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.
Daisho-in Temple is always an interesting place to visit and it, too, has its share of autumn leaves within its maze-like grounds.
GetHiroshima’s jjwalsh recommends getting an early start to really make the most of the autumn scenery on Miyajima.
If you do arrive late to the island, the Japanese bridge at the entrance to Momijidani park and the trees around Shinomiya Shrine will be illuminated until 8:00pm every night October 30-November 23.
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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’s autumn leaf illuminations are back in 2021 after being cancelled due to the pandemic last year.
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.
Other than a short section, the path from the main trailhead at Sandankyo Hotel is currently closed due to damage from the summer rain storms. Only the the upper reaches of the gorge (Sauru-tobi ferry to Nidan-daki Falls and Sandan-daki Falls) can be accessed from the Mizunashi Parking Area.
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 is only open four weekends a year and two of them are in November for visitors to enjoy the autumn colors. That is in a normal year anyway. Unfortunately, the garden will remain closed in 2021 for the second year in a row due to the pandemic.
Less accessible than Sandankyo, you really need a car to get to Taishaku-kyo 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 Taishaku-kyo 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 (Adult ¥630, Child ¥320 one way) between November 13 and November 23.
Buses leaving from Mihara JR Station (bus stop #4) at 09:05, 10:20, 11:45, 12:20, 14:45 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 11:00, 12:30, 15:20. There are also departures to Hongo Station at 12:54, 13:49 and 16:43.
(Times in bold are seasonal extra autumn leaf viewing buses running November 9-November 24. More details in English on the Geiyo Bus website)
The leaves at Buttsu-ji will also be illuminated between 6pm and 8pm between November 6 and November 28.
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.
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 now defunct Sankosen train line that used to run right through it.
Autumn Colors Guide Map