Autumn is definitely one of the best times to visit Japan. It’s off-peak relative to the cherry blossom season, the skies are a beautiful clear blue, and the days are generally sunny with low rainfall.

While Tokyo can’t quite complete with Kyoto for the autumn colours (few places can), the capital does have its fair share of gardens which offer some great opportunities to see the reds and yellows the season brings. Autumn in Tokyo comes around mid November and lasts until early December. The colours are less fleeting than the cherry blossoms at the end of March and so timing a visit to Japan for the autumn is much easier.

A Japanese maple bonsai in the autumn

In Tokyo, Yoyogi Park is a good place to stroll and entrance is free, but the most popular spots are the landscaped gardens, among which Koishikawa Korakuen, Rikugien, and Hamarikyu deserve special mention. To the west of Tokyo Mount Takao also attracts many visitors during the autumn—it’s a thoroughly pleasant walk up the mountain but I’d struggle to use the word “stunning”. Kamakura to the south of the capital is probably the most popular destination all-round owing to the general beauty of this temple area and its proximity from Tokyo and Yokohama (its gets extremely crowded so if you can, try and avoid the weekend).

Omiya Bonsai Village also deserves a mention. It’s certainly offbeat for tourists, but watching the changing colours on a miniature scale is an experience you can really only get in Japan.

Finally, it’s worth noting the autumn illuminations or “light-up” at Rikugien. This is genuinely spectacular, and the maple tree standing next to the stone bridge which crosses the main pond is the stuff of postcards.

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