The days are getting shorter and chillier here in Japan and people are finally starting to breathe a sigh of relief as the hot and humid summer season is over. I personally could live in eternal summer and wouldn’t mind missing a winter or two, but I’ve learned to see the bright side of these fall months – it’s Momiji season!
Momiji is the Japanese word for maple leaves that have turned red in the fall. It is made up of the kanji 紅 – meaning red, and 葉 – meaning leaf. Makes great sense!
To make things a tiny bit confusing however, is that there is another fall-related word called kōyō. Kōyō is used to generally describe the natural process of leaves changing colors, rather than the leaves themselves. Both kōyō and momiji are written with the same kanji. eek! ?
If you are looking for a great place to see fall foliage in Japan, look no further than Momijidani Park on Miyajima Island. Seeing that this park has the word momiji in its name, you know that it’s going to be a good place to visit if you’re looking to catch some fall colors.
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Table of Contents
- When Do Leaves Change Color in Japan?
- How to Get to Momijidani Park
- Momijidani Park – A Spectacular View
- Hike Up Mt. Misen
- Hungry? What to Eat on Miyajima Island
- Where to Stay on Miyajima Island
When Do Leaves Change Color in Japan?
Since Japan is a very long country stretching way up north in Hokkaido and down south in the islands of Okinawa, the best time to see fall colors varies based on which region you are in.
For Momijidani which is located in Hiroshima, the peak viewing season is generally from mid to late November.
(The photos used throughout this post were taken on November 22.)
Each year fall foliage forecasts are released in Japan with breakdowns for each region, so be sure to search for these and double-check your dates.
How to Get to Momijidani Park
Momijidani Park is located on the island of Miyajima which is in Hiroshima prefecture. If you are coming from outside of the area, you will most likely take the Shinkansen to Hiroshima Station, and then switch to a local train or bus to get to Miyajimaguchi Station.
From this station, you will catch the ferry over to the island. Momijidani Park is located about 20 minutes walk from the ferry terminal.
Momijidani Park – A Spectacular View
The park is quite popular during the day so if you want to avoid the crowds I recommend going early in the morning. However, even with people, the scenery is stunning. I found the orange backdrop of the leaves and bridges hard to beat.
I don’t want to spoil everything by sharing all my pictures, but hopefully you’ve seen enough to be inspired to visit yourself!
Hike Up Mt. Misen
If after taking in the beauty of the park you still have energy and are looking for more to do, you can climb up Miyajima’s most popular mountain, Mt. Misen.
There are several paths to the top of the mountain, with one of them conveniently located right by Momijidani Park. It takes about an hour to climb to the top – maybe more if you stop often to take in the views.
Hungry? What to Eat on Miyajima Island
If you’ve come all the way to Miyajima Island, you will probably want to try some of the island fare. While everything is a bit on the expensive side – it is a popular vacation/tourist destination even for Japanese people – there are some great things to sample such as butter garlic oysters, sweet Momiji Manju, and local beer.
Learn more about the best things to eat on Miyajima Island, in this post!
Where to Stay on Miyajima Island
You can visit Miyajima island all in one day, but I find there’s something very tranquil and special about spending the night.
For the ultimate luxury experience, you will want to stay at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) which comes with beautiful Japanese rooms, full-course meals, and attached bathing facilities. I stayed at the Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto the first time I visited the island and was not disappointed in the least.
For a more affordable option, this hotel called Sakuraya is also great. It’s not fancy but is located super conveniently next to the water very near to the port. I’ve stayed there twice and while it’s not jaw-droppingly gorgeous like Miyajima Grand Hotel Arimoto, it is a nice place to stay that has Japanese-style rooms and a small public bath you can enjoy during your stay. (Meals are not provided at Sakuraya).
If you are looking for a perfect Miyajima Itinerary, check out this video! It includes lots of food, hiking, the Itsukushima Shrine, and more!
Traveling in Japan during the fall or winter? Be sure to check out some of these other experiences that are perfect for chilly days!