Aomori is known for skiing, but before the snow kicks in, the prefecture glows with the colours of Autumn. From deep-orange mountain ranges to bright-reds reflected in lakes, there are countless stunning spots to enjoy the changing of the season.
When to see Autumn Foliage in Aomori
As one of Japan’s northernmost prefectures, the Autumn leaves of Aomori welcome in the new season from October. While the exact times for different locations can vary depending on the altitude and the local tree varieties, the peak is generally around late October and visitors who travel through the prefecture during this time will no doubt be greeted with incredible golds, reds and oranges.
Top Fall Foliage Spots in Aomori
When it comes to seeing the golden leaves of Aomori you’re spoiled for choice. Whether you prefer picturesque lakes or striking mountain ranges, this prefecture has it all.
The Shirakami Sanchi: World Heritage and Autumn Foliage
A stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Shirakami Sanchi are an impressive mountain range between Aomori and Akita prefectures. To the north, Mt. Shirakami Dake and the Anmon Falls are two of the most popular spots to hike to, especially when bathed in the hues of autumn. There are special unpaved walking roads open in fall, with the waterfall a manageable 90-minute walk into the valley. Many walking paths require a car for access, but the Visitor Information Center in Nishimeya is a great place to pick up maps and plan walks.
- Name: Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center (白神山地ビジターセンター)
- Address: Kanda 61-1 Nishimeya, Nakatsugaru, Aomori
- Location: The visitor Center is located in the small village of Nishimeya in the north of the Shirakami Sanchi area.
- Access: The center is a one-hour bus ride from JR Hirosaki Station on the Taiiki-Kawaratai bus line.
- Peak Season: Mid October - Mid November
Hirosaki Castle’s Stunning Autumn Foliage
The park surrounding the impressive Hirosaki Castle is known for three things: the winter snow lantern festival, spring cherry blossom and the autumn leaves. While all are stunning, the autumn leaves have a certain level of beauty untouched by the others. The grounds have dozens of trails leading you through the Hirosaki Botanical Garden, past Gokoku Shrine, across the famous red Shunyo bridge, beyond castle turrets and along the moat, all blanketed in the deep hues of fall. There are evening illuminations and an autumn foliage festival to enjoy from mid-October to mid-November.
- Name: Hirosaki Park (弘前公園)
- Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki, Aomori
- Location: The park is located to the north-east of Hirosaki city in Aomori, close to Chuohirosaki Station.
- Access: The castle and grounds can be reached by catching the 100 yen Hirosaki City Loop Bus from JR Hirosaki Station and alighting at Shiyakusho-mae bus stop.
- Peak Season: Mid-October to mid-November
Oirase Gorge: A Forest of Fall Foliage
A stunning river valley carved over thousands of years, the Oirase gorge is gilden with deep oranges in Autumn. The gorge is 14km long and begins at Lake Towada, flowing through forests until it reaches Yakeyama. While it is filled with luscious greenery from May to June, in October the leaves transform and it becomes an almost magical world of golds, oranges and reds. There is a walking path along the gorge with unusual rocks, small waterfalls and countless picturesque spots.
- Name: Oirase Gorge (奥入瀬渓流)
- Address: 60 Okuse, Towada, Aomori 034-0301, Japan
- Location: The gorge is located close to Oirase Onsen, a small town on the edge of Towada-Hachimantai National Park.
- Access: The gorge is best reached by JR bus from JR Shin-Aomori Station in around 2 hours, alighting at Yakeyama. Alternatively you can catch the Oirase-go bus from JR Hachinohe Station and alight at Yakeyama or Ishigedo after 1.5 hours.
- Peak Season: Late October to early November
Tsutanuma Lake: Autumn Foliage Reflections
Famed for it’s beautiful mirror-like reflections of the autumn leaves the encircle it, Tsutanuma lake draws visitors throughout the season. There is a boardwalk running the 1km circumference of the lake which is perfect for a leisurely stroll, and allows visitors to take in every possible autumnal angle. The water comes directly from a natural spring and the lake is strikingly clear.
- Name: Tsutanuma Lake (蔦沼)
- Address: Tsutanoyu Okuse, Towada, Aomori 034-0301, Japan
- Location: Tsutanuma lake is located close to Towada City, in the Oirase area.
- Access: You can catch a JR bus for just over 2.5 hours from Shin-Aomori Station, alighting at Tsuta Onsen.
- Peak Season: October
The Hakkoda Mountains: Fall Foliage from Above
In the north of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, the Hakkoda Mountains are an autumn-lover’s dream. While you can enjoy incredible hikes through the mountain range, you can also enjoy the views from above using the Hakkoda Ropeway. The deep orange trees carpet the ground below, creating unforgettable views. Once you reach the top station of Tamoyachidake (one of Mt. Hakkoda’s many peaks), there is a 1km walking route that’s perfect for enjoying the panoramic views or you can hike down to Kenashitai, two marshlands and continue on to the sulphuric waters of Sukayu Onsen.
- Name: The Hakkoda Mountains (八甲田山)
- Address: Fukazawa Komagome, Aomori
- Location: The Hakkoda Mountains are to the north of the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, with the ropeway to the north-west.
- Access: You can catch a JR Bus from JR Aomori Station to the Hakkoda Ropeway Station
- Peak Season: Mid to late October
Lake Towada: Fall Foliage from the Water
Lined with Japanese maple and beech trees, Lake Towada is a vibrant celebration of autumn come October. The largest caldera lake on Honshu, Towada is home to sightseeing boats which offer a unique view of the leaves, either on a loop from Yasumiya or between Yasumiya and Nenokuchi. There are two unusual peninsula’s which extend far into the lake, with observation decks dotting the steep edges of the lake. Be sure to combine a visit with the small but welcoming town of Towada and the beautiful Oirase Gorge.
- Name: Lake Towada (十和田湖)
- Address: Towadako Total Information Center, 486 Okuse, Towada, Aomori
- Location: Towada Lake is located
- Access: You can catch a JR bus from JR Shin-Aomori Station or Hachinohe Station to Yakeyama and onwards to Nenokuchi or you can walk along the gorge (5 hours). From Nenokuchi, you can catch another JR busto Ysumiya or take a pleasure boat across the lake.