Autumn Colors Guide

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.

Miyajima

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.

Daisho-in Temple is always an interesting place to visit and it, too, has its share of autumn leaves within its maze-like grounds.

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GetHiroshima’s jjwalsh recommends getting an early start to really make the most of the autumn scenery on Miyajima.

 

Mitaki-dera Temple

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.

See more photos of Mitaki Temple in autumn

 

Shukkei-en Garden

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.

 

Sankei-en Garden

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

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, or to combine with a visit to Yoshimizu-en Garden.

 

Yoshimizu-en Garden

Yoshimizu-en Garden is only open four weekends a year and two of them are in November for visitors to enjoy the autumn colors. In 2017 the garden is open November 11 & 12 and November 18 & 19.

 

Taishaku-kyo Gorge

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 (bus stop #5) at 10:15, 11:50, 12:20, 14:20 and 16:00 take 30-45 minutes (there is also one departure from Hongo JR Station at 13:30).

Buses return from Buttsu-ji (to Mihara JR Station) at 10:50, 12:25, 13:49, 15:35. There is are also departures to Hongo Station at 12:54 and 16:43.
(Times in bold are seasonal extra autumn leaf viewing buses running November 11-November 23. More details in Japanese on the Geiyo Bus website)

Check out more amazing shots of Buttsu-ji in autumn on Kamoda’s Flickr stream here.

 

Gokuraku-ji Temple

 

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.

 

Ozeki-yama Park

Former castle site Ozekiyama Park is on the outskirts of the northern Hiroshima town of Miyoshi, has some pleasant trails and nice views over the Go-no-kawa River, the town’s rooftops and the soon to be defunct Sankosen train line runs right through it.

 

Sanburo-no-taki

 

Autumn Colors Guide Map

 

 

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of GetHiroshima.com and loves running in the mountains.

2 thoughts on “Autumn Colors Guide

  • March 22, 2015 at 11:54 pm
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    Paul can you please give me a 2 week interval that would come close to ensuring peak viewing in the Hiroshima area. I could find no dates. Trying to plan a fall trip to H.

    Gail

    Reply
    • March 31, 2015 at 9:29 am
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      Hi Gail, apologies for missing your question. It does depend on the weather, but I would say the middle two weeks of November are your best bet. Leaves tend to turn in Hiroshima city (in Shukkeien Garden and on Miyajima for example) later in November and a little earlier in the mountains outside of the city. Hope this helps.

      Reply

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