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Source: Gaijin Pot

Things are slowly opening up around Japan, but that doesn’t mean we want to charge into the most crowded and popular koyo (autumn leaf viewing) spots straight away. The leaves have already fallen in most of the country, but there is still time to view the fall foliage (or plan for next year).

While everyone is always looking for secret hanami (flower viewing) spots, you don’t hear people often talking about hidden koyo spots. So here are a few starting points in each region to take in the beauty of Japan’s fall colors while avoiding the crowds.

Kanto

Photo: Cassandra Lord
The view from Mt. Tsukuba’s Nyotai peak.

With so many options as day trips from Tokyo, some of the most well-known Kanto spots for fall foliage can get pretty crowded. So, as an alternative to the famously crowded Mt. Takao, why not head east to Mt. Tsukuba or its neighbor Mt. Hokyo instead?

Mt.Tsukuba has two peaks: Nyotai and Nantai. Nyotai can get a little busy during peak season, so head to Nantai at the top for picturesque views without the people. You can quickly get to the top via the cable car or ropeway or climb up yourself. For an even quieter experience, you can climb up Mt. Hokyo to get peaceful views of Mt. Tsukuba’s autumn colors.

For an overnight trip from Tokyo, you could head further north to Nasu. It makes an excellent alternative to Nikko that can get quite crowded in fall. In Nasu, you can soar over a sea of autumn colors on the Nasu Ropeway or bring your camera ready for a walk across the Tsutsuji Suspension Bridge for the early November colors.

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