Breathtaking Autumn Journeys—ZEKKEI’s Top 5

Breathtaking Autumn Journeys—ZEKKEI’s Top 5
It is now mid-October, and the deepening feel of autumn fills the air.

Fall in Japan brings a beauty enjoyable in a way unique to the season, one where spectacular scenery is adorned in colorful red and yellow foliage. Our recommendation is to travel in November, when the changing leaves are at their best in many areas.

Today, let’s look at some must-see spots for gorgeous Japanese scenery in November.


Ueda Castle Park (Nagano)

At number five is Ueda Castle Park in Nagano.
Ueda Castle has a remarkable level of fame across Japan as a Sengoku-era fortification, one that repulsed the Tokugawa armies twice. This is the same Tokugawa who would later come to rule all of Japan. This notable castle forms the core of the park.
In spring, around one thousand cherry trees bloom here, and in autumn, the reds and yellows of the maples color the castle grounds. From October 31 (Sat.) to November 8 (Sun.), Ueda Castle’s Boulevard of Autumn Zelkova Festival will be held, where you’ll be able to get your fill of beautiful sights to see and delicious foods to eat as you enjoy the autumn foliage.


Kankagei Gorge (Kagawa)

Coming in at number four is Kankakei Gorge, also counted among Japan’s Big 3 Beautiful Valleys. Formed from volcanic activity 13 million years ago, the valley’s rugged rock face is a moving sight indeed when carpeted in the red, yellow, and green of the trees.
What makes Kankakei Gorge truly famous is the view from the valley ropeway. The scenery you’ll look down upon from the cable car, one of autumn leaves below you, is not an everyday experience. Here, you’ll luxuriantly pass the time enjoying sky, sea, and valley festooned in red and yellow. The best time to see the foliage here is from early to late November.


Hyakusai-ji Temple (Shiga)

Our number three choice is Shiga’s Hyakusai-ji Temple. Built by Prince Shotoku and known by a Chinese character nickname that underscores its colorful beauty, this temple has also been selected as one of Japan’s 100 Best Fall Foliage spots.
The beauty of autumn’s colors saturating the grounds is masterful, enough for the missionary Luis Frois to praise it as “Heaven on Earth.” During the height of the colorful fall season in November, the temple is lit up starting at sunset, allowing visitors to enjoy a slightly different aspect of autumn.


Korankei (Aichi)

At number two is Korankei in Aichi, widely known as one of the truly great spots for autumn leaves in the Tokai area. With around four thousand maple trees, the area is ablaze with their color, dyeing the valley a rich red.
They’ll be celebrating the 60th Anniversary Korankei Momiji Festival here from November 1 (Sun.) to November 30 (Mon.), and the trees will be illuminated from sunset to 9 PM. It goes without saying that the leaves are beautiful when lit up, but what makes them truly splendid is their light reflected on the flowing surface of the river.



Topping our list is Tenjuan, the cream of the crop of Kyoto’s autumn foliage destinations. This spot rose to sudden fame after being used in a commercial promoting the city, a popular tourist destination.
Cast in otherworldly light, the autumn-tinged leaves of Tenjuan shine with a glossiness that will catch the words in your throat, seeming for all the world like a gift from the heavens. The beauty here is in a class entirely of its own, the superb views and rich atmospheres found in the Japanese rock garden, central pond strolling garden, and elsewhere all decorated in autumn shades.

So, did we give you a fine sample of Japan’s world-class November scenery? If you visit Japan, we hope you’ll have a chance to enjoy it in all of autumn’s beauty and depth!

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