Autumn is the time of year when the rich greens of summer gives way to rich reds, oranges and golds. Sendai and Matsushima have their most vibrant colors in November. The fall leaves are beautiful in daytime, and positively otherworldly at night. Matsushima has an annual light-up event centered around the traditional maple-lined rock gardens of Entsuin Temple. Akiu Onsen has two autumn illumination events, one taking place at the expansive Tenshukaku Gardens, and the other illuminating the trees and river running through Rairaikyo Gorge. Of these autumn color destinations, Zuihoden Mausoleum, with its wonderfully atmospheric forested grounds, is the last to peak.
Table of contents
Autumn Leaves at Night
Zuihoden Autumn Light Up・瑞鳳殿秋のライトアップ
Zuihoden, the final resting place of the first three rulers of Sendai is illuminated for just a few days each autumn. If you’re lucky, an armor-clad samurai re-enactor will be there to regale visitors with tales from Sendai’s rich history.
Dates: November 18–27, 2022
Hours: 15:30–16:50 (15:30–18:00 on weekends and national holidays)
Admission: ¥570 adults, ¥410 high school students, ¥210 children ages elementary to junior high
Access: 20-minute walk from Omachi Nishi-koen Station (Sendai Subway Tozai Line)
Matsushima Fall Colors Light Up at Entsuin・円通院の松島紅葉ライトアップ
The gardens of Entsuin Temple are lit up nightly, accompanied by live musical performances. The music and gentle illumination create a mesmerizing, otherworldly atmosphere where visitors can revel in losing track of time. The highlight is the mirror-like reflection of the foliage on the surface of the heart-shaped pond.
Dates: October 29–November 23, 2022
Hours: 17:00–21:00 (last entry 20:45)
Admission: Adults ¥1,300 (¥2,000 for a ticket that includes a visit to the Zuiganji Temple Light Up)
Access: 5-minute walk from Matsushimakaigan Station (Senseki Line)
Akiu Night Museum・秋保ナイトミュージアム
This spacious Tenshukaku Gardens won a Darc lighting design award for this creative and modern illumination. The on-site footbath offers a slightly elevated perspective from which to view the garden as you soak.
Dates: October 22–November 23, 2022
Hours: 17:00–21:00 (last entry 20:30)
Admission: ¥1,000 adults & children ages junior high & up (¥1,500 on weekends and national holidays), ¥500 children ages 4 to junior high
Access: About 60 minutes by bus from Sendai Station, followed by a 15-minute walk. From Sendai Station West Exit Bus Pool Stop #8 (仙台駅西口バスプール８番), board bus bound for Akiu Onsen (秋保温泉). Alight at Akiu Onsen Yumoto (秋保温泉湯元) bus stop. Timetable here.
Rairaikyo Momiji Path Light Up・磊々峡もみじのこみちライトアップ
Enjoy a walk along an illuminated forest path as you listen to the sounds of the river rushing through Rairaikyo Gorge. There is a free hot spring foot bath near the entrance.
Dates: October 22–November 13, 2022
Hours: 17:00–19:00 (canceled in the event of rain)
Access: About 50 minutes by bus from Sendai Station, followed by a short walk. From Sendai Station Ekimae Bus Stop #8 (仙台駅前8番のりば), board bus bound for Akiu Onsen (秋保温泉). Alight at Akiu Sato Center (秋保・里センター). Timetable here.
Matsushima Autumn Colors Light Up at Kanrantei・観瀾亭の松島紅葉ライトアップ
The grounds of Kanrantei, a 400-year-old samurai tea house, are illuminated in autumn. It is also open for tea and desserts during special evening hours (generally Fridays and weekends) with no reservation required.
Dates: October 29–November 23, 2022
Hours: 17:30–21:00 (last entry 20:45)
Access: 4-minute walk from Matsushimakaigan Station (Senseki Line)
October 17, 2019