Enjoying Nagano in Autumn Enjoying Nagano in Autumn
Enjoying Nagano in Autumn

Snow-capped mountains blush with reddening leaves as delicious fruits and vegetables ripen, ready for harvest. Feast your eyes and stomach on the bounties of fall.

Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of the year in Nagano. Visitors from around the country flock to Nagano’s highlands and mountainous areas for momiji-gari (autumn leaf-viewing). The many ropeways around the prefecture make it easy to see golden alpine scenery or hike around the Japanese Alps.

And who could forget the bounty of harvest season? Fresh apples and grapes are ready for the picking in idyllic orchards; fields of mature buckwheat become delicious, aromatic soba noodles; and chestnuts are baked into tantalizing desserts.

See some of our favorite scenic spots and places to go fruit-picking below!

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Autumn Scenery
Fruit Picking

Best Places to see Autumn Colors in Nagano

From September through November, autumn colors slowly spread from the mountain tops to the valley and head south. Below are some of Nagano’s best places to see autumn scenery. Enjoy Nagano’s Autumn Scenery by Ropeway

In early Autumn, you may have to look in the highest reaches of the mountains for the season’s most vivid colors. While some hoof it up the mountains clad in hiking gear, not everyone has the time and energy to find autumn’s splendor on foot. For the rest of us, reaching Nagano’s highlands is as easy as riding one of its many ropeways.

Senjojiki Cirque

The steep slopes of the Senjojiki Cirque (pictured) were carved by glaciers some 20,000 years ago. During autumn, the cirque becomes a colorful tapestry interwoven with the red leaves of the mountain ash trees. Autumn colors can be seen from early September to early November.

Ryuo SORAterrace

Located at the top of Ryuoo Ski Park’s ropeway lift is the 1,770m-high SORA terrace. It has stunning views of the surrounding mountains as well as unkai, a sea of clouds that appears below. Best colors are between late September to early October.

Hakuba Mountain Harbor

Hakuba Mountain Harbor sits on the top of Iwatake Snow Field in the Hakuba Valley. It is open in both winter and summer, offering excellent views of the Hakuba Sanzan mountains. The best time to visit, however, is during autumn, when its colored foliage begins to cascade down the mountains as snow crowns the mountaintops. At their peak, around mid- to late October, you can see Hakuba’s famous three-tiered autumn scenery: white snow, red leaves, and green forest below.

Hike through Autumnal Woods

Nagano is a hiker’s paradise with hundreds of well-maintained trails woven in its mountainous landscape, and autumn is one of the best times to go hiking in Japan. There are fewer bugs, the weather is cool and dry, and the vibrant foliage is just a delight to see.


One of Japan’s most popular autumn destinations. From the basin of Kamikochi (pictured), you can see gorgeous fall colors and the snow-capped Hotaka mountains from early to mid-October.

This pristine natural environment has hours upon hours of trails. You can walk along the riverside and visit the numerous ponds and marshes along the basin, or embark on a day hike to the top of nearby Mt. Yake. Wherever you go, excellent scenery will follow.

Akasawa Forest Park

In the Kiso Valley outside of Agematsu Town is the Akasawa Forest Park. These hinoki cypress woods were treasured for their logs, and are still used today in the rebuilding of Meiji Shrine. Walk or take the logging railroad that runs through the forest and take in its sights and fragrant aromas. Best colors are from late October to early November.

Happo Pond

While there aren’t any trees along the hike up to Happo Pond, you can see plenty of autumn leaves on the surrounding mountains and in the valley below. In autumn, the peaks of the alps are powdered with fresh snow. Enjoy the contrast of white snow, golden leaves, and blue sky. Best colors are from late September to late October.

Get in Touch with Japan’s Past

Ancient trails and towns remain nestled in Nagano’s mountains, wholly untouched by the passage of time. The Nakasendo road, walked by travelers and merchants during the Edo period, is still shrouded in forest along with many of the towns that supported it. The shrines of Togakushi, once venerated and visited by mountain ascetics seeking enlightenment, sit still under the shade of giant cedars.

The vibrant colors of autumn bring these places to life. At the same time, an eerie silence hangs over them. Are these places part of the present, or have you slipped back into the past?


Located about 1,200 meters high, Togakushi’s highlands are covered in pristine forest that were once home to ascetic monks and ninja. Togakushi’s most popular sights include Kagami Pond and the Okusha Shrine. Best colors are between mid- and late October.

The Nakasendo

The Nakasendo runs through the Kiso Valley on its way from Kyoto to Tokyo. Of the 69 post towns along the road, 11 are located in Kiso. Narai, Kiso Fukushima, Tsumago, and Magome are particularly popular among tourists.

The Kiso Valley is narrow, steep, and covered in forest. From any of the post towns along the route, you can see walls of trees rising on either side of you. From early October to early November, the trees turn red and yellow, and colorful decorations, such as freshly harvested persimmons, are hung outside local inns and shops.

The Ruins of Komoro Castle at Komoro Kaikoen

Komoro Kaikoen is home to the remains of Komoro Castle. The keep no longer exists, but its maze-like stone walls still stand covered in moss. It is well-known for its cherry blossoms and autumn leaves as well. Best colors are between late October and mid- November.

Picking Apples and Grapes in Nagano

From August onward, grapes and apples are ripe for the picking in Nagano.

While you can buy these fruits in stores around the country, including in Nagano’s own store in Ginza, there’s nothing like taking a bite out of a juicy apple or grape pulled right off the vine.

There are places all around the prefecture where you can pick fresh fruit. See some of our recommended orchards and farms for fruit-picking here.