Autumn and Fall Foliage (General)

Autumn and Fall Foliage (General)
Best for travel between October and the start of December. See brilliant colors of gold and red color the mountains. The cooler weather makes this an enjoyable time to walk through the old castle town, hike the mountain trails to magnificent waterfalls and the hot springs become even more enjoyable during the cool, crisp autumn nights.
Trip Highlights
Kyoto Fushimi InariArashiyamaNariaiji Temple
Kinosaki OnsenGenbudo ParkToyooka
Izushi Castle TownAnkokuji TempleKannabe Highlands
Saruo Waterfalls
  • Day 1
    • Depart for Japan (Kansai International Airport)
      Depart for Japan (Kansai International Airport)
      Depart from your local airport and arrive at Kansai International Airport.
  • Day 2
    • Explore Kyoto City
      Explore Kyoto City
      After arriving at Kansai International Airport travel up to Kyoto for your first day. Spend the first half of the day exploring the ancient capital and its popular destinations. Kyoto is a popular destination during the autumn and is well known for its autumn foliage. Suggested viewing spots are Fushimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama and Nariaiji Temple.
    • Stay the night in Taiza
      Stay the night in Taiza
      After Kyoto City travel to Taiza, Kyotango in northern Kyoto. We suggest staying the night at Totoya, a family-run inn that is just 50 meters from the beach. While here be sure to order a crab or seafood dinner. Totoya also offers various culture activities like making Barazushi art, try on a Tango chirimen silk kimono and boat tours of the coast. They also have a relaxing open-air (outdoor) bath.
  • Day 3
    • A visit to the aquarium
      A visit to the aquarium
      For one last experience in Kyotango you can choose to participate in a Nigiri Sushi Activity where you will make your own sushi breakfast. In the morning we suggest checking out the local aquarium, Kinosaki Marine World. The aquarium over looks the Sea of Japan is about a 25 minute bus ride from Kinosaki Onsen Station. We suggest leaving your luggage in a coin locker at Kinosaki Onsen Station. You can pick it up on your way back to explore this lovely hot spring village in the afternoon. The aquarium prides itself on its smaller size. They feel that this allows visitors a more intimate experience with the marine animals and their trainers. Backyard tours are available for an extra price and give you a chance to meet some of the dolphins in person. There is also a touch and feel tide pool.
    • Enjoy the fall foliage from the ropeway
      Enjoy the fall foliage from the ropeway
      Have lunch at the aquarium's cafe and restaurant before hopping on the bus back to Kinosaki Onsen. Spend an afternoon walking through this lovely hot spring town that features 7 hot spring bathhouses that are open to the public and a ropeway. The entire town can be walked from front to back in about 30 minutes. For the best fall views walk back to the ropeway and take the gondola up to the top of Mt. Daishi. The view from the top of the ropeway was awarded 1 star in the Michelin Green Guide. If the weather is nice and you are up for a trek you can trek up the mountain trail to the top of Mt. Daishi instead of taking the gondola. (Best viewing time is during the month of November)
    • Genbudo Park and basalt caves
      Genbudo Park and basalt caves
      You can take a taxi out to Genbudo Park and basalt caves, but if the weather is nice we highly suggest renting a bicycle and cycling out. This will give you great views of the fall foliage. (Best viewing time is during the month of November). You can easily spend a couple hours (not including the bike ride out) exploring the park, caves and museum.
    • Stay in Toyooka
      Stay in Toyooka
      If you came by bicycle, head back to Kinosaki to return your bike before moving onto Toyooka for the night. Spend the night in Toyooka. We suggest staying at Toyooka Park Hotel. There are several local izakaya (Japanese pubs) within walking distance or you can enjoy a yakiniku dinner at Maruzen, known to have the best beef around.
  • Day 4
    • Toyooka - Homeland of the Oriental White Stork
      Toyooka - Homeland of the Oriental White Stork
      One of the things Toyooka is famous for is the Oriental White Stork ("Kounotori" in Japanese). This national natural treasure was once on the brink of extinction. Thanks to the hard work and efforts of the people of Toyooka this beautiful creature is making a come back. In the morning visit the Hyogo Park for the Oriental White Stork in Toyooka. A research institute opened in 1999 in Toyooka City and is dedicated to the restoration of the Oriental White Stork. At the park’s open cage you can see Oriental White Stork that have been bred and raised in captivity. Entrance to the park is free.
    • Izushi Castle Town
      Izushi Castle Town
      For lunch take the city bus from Toyooka Station to Izushi, a castle town about 20 minutes from Toyooka. Izushi is a town that continues on from the mythical era. The current townscape was formed by Koide Yoshihide in 1604. Today it is a castle town popular for its nostalgic atmosphere of old Japan. Spend the afternoon exploring the castle ruins and historical buildings. In the fall, especially around mid November, the mild hike to the top of the mountain where the old castle once stood will provide you with great views of the fall foliage. If you aren't up for the hike, we suggest just walking through the vermillion colored Torii gates to experience some beautiful fall sights. Another great way to explore the town is to rent a traditional Kimono, the cooler autumn weather makes wearing these beautiful pieces more appealing.
    • Lunch in Izushi
      Lunch in Izushi
      Getting hungry? Stop into one of the 50 soba shops located all over the town. Try the local specialty, Izushi Sara Soba. Hand made buckwheat noodles that are served on small plates. Each order comes with 5 plates, broth, green onions, wasabi, an egg and grated daikon and or yama-imo.
    • Ankokuji Temple
      Ankokuji Temple
      If you have time left in your schedule and the season is just right we highly recommend making the trip out to this Zen Buddhist temple just before dusk. The temple is most famous for the 100-year-old Dodan Tsutsuji trees planted at the back of the temple. In the autumn these trees turn a brilliant red and the temple opens it doors to photographers and tourists. Truly a beautiful site. While there are city busses that can get you Ankokuji Temple, the buses usually stop running just after sunset. If you can we strongly suggest renting a car to go and see Ankokuji Temple. Online English reservations can be made at the link below.
    • Spend the night in Yumura Onsen
      Spend the night in Yumura Onsen
  • Day 5
    • Hike to Saruo Waterfalls
      Hike to Saruo Waterfalls
      Hike through the fall forests to "Saruo-daki" or Saruo Waterfalls. This waterfall consists of an upper and lower waterfall. The name is said to have been derived from the lower waterfall's monkey tail like shape. You can see the stone Buddhist image which was naturally-shaped. It was chosen as one of Japan's top 100 waterfalls. It is also famous for the beautiful colored leaves. It takes 2 or 3 minutes from parking lot to the waterfall on foot.
    • Sightseeing in Himeji and Osaka
      Sightseeing in Himeji and Osaka
  • Day 6
    • Last day in Japan
      Last day in Japan
      Spend the last bit of your trip sightseeing around Osaka if you have time before your flight back home.
Activity Highlight Location