Kaede vs Momiji vs Koyo: The Difference in Meaning

Autumn foliage is at its best from November to early December in Kyoto that 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 or Kanji for the Japanese term, “紅葉” actually has another reading “Momiji (紅葉)”.

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

Meaning: Koyo vs 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 plant classification between them.

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


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, 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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