Top 15 Things to Do in Nara This Autumn

Many people recommend visiting Japan in spring for the cherry blossoms and pleasant pre-summer weather, but if they'd ever visited Nara in autumn, they'd tell you it's equally impressive. Bright and colourful, it is the season of cosmos flowers and golden leaves, unique harvest festivals, and scenic hikes.

The leaves don't usually begin changing colour until mid-October, but in the meantime here are our top recommendations to help you plan for an amazing autumn.

1. Instagram some deer

Nara Park

The deer that roam Nara Park are photo-worthy at any time of the year, but the autumn colours offer an extra-special backdrop for your deer snaps.

Nature & The Outdoors | Nara Park

2. See some lion dancing

Kadofusa Jinja Shrine Lion Dancing

The colorful climax to the Kadofusa Shrine's harvest festival.

Cultural Events | Soni Highland

3. Relax at a ryokan


A stay in a traditional Japanese inn is a must for any Japan vacation. Nara has a range of wonderful options with grounds and gardens that are simply stunning in autumn. Read our ryokan guide to find out more.

Ryokan | Nara Park

4. Explore the outdoors

Odaigahara Plateau

No season is more suited for hiking than autumn; and if you've only got time for one hike, make it Odaigahara!

Nature & The Outdoors | Odaigahara Plateau

5. Check out the autumn leaves in Yoshino

Mt. Takagi Observatory

Yoshino may be one of Japan's most famous cherry blossom spots, but it is well worth a visit in autumn too . The views around the lookout on Mt. Takagi are stunning.

Nature & The Outdoors | Yoshino

6. Stroll Nara's most beautiful garden

Isuien Garden

Simply stunning; autumn is without doubt the best time to visit Isuien. Nearby Yoshikien is also worth a visit.

Nature & The Outdoors | Nara Park

7. Unwind in a hot spring

Yumori Onsen (Hotel Suginoyu)

Nothing warms you up better than a relaxing soak in a hot spring on a chilly late-autumn day. Master the art of onsen with our hot spring guide.

Onsen & Public Baths | Kawakami

8. Picnic amongst the pampas grass at Soni Highland

Soni Highland

The golden pampas grass makes this off-the-beaten-path destination a huge hit in autumn. Learn all about the area here.

Nature & The Outdoors | Soni Highland

9. Experience a colourful twilight festival

Uneme Festival

Beginning with a costume procession from JR Nara Station, the Umeme Festival climaxes with a dragon boat display on Sarusawa Pond.

Cultural Events | Nara Park

10. Visit the terraced rice fields of Asuka

Cluster-Amaryllis Festival

Red, gold and green, these picturesque rice terraces make for a pleasant autumn stroll, especially during the Cluster-Amaryllis Festival.

Nature Events | Asuka

11. Discover the mysterious grounds of Ohnoji

Ohnoji Temple

The grounds of most Nara temples are famous for their autumn colours, but none have the amazing rock-carving that can be seen at Ohnoji. After visiting Ohnoji, explore the rest of the Murouji area.

History & Culture | Murouji Temple

12. Watch a game of Kemari

Autumn Kemari Festival

Part football, part hacky-sack, the priests of Tanzan Jinja play in colourful, oversized gowns as part of the shrine's autumn festival.

Cultural Events | Sakurai

13. Cycle through fields of cosmos flowers

Former Site of Fujiwarakyo Capital

Easily reached by bike from Kashihara Jingu, the fields at the site of the Fujiwara Palace fill with cosmos flowers come September.

History & Culture | Asuka

14. Taste the best seasonal cuisine

Ryori Ryokan Ogawa

Almost too ornate to eat, seasonal kaiseki cuisine is a taste sensation. Try some of the best at this Michelin-starred restaurant.

Ryokan | Yamato Koriyama

15. Take a trip to Hase

Hasedera Temple

An easy day-trip from Nara, Hase is home to Hasedera Temple, one of Nara's most scenic autumn spots.

History & Culture | Hase
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