As a fun day-trip destination located northeast of Tokyo, Saitama offers easily-accessible strolling and hiking escapes. The area is mostly known as a residential hub, but it has a wealth of nature and culture to explore. Signs of the Edo Period (1603-1867) remain in famous historic towns such as Kawagoe, while areas like Chichibu offer beautiful hiking trails and seasonal flowers. As a less crowded alternative to other popular autumn destinations, this prefecture is the perfect place to go to spend a relaxing day in nature. 

1. Nakatsu Gorge (Chichibu)

This gorge carved by the Niyodo River features stunning displays of red and yellow leaves that contrast with emerald clear waters. Visitors can walk along the gentle 2.3-kilometer path by the riverside, which ends at the 20-meter-tall Uryu no Taki waterfall.

Best time to go: Mid to late November

tsukiji momiji park

Tsukiji Momiji Park in Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture (Photo: Hideya HAMANO)

2. Tsukinoishi Momiji Park (Chichibu)

Dozens of maple trees densely packed together transform this park into a majestic landscape every autumn. Trees are also lit up at night to add to the experience. It’s located along the famous Arakawa River yet easily accessible on foot from the station. After viewing the autumn leaves, you can also visit the prefectural natural science museum nearby.

Best time to go: Mid to late November

Nagatoro Iwadatami

Nagatoro Iwadatami in Saitama Prefecture (Photo: Guilhem Vellut)

3. Nagatoro Iwadatami (Chichibu)

Visitors can hike and admire the leaves from the numerous vantage points along this valley. They can also ride the ropeway to the top of the 497-meter-high Mount Hodo or watch the nighttime illumination at Tsukinoishi Momiji Park. For those seeking more fun, they can join a river boating tour on traditional boats that go about 3 kilometers down the Arakawa River, running through the Nagatoro Valley.

Best time to go: Early to late November

Musashi-Kyuryo National Government Park

Musashi-Kyuryo National Government Park in Namegawa, Saitama Prefecture (Photo: S:D Photos)

4. Musashi-Kyuryo National Government Park (Namegawa)

This is the first government park in Japan and consists of ponds, a swampland and grassland in addition to a diverse array of plants and animals. In the autumn, 500 maple trees of 22 varieties are illuminated at night to create magical scenery. Visitors can also enjoy the largest air trampoline in Japan at Ponpoko Mountain as well as athletic adventure courses and places to play in the water.

Best time to go: Mid to late November

5. Omiya Park (Saitama City)

Maple, metasequoia and ginkgo trees all change colors in the fall at this park known for its cherry blossoms in the spring. Visitors can admire the reflection of the diverse colors in the Funayu Pond and stroll through the serene Japanese garden and Freedom Square.

Best time to go:  Mid-November to early December

6. Kita-in Temple (Kawagoe)

Although the temple and Edo Castle ruins are beautiful throughout the year, the gardens are especially breathtaking in autumn. “Momiji-yama Garden” was meant to replicate Momiji-yama at the old Edo Castle.

Best time to go: Late November to early December

Heirinji Temple

Heirinji Temple in Niiza, Saitama Prefecture

7. Heirinji Temple (Niiza)

Founded in 1375 by a monk named Sekishitsu Zenkyu, this old temple contains many cultural properties, including its three gates. The place can get crowded during the autumn, so visitors should arrive after 9am if they want to have a calmer experience among the fall foliage.

Best time to go: Late November to early December

Jomine park

Jomine Park in Kamikawa, Saitama Prefecture (Photo: jun oha)

8. Jomine Park (Kamikawa)

This is one of only a handful of places in Japan where visitors can view winter sakura and red maple leaves at the same time. The cherry blossoms and autumn foliage are lit from dusk until 9 pm and visitors can enjoy live performances and festival stalls.

Best time to go: Mid to late November

Metsa Village

Metsa Village in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture

9. Metsa Village (Hanno)

Metsa Village is a theme park with an abundance of trees that change colors every autumn. Around Lake Miyazawa the vivid red maple trees create a stark contrast to the blue waters. Visitors can admire the scenery of Moomin Valley Park across Lake Miyazawa.

Best time to go: Mid-November to mid-December

Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest Park. (Photo: lydiarei via

10. Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest Park (Hanno)

Also from the Moomin world and also in Hanno, Saitama, the Tove Jansson Akebono Children’s Forest Park is a separate park. It takes about 20 minutes by car or about an hour on public transport from the Metsa Village, but this park is a lovely addition for those wanting a Moomin-themed day trip. Whimsical and cute in any season, it becomes a beautiful scenery of warm earthy tones in autumn.

Best time to go: Mid-November to mid-December

Marugami Falls

Marugami Falls in Ogano, Saitama Prefecture (Editorial credit: Masa Loner)

11. Marugami Falls (Ogano)

Visitors can admire a mixture of fresh greenery and autumn foliage at the only waterfall in Saitama Prefecture that is on the list of Japan’s 100 best waterfalls. They can stroll along the 1.5-kilometer promenade of the 76-meter-tall waterfall, which is divided into three platforms.

Best time to go: Mid to late November.