Ibaraki’s Top 8 Fall Foliage Spots: Enjoy Splendid Views Near Tokyo
Ibaraki Prefecture, accessible by day trip from Tokyo, is a famous destination for autumn foliage.
This article introduces eight splendid autumn foliage spots in Ibaraki―from popular attractions like Hitachi Seaside Park and Fukuroda Falls to Ryujin Suspension Bridge, where adventure seekers can experience a 100-meter-high bungee jump.
Excellent Access From Tokyo! Enjoy Autumn Foliage Amidst Ibaraki's Beautiful Nature
During the fall, the leaves of the trees turn red and yellow. Alongside the cherry blossoms, autumn foliage is one of the popular seasonal charms in Japan.
If you want to see the fall foliage, it’s best to enjoy it amidst beautiful natural surroundings—away from the hustle and bustle of the city. With that in mind, Ibaraki is easily accessible from Tokyo by day trip and offers many famous locations for autumn foliage.
This article introduces Ibaraki’s best locations to enjoy the autumn foliage.
While the peak season for viewing autumn foliage may vary depending on the specific location, generally speaking, November is the best time to see the leaves in the greater Tokyo area, including Ibaraki. Notably, on weekends and national holidays, these popular foliage spots tend to be quite crowded with Japanese visitors. To fully enjoy the beauty of the foliage in a relaxed atmosphere, we recommend visiting on a weekday.
Using the above map as a reference, find a spot that’s easily accessible for you!
1. Ryujin Suspension Bridge (Northern Ibaraki)
The Ryujin Gorge is a deep, V-shaped valley located in the Okukuji Prefectural Natural Park. Ryujin means Dragon God in the Japanese language. At the origin of this name is a legend about a pair of dragons that lived here in ancient times. Also, when seen from above, the river winds through the gorge in a dragon-shaped-like manner.
The Ryujin Suspension Bridge extends 375 meters between the two towers at its opposite ends. It’s the third-longest pedestrian-only bridge in Japan.
In November, the Ryujin Gorge and the surrounding mountains are beautifully dyed in bright red and yellow hues. The spectacular scenery created by the autumn leaves, gorge, and bridge can be enjoyed from various places. But the best vantage point is the terrace at Ryujin Cafe, built on a steep cliff in the gorge.
The Ryujin Suspension Bridge is also famous for thrill-seekers to enjoy a 100-meter bungee jump (the second highest in Japan). When you attempt this challenge during fall, the feeling is akin to diving among colorful autumn leaves. In addition, visitors can ride a canoe or boat while gazing at the gorge’s stunning autumn foliage and small waterfalls.
Also, during the autumn foliage season, local restaurants offer a regional specialty known as Hitachi Aki Soba, a traditional noodle dish. You can try this tasty soba at local shops in the town of Ryujin and Hitachiota City.
Ryujin Suspension Bridge
Ryujin Suspension Bridge stands 100 meters above the Ryujin Dam Reservoir. Spanning 375 meters, the bridge is inspired by the legend of a dragon said to reside in the Ryujin River. It offers panoramic views of the area’s mountainous landscape, including wild cherry blossoms during the spring and fiery foliage in autumn.
The bridge is also home to Japan’s highest bungee jump! This bungee jump is the ultimate way to take in the surrounding mountains if you're up to the challenge.
If throwing yourself off bridges isn’t your thing, there’s plenty more to explore in the surrounding area as well, including hiking trails, hot springs, and restaurants serving the region’s specialty: soba noodles!
2. See Kochia at Hitachi Seaside Park (Central Ibaraki)
In the Tokyo area, the kaede maple trees, momiji maple trees, and ginkgo trees―famous for their beautiful fall foliage―change their colors in November. However, people who can’t visit Japan in November don’t need to worry! In October, you can already enjoy the fall foliage in Ibaraki.
Hitachi Seaside Park is well known as a spectacular spot for viewing the blue Nemophila flowers in the spring. It’s also a unique fall foliage destination. The field of red kochia bushes, highlighting autumn at Hitachi Seaside Park, begin changing color in early October and are at their peak in mid-October. They take on a golden hue in late October, making it especially feel like autumn.
The kochia has a refreshing green color in the summer, pleasing the eye. However, the red kochia covering the hillside like a carpet during fall is genuinely breathtaking. If you can’t visit Japan in November, why not visit the kochia in October?
The shops and dining facilities within Hitachi Seaside Park offer kochia-inspired sweets during this time of the year. These desserts are truly worthy of sharing on social media!
Hitachi Seaside Park
Hitachi Seaside Park is perhaps Ibaraki's most famous tourist destination for its Instagram-friendly fields of flowers. This vast park is best known for the stunning blue nemophila flowers in spring (mid-April onwards) and bright red kochia bushes in autumn (October). There's plenty to see year-round, including daffodils, tulips, sunflowers, and oil-seed rape blossoms. In addition to flowers, it is home to a small amusement park and traditional Japanese farmhouses.
Once inside, visitors can enjoy a stroll, rent a bicycle, or ride the Seaside Train to get around. The park is entirely wheelchair accessible.
Moreover, Hitachi Seaside Park is located close to other destinations such as Aquaworld Aquarium, Nakaminato Fish Market, and Kairakuen Park. In other words, it's easy to plan a one or two-day trip to all of these major sites!
3. Fukuroda Falls (Northern Ibaraki)
Fukuroda Falls, located in Daigo Town, is a popular tourist attraction in Ibaraki. Along with Nikko’s Kegon Falls, it’s ranked as one of Japan’s Three Great Waterfalls.
The waterfall is quite impressive – it’s 120 meters tall and 73 meters wide. The waterfall is known as “Yodo Falls” due to the water cascading down a rock face that has four tiers.
Fukuroda Falls is surrounded by kaede maple trees and Japanese chestnut oak trees (kunuki).From early to mid-November, the area is colored by bright red and yellow hues. A variety of spectacular waterfall scenery can be enjoyed from Observatory One and Observatory Two, the latter of which has three viewing decks. The suspension bridge located beneath the falls also offers an impressive view.
Before, during, and after the autumn foliage season there are other noteworthy highlights as well. These include the waterfall illumination and also the inside of the tunnel leading up to the falls that’s lit up with special decorations.
Fukuroda Falls is ranked among Japan’s "Three Great Waterfalls." A visit here will quickly reveal why. Water cascades over four levels of the rocky cliff face, earning it the nickname "Yondo no Taki" (four times waterfalls).
In autumn, the falls are breathtaking when the fiery foliage transforms the surrounding mountains. But if you can’t make it in autumn, don’t worry! In winter, the waterfall freezes over in a stunning icy spectacle. In the summertime, the cool spray of the rushing water makes them a great place to escape the heat.
The Fukuroda Falls area is where several beginner-friendly hiking trails begin. It's a great way to explore more of northern Ibaraki’s stunning mountains.
If hiking isn’t your thing, head to one of the soba noodle restaurants or souvenir shops at the base of the falls. You can even sample the area’s famous apple pie!
4. Eigenji Temple: Known as Momiji-dera (Northern Ibaraki)
In addition to Fukuroda Falls, Eigenji Temple is also known as an autumn foliage destination in Daigo.
Eigenji is located near Hitachi-Daigo Station and was originally built in 1446. The temple is dedicated to Benzaiten, the goddess of the arts and one of the Seven Deities of Good Fortune.
About 25 years ago at Eigenji Temple, local residents and temple members began planting kaede maple trees in an effort to maintain the precincts. Every year since then, from early to mid-November, the temple precincts are filled with red and yellow leaves. So the temple came to be called “Momiji-dera,” or the “Autumn Foliage Temple.”
Throughout the temple grounds, you can take stunning photos of the impressive fall foliage, together with Buddhist statues, pagodas, and temple halls.
In addition to Fukuroda Falls and Eigenji Temple, Daigo has a variety of other locations for enjoying the autumn foliage. These include Tsukimachi Falls, which allows visitors to go behind the waterfall and take a closer look, Kotokuji Temple with its beautiful ginkgo trees, and Mt. Nantai – Mt. Yamizo, which offer scenic hiking trails amid the autumn splendor. So please be sure to take in all these sights during your trip.
- Eigenji Temple
- Ibaraki, Kujigun, Daigomachi, Daigo 1571
- By public transit: About 10 minutes on foot from Hitachi-Daigo Station.
By car: About one hour from the Joban Expressway's Naka Interchange
5. Hananuki Gorge (Northerrn Ibaraki)
Hananuki Gorge is a well known autumn foliage destination, about 40 minutes from Fukuroda Falls.
The gorge is very photogenic because of the 60-meter-long Shiomi Falls Suspension Bridge. The Ryujin Suspension Bridge―mentioned earlier in this article―is attractive because of its spectacular scenery in which the bridge appears to be floating in the mountains. On the other hand, the Shiomi Falls Suspension Bridge is smaller, but visitors can enjoy a view in which the bridge itself looks as though it’s covered in autumn leaves.
In this local area, the Hananuki Dam→Namerigafuchi→Hananuki Gorge→ Kotakizawa Campsite route is connected by a walking path. In the fall season, you can enjoy hiking while surrounded by colorful autumn leaves and beautiful natural scenery. Additionally, in the Hananuki Gorge area, there are short and comfortable walking routes for light hiking.
During the autumn foliage season from mid-November until late November, the area is illuminated at night, and there’s also the Hananuki Gorge Autumn Foliage Festival featuring various food kiosks lined up in the nearby parking lot.
This scenic gorge area stretches from the Hananuki Dam to the Kotakizawa Camp Site. The gorge's most famous attraction is the stunning Shiomi Falls Suspension Bridge. There are also plenty of hiking trails for exploring the area.
The best time to visit is autumn when foliage covers the area in a blanket of fiery reds and yellows. Summer is another excellent time to bask in the natural surroundings. Bring your swimwear and plunge into natural pools and streams, then relax with a barbecue or picnic at the camp area.
6. Mt. Tsukuba (Southern Ibaraki)
Mt. Tsukuba is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Ibaraki. Visitors can enjoy more than 1,000 different species of plant life throughout the year, and you can also admire the changing colors of the ginkgo and momiji maple tree leaves.
You also don’t want to miss the amazing views from the mountain’s ropeway and cable car. In particular, the Mt. Tsukuba Momiji Festival is held from the end of October until early December. During the festival, on Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays, the autumn foliage near the cable car’s Miyawaki Station are lit up and the cable car offers an evening service called “Night Cruising”. These special events are also held during the third week of November―considered to be the best time for seeing the fall foliage.
In addition, the ropeway’s “Stardust Cruising” is also highly popular. This event is held on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays from autumn until winter, giving visitors unforgettable night views from Mt. Tsukuba.
We also recommend visiting Mt. Tsukuba’s Tsukubasan Shrine. During the autumn foliage season, the ginkgo trees on the shrine precincts turn a beautiful yellow color. Near the shrine, there are several hot springs that can even be enjoyed on day trips, so travelers can take a much-needed respite and rejuvenate their weary selves.
The twin peaks of Mount Tsukuba are symbolic of Ibaraki. In Japanese, the peaks are Nyotai and Nantai, meaning the female peak and male peak, respectively. At 877 meters tall, Nyotai, the female peak, is the higher of the two. Mount Tsukuba is accessible in under two hours from Tokyo, making it ideal for escaping city life and getting in touch with nature. There are over 1000 species of flora and fauna on the mountain alone!
Both peaks are easily accessible by cable car or ropeway. If you're looking to exercise, there are plenty of hiking trails that suit all levels. Many trails have unique rock formations and historical Shinto sites.
While Mount Fuji is the symbol of western Japan, Mount Tsukuba is undeniably the symbol of eastern Japan. No trip to the Kanto region is complete without exploring this mountain!
7. Kairakuen Garden: Momiji Valley (Central Ibaraki)
Kairakuen Garden, located in Mito, Ibaraki’s prefectural capital, is famous for being one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Visitors can enjoy looking at many varieties of plants in the garden, plum trees and their blossoms being one of the major highlights.
Momiji Valley (Momiji-dani) is an area on the west side of Kairakuen Garden. During the fall season, the foliage of about 170 kaede and momiji maple trees changes into many beautiful colors. From early to mid-November the area gets illuminated at night, and the ensuing magical scenery spreads out right in front of you.
You can also enjoy the sight of cherry tree leaves changing into their brilliant fall colors from the promenade that surrounds Kairakuen Garden’s neighboring Lake Senba. We highly recommend going for a leisurely stroll here.
Kairakuen Garden is ranked among Japan’s top three most beautiful gardens, alongside Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Korakuen in Okayama. The garden was established in 1842 by Nariaki Tokugawa, the ninth feudal lord of the Mito Domain. It has since served as a place of relaxation and recreation for the public.
Kairakuen is famous for its Plum Blossom Festival (Ume Matsuri) held from late February to early March. It is home to around 3,000 plum trees from 100 different varieties. Cherry blossoms and azalea in the spring and Japanese bush clovers in autumn keep Kairakuen looking beautiful year-round.
8. Ibaraki Prefectural Archives and Museum (Central Ibaraki)
Japan has numerous fall foliage destinations, offering visitors a chance to witness the stunning red and yellow colors of kaede and momiji maple trees. Additionally, there are several popular spots with rows of ginkgo trees that turn yellow during autumn. Some of these locations also offer evening illuminations that enhance the beauty of the trees further. One such spot is the Ibaraki Prefectural Archives and Museum.
The Ibaraki Prefectural Archives and Museum is home to several historic buildings such as the former Mizukaido Elementary School main building that was constructed in 1881, and also the former Mogi Family Residence, believed to have been built in the first half of the 18th century. Kairakuen Garden is also right next door, so you can see both attractions on the same day.
On the museum site there is a row of gingko trees extending for about 100 meters. The best time to take in the fall scenery is from early to mid-November when the fallen leaves form an exquisite golden carpet over the entire area.
Along with the nighttime illuminations taking place at this time of the year, visitors can enjoy decorations with traditional Japanese lanterns and also projection mapping.
Ibaraki Prefectural Archives and Museum
The Ibaraki Prefectural Archives and Museum (Mito City) was established in 1974. Permanent exhibits showcase the history of Ibaraki from ancient times to the present day. The museum itself is housed on a plot spanning 72,000m2. This formerly was a residence during the Edo Period (1603–1868) and later a Western-style school building from the Meiji Period (1868–1912).
During autumn, the museum grounds are fantastic to see bright yellow ginkgo trees, a seasonal highlight in Japan.
Head to Ibaraki to Enjoy Autumn Foliage and Tasty Cuisine
During the fall season in Japan, you can enjoy more than just the beautiful autumn leaves. Ibaraki is renowned for its exquisite seasonal delicacies such as Hitachi-Aki soba, hoshi-imo, chestnuts, persimmons, pears, apples, and an array of fruits. You have the opportunity to indulge in these delectable treats that are a feast for both your eyes and taste buds.
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