autumn leaves, Nikko
Photo: Call me Lamb~~~/Unsplash

Japan autumn leaves 2020 forecast: from end-September in Hokkaido to December in Tokyo

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

Kasey Furutani
Written by
Kasey Furutani

[September 25] Summer is normally a scorcher in Japan but with this year’s prolonged rainy season, summer felt much shorter. Along with the lack of festivals due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, summer in Japan didn’t feel real this year. At least autumn is arriving a bit earlier with all its fun outdoor activities: hiking, glamping and of course, catching the autumn leaves

Kyoto in autumn
Photo: Calin Stan/UnsplashKyoto in autumn

Just as spectacular as cherry blossom season, autumn leaves, or koyo, burst into orange, vermilion and yellow from the end of September in the Hokkaido mountains to December in Tokyo. Last year’s blazing temperatures lasted through October, delaying the season by a few days. According to Weather News (in Japanese only), this year’s heavy rainfall and August’s heatwave will not impact the timing of the leaves.

Inokashira Park
Photo: Makoto Honda/DreamstimeInokashira Park in Kichijoji

For red maple leaves, or momiji, Weather News reported that November 17 will be the peak to see leaves on Mt Takao, which normally turn earlier than Tokyo city centre. If you’re planning on travelling, you’ll want to hit up Hokkaido in early October, Nikko around October 25, and Kyoto’s Arashiyama around November 21. 

Showa Kinen Park - autumn - cropped
Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa

As for yellow ginkgo, Tokyo’s famous Meiji Jingu Gaien between Gaienmae and Aoyama-itchome stations will turn around November 26 while Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa bursts into yellow around November 11. Osaka Castle will turn much earlier, on November 15. 

Of course, take these dates with a grain of salt, as even the slightest temperature change can drastically affect the leaves. We can’t control the weather, but it’s certain shades of red and yellow will come in November and December. 

For the full autumn leaves forecast across Japan’s top destinations, check the Weather News website

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