With blue skies, crisp mornings and still (often) sunny days, autumn is a lovely time in Hiroshima. And it’s made all the more gorgeous by the turning of the leaves. Here’s our guide to the best spots to go join the crowds – and some tips as to how to avoid them – and enjoy the leaves in and around Hiroshima.
Hiroshima may not be able to compete with some of the stunning and expansive swathes of brilliant yellow and reds you can see further at higher elevations further east, but the area does have some gorgeous spots that are worth checking out. People are very dedicated in their pursuit of red leaves and most of the best known places in the area will be well visited – to avoid the crowds, plan your trips for weekdays if possible.
Scroll down for a map showing all the listed locations.
Tens of thousands of people descend on Miyajima during November to enjoy the Autumn colors in Momiji-dani (Maple Valley) and around Daisho-in Temple. The leaves around the area around the red bridge at the entrance to the valley behind the Iwaso Ryokan are very beautiful and it is one of the favorite spots to get a “classic” autumn in Miyajima shot.
Further up in the valley the leaves are equally gorgeous, and Shinomiya Shrine looks amazing framed by the golden and crimson leaves.
Sometimes the crowds can be overwhelming, but it is surprising how easy it is to find relative calm by hopping off the main path. Those that hike up Mt Misen can be rewarded by some picture postcard views and splendid solitude – the photo at the top of this page is of one of the torii gates that lead to Miyama Shrine close to the top of the mountain.
Mitaki Temple has to be the top spot for enjoying the autumn leaves within the city limits. Beautiful at any time of the year, Mitaki is particularly stunning when the leaves turn. This is one of those places where the fallen leaves which litter the pathways and lie cradled in the hands of some of the hundreds of statues that silently watch the verdant grounds. You are unlikely to have the place completely to yourself, but, visit on a weekday and you may well come close. Don’t leave it too late however, as the hillside temple falls into shadow fairly early in the afternoon.
The leaves in this historic garden cannot compare to Mitaki, but located right downtown, its ease of access cannot be beaten. The garden is open late in the last week of November and the trees are illuminated.
Another garden which is relatively easy to get to, and which provides some nice vistas is Sankei-en next to Hiroshima Airport. It doesn’t have the history of Shukkei-en, but it is on a grand scale, and its own “Momiji-dani” is colored a multitude of hues during autumn.
Sandan-kyo Gorge is only a couple of hours away by express bus, but is a world away from the urban Hiroshima. It’s a great hike up to the three-stage-waterfall that gives the gorge its name and the hillsides flash with brightly colored trees. It can get chilly up here even on a bright day, and snow flurries are not uncommon, so appropriate layering is advised.
Tsutsuga O-icho in Aki-Ota
The Tsutsuga O-icho is a giant 1100 year old gingko tree which stands in the grounds of Tsutsuga Otoshi Jinja Shrine. In November its leaves turn a bright yellow color, and as they fall, cover the ground of the shrine precinct in a beautiful golden carpet of leaves. It’s a perfect place to stop on your way to Sandan-kyo by car.
Less accessible than Sandankyo, you really need a car to get to Taishakukyo Gorge. It takes a good while to get there from Hiroshima city, but it is worth the effort. Well maintained and fairly flat paths make for easy walking (there are even bikes to rent) and some impressive natural features. Check on the current state of the leaves at Taishakukyo here and read more about this lovely part of Hiroshima here.
Buttsu-ji Temple, Mihara
Shuttle buses run between Mihara Station and Buttsu-ji Temple (¥620 one way), also calling at Hongo Station.
Buses leaving from Mihara JR Station at 07:40, 10:05, 10:24, 11:45, 12:18, 13:50 and 15:00 take 30-60 minutes. Buses return from Buttsu-ji (to Mihara JR Station) at 08:21, 10:40, 11:05, 12:20, 13:19, 14:25, 15:41.
(Times in bold are seasonal extra autumn leaf viewing buses running November 12-November 23)
Check out more amazing shots of Buttsu-ji in autumn on Kamoda’s Flickr stream here.
- Gokuraku-ji is a mountaintop temple originally established in the early 8th century and rebuilt in the 16th century by Mori Motonari. Many of the leaves on trees in the temple precinct and around the nearby lake turn a deep bright red in November and there are good views out over the sea.
- Hike up to Gokurakuji and to the nearby Arcadia Village hot spring resort.
- More photos of Gokuraku-ji in Autumn
Haji Dam (Yachiyo Lake)
Haji Dam is place that requires a car unless you are a committed cyclist. The lake’s cycling terminal and restaurant has recently had a facelift.
Autumn Colors Guide Map