In Japan, autumn is known for its ever-changing tapestry of brilliant hues. While there are countless autumn foliage hotspots across Japan, this article will introduce those in the southern region of Kyushu. Owing to its unique climate, autumn in Kyushu extends well into early December, making it a haven for fall enthusiasts seeking to spend more time with their favorite season.
When is the Best Time For Autumn Foliage in Kyushu?
Situated in the southern part of Japan, Kyushu’s autumn foliage can be enjoyed from late October through early December. This gives Kyushu a whole extra month of autumn splendor compared to places like Hokkaido in Japan’s north, where the colors reach their peak in early November. So, if your travel plans don’t line up with Japan's typical fall foliage timings, turn your gaze towards Kyushu!
Kyushu's autumn foliage can be enjoyed in an array of settings across its seven prefectures, from deep wilderness to tranquil city parks and temples and even luxurious hot spring resorts. This article will introduce two of the best spots in Kyushu for autumn foliage, plus a hot spring ideal for autumn!
Best Autumn Foliage Spots in Kyushu: Maizuru Park (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka)
Maizuru Park is most renowned for its enchanting cherry blossoms in the spring, but it also captivates with its resplendent autumn foliage. From early to late November, a breathtaking transformation takes place as a multitude of trees, including ginkgo, cherry, zelkova, and Japanese maple, transition into a gorgeous gradient of golden yellows and fiery reds.
Best Autumn Foliage Spots in Kyushu: Takachiho Gorge (Takachiho Town, Miyazaki)
Miyazaki's mystical township of Takachiho is known as the abode of Japanese deities and is steeped in legends recounting Japan's very creation. Dominating the landscape is the iconic Takachiho Gorge, designated as a spot of national scenic beauty and a natural monument. The soaring cliffs of this V-shaped gorge reach staggering heights of 100 meters at their peak and maintain an average height of 80 meters throughout. It meanders gracefully for approximately 7 kilometers from east to west and was formed by the powerful volcanic forces of Mt. Aso.
Kurokawa Onsen: Where Hot Springs and Autumn Beauty Align
Japan's hot springs are a highlight for many tourists visiting the country. And what better way to enjoy them than under a canopy of autumn leaves? Kurokawa Onsen in Kumamoto Prefecture is where you’ll find such a scene. Tucked between lush mountains, this idyllic isolated village is cleverly designed to feel like a single interconnected ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), and it undergoes a stark transformation with each season.
Kurokawa Onsen is home to around 30 ryokan, each boasting its own rustic outdoor hot spring bath that harmonizes with the natural surroundings. Be sure to grab an Onsen Hopping Pass, which grants access to any three open-air baths in town. And if you visit around late October, you’ll be treated to radiant displays of fall foliage, which dress the streets and baths in dazzling colors sure to leave you spellbound.
Savoring Autumn with a Delectable Feast
Ginza Tenichi (Hakata / Japanese Cuisine)
Tempura is a staple of Japanese cuisine. While it may be a simple dish consisting of deep-fried ingredients coated in a flour-based batter, the quality of tempura can vary significantly from one restaurant to another. Top-tier tempura has a perfectly crispy batter and lightly cooked, juicy fillings, which is a surprisingly difficult balance to achieve.
For those seeking out some of the best tempura in Japan, you'll find precisely this level of excellence at Ginza Tenichi Hakata. Its main restaurant is situated in Tokyo's Ginza district and boasts a long history dating back to 1930. Its Hakata branch has earned its own reputation by specializing in a diverse array of seasonal delicacies hailing from Kyushu, a region abundant in culinary treasures.
Highlights include conger eel from the waters of Tsushima and Maruju sweet potato from Kagoshima, which are brought to their peak potential by the honed talents of the chefs. If you're looking to indulge in a variety of flavors, the [Tenichi Zen] (3,960 JPY) platter is a superb choice, as it consists of seven tempura creations plus sashimi, salad, and more. Best of all, the prices here are a bit more budget-friendly compared to the main Ginza restaurant, letting you feast without guilt.
Pair your tempura with French white wine carefully selected by the Ginza restaurant's own sommelier. Or dive into the array of local sake plus the restaurant’s own original sake produced in Akita Prefecture, all picked to enhance the flavors of tempura.
Average price: [Dinner] 5,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,000 JPY
Access: Directly-connected to JR [Hakata Station]! On the 9th floor of JR HAKATA CITY AMU PLAZA HAKATA
Address: 1-1 Hakataeki Chuogai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka city, Fukuoka Map
Japanese Restaurant Ryo (Miyazaki / Japanese Cuisine)
Japanese Restaurant Ryo specializes in authentic Japanese cuisine served in a casual setting. The owner, who honed their skills at renowned Japanese restaurants in Osaka, passionately weaves a variety of local ingredients from their home of Miyazaki into their dishes. One recommendation is the [Three Kinds of Assorted Fresh Fish] (1,710 JPY), which is a selection of sashimi from natural local fish from the morning's catch, best enjoyed with a pinch of salt instead of soy sauce.
You can also opt for other local delicacies such as [Miyazaki Beef A5 Grade Sukiyaki] (3,300 JPY), made from the rare and exquisite Miyazaki beef, or [Miyazaki Jidori Chicken Tataki] (830 JPY). As a final touch, the restaurant's distinctive plates were personally designed by the owners themselves and are a feast for the eyes.
Plus, the surprisingly affordable [2-Hour All-You-Can-Drink] (2,315 JPY) option is sure to further elevate your experience. It features a selection of 50 sake varieties from across Japan and an impressive collection of 190 Miyazaki shochu options, allowing you to compare and find your personal favorites.
Japanese Restaurant Ryo
Average price: [Dinner] 4,000 JPY
Access: Aim for our white lantern on the Tachibanadori Avenue. A free pick up service is available by our staff if it is close
Address: 3-1-24, Tachibanadori-nishi, Miyazaki, Miyazaki Map