best highlight of this place is the peak of the autumn colors of the maple trees during autumn time. Found at the foot of the Misen Virgin Forest, the Momijidani Park is considered as one of the natural treasures of Miyajima. This place is considered as one of the best places to view the autumn foliage in the entire country. Known as maple park, there are roughly 200 maple trees in the entire stretch of the area which have been cultivated and planted since the Edo period. It is home to about six different varieties of maple trees.

One interesting fact about maple leaves is that they still contain chlorophyll despite being red and not green. The fiery red color of the maple leaves is given by the fact that its chlorophyll is made up of a different proportion of natural chemicals compared to other plants. Furthermore, it contains anthocyanins that give off its red color.

Following the Koyo Front: Fall Leaves Report in Japan

It seems that spring is not the only season to enjoy nature in Japan as autumn seems to provide just about the same enjoyment as the merry months of April and May. It seems that the blooms of Cherry are not the only beauty that commands an audience as both locals and tourists alike take their time to join what is known as the viewing of autumn leaves.

Known as the Koyo Front, it is the eventual change of seasonal colors in Japan between summer and fall. It is the time of the year when nature in Japan is most colorful. This gradual changing of colors in Japan is closely monitored throughout the country. It is one of the times of the year to best visit Japan as the temperatures are not too low for long walks outdoors.

The Koyo Front usually starts during the last few days of September, according to an average of yearly reports. According to this report, the leaves of the trees stay beautiful and warm until about the first week of December until the last leaf fall out and the trees get ready for winter. For those planning to visit Japan during this time, there is no cause for worry because the color changes do not happen in all places at once. Normally, the Koyo Front starts in the northernmost parts of the country like Hokkaido. Slowly, the color changes will move southward until it reaches places in Japan that need to get ready for winter.

In some places, people enjoy the interesting transitions of color between seasons – from summer to fall and from fall to winter. The interesting mix of colors and hues give a satisfying vision of the wonders and miracles of nature. These kinds of nature or natural scenery makes the trip a great way to relax and enjoy to the point that all the travel hassles are made worthwhile.