1. Momiji corridor at Kawaguchiko
    Photo: Doctoregg/DreamstimeMomiji corridor at Kawaguchiko
  2. Lake Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi
    Photo: Wiradej Thongsuwan/Dreamstime
  3. Tsukinoishi Momiji Park
    Photo: Nagatoromachi Tourist AssociationTsukinoishi Momiji Park in Chichibu, Saitama

3 best autumn getaways near Tokyo

You can visit these scenic sites on a day trip from Tokyo to see beautiful autumn leaves

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen
Advertising

Even those who don’t identify as being outdoorsy can find joy in the crisp open air that autumn brings in Japan. While Tokyo offers endless seasonal delights such as after-dark illuminations, it’s worth putting aside a weekend or two in the months of October through December to escape the city for some unforgettable autumnal views in nature.

You don’t have to travel far to see mountains that have been draped in red, yellow and gold foliage – a number of postcard-worthy sites can be reached within an hour or two of Tokyo. Whether you’re travelling with a family in tow or looking for a quiet solo getaway, these destinations just a stone’s throw from the city will remind you of why autumn seems to be everyone’s favourite season.

RECOMMENDED: Most beautiful autumn destinations in Japan

Nikko, Tochigi
Photo: Mario Takahashi/Pixabay

Nikko, Tochigi

Full of ancient shrines, gorgeous waterfalls and a stunning national park, Nikko exudes a sacred tranquillity that’s especially effective for autumnal rest and reflection. You can get to Nikko from Tokyo by taking a direct train from Kitasenju Station to Tobu-Nikko Station on the Nikko-Kinugawa Limited Express line. The journey will take just over an hour and a half.

When you reach Nikko, hop on the Tobu bus bound for Yumoto Onsen and ride for five stops (four minutes) to Shinkyo, where you’ll find the vermillion Shinkyo Bridge that is emblematic of the Nikko area. The bridge, along with the Nikko Futarasan Shrine that it belongs to, is part of a Unesco World Heritage Site comprising a number of Nikko’s shrines and temples. Autumn is arguably the best time to visit, as this is when the trees on either side of the bridge turn a dark shade of red, so that the palette of the natural landscape matches the ancient structure.

Next, get back on the bus bound for Yumoto Onsen and ride for 19 stops until you reach Chuzenji (approx. 40 minutes). Here, you’ll find the 97-metre-tall Kegon Falls – one of Nikko National’s Park’s most breathtaking assets. The waterfall is beautiful year-round, but it is particularly stunning in autumn, when it is surrounded by vibrant autumn foliage.

You can admire the falls from the Kegon Falls Lower Observation Deck, or take the Akechidaira Ropeway to view the scenery from a higher vantage point. Further away on the other side of the lake is the famous Ryuzu Falls (pictured above), otherwise also known as Dragon’s Head Waterfall, where you'll find more lush, vibrant autumn leaves.

Though Nikko is close enough to visit on a day trip, the sheer beauty of the region will want to make you stay for a whole weekend. Make the most of onsen season by booking a night or two at the Hoshino Resorts Kai Nikko hotel, where you can soak in open-air hot spring baths and dine on seasonal Japanese kaiseki meals.

Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi
Photo: Wiradej Thongsuwan/Dreamstime

Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi

Kawaguchiko makes for one of the most photogenic regions in Japan with its extraordinary backdrop of Mt Fuji. It takes about two hours to get to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo by train, but the picture-perfect landscapes at the height of autumn make it well worth the journey. To get to Kawaguchiko Station, take the Kaiji Express on the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station (three stops), then take the local Fujikyuko Line from Otsuki Station directly to Kawaguchiko (17 stops).

For a winning shot of Mt Fuji from the other side of Lake Kawaguchiko, take a half-hour bus ride from Kawaguchiko Station to Shizen Seikatsukan (19 stops) on the Fujikyu bus. The Shizen Seikatsukan bus stop is right next to Oishi Park, where the red, orange and gold flowers make the snow-capped volcano look all the more majestic. 

For an overnight stay, look no further than Hoshinoya Fuji, where you can curl up by a campfire in the middle of the forest with a freshly brewed mug of coffee, or gaze at the unobstructed view of Mt Fuji from the balcony of your guest room. This will give you ample time to explore the area after sundown, when areas like the Momiji Corridor are illuminated for a nighttime autumn spectacle, featuring shops, food stalls and more (October 29 to November 23).

Advertising
Chichibu, Saitama
Photo: Nagatoromachi Tourist Association

Chichibu, Saitama

With an abundance of nature-filled attractions like the Moomin Valley Park, Saitama is an excellent stomping ground for nature lovers and families looking for some excitement in the great outdoors. To get to Chichibu, hop on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Limited Express from Ikebukuro Station and ride the train for about an hour and a half (five stops) to Seibu-Chichibu Station. 

Once you get to Saitama, consider hopping aboard the SL Paleo Express – a special steam locomotive that runs between Kumagaya and Mitsumineguchi stations once a day. Designed for sightseeing, this magnificent steam engine steadily chugs along a two-and-a-half hour track past the Arakawa River for optimal mountain foliage viewing. 

If a scenic train ride isn’t quite enough to convince you to leave Tokyo, Chichibu has more than a few activities for thrill-seekers, while still providing delightful autumn scenery. For instance, you can take a tour of the valleys of Chichibu by whitewater rafting down the Nagatoro rapids. 

Whitewater rafting tours are available from March to late November every year, but if you don’t fancy splashing around in cold water, you can always opt for an equally scenic (and much drier route) with a gondola trip up the Mt Hodosan ropeway, which boasts red and yellow foliage during the autumn months. To see the leaves at their best, aim to visit during the month-long autumn foliage festival in November, where the trees around Tsukinoishi Momiji Park and Hodosan Shrine are lit up every evening from 4pm to 9pm. 

There's more fun to be had at the Chichibu Forest Adventure park, where you can put on a harness and and take an aerial trek high in the trees, or take on one of the more challenging courses that involve ziplining between platforms.

More autumn inspiration

Advertising
Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising