Autumn Leaves (Koyo) of Japan

Japan’s autumn colours (koyo) are one of the country’s best kept secrets. While sakura (cherry blossoms) in spring gets most of the attention, nature puts on an equally spectacular show in autumn. From early September through to early December, the country is transformed into a breathtaking canvas of fiery reds, brilliant scarlets and regal gold by the Japanese maple and ginkgo tree, as well as supporting acts like the Japanese rowan and larch. November is considered the best month to view the autumn colours in most parts of Japan.

The transformation of autumn leaves in Japan is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world. This is unsurprising when you consider the country’s unique geographical profile – almost 70 percent of its land is covered by forests populated with deciduous trees.

Like sakura, koyo is connected to Japan’s history, culture and identity. Since the eighth century, Japanese people have embarked on the annual pilgrimage to mountains, gorges and temples to enjoy the multi-hued phenomenon in autumn. So culturally ingrained is this pastime that it even has its own term, momijigari. While it literally means to ‘hunt’ the autumn leaves, it actually means to ‘seek out and admire’ them.  

Learn more about koyo below and find out how you can begin your own momijigari experience.

History & Culture

The breathtaking transformation of autumn leaves in Japan is a visual feast that has been enjoyed since ancient times. Delve deeper into the autumn foliage and you will uncover hidden cultural insights and come to a better understanding of a country whose identity has been firmly shaped by its seasonal transformations.

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Where you can see the Autumn leaves

Koyo starts from the north of the country in regions like Hokkaido and Tohoku and gradually works its way south to the likes of Kanto and Kyushu. Whether you choose to hike, picnic or even soak in a mountain hot spring, the choice is endless when it comes to your momijigari adventure. Learn where you can experience koyo at its peak brilliance.

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