Ranking of Japan’s best fall colors will have you ready to head into the great (and red) outdoors.

Autumn is arguably the best season to spend outdoors in Japan. Not only are you free from the biting cold of winter, airborne allergens of spring, and relentless humidity of summer, stepping out in the fall will reward you with dazzling views of the leaves changing color.

The autumn colors will be reaching their peak over the next two months, starting in the north and working their way to the southwest as the weather gets progressively cooler. But where should you heed to see them? Travel website TripAdvisor has some suggestions, as it’s just released the list of its highest user-ranked spots in Japan to see the fall leaves.

Let’s take a look at the top 10.

10. Kinkaku-ji (Kyoto)

Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, probably gets a bit of a bump in the ratings thanks to the legacy of the building itself, as the foliage behind has a large proportion of evergreens. Still, the contrast of a branch of crimson maple leaves in the foreground with the gold-leaf of Kinkaku-ji’s exterior glinting behind it makes for a memorable photo.

9. Nabana no Sato (Mie)

Mie Prefecture may not be on every foreign traveler’s itinerary, but the gardens of Nabana No Sato made a strong showing, and are also near to the relaxing hot springs of Nagashima.

8. Ninna-ji (Kyoto)


We’re going to be seeing a lot of Kyoto locations on this list, and here’s the second.

7. Senjojiki Kar (Nagano)

Senjojiki Kar gets the second half of its name from the German word kar, referring to an eroded alpine valley.

6. Miyajima (Hiroshima)

While this sacred island, also known as Itsukushima, is most famous for its gigantic torii gate that stands in the bay outside its main shrine, the walk inland to its Momijidani (“Maple Valley”) area is definitely worth taking in the fall.

5. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route (Toyama)

The Alpine Route connects coastal Toyama with mountainous Nagano, and among the many modes of transportation involved in the journey are cable cars that carry passengers over forests that are at their most beautiful when their leaves are changing.

4. Kiyomizu-dera (Kyoto)

The view from this famous temple’s wide veranda is so captivating in autumn that the facility stays open after dark on select days so that visitors can see it in a whole new way.

3. Tofuku-ji (Kyoto)

Honestly, Kyoto dominates TripAdvisor’s list to the extent that you might be hard-pressed to visit all of its ranked site before the leaves drop off the branches and winter sets in.

2. Oirase Keiryu (Aomori)

The clear waters of this mountain stream provide life to the surrounding trees as they make their way to Lake Towada, which straddles the border between Aomori and Akita Prefectures.

1. Eikan-do Zenrin-ji (Kyoto)

And finally, the list comes back to Kyoto to award the top spot to this temple on the city center’s eastern edge, which was founded more than a millennium ago.

Unlike Japan’s famously fickle cherry blossoms, its fall colors tend to stick around for a few weeks in each locality. Still, eventually all those beautiful red and yellow leaves will flutter to the ground, so grab a jacket, strap on a pair of comfortable shoes, and see them while you’ve got the chance.

Source: TripAdvisor via IT Media
Top image: Kyoto Free Photograph Collection
Insert images: Kyoto Free Photograph Collection

Follow Casey on Twitter, where the idea of seeing the fall leaves is taking some of the sting out of summer being over.