The Best Places to Enjoy Japan's Autumn Colours in Osaka

Autumn leaves falling on a pond in Osaka

While spring often steals the limelight for international visitors, with its explosion of cherry blossoms thronging cities and villages throughout Japan, the colourful autumn leaves (known as koyo in Japanese) also draw a significant number visitors from inside the country. The viewing of autumn leaves has been a popular activity in Japan for centuries and today people still set out all over the country to find the best spot to view the beauty of the stunning fiery blends of yellow, orange and red foliage. The season lasts from September through to early November, depending on the weather and location, and famous spots for viewing the autumn foliage are dotted all across the country, especially in parks, temples and mountainous regions.

The Osaka region is the perfect hub for visitors on a compact itinerary looking to get a slice of the koyo action.

We'll explore 5 of the most spectacular autumn panoramas in the Osaka vicinity, as well as the best alternatives for accessing them, both by plane and by train, whilst the restoration works on Kansai International Airport continue.

Koyo autumn Osaka Expo Park '70

1. Expo '70 Commemorative Park (Suita City)

This park was built on the site of Japan World Exposition 1970. It contains numerous cultural, sports, and leisure facilities. It is also home to the Natural and Cultural Gardens and the Japanese Garden, which have a combined total of roughly 10,000 trees of 20 varieties, as well as a variety of other plants. In autumn, all of them turn magnificent colours. Events like concerts occur at the Foliage Festival, which is held at the height of the autumn foliage season every year.

Best time to see the foliage: Usually mid-November - late November
Admission fee for both gardens: 250 JPY/adult, 70 JPY/child

Autumn colours in Osaka Castle Park

2. Osaka Castle Park (Osaka City)

This municipal park stands on the site of Osaka Castle. It has 13 structures that are designated as important cultural properties of Japan, numerous historic sites that tell the history of the area, and a variety of other facilities like an open-air music hall. The park's symbol is Tenshukaku - Osaka Castle’s main keep, which was rebuilt in 1931. In autumn, numerous trees around the park, including a 300-year-old gingko tree, turn beautiful colours, creating a wonderful contrast with Tenshukaku.

Best time to see the foliage: Usually early November - early December

Autumn Colours in Minoh Park Waterfall

3. Meiji-no-mori Minoh Quasi-national Park / Minoh Waterfall (Minoh City)

This is a quasi-national park in a mountainous area, where the altitude is roughly 100m - 600m, in northern Mino City. It is surrounded by a nature-rich valley. The symbol of this area is Minoh Waterfall. 5m wide and 33m high, this waterfall has been selected as one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. In autumn, the trees around it turn into such vivid colours that they quite literally look like they’re on fire! At the park, you can enjoy the crashing sound of the powerful waterfall, along with the brightly coloured trees beyond it.

Best time to see the foliage: Usually mid-November - early December

Kyuan-ji Temple with Autumn colours

4. Kyuan-ji (Ikeda City)

This temple is said to have been built in 725. It has many highlights, such as a two-storied gate that’s designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan and a beautiful garden that’s famous for its seasonal flowers. In autumn, leaves on trees planted around the temple grounds, such as gingko and Japanese maple, colour beautifully. On the third Sunday of November every year, there is a Momiji Matsuri festival that always brings a lot of people to the temple’s grounds!

Best time to see the foliage: Usually mid-November - early December

Kabusan-ji Temple with Autumn colours

5. Kabusan-ji (Takatsuki City)

This temple nestled among the mountains of Takatsuki City is said to have been established in 774. It possesses several important cultural properties of Japan, such as the statue of Vaisravana - a deity for luck and fortune - that is said to be one of the oldest in Japan. During autumn, around 500 gingko and Japanese maple trees along the temple path and around the grounds turn beautiful red and golden colours; a gorgeous sight that the temple has become famous for!

Best time to see the foliage: Usually mid-November

KIX ITM KBE airports map

Accessing the Kansai region 

Whilst repairs continue on Kansai International Airport following Typhoon Jebi, a number of the international flights currently not able to land into Kansai International Airport will be placed back in operation and rerouted to nearby Kobe and Itami airports.

With regular limousine bus services connecting Itami Airport to central Osaka in under an hour, and local train lines from Kobe Airport allowing international visitors access to Kobe city and further rail travel options onto Osaka in under two hours, the region remains just as accessible as ever.

Equally, for those looking to start or end their Japan journeys elsewhere, JR shinkansen bullet train services and other local lines running through Osaka have been back in operation since just after the typhoon's departure, making both of Tokyo's international airports (Narita and Haneda), as well as Nagoya's international airport (Chubu Centrair International Airport) just some of the other viable entry/exit points with convenient transport connections to the Osaka area.

Once you're there, there is also no shortage of transport options within Osaka. Those travelling with a Japan Rail Pass will have access to the JR Osaka Loop Line, servicing a number of main stations including Osaka station, Osaka-jo Koen station, Shin-Imamiya station and Tennoji station, as well as a number of overground lines connecting Osaka station to bullet train services from Shin-Osaka station.

But for visitors looking to dive deeper into Osaka, the Osaka Amazing 1-Day (2,500yen) and 2-Day (3,300yen) Passes provide unlimited access to Osaka's many internal underground lines, its network of city-wise bus routes, free entry to 35 sightseeing spots and benefits and discounts at 98 facilities and shops. Specific information can be found on the official website.

For continually updated information on the progress of operations around Kansai International Airport, please visit the links below:

Japan National Tourism Organisation HQ

Kansai International Airport

Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau