The 2019 Autumn Foliage Forecast Maps Have Arrived!

Tokyo Culture Autumn travel 2019.09.09
Every year, as we hit September and Japan slowly starts to cool down for fall weather, people carefully watch for the first autumn leaves to turn red and orange.

Getting the Best Autumn Foliage Experience

Japan is home to many traditions connected to the natural world, and throughout the year it's popular for locals and visitors alike to go out and admire the plant life. In spring, of course, people flock to go cherry blossom viewing, and summer brings other flower-viewing (花見, "hanami") opportunities like hydrangeas and sunflowers. Fall, on the other hand, is when it's time to observe the leaves slowly changing colors, and turning verdant green hillsides into crisp mosaics of brown, orange, and red. They call the phenomenon of leaves changing color each year "kouyou" (紅葉), and to get the best views, of course there are nationwide forecasts!

The expected kouyou dates, when the foliage will be most gloriously colorful, is affected by the weather each year. Cooler summers mean earlier dates, but summers that stay hot and humid for too long can push things back. Take a look at the general predictions for 2019:

The 2019 Forecast

Northern Japan:
With summer heat lasting into September this year, even the mountains of northern Japan are feeling it. We're looking at slightly delayed kouyou.

Even October is looking to be unusually warm for Hokkaido, which means maple leaf viewing will be a little late despite Hokkaido's generally cooler temperatures.

Kyushu has had fairly normal weather this year, which means that kouyou should be happening at the same time as previous years! Of course, being farther south in Japan, this is still later than much of Japan.

Central Japan (Kanto, Kansai, Chubu, Chugoku, Shikoku):
November temperatures are looking a little warm, which might spread out and delay kouyou a little this year.


The Best Resources This Fall

Since the weather affects the changing leaves so much every year, various Japanese organizations release yearly forecast maps, which are great for planning your kouyou outings.

Weather News releases maps each year that concentrate on the fall foliage of maple and gingko trees. You can see that their color-coded maps, including this maple leaf forecast, are easy to read and all the information is pretty clear at a glance!
Jorudan, on the other hand, focuses on locations instead of forecasts. Their map has links for major cities across the country, and a click on any of them will lead you to the very best kouyou spots in that city. No worries if your Japanese is rusty, the map works really well with automatic google translate!
If you're not sure where you want to make a kouyou expedition, Jorudan is a great resource. We have a few recommendations of our own, though!
The Japan Weather Association releases an elegant map each year, which also works nicely with google translate. It includes frequent updates to show you what the kouyou situation is like right now, all over the country, along with links to regional pages. That means it gives you a little of both kinds of info, real-time updates and in-depth guides. Checking in regularly will let you see the leaves change color as it's happening in real life.
So where will you go for kouyou this year? With national airlines offering domestic flights for cheaper than ever (as long as you're a foreign traveler), Japan is your oyster! Just remember to glance through our Japan Travel Checklist before you arrive!

If you do any kouyou appreciation, make sure to let us know all about your experience on twitter, instagram, and facebook! We'd love to see pictures from your trip.
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