As autumn goes by colorful red leaves change the face of Tokyo city, burning like small fires in and around the capital’s parks and gardens. So it’s a sure thing you can contemplate the beauty of Japanese autumn season in some city spots too, but what about a place truly filled just by trees and nature, where you can really enjoy this experience to the fullest? This small guide will provide you the perfect destinations for a little escape in Tohoku rural areas, where you will find the most beautiful and breathtaking autumn landscapes.

Aomori Prefecture

Oirase Mountain Stream

Located in the city of Towada, offers a 14 km stream with a rich vegetation of beech, maple, and Japanese maple trees. The power of the stream shaped some interesting rocks all along its course, contributing to make even just a walk along this river a very particular experience. The stream goes from Nenokuchi to Yakeyama, and are available two touristic roots to enjoy its autumnal beauty. The first one is for the ones who want to admire the numerous waterfalls (more than 9!) that go from Kumoi to Choshi Great waterfall. The course lasts about 50 min. The second one shows some famous spot in the area, like the Asura stream, and in about 30 min goes from Majima rock to Kumoi waterfall.

Best period: Late October-Early November

Access: 1 hour drive from Shichinohe Towada Station.


Nakano Japanese Maple Mountain

Situated in a park rather small and easy to visit even just in a one-day trip, it offers relaxing natural views and brilliant red and orange leaves during the autumn season. The park website provides a detailed map of the most attractive sightseeing spots, with even the names of the many types of trees you can find all around the area and the most popular roots to follow. At the top of the mountain, just to upgrade your spiritual level more than just watching nature, there is the Nakano shrine. From this point, you can have a complete view of the stream, the Fudo waterfalls, and the red autumnal landscape.

Best period: Late October-Mid November

Access: 1 hour and half drive after transfer to Konan line Kuroishi Station


Iwate Prefecture

Genbi River Gorge

Its colorful trees seem to burn with the contrast of the emerald color of the river, and you can find particular rocks shaped from the stream in this spot too. The river is located near Ichinoseki city and it runs for about 2 km. it seems to be formed by Iwai River flowing from Mount Kurikoma, and one of its peculiarities is the echoes of its waters against the rocks that create a mysterious atmosphere. Second recommended attraction is the many dango shops of the area, and in particular kakko-ya, famous for its “flying dango“, or kakko dango. Why flying? Because you can apparently purchase dango and tea using a basket from the other side of the stream to another, so you won’t have to bother going all the way to the shop. It may be fun discovering how exactly this procedure works, right?

Best period: Mid October-Mid November

Access: about 12 min drive from Ichinoseki Station


Hachimantai Aspite Line

Here it is a 27 km mountain sightseeing road that runs through the Towada Hchimantai National Park and becomes spectacular in its natural beauty in every season. At the peak of the mountain, you will find a rest house to grab a bite, and you will have the opportunity to admire the natural landscape of maples and beeches along a relaxing drive. This root is also very famous for its winter snow walls, that reach higher than a car (let’s say a truck). Some of the most attractive hotels in the area also offer express bus courses at 500 yen for adults and 250 yen for children, providing one hour and half of colorful beauty and showing the most beautiful views this area has to offer.

Best period: Early October

Access: 1 hour and half by car from JR Morioka Station


Miyagi Prefecture

Akiu Cataract

Impressive stream that falls from 55m high and stands on ancient volcanic cliffs. It ranked one of the best three waterfalls in Japan, and every year the burning colors of autumn give this place a romantic feeling, attracting even more visitors. Near the waterfall are located historical spots such as the Akiu Otaki Fudo-do (or Saiko-ji), a shrine where is located the statue of Fudo-myuo. Its particular popularity is given by the belief that this statue has the ability to grant the wishes of the ones who pray beside it.

Best period: Late October-Early November

Access: 90 min drive from JR Sendai Station


Naruko River Gorge

The brilliant yellow of beech and oak trees and the bright red of maple trees stand together with the deep green of cedar trees creating a perfect balance and a breathtaking landscape experience. Located in Osaki city, the river runs for 2.5km and it reaches 100 meters of depth. Popular for its fall colors, is also near the famous Naruko Onsen (hot spring), highly recommended because of its two different public bathhouses that will offer an even more relaxing stay.

Best period: Late October-Early November

Access: 15 min by car from JR Naruko Onsen Station


Akita Prefecture

Tazawa Lake

Situated in Semboku city, Tazawa Lake is ranked as the deepest Lake in Japan (423.4 m of depth), and you can enjoy its fall beauty driving, cycling, walking or taking a boat ride. The red of the maple leaves will look just like it’s burning, making a great contrast with the lake’s lapis lazuli color. Nearby are located famous historical places and ancient ruins, but also sports areas like the ski center. Last but not least there are very popular hot springs in this fall spot too and the most recommended one seems to be Tamagawa hot spring, with its strongly acid water.

Best period: Late October-Early November

Access: 15 min drive from JR Tazawa-ko Station


Former Ikeda Family Japanese Garden

The hidden beauty of Daisen city, this Japanese style garden is located in a rural area. Ranked as the National site of scenic beauty, the garden was arranged by Ikeda family, one of the major landowners of Tohoku region, and it opens to the public just for limited periods. One of these special occasions occurs in the fall season, when the garden’s trees become the color of the sunset and create a magic atmosphere with the 4 m stone lantern and the many western style buildings.

Best period: Late October-Early November

Access: 15 min by car from JR Omagari Station


Yamagata Prefecture

Akashiba River Gorge

The River runs between Ara River, that flows along the Japan national route 113 and in fall season it shows spectacular color effects by sumac trees, Japanese maples, and beech. On both side of the river stand steep cliffs creating walls shaped by the stream and interesting light spots. Made roots are available and usually last for about  1 km for a quick, 30 min walk admiring the natural landscape.

Best period: Late October-Early November

Access: 10 min drive from JR Yonezaka Line Koguni Station


Fukushima Prefecture


To-no-hetsuri stands for “a cliff made of tower-shaped rocks” in the local dialect, and this particular cliff has been chosen as a National Natural Monument. Adorned with maple and oak trees that in autumn season sparkle of reds and yellows, the cliff formed about 28 million years ago, and that’s because as time passed deep cracks formed along the joints of its tower-shaped rocks. Each of the 12 towers has its own name (Eagle Tower, Lion Tower, Hawk Tower and so on).

Best period: Late October-Early November

Access: 5 min walk from To-no-hetsuri Station on the Aizu railway line



Tumbnail image is from Flickr