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Top 10 Spots for Autumn Foliage in Shimane

What does straight come to your mind when you think about Autumn?
To me it’s Momijigari!

“Momijigari” is one of our favorite activities of the season that involves viewing and admiring stunning autumn colours!
Momiji is maple leaves and gari means hunting. Put together, it means “hunting for maple leaves” but we don’t actually “hunt” them.
By simply looking at them and admiring the way they are, we celebrate the arrival of Autumn.

Whether it’s just a picnic at a park or a garden viewing, or an intense hiking at a mountain, Momijigari is recommended for any nature lovers!

In this article, we introduce 10 places in Shimane that are popular among locals for Momijigari.

Adachi Museum of Art

Best from mid November to early December.
Having been selected as the #1 Japanese garden in Japan for 20 years in a row by an American magazine of Japanese gardens, Adachi Museum of Art in Yasugi city is a must visit especially during autumn. The garden is a 5 million hectare in size, keeping every little details maintained with an extra care. Each season shows different sceneries of the garden. Anytime is the best time for you to visit, but especially in autumn, you can enjoy more colors added to the garden with red, yellow and orange.

The gardens are displayed through some windows with just the size of the hanging scroll so it looks almost like one big painting. But not just any painting. This one is alive and changes as the season change.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple

Best from mid-November to early December.
The temple is famous for letting go of evil spirits. In autumn, there gets full of people engaging themselves in momijigari as this iconic three-storied pagoda shows a beautiful contrast of colors with golden gingko leaves and fiery maple leaves. Without a doubt, it will make an amazing addition to your camera roll! Along the street up to the temple are inns and shops where you can try Buddhist vegetarian cuisine.

Yuushien Garden

Best from mid to late November.
One of the biggest gardens in San'in area (Shimane and Tottori prefecture) turns full red all over with Momiji leaves during autumn. The view is simply overwhelming. There is an indoor café called "Ichibou" that serves original blend coffee, matcha ginseng tea, and some delicious sweets, with the garden just next to it for you to enjoy the view at the same time. Only in autumn, you can see the pond decorated around by autumn foliage.

The night illumination is held every year from mid to late November. There is something more alluring about the autumn foliage lit up in the dark to what is already beautiful during the day.

Gakuenji Temple

Best from mid to late November.
Being surrounded by mountains covered in red and brown, the Gakuenji Temple is famous for its momijigari spot. Leaves from there are relatively small, making it look as though a dot painting of red, orange, and yellow leaves when they are piling up. The path from the gate up to the top is like a tunnel of autumn leaves, which you should check out!

Kingenji Temple

Best from late October to early November.
The must-see at Kingenji in autumn is a huge golden ginkgo tree with a height of 33m and a width of 150cm. It is said to be 700 years old. Sitting aside with the straw-roofed house, it will make a perfect photo spot. Don't miss out on "the upside down ginkgo tree" reflected upside down on the surface of watered fields. Toward the end of the season, leaves start falling off, slowly creating a bright yellow carpet underneath.

Oninoshitaburui Gorge

Best from late October to mid-November.
The gorge is a collection of oddly shaped boulders that are the result of the Hii River's long history of erosion. It's designated as a National Natural Monument. Enjoy the autumn mountain view from a nerve-wracking bridge called "Shitaburui no Koi tsuri bashi", or an accessible walking trail.

Okuizumo Orochi Loop

One of the biggest spiral bridges in Japan, Okuizumo Orochi Loop is our absolute favorite to go for momiji gari. It's named after "Yamata-no-orochi", the giant serpent from the famous story of Japanese mythology. From the observatory deck, you get an amazing view of mountains in autumn color. There is a roadside station, restaurants, and a museum for iron sculpture nearby.

Jozenji Temple

Best from mid-November to early December.
Ranked as #2 in size in Shimane, a huge ginkgo tree at Jozenji Temple in Oda City is a must-see during autumn. This tree is approx. 600 years old and every year it creates a beautiful carpet of gingko leaves at the end of it. Take your kids out and let them play around with fallen leaves or a tree swing!

Hikimikyo Gorge

Best from late October to mid-November.
Known as a hidden gem amongst the locals, Hikimikyo Gorge is home to huge cedar trees and beech trees. Feel the autumn breeze in your face while driving or cycling through the Gorge.

Hori Garden

Best in mid-November.
Designated as National Places of Scenic Beauty, Hori Garden is enjoyable throughout the year from green leaves in spring to fireflies in summer, and to white snowfall in winter. This place never fails to fascinate people with the beauty that nature has to offer, though the most recommended season is autumn. Especially when you look down at the garden through the shoji windows from upstairs, the garden looks like a work of art.
This scenery just makes sense for Tsuwano to be called "Little Kyoto".