The three most famous koyo spots in Aomori Prefecture are Mount Hakkoda, the Lake Towada area and the Oirase mountain stream. Be sure to visit at the in October to catch the fall colors at their best! Hakkoda is best from early to mid October; Lake Towada is best from mid to late October; and the Oirase stream is best at the end of October. As you can see in the picture of Lake Towada above, red, orange and golden leaves are the order of the season.
Nearby you can find Oirase Keiryu Onsen. It's especially great to see the fall colors and feel the seasonal atmosphere from inside the hot springs at the Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel.
The three most famous koyo spots in Iwate Prefecture are the Hachimantai plateau (pictured above), Genbikei Gorge and Geibikei Gorge. Hachimantai is best in early October, while the gorges look their best at the end of the month. We particularly recommend checking out the fall colors around the precipitous cliffs of Geibikei, which are only accessible by river boat.
There are two hot springs near these spots: Gozaisho Onsen and Matsukawa Onsen. You can see the trees of Hachimantai from Gozaisho Onsen, neatly arranged like the pattern on a woolen sweater.
The three most famous fall color spots in Akita Prefecture are Sukawa Kogen (best in early October), Oyasu Ravine (pictured, best mid to late October) and Kakunodate City (best in early November). Kakunodate features elegant samurai residences overflowing with historical ambiance that go perfectly with the koyo season. Oyasu Ravine offers a walking course at the base of its stone walls. It's a long walk down the stairs, but on the way you can see the fall colors of the valley from a number of unique angles.
For hot springs in the area, there are Sukawa Kogen Onsen, Oyu Onsen, Oyasukyo Onsen, Doroyu Onsen and Akinomiya Onsen-kyo. Anywhere you choose will have beautiful fall colors to see!
In Miyagi Prefecture, the best spot for fall foliage is Naruko Gorge. It's one of Japan's flagship koyo spots, so beautiful it's as if it's not from this world! The recommended photo spot is just before the Naruko Gorge rest house, at the lookout point. The sun should be behind you when you look, so you can take brilliant pictures without any glare.
The nearby hot springs are Nakayamadaira Onsen, Naruko Onsen and Sakunami Onsen. Nakayamadaira is closest to the lookout point.
The best fall foliage spots in Yamagata Prefecture are Mount Zao (best mid to late October) and Nishiagatsuma Sky Valley (best mid October). Fudo Falls, pictured above, is on the way to Nishiagatsuma Sky Valley; you can combine a robust waterfall and koyo viewing session for a winning collaboration. Zao Onsen and Kaminoyama Onsen are both nearby.
In Fukushima, the best koyo spots are Goshiki-numa (best in mid to late October) and an area known as Tengu no Niwa on the Bandai-Azuma Skyline (pictured, best early to mid October), and the Joudodaira area. Goshiki-numa in the Ura-Bandai area is especially recommended. While the glare of the sun can be piercing on clear, sunny days—and in some spots mist forms in the morning and evening—the contrast between the blue lake water and the fall leaves is beautiful.
For nearby onsen, check out Takayu Onsen and the Tsuchiyu Onsen.
Read more in Japanese from All About onsen (hot springs) guide Satoshi Fujita.