Skip Japan’s Cherry Blossom Season and Come for the Autumn Maples Instead

By Katie Lockhart

For those up north, take a train to the famous ski resort area of Niseko. Stunning during winter, the trees turn a deep red in autumn from mid-October to late-October. Surrounded by trees, ZABORIN RYOKAN is an outstanding place to see the foliage of Hanazono Forest and the nearby volcano. The 15-room hotel is a complete luxury experience with your own private indoor and outdoor onsen and award-winning dining options.

From Tokyo, there are a number of overnight excursions to see the leaves change. Head to HOSHINOYA KARUIZAWA, a contemporary luxury resort in the middle of a forest with a river running through the property, from late-October to early-November. There are fiery maples outside your balcony and a chance to take an eco-tour with PICCHIO.

Another popular destination hidden in between mountain ranges and volcanos is NIKKO. Here you’ll see yellows and reds along the lake while sipping tea at the BRITISH EMBASSY VILLA MEMORIAL PARK. Ryuzu Falls has breathtaking colors. Stay at KANAYA HOTEL, the country’s oldest operating Western hotel or wait until the RITZ CARLTON opens in time for the 2020 Olympics (Now postponed until 2021).

After a visit to Nikko, head south from early-November to early-December to see Mt. Fuji from the floor to ceiling windows of your glamping cabin at HOSHINOYA FUJI. The red leaves against the white snow on Mt. Fuji makes for one seriously epic Instagram picture and a mental image you’ll never forget.

Farther south in Kyoto, the HOSHINOYA KYOTO is perched on the Oi river. Watch the leaves turn under the lanterns in the common-area garden near the waterfall, during morning yoga at the Zen garden or from your private bay window overlooking the water.

From mid-November to late-November take a train two and a half hours west from Kyoto to Toyooka and the famous KINOSAKI ONSEN TOWN. A great place to visit year-round, autumn is the perfect opportunity as a chill hit the air, and the outdoor onsen trees start to change. Kinosaki has seven public onsens you can visit wearing your ryokan kimono. NISHIMURAYA HOTEL SHOGETSUTEI also has luxury private onsens you can reserve if you’re feeling shy. The nearby city of Toyooka has castle ruins and a quaint town to explore under the changing foliage.

By early December, the leaves will have fallen making way for a whole new type of peaceful Japanese scenery. An increasingly popular time of the year, fall is a favorite for the country’s citizens. Be sure to book accommodation and transportation in advance, so you don’t miss out on the vibrant natural beauty of autumn in Japan.

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