Nikko, Ryuzu Falls, autumn
Photo: Mario Takahashi/Pixabay Ryuzu Falls in Nikko during autumn

Japan 2021 autumn leaves forecast: when and where to see the best foliage

For Tokyo, expect red maple leaves and yellow ginkgo to peak around mid-November

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

What’s not to love about autumn? Without the scorching sun beating down on your back or pollen to trigger hay fever, you’re free to make the most of the great outdoors with long walks and picnics surrounded by splendid autumn foliage. Speaking of which, the year’s koyo (foliage viewing) forecasts have been released, with projections of the best time to go on a hike or cycling excursion to see the vivid, colourful leaves.  

Japan Meteorological Corporation released two autumn foliage forecasts on September 2 based on reports provided by the Japan Meteorological Corporation (JMC) – one for red momiji (maple leaves) and one for yellow ginkgo leaves.

Autumn Foliage forecast
Photo: Japan Meteorological Corporation

Red momiji

According to JMC, the peak time to see momiji in Tokyo will be around November 29 while Osaka’s momiji will look their best around December 2. A few days later, the momiji in Kyoto will hit their peak time on December 7.

As the northernmost prefecture of Japan, Hokkaido will see momiji earlier than other regions, with the momiji in Sapporo predicted to peak around November 2.

Autumn Foliage forecast
Photo: Japan Meteorological Corporation

Yellow ginkgo 

The timing for ginkgo leaves differ slightly from the momiji season, with Tokyo expected to reach its peak around November 26. Osaka’s ginkgo leaves will peak a few days earlier on November 23 while you can expect to see yellow leaves at their most vibrant on November 26 in Kyoto. In Sapporo, ginkgo leaves will flourish at the same time as the momiji on November 2.

As of now, these reports from JMC predict that Japan’s autumn leaves will arrive bang on time. However, a more recent report from Weather News suggests that autumn leaves will arrive slightly earlier than usual. 

Based on Weather News’s report released on September 6, the best time to see the red momiji (maple leaves) at Tokyo’s Mt Takao will be around November 19. If you can’t wait until then, consider making your way over to the alpine valley of Kamikochi in Nagano, where the autumn leaves are expected to arrive much earlier, around October 19.

Meanwhile, the Arashiyama Forest in Kyoto is expected to reach its peak in the same week as Tokyo on November 21. Down in southwest Japan, the trees of Akizuki Castle Ruins in Fukuoka are expected to look their best around November 22 while the mountains of Kirishima in Kyushu are expected to flourish near November 5. 

This article was originally published on September 17 and updated on September 28. 

Check out our list of Japan’s most beautiful autumn destinations for more seasonal scenery.

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