In Japan, viewing fall leaves is a thing. It’s like the autumn equivalent of cherry blossom season. It lasts a bit longer though, and doesn’t produce as many drunken parties in the park. If you are visiting Japan during the fall, you have an opportunity to view the leaves in all their red and yellow glory. But, the schedule of leaves changing colour varies around the country, so you need to be in the right place at the right time if you want to see anything. It can be difficult to know when is the best time to see fall leaves in a particular city, especially if you don’t know Japanese and can’t read the “autumn leaves forecast” websites. I’ll help you! In this post, I’ll show you how to
- Navigate an autumn leaves forecast website – even if you can’t read Japanese!
- Choose a place to view autumn leaves in Japan
- Find directions to your chosen place
All you need are three things: the website, Google Translate, and Google Maps.
How to use the Japanese autumn leaves forecast website – even if you can’t read Japanese
The website I’m using is called https://koyo.walkerplus.com. It’s all in Japanese, but don’t worry, I’m hear to help you read it and find a pretty place to see autumn leaves. This tutorial will work best if you open the website in a new window and follow along with me.
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a video on how to read the Japanese autumn leaves forecast website:
Scroll down a tiny bit, and you’ll see a map of Japan. The outlines are the prefectures (like provinces or states), and they are different colours. The different colours means the general stage of the leaves in their changing-to-red-ness. You can see by the colours on the map, the leaves change colour at different times of the year. Find out the expected times for the leaves to change colours.
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- Green = Leaves are still green
- Yellow = Leaves are starting to change colours
- Red = Leaves are at their peak viewing time
- Dark red/brown = Leaves are starting to fall
- Grey/brown = Leaves have fallen
Around the map are the names of the regions, in bold, and the names of the prefectures underneath. The map itself is not clickable, only the names on the side. If you are in Japan, you probably know which part of the country you are in, but you might not know how to read the name. It’s okay. I’ve translated all the names for you, so you can find each prefecture if you don’t already know.
As a demonstration, I’m going to check the autumn leaves forecast for Osaka. The kanji looks like this: 大阪
The next page is the “autumn leaves forecast for Osaka prefecture.”
Underneath it are 9 tags to help you search for a place. From left to right, the tags are: all, leaves are at their peak now, light up/illuminations, festivals, national designated scenic spot, garden/shrine, close to station, gingko leaves (the yellow fan shaped ones), maple leaves.
Next, you’ll see how many places there are to view autumn leaves in this prefecture. In Osaka, there are 9 places.
Underneath that is the list of places. For each place, there is the current colour of the leaves, the name of the place, a one line description, the prefecture/city/ward, the dates the leaves are expected to change colour, and the expected period when the leaves will be at their peak.
Hint: the months are referred to by number, and the beginning of the month is marked with 上, the middle of the month with 中, and the end of the month with 下.
So, for Osaka Castle Park, leaves are expected to start changing colour around the beginning of November, and the peak viewing period is beginning of November to the beginning of December. A whole month!
I’ll assume you probably can’t read everything on this page. I can’t read everything either, and I don’t know all of the place names. But here’s what you can do:
Scroll through the list until you find a nice looking picture or a place where the leaves are currently at their peak. Then click on it. Or choose one at random if you want. I’m going to choose the first one because there is a picture of a castle. (Also, I can read it, and it says Osaka Castle Park, and that sounds cool.)
Autumn leaves forecast for Osaka Castle Park (example)
On the next page, it will show you all about Osaka Castle Park autumn leaves forecast. If you can’t read the place name, now is where you open up Google Translate and copy and paste the name into the translator. It should say something like “Autumn leaves at ~~.” Then if you are curious as to what it looks like, you can search for more images of the place in Google to see if you would like go there.
As for tags, Osaka Castle Park is tagged under gardens/shrines, close to station, gingko leaves, and maple leaves. Then there’s a big picture of the castle and some leaves, and underneath that is a paragraph blurb about this place. You can pop that into Google Translate if you are curious about what it says.
Below that is the weather and temperature for the current day and the following day. Underneath that is two red boxes. The one on the left will show you where it is on the map. We’ll open that one in a couple minutes.
Next, there are few more things to show you on the autumn leaves forecast
Underneath the button for the map is more information for the location and how to get there. Here’s what everything means.
The first box is everything about the place. From top to bottom, the rows are as follows. If you need to know any of these things, just pop it into Google Translate.
- Name of the spot – Osaka Castle Park
- How to read the kanji – Osaka Castle Park
- Annual time the leaves start changing colour – beginning of November
- Annual period of peak leaf viewing – beginning of November to beginning of December
- Types of leaves you can see – gingko, ?, maple leaves, ?, cherry blossoms, etc.
- Recommended viewing spots – in front of the castle tower, outer garden on east side of the park, other
Remember: number = month; 上 = beginning, 中 = middle, 下 = end
>> Want to know the best place to see cherry blossoms in Nagoya?
Below is the second box for how to access the location. The rows are as follows:
- Traffic access (1) it tells the train lines and stations to get off 2) how to get there by car
- Parking (Osaka Castle Park has 269 car parking spots; 350 yen for 60 minutes between 8:00-22:00; 150 yen for 60 minutes between 22:00-8:00
- Things to be careful of (nothing!)
- Contact number
Autumn leaves forecast map and directions
If you are into this choice so far, let’s find it on the map. Click on the red box on the left under the weather forecast.
A new page will open with a map and the location pinned on it. Click on “view larger map” in the top left corner to open the map in Google Maps. Then, zoom out until you find a train station that you are familiar with, select that as your starting destination, and choose “get directions from here.” (You know how to use Google Maps to get directions, right?)
I selected Osaka station as my starting point. Then I can see the route to get Osaka Castle Park. The train ride takes 16 minutes and costs ¥160 on the Osaka Loop Line. Easy peasy! You can click on DETAILS if you need a bit more information on how to get there. Or send the directions to your phone (I’ve never done this before).
Finally, underneath the previous two information boxes two boxes you will see the following. It gives recommendations for a few other places in the same area as the one you are currently looking. You can see, at the time of me writing this, most of these other places in Osaka are still green. If you want to check them out, open the link and go through the same steps that we just did.
>> Also check out a few autumn photos in Japan
If you’re not happy with this choice, go back to the autumn leaves forecast front page and start again!
You can go through the list checking out photos and maps, throwing things into Google Translate, and deciding which is the best place to see and finding directions. Yes, it might take some time to go back and forth between the website, the translator, and the map. But you can spend as much or as little time as you want.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I think I’ve covered all the important things on this website to help you find out how to read the autumn leaves forecast website in Japan. You should be able to find a nice pretty spot to see red and yellow leaves!
If you need to see these steps in action, check out this video I made on how to use the autumn leaves forecast website.
Where is your favourite place to see fall leaves?