Nikko Fall Foliage 2024: 15 Best Spots to View Autumn Colors in Japan

Last Updated: July 04,2024

Nikko is located in Tochigi Prefecture on the edge of Tokyo, and there is a saying in Japan: "Nikko を見ずに結構とうな", which means that if you travel to Japan, you will feel much worse if you don't go to Nikko. This shows how famous Nikko is in Japan. If you are tired of visiting Mt. Fuji, Kamakura, and Yokohama, Nikko is a good choice for a day trip from Tokyo in the fall to enjoy the stunning red leaves in the spectacular natural wonders. Here is our insider's guide to the Nikko fall foliage 2024 to check out the best time to visit Nikko for autumn and the best places to enjoy Nikko fall colors.

Table of Contents

1. Nikko Autumn Leaves Forecast 2024

2. 15 Best Spots to View Nikko Fall Foliage 2024

3. What to Do in Nikko in Autumn Foliage Season 2024

4. How to Go to Nikko from Tokyo

Nikko Fall Foliage in Early November

1. Best Time to Visit Nikko Fall Colors 2024

What are the best things to do in Japan? The two most beautiful and romantic seasons that you cannot miss are probably the cherry blossom season and the maple leaf season. Fall foliage in autumn is different from the pure beauty of Sakura in spring, as watercolor-like red leaves bloom among the ancient and quiet temples and mountains and rivers, showcasing the strong and elegant autumn atmosphere. Therefore, the Japanese who love maple leaves often take their cameras and walk among the mountains and forests to capture the best moments of autumn leaves. In Japanese, it is called "紅葉狩り", which does not mean hunting, but Japan autumn tours to view the stunning fall foliage.

From September to November, Japanese maple leaves gradually turn red from Hokkaido in the north to Kyushu in the south. By early December, the leaves have all fallen. This is called “red leaf front" by Japanese people. Since the time when autumn leaves turn red varies from place to place, there are many famous maple viewing spots in Japan. The natural forests of Nikko and the colorful temples of Kyoto have attracted many tourists during the best time to visit Japan for autumn foliage.

Nikko fall foliage 2024 normally will start to turn red in early October according to the autumn foliage forecast Japan 2024. The best time to enjoy Nikko autumn colors 2024 is from mid-October to early November, and don't miss the peak autumn Japan 2024 in Nikko where you will have a memorable experience.

Autumn Leaves in Nikko

2. Where to Enjoy the Best Autumn Leaves in Nikko 2024

Around Tokyo, the autumn leaves in Nikko are something you can't miss in October. In addition to hot springs, Nikko is also known as a fall foliage resort. There are a lot of spots to admire the Nikko autumn leaves 2024, but they can be roughly categorized into two main areas: Oku Nikko and Kinugawa. Here are 15 best Nikko red leaves spots where you can enjoy the beauty of the fall colors.

2.1 Nikko Autumn Colors 2024 in Oku-Nikko

Oku-Nikko, the center of Nikko National Park, is home to many scenic spots, including the Senjogahara Grassy Plain, Mt. Nantai, Lake Chuzenji, Kegon Falls, Odashirohara, Yuno Lake, Yutaki Falls, and Ryuzu Falls. Oku-Nikko is the earliest area in Nikko to enter the fall foliage season, and you can see the Nikko maple tree leaves turning red in early October.

●Nikko Iroha Slope/いろは坂/Irohazaka

Best time to enjoy Nikko fall foliage 2024 at Iroha Slope: Mid to Late October

Iroha Slope, or Irohazaka, is a ramp between Lake Chuzenji in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture on Japan National Route 120. There are 48 curves, and during Nikko autumn, the surrounding maple trees are dyed a brilliant red, making it a famous destination to witness the spectacular Nikko fall colors. Because there is a 500m drop from the bottom of the slope to the top, the colors of the autumn leaves are subtly different, and you can enjoy the changing colors of the fall foliage as you drive along. Even if you don't take an aerial photo, you can still capture the winding mountain road looming over the enchanting red leaves.

Hours: Open 24 hours

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1661, Japan

Access: Transfer to the Tobu bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen from JR Tobu Nikko Station and get off at the "Akechidaira" stop.

Nikko Japan Fall Foliage

Akechidaira Plateau

Best time to view Nikko fall colors 2024 on Akechidaira cable car: Mid-October to Early November

Akechidaira Plateau is located just above Irobozaka. It is highly recommended to take the cable car from Akechidaira Ropeway to the observation deck at 1,373 meters above sea level, where you can have a view of Mount Nantai, Lake Chuzenji, and Kegon Waterfall. The view of the majestic mountains undulating like a red wave is truly breathtaking. With a wide view and almost 360-degree panorama, it is undoubtedly one of Nikko's most famous sights. It should be noted that here you can also enjoy the red fall foliage of the entire Iroha-zaka. During Nikko Japan autumn, the foliage here attracts tourists from all over the Kanto region of Japan, so there is always a lot of traffic, but no matter how much traffic there is, the tourists would like to enjoy the Nikko autumn colors here.

Access: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, take a Tobu bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen and get off at Akechihei Station.

Nikko Autumn Leaves around Lake Chuzenji

Lake Chūzenji

Best time to enjoy Lake Chuzenji autumn foliage 2024: Early to Late October

Lake Chuzenji, at an altitude of 1,269 meters, is the highest natural lake in Japan. From the lake, you can enjoy the red leaves around the lake, especially the Mount Nantai fall foliage. However, we recommend driving to the Mt.Hangetsu Observation deck, where you can have a panoramic view of Mount Nantai and Lake Chuzenji, and you can enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage of Haccho Dejima Island and the fall colors of the vast mountain range. Of course, you can also take a sightseeing boat ride and enjoy the view of the Nikko autumn leaves reflecting on the lake. During the Nikko Japan fall foliage season 2024, there will be a boat tour every hour from 9:30 a.m. until 15:30.

How to get to Nikko Lake Chuzenji: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, transfer to the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen and get off at Chuzenji Onsen Station.

Nikko Autumn at Kegon Waterfall

Kegon Waterfall

Best time to admire Nikko Japan fall foliage 2024 at Kegon Waterfall: Early October to late October

Kegon Waterfall is one of the three most famous waterfalls in Japan, along with Fukuroda Falls and Nachi Waterfall. The lake water falling straight down from the 97-meter cliff is a wonderful sight. Take the elevator (fee charged) down near the waterfall pool, and you will be able to hear the shocking sound and see the splash of the waterfall up close. The observation deck offers a beautiful view of the autumn leaves in Nikko around the waterfall.

Address: 2479-2 Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1661, Japan

Hours: Closes 5 pm

Phone: +81 288-55-0030

How to get to Kegon Waterfall Nikko: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, transfer to the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen and get off at the Chuzenji Onsen stop, which is about a 5-minute walk.

Nikko Autumn Colors at Senjōgahara Grassy Plain

Senjōgahara Grassy Plain

Best time to admire Nikko autumn leaves 2024 at Senjōgahara Grassy Plain: End of November to Mid-October

Senjōgahara is a wetland on the Oku Nikko Plateau. This wetland was formed by the eruption of the Mount Nantai volcano, and from June to October you can enjoy a variety of alpine plants such as wildflower irises, making it perfect for picnics. It is as if you are in a sea of red leaves in Nikko in the fall.

Hours: Open 24 hours

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1661, Japan

Access: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, transfer to the Tobu Bus bound for Yumoto Onsen and get off at Sambommatsu Station.

Odashirogahara

Best time to experience Nikko autumn 2024 at Odashirogahara:  Late September to mid-October

Odashirogahara is located in the wetland zone on the west side of Senjōgahara. It is surrounded by a large area of larch and other trees. Lake Odashirogahara is a lake formed in a moment of heavy rain and is a lake of illusion that can only occur once every few years. The autumn foliage in Nikko Japan here is shrubby plants, which are the same as that of Senjōgahara.

How to get to Odashirogahara Nikko: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, transfer to the Tobu Bus bound for Yumoto Onsen, get off at Akanuma Station, and walk for about 30 minutes.

Yudaki Falls

Best time to appreciate the Nikko autumn colors 2024 at Yudaki Falls: Early to Mid October

Yudaki Falls, a waterfall located on the south side of Yuno Lake, is about 70 meters high and has a maximum width of about 25 meters. When it spreads and flows down at the end of the rock, you will feel it not only powerful but elegant overall. There is a walking path leading to Yuno Lake, and you can see the waterfall up close from the stairs, which is very captivating when it is decorated with the red Nikko maple tree.

Address: Yumoto, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1662, Japan

Hours: Open 24 hours

Phone: +81 288-53-3795

Access: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, transfer to the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen, get off at Yutakiiriguchi Station, and walk for about 5 minutes.

Ryuzu Falls

Best time to see autumn leaves Nikko Japan 2024 at Ryuzu Falls: Early-Mid October

The Yukawa River, which is injected into Lake Chuzenji, splits into two parts on the rocks near the waterfall pool after flowing down through about 210 meters of mountain rocks. The figure looks like a dragon's head flying from the sky, which is very impressive. During the Nikko maple leaf season, the area around the waterfall is fully colored with red color. With the spectacular waterfall, which is wrapped in Nikko red leaves, it creates a breathtakingly picturesque view. The observation deck next to the Ryuzu no Chaya near Ryuzu Falls offers a complete panoramic view of the falls, where you can enjoy the Nikko autumn scenery of the surrounding forest and a side view of the waterfall when it turns into a rapid waterfall.

Address: Chugushi, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1661, Japan

Hours: Open 24 hours

Phone: +81 288-22-1525

Access: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, transfer to the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen and get off at Ryuzu Falls Station, and walk for 2 minutes.

Nikko Fall Foliage

Yuno Lake

Best time to see Nikko maple tree 2024 at Yuno Lake: Late September to Mid-October

Yuno Lake, located in Yumoto Onsen, is a mountain lake at an altitude of 1,478 meters. The clear surface of the lake floats with a mysterious atmosphere. It is about 3 kilometers around the lake. The Nikko fall foliage season in Yuno Lake is from late September to around mid-October. You can enjoy the colorful Nikko autumn leaves of red and yellow like a painting.

Access: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, transfer to the Tobu Bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen and get off at 湖畔前Station.

Nikko Fall Colors 2024 in Kinugawa

The autumn foliage along Nikko Kinugawa is no less popular. The area includes excellent Nikko maple tree spots such as Toshogu Shrine, Shinkyō Bridge, Kinutateiwaotsuri Bridge, and Ryuokyo Canyon.

Nikko Fall Colors at Shinkyō Bridge

Shinkyō Bridge

Best time to visit Shinkyō Bridge during Nikko Japan autumn 2024: Late October to Early November

Shinkyō Bridge is one of the three most amazing bridges in Japan and is a symbol of Nikko tourism. It is said to be the only ancient bridge in Japan. It spans the Daiya River, and during autumn in Nikko when the riverbanks are covered with red leaves, the bridge looks beautifully and brightly dreamful and wonderful.

Address: Kamihatsuishimachi, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1401, Japan

Hours: Opens 8:30 am

Phone: +81 288-54-0535

Access: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, take a Tobu bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen and get off at Shinkyō Bridge Station.

Nikkō Tōshogū

Best time to enjoy Nikko autumn festival 2024 at Nikkō Tōshogū: Late October to Mid-November

Nikko Toshogu, Nikko Futarasan jinja Haiden, and Nikkozan Rin'nōji Temple, which are listed as World Heritage Sites, are the most famous sightseeing spots in Nikko. Centered on the Nikko Toshogu, the Nikko red leaves season is very lively and popular! During three days from November 8 to 10, the maple leaves in Nikko Toshogu are illuminated with romantic lights, which is a unique experience.

Address: 2301 Sannai, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1431, Japan

Hours: Closes 5 pm

Phone: +81 288-54-0560

How to get to Nikko Toshogu Shrine: From JR Tobu Nikko Station, take the Tobu bus bound for Chuzenji Onsen/Yumoto Onsen, get off at Shinkyō Bridge station, and walk for about 10 minutes.

Kinutateiwaotsuri Bridge

Best time to visit Kinutateiwaotsuri Bridge during Nikko autumn 2024: Mid-October to Mid-November

Kinutateiwaotsuri Bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge connecting the southern part of Kinugawa Onsen Street with the famous Kinutateiwaotsuri. The bridge is about 140 meters long, and you can enjoy the rapids of the Kinugawa River and the beautiful mountains covered with autumn colors Nikko. On the other side of the bridge, there is an observatory deck with the hot spring town in front of you, and in the distance, there is a beautiful view of the mountains of the highland mountain system. It is also a popular place to just take a stroll during autumn in Nikko Japan.

Address: Nikko, Tochigi 321-2526, Japan

Access: Take the Tobu Kinugawa Line and get off at Kinugawa Onsen Station, then walk for about 15 minutes.

Kinugawa Onsen Maruyama

Best time to witness Nikko autumn foliage 2024 at Kinugawa Onsen Maruyama: Late October to Late November

This is an attraction where you can enjoy rafting. After rafting down, you can take a bus to the starting point, ride the Kinugawa Ropeway, and climb up to the top of Mt. Maruyama, where the "Maruyama Peak Observation Deck" offers a 360-degree panoramic view of the red foliage of the mountains surrounding the Kinugawa Onsen during the best time to see autumn leaves in Nikko. Don't miss the Osaru-no-Yama, where people can watch and feed Japanese monkeys on Mt. Maruyama, is a popular and funny spot to experience the fall in Nikko.

Access: Take the Tobu Kinugawa Line and get off at Kinugawa Park Station, and walk for about 20 minutes.

Autumn Leaves Nikko Japan

Ryuokyo Canyon

Best time to see Nikko red leaves 2024 at Ryuokyo Canyon: Late October to Early November

Ryuokyo Canyon is located in the middle of Kinugawa Onsen and Kawaji Onsen, and there is a 6-kilometer "Okukinu Nature Exploration Path" along the Kinugawa River. The surface of the white rocks is dotted with Nikko fall foliage, which is reflected in the water surface of the Kinugawa River, creating a wonderful autumn scene. One of the highlights of Ryuokyo Canyon is the Nijimi Falls, which is about a 10-minute walk from Ryuoukyo Canyon Station, and you can experience more autumn colours in Nikko there.

Address: Nikko, Tochigi 321-2526, Japan

Hours: Open 24 hours

Phone: +81 288-76-4111

How to get to Ryuokyo Canyon Nikko: Take the Yagan Tetsudo from the Tobu Kinugawa Line and get off at Ryuokyo Canyon Station, and then walk for about 10 minutes.

Nikko Autumn Colors at Kirifuri Falls

Kirifuri Plateau

Best time to visit Kirifuri Plateau for Nikko maple leaves 2024: Mid-Late October

Kirifuri Plateau is about 1,200 meters above sea level and offers a majestic view of the Kanto Plain. Located on the sloping side of Akanagisan, it is said to be a treasure trove of daylilies and other alpine plants. You can get close to the rich nature throughout the year and enjoy the autumn leaves Nikko in the fall. In the highland area, there is the Roppozawa Bridge overlooking the autumn foliage Nikko and the Kirifuri Falls, one of the three major waterfalls in Nikko.

Address: Tokorono, Nikko, Tochigi 321-1421, Japan

Hours: Open 24 hours

Phone: +81 288-53-5337

Access: Get off at JR Nikko Station and transfer to Tobu Bus Kirifuri Plateau Station.

Viewing red leaves is one of the most representative ways to enjoy autumn in Japan. Maple leaf is not unique to Japan, but because of the large temperature difference in Japan, the colors of the autumn leaves are particularly beautiful. Autumn in Nikko 2024 is a colorful picture, with the leaves in various colors such as red, yellow, brown, etc., blending together to showcase the stunning fall foliage landscape to you.

Enjoy More Autumn Colors in Japan 2024

>>>Kawaguchiko Autumn Festival 2024

>>>Autumn in Hokkaido 2024

>>>Autumn in Kyushu 2024

>>>Autumn in Fukuoka 2024

>>>Kyoto Autumn 2024

>>>Autumn in Osaka 2024

>>>Autumn in Tokyo 2024

>>>Hakone Autumn 2024

3. What to Do in Nikko Japan during Autumn Foliage Season

Nikko is renowned for its stunning natural scenery, serene temples, and vibrant autumn foliage. In addition to enjoying its beautiful red leaves, what to see in Nikko Japan? here are more things to do when visiting Nikko in the fall 2024:

Nikko Toshogu Shrine

Visit the Toshogu Shrine

Toshogu Shrine is the final resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Being a UNESCO World Heritage site, the shrine is renowned for its ornate architecture and intricate carvings. The surrounding forests and gardens make it particularly picturesque during the fall.

Relax in an Onsen

Nikko is one of the best places to enjoy hot springs in Japan with fewer crowds, and it has several hot spring resorts (onsen), such as Yumoto Onsen and Kinugawa Onsen, which are perfect for relaxing after a day of sightseeing. Soaking in an outdoor hot spring surrounded by fall colors is a quintessentially Japanese experience.

Kinugawa Onsen

Attend Nikko's Autumn Festivals

Depending on the timing of your visit, you may have the opportunity to participate in local autumn festivals, such as the Nikko Toshogu Shrine Autumn Grand Festival on Oct 16-17 or the Nikko Kawaji Onsen Autumn Leaves Festival on early November.

Try Nikko's Local Cuisine

Don't forget to sample Nikko's delicious local cuisine, such as yuba (tofu skin), yuba soba (buckwheat noodles with tofu skin), and oyaki (a type of stuffed dumpling).

Explore Edo Wonderland

This is a theme park that recreates the Edo period, offering cultural shows, samurai performances, ninja demonstrations and traditional crafts. The park is nestled in a natural setting that showcases beautiful fall colors.

Hike to Mount Nantai

For the more adventurous, hiking Mount Nantai offers a rewarding challenge. The trail can be steep, but the panoramic views of the autumn landscape from the summit are worth the effort.

Nikko Autumn

Visiting Nikko in autumn is a breathtaking experience! The vibrant colors of the changing leaves against the backdrop of ancient temples and lush forests create a magical atmosphere. Join us for a private guided tour 2024, you'll be able to fully appreciate the natural beauty and cultural richness of Nikko in the autumn season.

4. How to Get to Nikko from Tokyo

Every autumn, the mountains near Nikko, Japan are covered with red leaves. Nikko is not far from Tokyo and is early accessible, making it a famous spot to view fall foliage around Tokyo.

Is Nikko a day trip from Tokyo?

Yes, Nikko is a feasible day trip from Tokyo. It takes about two hours to reach Nikko from Tokyo by train, making it a popular destination for a day trip. The main attractions, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Toshogu Shrine, the scenic Kegon Falls, and Lake Chuzenji, can be explored within a day. However, if you want to fully appreciate all that Nikko has to offer, including its natural beauty and historic sites, you might consider an overnight stay.

How to go to Nikko from Tokyo?

You may wonder how long, how far, and how to get from Tokyo to Nikko. Getting to Nikko from Tokyo is straightforward, and there are several options available depending on your preference for speed, cost, and convenience. Here are the main ways to travel from Tokyo to Nikko:

●By Train

The most common and convenient way to travel from Tokyo to Nikko is by train. How far is Nikko from Tokyo by train and how to get to Nikko from Tokyo station? There are two main routes:

Tobu Limited Express (Direct Route):

From: Asakusa Station (Tokyo)

To: Tobu-Nikko Station (Nikko)

Duration: Approximately 2 hours

Cost: Around 2,800-3,000 yen (one way)

Frequency: Several times a day.

JR East Route (With Transfer):

From: Tokyo or Ueno Station (Tokyo) on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen to Utsunomiya Station

Transfer: JR Nikko Line from Utsunomiya Station to Nikko Station

Duration: Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours

Cost: Around 5,000 yen (one way, covered by the Japan Rail Pass if you have one)

Frequency: Trains run frequently.

Highway Bus from Shinjuku Station (Direct Buses):

Duration: Approximately 2.5 to 3 hours

Cost: Around 2,500-3,000 yen (one way)

Frequency: Several times a day.

By Car from Tokyo to Nikko:

Duration: Approximately 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and starting point in Tokyo

Distance: Around 150 kilometers (93 miles)

Route: Typically via the Tohoku Expressway from Tokyo to Utsunomiya, then follow the Nikko-Utsunomiya Road to Nikko.

Cost: Include toll fees and gas.

Recommendations on how to get from Tokyo to Nikko

For speed and convenience: The JR East route using the Tohoku Shinkansen and JR Nikko Line is the fastest but also the most expensive option.

For direct travel: The Tobu Railway's Limited Express "Spacia" from Asakusa is a great option that balances speed and cost.

For budget travel: The highway bus from Shinjuku is the most cost-effective option, though it takes a bit longer.

Notes

If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can use it on the JR East route but not on the Tobu Railway or highway buses.

Check the latest schedules and availability as they can vary.

Choose the option that best fits your schedule and budget. If you feel troublesome and have no idea, why not consider our private tour itinerary to enjoy your trip to Nikko with our private car and private guide!

Nikko Maple Tree

Conclusion

Exploring Nikko in autumn is a feast for the senses and a mesmerizing experience, with its vibrant foliage, serene temples, and stunning landscapes. If you hope to enjoy Nikko's enchanting natural beauty at a relaxing pace, our tailor-made Nikko autumn tour 2024 will be an awesome choice for you!

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