The best spots to see the changing of leaf colors from green to red, oranges and yellow start from the north down to the lower parts of Japan starting August to early September. But if you find yourself travelling to Kyushu in late September, perhaps due to a seat sale or a flash discount for travel miles you accumulated through your credit card, do not fret! You can still see koyo in the southern parts of Japan even in late September.
In fact, there are a lot of places where you can still see the remainder of autumn before they turn to winter season. One of the best places to go to is the Mifuneyama Rakuen.
Mifuneyama Rakuen annually holds an autumn illumination festival from early November until December, making it an ideal destination for koyo viewing even in late November. Here, you can enjoy the view of a beautiful pond surrounded by trees in different shades of autumn – from brilliant reds to fiery oranges and buttery yellows. Behind the park looms the Mifune Mountain, also called Mt. Karafune, which translates to “chinese ship” because of its resemblance to one. There is also a sweets and tea shop where you can relax, eat and drink tea while enjoying the magnificent view.
How to get there?
Mifuneyama Park is accessible via JR Train. It is about 86.2 km from Hakata City and is a 1 hour and 12 minute ride from Hakata Station via train. Get off at Takeo-Onsen station and ride a free shuttle to Mifuneyama Park. The bus ride takes 10 minutes.
Regular Fees: 400 yen for adult, 200 yen for elementary school student and younger
Seasonal Fees: 800 yen for adult, 400 yen for elementary school student and younger (April 1 to May 5); 500 yen for adult, 300 yen for elementary school student and younger (November 1 to 31)
Opening Hours: Open daily from 8:00 – 17:00 (closes at 17:30 between April 1 and May 5)