Japan is awesome during all four seasons, but there's something really special about aki or autumn!
As the seasons start to change, many Japanese start to plan where they'll visit for Momijigari or "autumn leaf viewing".
Momijigari is a combination of the words momiji for "Japanese maple tree" and kari meaning "hunting". The practise originated during the Heian era and has become a much-loved tradition for tourists and locals alike, especially in picturesque areas and famous tourist spots, like Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
Koyo or “red leaf” season starts in late September in Japan’s northernmost places such as Hokkaido, and slowly spreads south through the rest of the country. Much like hanami during spring, this practise celebrates the beauty and natural elegance of the world.
For momijigari, most people go on short hikes to mountainous or forested areas to admire the fleeting scenery of the autumn leaves.
Since there are so many places to experience Japan’s natural beauty, let us take a look at some of our favourite spots near ZenPop's home in Osaka and Kyoto!
Photo credit: bluerays_net (Instagram)
Osaka Castle, located in Chuo Ward, covers around 15 acres of land. It is easily accessible from Osakajokoen (Osaka Castle Park) Station. Its grounds are popular all-year-round, but especially during festival seasons or the winter illuminations. We highly recommend you enjoy a stroll through Osaka Castle Park to get a wonderful view of the castle and its historic, 300-year-old ginkgo tree.
There is usually also the Osaka Castle Autumn Festival in the middle of November, which is the perfect time to experience the culture and history of Osaka while admiring the autumn scenery. The golden leaves of the ginkgo tree are striking against the yellow-brown-red leaves of the momiji (Japanese maple) leaves.
Osaka Expo Park, also known as Banpaku Kinenkōen, hosted the Japan World Exposition in 1970.
The spacious grounds are filled with trees, flowers, grassy fields, lakes, Japanese garden, bamboo grove and lots more. There is a beautiful ume (plum) grove that flowers in spring, as well as sakura (cherry blossoms) lined promenades. There are seasonal flower gardens that park visitors can enjoy every month of the year! The park is also home to the Tower of the Sun, an impressive 70m statue by famous Japanese artist Taro Okamoto.
During fall, visitors can walk along an elevated platform through the autumnal colored leaves and stop by the Momiji Waterfall to enjoy a quiet moment. In addition to everything that the park has to offer, there is even a footbath where you can soak after a long day walking through the park.
Tenryu-ji is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the most important temple for Zen Buddhism in Kyoto’s Arashiyama district.
It hosts a beautiful garden which has survived for centuries in spite of the several fires that claimed many parts of the temple in the past.
Just a short walk from the Keifuku Station, this garden incorporates the mountains of Arashiyama into the design and hosts several maple, cherry, and gingko trees which transform the entire landscape during the autumn season.
While in Arashiyama, one might also decide to take a trip to Iwatayama Monkey Park or Arashiyama’s famous bamboo grove. The bamboo forest is a must-visit for most tourists visiting Arashiyama and the Iwatayama Monkey Park hosts several maple trees and families of Japanese macaques!
Photo credit: japan-guide.com
Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavillion, is one of the best places to experience the changes through Japan's four seasons and to see the natural beauty of Japan.
The mirror pond surrounding the golden temple reflects the bright red leaves perfectly and it's hard to beat the elegant combination of red against gold. Walk around Kinkaku-ji and admire the temple from across the pond for a picture-perfect view!
Afterwards, you can stroll around the gardens, as well as Anmintaku Pond and the Sekkatei Teahouse. Kinkaku-ji is a must-see if you are in Kyoto anytime of the year, but it certainly shines spectacularly during autumn.
The Golden Pavilion can be accessed from Kyoto Station or Kitaoji Station, and if you’re coming from Osaka, is still definitely worth the day trip.
Discover the best autumn ramen, snacks and candy with ZenPop's three food subscription boxes:
This blog was written by Sam: Sam is a university student interested in everything in otaku culture, from video games to anime. Growing up, she spent several hours in front of the TV watching mahou shoujo shows, and now binges entire seasons of anime within in a few hours. She loves to attend conventions in cosplay and always stops to take pictures of stray cats.