Dramatic autumn scenes across Gunma
Last updated: December 21, 2020
Autumn brings clear weather, crisp temperatures, ideal hiking conditions, and panoramas of colorful leaves to Gunma, just a short trip from Tokyo. Between October and November, the prefecture’s deciduous trees turn a riot of colors. From manicured temple gardens lined with Japanese maples to wild, mountainous landscapes of beech forests, Gunma becomes a spectrum of foliage.
Fukiware no Taki Falls are dramatic in every season, but the impact is amplified from late October to early November when the forests surrounding these 7-meter-tall, 30-meter-wide falls take on intense autumn tones. The best place to view this spectacle is from the bedrock beside the falls, where you can see the scene up close. Ukishima Bridge, a suspension bridge over the ravine, provides views over the surrounding nature. Look out for rainbows over the waterfall, which adds to the colors on display.
This tranquil temple provides exceptional photo opportunities in autumn. Its garden is full of more than 100 maple trees, which turn rich autumnal colors in November. The trees are most exceptional when viewed from the main hall, reflected in the highly polished, mirror-like floor. Hotokuji Temple is a Zen Buddhist temple and dates back to the 15th century.
Hiking across the sloped wetlands of Yoshigadaira Wetlands in early to mid-October reveals a tapestry of colors. The wetlands are covered with Erman’s birch trees, which turn an intense golden yellow. This shade contrasts with the predominantly red and orange hues of maple, beech, and horse chestnut found throughout Japan. Ponds and grasslands backdropped by the steaming peak of volcanic Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane create a relaxed ambiance with fewer crowds than many of Japan’s best-known leaf-peeping spots.
Kajika Bridge is a highlight of the historic town of Ikaho Onsen. Japanese maples surround this vermillion footbridge near the town. From late October through mid-November, the fiery foliage creates a quintessentially Japanese scene. The trees are illuminated at night during this season, adding a dose of romance.
See autumn leaves from above on the Tanigawadake Ropeway, which whisks you 1,319 meters up Mt. Tanigawa. A carpet of colored trees unfolds below in mid-October. Head to Ichinokurasawa Gorge, a majestic V-shaped ravine on the north side of the mountain, for another noteworthy leaf-peeping spot.
The rugged peaks, cliffs, and rock formations of Mt. Myogi rise like sculptures. This sight is even more remarkable in early to mid-November when the mountainside is covered in colorful leaves. The mountain is striking from its base, but the best way to see the spectacle is by climbing it. There are trails to suit both beginners and advanced climbers.
The banks of the Agatsuma River are lined with dense deciduous forests. You can walk a 2.5-kilometer trail past the trees and waterfalls of Agatsumakyo Gorge. From late October to early November, the colorful forest contrasts with the river’s intense blue tones.
Takatsudokyo Gorge is best viewed from the Hanetaki Bridge, particularly when its forests turn shades of light green, yellow, orange, and burgundy in early to late November. Stroll the 500-meter walkway that runs along the Watarase River to see boulder formations on the river’s bedrock.
This retro trolley train runs along a scenic line that links Kiryu in Gunma with Nikko in Tochigi, a neighboring prefecture. The 80-minute journey covers 44 kilometers of beautiful countryside, including the Watarase Gorge. The route is especially popular in autumn when foliage along the route turns a spectrum of orange, yellow, and red.
The foliage along the Watabe Valley Railway begins around Ashio Station in Tochigi at the end of October. It takes about another month for leaves around Omamama Station to turn.