Best fall foliage spots in Nara
Nov 21, 2022
In addition to its beautiful cherry blossoms in spring, fall foliage is another reason for tourists to visit Japan, particularly for enjoying Kōyō (紅葉) and Momiji (紅葉) every year.
Although both are written in the same Chinese characters, Kōyō refers to foliage with red and yellow colors, while Momiji specifically refers to the spectacular view of red maple leaves in fall.
Nara Prefecture is one of the popular destinations for watching the fall foliage due to its charming scenery of the colorful leaves with many temples and a cute deer.
The fall foliage in Nara usually is at its peak from late November, and this feature will introduce some of the best spots in Nara where you can enjoy fall foliage.
Isuien Garden is a beautiful and scenic garden situated between Nara’s two most famous temples, Todaiji and Kofukuji. The garden features two different gardens, which are the front garden created in early Edo period and the rear garden built in Meiji period, both constructed in a style of a path surrounding a pond.
This circuit-style garden is especially popular amongst international tourists, who make up over half of the park’s visitors, and tourists from over 60 countries visit this garden every year for fall foliage.
At the rear garden, you can enjoy the gorgeous red autumn leaves with natural sceneries like Mt. Misaka, Mt. Kasuga, and Mt. Wakakusa, from the right all the way to the Great South Gate of Todaiji, as backgrounds.
Mount Yoshino is extremely famous for its amazing cherry blossom views. The mountain is a 7-kilometer mountain ridge that stretches from Mt. Aogamine of the Omine Mountain Range down to the Yoshino riverbed.
The mountain is divided into four areas, which are Shimo Senbon (lower 1,000 trees), Naka Senbon (middle 1,000 trees), Kami Senbon (upper 1,000 trees), and Oku Senbon (inner 1,000 trees). In fall, you can enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the entire mountain covered in red, yellow, and orange, gradually spread from the peak to the base of the mountain.
One of the best spots to enjoy fall foliage on Mt. Yoshino is around the Kinpusenji Temple Niomon Gate, where you can see both autumn leaves and a Japanese pagoda.
Hasedera Temple is a sacred place situated on Mt. Hase, which was built for the worship of the bodhisattva Kannon. The temple is even said to be the origin of the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. It is also the head temple of the Shingon sect of the Buzan school of Buddhism.
The temple features a 11-faced Kannon, which is known as Japan’s largest wooden Buddha statue at 10 meters tall. Famous for enjoying flowers and autumn leaves since ancient times, the temple is also called the ‘Temple of Flowers’ as well.
The best time to enjoy fall foliage at Hasedera is from mid-November.
Tanzan Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Tonomine, which was built and dedicated to Fujiwara no Katamari. The shrine is known as Nara’s most famous spot for fall foliage, and also as one of the most prominent fall foliage spots in the Kansai region as well.
The shrine is the place where Nakatomi no Katamari (later Fujiwara no Katamari) and Naka-no-Oe no Oji (later Emperor Tenji) discussed reform in the Taika era.
The area features 17 gorgeous structures designated as Japan’s important cultural properties, including its main shrine, which is said to have inspired the Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine, is the only wooden 13-story pagoda remaining in Japan nowadays.
Nara Park is a nature park located at the foot of Mt. Wakakusa, eastern side of Nara City. The park is home to many historical cultural heritage sites like the Great Buddha of Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Taisha Shrine, and Kofukuji Temple.
The Park has over 1,300 wild deer, and it is one of Japan’s top tourist destinations, with a total area of 511 hectares. Having numerous trees growing in the area, Nara Park has been selected as one of the best spots for both cherry blossoms and autumn leaves.
Unlike other spots in Nara, the fall sceneries in Nara Park are vibrant, as the green trees and the red leaves are contrasting against each other.
The best time to visit Nara Park for its fall foliage is from late November to mid December.
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