The Difference in Meaning : Kaede vs Momiji vs Koyo

Autumn foliage is at its best from November to early December in Kyoto, which is one of the most popular fall leaves viewing spots in Japan.

The autumn foliage with red and yellow colors is referred to as “Koyo (紅葉)” in Japanese, and the Chinese character for the Japanese term, “紅葉” has another reading “Momiji (紅葉)”.

Although these Japanese words, Koyo and Momiji are represented by using the same Chinese characters “紅葉”, they are slightly different in meaning.

The Difference in Meaning between Koyo and Momiji

Momiji (紅葉)Momiji

As I wrote above, in general, “Koyo (紅葉)” refers to the fall foliage with red and yellow colors, while “Momiji (紅葉)” is the generic term for maples called “Kaede (楓)” whose autumn leaves have brighter red colors than others.

Especially, we Japanese call intense red maple leaves with deep slits that look kind of like the palm of babies “Momiji (紅葉)”. Thus, the color of Momiji leaves doesn’t include yellow.

Momiji and Kaede

By the way, when it comes to the relation between “Momiji (紅葉)” and “Kaede (楓)”, there is no difference in the classification of plants between them.

Meanwhile, Momiji is called Kaede in botany where there don’t exist the family and the genus named “Momiji (紅葉)”.


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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