A Complete Guide to Attending the Korankei Momiji Festival at Korankei Gorge
Korankei Gorge is one of the most beautiful autumn foliage spots in Japan that is often missed! It is located in Asuke town in a small valley near Toyota City which makes it a relatively easy day trip from Nagoya or Toyota.
Korankei became famous for its fall foliage largely thanks to Kazuhisa Sanei, the head priest of Kojakuji Temple in the 17th century. During his time as head priest, he planted several maple and cedar trees in Korankei Gorge near the Tomoe River and up Mt. Iimori. More trees have been planted over the years in his honor and to enhance the beauty of Korankei Gorge. They now number at around 4,000 with 11 different maple varieties! Today when visiting in November you can enjoy this autumn foliage and the Korankei Momiji Festival.
In this post, we’ll cover how to get to Korankei Gorge, the best time to visit Korankei, where to eat, and things to do in Korankei. While we did visit Korankei for the momiji festival, I do want to note that you can still enjoy many of these things to do in Korankei year-round!
When is the Best Time to Visit Korankei?
The Korankei Momiji Matsuri takes place every year from November 1-30. However, if you want to visit Korankei to enjoy peak fall foliage it is best during Mid to Late November. On our first visit to Korankei, we visited in late November and the leaves were perfect!
The second best time to visit Korankei is during the wildflower bloom from late March until early April. Dog’s Tooth Violet (Katakuri no Hana) blooms over 5,000 sq. meters creating a beautiful light purple carpet of flowers.
If you can’t make it to Korankei during those months I recommend visiting Korankei in the late spring, summer, or fall so you can still see the beauty of the foliage and enjoy the outdoor activities in Korankei.
How to Get to Korankei
How to Get to Korankei by Train and Bus
Although you can visit Korankei on a day trip from Nagoya it is a little tedious to get there by public transportation. The fastest way to get to Korankei from Nagoya is by taking the Sakuradori Line from Nagoya Station to Gokiso Station. There you will transfer to the Tsurumai Line to Toyotashi Station. From Toyotashi Station you’ll transfer to Bus 61 at Platform 1 to Korankei. The journey costs around 1,500-2,000 yen one-way and takes a minimum of two hours.
From Toyota, it is easier to get to Korankei. You’ll start at Toyotashi Station and take Bus 61 at Platform 1 (platforms can periodically change so please check before leaving) for Asuke via Kuragaike Koen-mae, Korankei. The journey takes around an hour and costs ¥900 one-way.
Because Korankei is especially popular to visit in autumn I recommend leaving as early as possible to ensure you don’t spend your time in traffic while on the bus and to maximize your time in town.
How to Get to Korankei by Car
When we visited Korankei we drove there from Toyota which took around 30 minutes. It was easier than taking public transportation but parking can be a bit tricky. If you plan to drive to Korankei as a day trip from Nagoya or Toyota I would recommend leaving early so you can arrive no later than 8am.
If you are visiting during the Korankei Momiji Festival then as you enter the town you’ll see volunteers holding up signs for parking. The cost ranges anywhere from 500-1,500 yen depending on the distance from the entrance to the town. We parked at Asuke High School which was about a 10-minute walk to the Maple Tunnel.
Where to Eat in Korankei
During the Korankei Momiji Matsuri, you’ll find countless food stalls along Tomoehashi Bridge selling items like yakisoba, karaage, squid crackers, gohei mochi, and other street foods. However, there are also many small restaurants you can dine at in Korankei.
If you like unagi, barbecued eel, then I recommend 川鈴 which is an unagi restaurant serving large portions of unagidon, an eel rice bowl, and other unagi sets alongside pickles, soup, and other small appetizers.
Ichinotani is a restaurant near the Koran Bridge in a stunning forest setting that is perfect for dining after sightseeing. Ichinotani serves seasonal kaiseki cuisine which includes wild game such as boar, pheasant, deer, and local ayu sweetfish. You can make an advanced reservation on their website which I recommend if you plan to eat there because it gets very busy during the Korankei Momiji Festival.
Rojiura’s Cafe is a small Showa-era cafe in a back alley that serves curry, kakigori (Japanese shave ice), and other desserts. The curry flavor changes daily but it’s the perfect hearty meal to enjoy while sightseeing in Korankei.
For traditional sweets visit Bikkuriya which is a tea house that serves green tea, pickles, and various kinds of gohei mochi. Gohei mochi is a popular mochi in the Chubu Region it is typically flat to look like waraji, a type of sandal but some are rounded mochi served on a skewer. Bikkuriya has traditional gohei mochi which is covered in a paste made from miso, soy sauce, and crushed walnuts but they also have kinako (toasted soybean flour) gohei mochi!
Things to Do in Korankei
Enjoy Korankei Momiji Festival Activities
Korankei is most famous for the Korankei Momiji Festival which brings in thousands of visitors each year in November. On November 1st the city hosts an opening ceremony for the festival turning on the first night of autumn leaf illuminations. These illuminations cover Mt. Iimori in shades of gold and take place each evening of the festival from sunset until 9pm!
Throughout November there are other special events including dance performances, a marching band, tons of festival food stalls, a bamboo lantern lighting ceremony for Kojakuji, and the wishing candle ceremony where the Tomoe riverbank is decorated with over 800 candles and you can make wishes!
The event schedule and sightseeing map are updated each year on the Asuke Tourism Website so be sure to check there for current events!
Walk Through the Korankei Maple Tunnel
The most popular thing to do in Korankei is to walk through the idyllic maple tunnel. The maple tunnel is a row of trees, most of which were planted in the 17th century by Sanei-Osho, the head priest of Kojakuji. There are 4,000 trees along Mt. Iimori and a large portion of them are in the Maple Tunnel. The best part? It’s not hard to get to! It is located just over the Taigetsu Bridge and there is a small slope to get to the walking path.
From the Maple Tunnel, you can take three different walking courses that range from easy to more steep. These paths take you toward the top of Mt. Iimori to get an even better view of the fall foliage and some pass by historic sites along the way. My recommendation is to take the Historic Course Path which will take you by Kojakuji and Toyosaka Inari Shrine.
Location: Iimori Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi 444-2424, Japan // MAP
Visit Both of Korankei’s Iconic Bridges – Taigetsukyo & Koranbashi
The Taigetsukyo Bridge is referred to as the “symbol of Korankei” by locals. Not only is the bridge beautiful it offers a gorgeous viewpoint of the mountainside with Goshiki Momiji, where you can see five colors of leaves at once during the peak autumn season. This scene is beautiful next to the Tomoe River which the bridge is located directly above.
The second bridge to visit in Korankei is Koranbashi which is a beautiful red suspension bridge located just a short walk parallel to the Tomoe River. It also has terrific views of Korankei’s fall foliage.
Location: Miyadaira-1 Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi 444-2424, Japan // MAP
Visit Kojakuji Temple
Kojakuji is a temple of the Soto sect of Buddhism that is located on Mt. Iimori in Korankei. It was built on the remains of the Asuke family residence and established in 1427. It is where Sanei-Osho, the head priest of Kojakuji got the idea to plant maple and cedar trees in the area which created the autumn foliage scene of Korankei.
Each year the temple has seasonal autumn events where you can get special omamori (charms), ema (plaques to write prayers and wishes), goshuincho (stamp books at temples and shrines), and goshuin, handwritten calligraphy and stamps that are given at shrines and temples inside goshuincho.
Location: Iimori-39 Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi 444-2424, Japan // MAP
Learn Traditional Crafts at Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village
Right after Kojakuji and the maple tunnel, Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Korankei. The village is made up of many old houses and visitors can sign up for different workshops or learn more about Japanese handicrafts through over 10 demonstrations. Some of the crafts that guests can do include indigo dying, straw sandal making, paper making, handloom weaving, and more. Crafts are limited in November due to the autumn festival but you can still enjoy walking around the village!
Location: Iimori-36 Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi 444-2424, Japan // MAP
Hours: 9am-5pm admission ends at 4:30pm, closed Thursdays
Cost: 300 yen adults, 100 yen children, (crafts cost extra)
Climb to the Restored Asuke Castle & Visit the Castle Ruins
If you have some extra time I recommend making the climb to Askuke Castle. Asuke Castle, formerly known as Mayumiyama Castle, was one of seven castles of the Asuke clan during the Kamakura Period. The castle is said to have been built near the end of the 15th century by Suzuki Tadachika for the Asuke family who resided there for many years. It was later attacked many times by other clans including most famously by Tokugawa Ieyasu. In 1590 it was left abandoned until it was restored in the 1990s. Today you can visit the restored Asuke Castle which offers a terrific viewpoint of the mountains and learn more about the castle’s history. Make sure to get a free stamp before you leave!
Location: Suzawa-39 Asukecho, Toyota, Aichi 444-2424, Japan // MAP
Cost: 300 yen
Korankei is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places to enjoy autumn foliage in Japan! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.