The exact timing of the autumn colours in Tokyo vary from year to year, but they usually peak between mid-November to late November. Sometimes they even last as late as early December. Luckily, the autumn colours last longer than the cherry blossoms, and you can enjoy them over a longer period of time.
Ginkgo at Yoyogi Park © mrhayata
- Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis, and there are plenty of places in the city to admire the fall colours. It’s also a little less jam-packed than the spring. But, you’ll still want to do some planning to avoid the worst of the crowds. Those really looking to get off the beaten track for them could venture out into the western mountains - Mt. Takao, for instance - for a hike.
- You’ll be on foot most of the time in this two-day itinerary. Tokyo is a beautifully walkable city, however, and walking is the best way to see all the sights.
Maples at Yoyogi Park © mrhayata
Tokyo Fall Foliage Itinerary: Day 1
9am Yoyogi Park
- Take a morning walk in one of Tokyo’s largest parks.
- The southern part of the park running between Yoyogi-Koen Station and Harajuku Station has the best fall foliage, with an abundance of gloriously yellow ginkgo and bright red maples.
- For this itinerary, you’ll want to start at Yoyogi-Koen or Yoyogi Hachiman Station, and meander your way across the park.
- If so inclined, you could pay a visit to Meiji Jingu Shrine on the way.
Autumn colours at Shinjuku Gyoen © yoshikazut
10.30am Shinjuku Gyoen
- Now you’ve made your way across the park, walk to Meijijingumae-Harajuku Station. Take the Fukutoshin Line on the subway to Shinjuku Sanchome Station. You’re heading to Shinjuku Gyoen just in time or after it opens. It’s 144 acres of pure botanical joy, with a variety of magnificent trees and flowers to enjoy. The traditional Japanese landscape garden has some lovely maples, and there are ginkgo, cherries, and a fantastic variety of trees across the park.
- The sheer scale of the Shinjuku Gyoen means that it won’t feel claustrophobic inside, even with many visitors. And of course, the greenhouse is great in all seasons. You could easily spend 3 - 4 hours here, if not longer.
- Tip: if you’re inclined towards al fresco dining, we suggest stopping by the Isetan depachika to pick up some lunch to eat in the park. This is at Exit B3 of Shinjuku Sanchome Station. You’ll be spoiled for choice in this food hall.
Ginkgo trees along the avenue © nakashi
1.30pm Icho Namiki
- Take the Sendagaya Exit and walk to Icho Namiki. Icho Namiki is an entire avenue of these trees, which are beautiful at the peak of fall. This is one of Tokyo’s most iconic autumn spots. Maple tends to hog the limelight when it comes to fall foliage, but my personal favourite is the gloriously yellow ginkgo tree.
- The walk to Icho Namiki will take around half an hour to 40 minutes. Of course, this depends on your walking speed and how often you like to stop and linger. The less energetic could take a taxi or a bus, but as ever, we think walking is the best way to see Tokyo.
- Tip: If you haven’t had lunch, you could stop by one of the restaurants in Jingumae or Sendagaya for a quick bite. Check out our recommendations in the area. Alternatively, Shake Shack has an outlet right on the avenue - great burgers and even better scenery. It will be busy in autumn, so try timing your visit to coincide off-peak hours.
- By now you’ve walked pretty far for the fall foliage. Take some time to rest. Either find a cafe in the area, or return to your hotel/lodgings for some downtime.
- Head out for a meal in town. This is Tokyo, so there’s no shortage of dining options. Make a reservation prior, or walk around and find a place with an open table.
Autumn illuminations at Rikugien © marufish
- Make your way to Rikugien, a traditional Japanese landscape garden with some gorgeous fall foliage. It’s as beautiful in the day as it is at night. In autumn, they extend opening hours to 9pm, with last entry at 8.30pm, to coincide with the evening illuminations. Be aware that you might have to contend with the post-work crowds here. But it is also one of the few places in Tokyo to see the autumn colours at night, so it’s worth a visit.
Autumn colours at Koishikawa Korakuen © marufish
Tokyo Fall Foliage Itinerary: Day 2
9am Koishikawa Korakuen
- This is a short 10-minute walk from Iidabashi Station. Get here when it opens at 9am before it fills up with people. Koishikawa Korakuen is a stunning Japanese garden in the heart of Tokyo. Though it’s worth visiting year round, it’s also considered one of the best places for the fall foliage. Scarlet and crimson maple contrast brilliantly with evergreen pines, and mirrored beautifully in the large, central pond.
10.30am Sotobori-koen Park
- Sotobori-koen Park stretches between Yotsuya and Iidabashi, running alongside the JR Chuo and Sobu lines. Both the walkway and the moat are lined with cherry trees, making it a popular spot in spring. However, it’s also lovely in autumn. While not as brilliant as the bright yellow ginkgo or fiery maples, the leaves on the cherry trees do turn rather pretty shades of red, orange, and yellow.
- Tip: for early morning folks, start at 8am from either Yotsuya or Ichigaya, and walk towards Iidabashi before heading to Koishikawa Korakuen.
Ginkgo trees at Yasukuni Shrine © o_0
11am Yasukuni Shrine
- This is a short 15-minute walk from Ichigaya Station. Or, you can simply exit the park at any point and make your way here. Yasukuni Shrine is not commonly known as an autumn colours viewing spot, but does have some lovely ginkgo trees on the grounds. It’s worth walking through on your way to the next destination.
The pond at the Imperial Palace East Gardens © o_0
11.30am Imperial Palace East Gardens
- From here, visit the Imperial Palace East Gardens nearby. It’s beautiful at all times of the year, and even more so with splashes of red and orange throughout in autumn. Besides the usual maples, there are other deciduous trees like sawtooth oak and wax trees.
- On weekdays it’s usually fairly peaceful and quiet.
- You could start by wandering through Chidorigafuchi Park before entering the Imperial Palace East Gardens, wending your way eastward.
- By now you should be around Otemachi. From here, it’s another quick stroll to Tokyo Station, with Ginza a little further away. It’s time to refuel! There are plenty of eating options around the area.
Maples at Hamarikyu Gardens © 134987670@N03
2.30pm Hamarikyu Gardens
- After a leisurely lunch, make your way to Hamarikyu Gardens. This is another Japanese garden set amidst the tall skyscrapers and office buildings of Shimbashi and Shiodome.
- While not considered one of the prime autumn leaf viewing spots in Tokyo, there’s still good foliage to be had here. Plus, the view of the Tokyo skyline beyond the seawater pond, including Tokyo Tower in the distance, is a rather special treat.
4pm Return to your hotel for a rest
- After a walk around the gardens, it’s time for a break. Take public transportation or a taxi back to your lodgings.
- Alternatively, if you’re staying further afield, find a cafe in the vicinity or somewhere central to decompress.
- It’s time for a delicious dinner out in town. This is Tokyo, so you won’t go hungry.
8pm Meguro River
- While the Meguro River is traditionally known as a cherry blossom viewing spot, it’s also a very pleasant stroll on an autumn evening when the cherry trees have turned a burnished red-yellow. There are also likely to be far fewer crowds than during spring.
- The canal stretches between Meguro Station to Nakameguro Station.
- You can start walking at either end, and go as far as you like before doubling back, or walk from point to point. There’s no wrong way to do this.
Where Are These Places Located?See these places on the Truly Tokyo Google map:
- Open the Tokyo map
- You will see the list of places on the left hand side. (Click the 3-line icon in the top left corner if not). Scroll down or use the map search (the magnifying glass icon) to find the place you want.
- Click the name of the place in the list. Its location pin will be highlighted on the map.
- Map pins are color coded - BLUE: Hotels / Ryokan / Guesthouses | VIOLET: Ryokan | PINK: Places to Eat | GREEN: Shops | YELLOW: Things to See and Do
- If you're using the map on your phone, open the map and then search for the name of the place. The map will then zoom in on its location.
Tokyo Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Tokyo guide
- Check Tokyo accommodation availability and pricing on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Tokyo
- You can buy a Japan SIM card online with Klook for collection on arrival at Tokyo Narita or Haneda airports
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings on Skyscanner
- If you're visiting more than one city, get your Japan Rail Pass
- Find out why it's essential you have travel insurance for Tokyo