What is the difference between 紅葉{こうよう} and 紅葉{もみじ}?

I want to chat about the autumn colors of leaves and I found these terms in Jisho. The definition reads only こうよう or only もみじ which is confusing to me. I was directed to the same page for both terms. Can I use them the same way? Thank you for answering my question.

1 Answer 1


Both readings are valid for the kanji 紅葉.

According to this page, the usage is as follows:

こうよう is mostly used to refer to the red/yellow autumn leaves before they fall, as well as to the scenery/images [involving them].

もみじ is mostly used to refer to the tree itself, or especially to the tree(s) that show the autumn colors

The first word can be used as a verb, the second cannot, i.e.:

〇 紅葉{こうよう}している楓{かえで} Autumn-colored maple tree(s)

× 紅葉{もみじ}している [wrong usage]

However the other way around is possible, i.e. you can call the trees kouyou when they show autumn colors.

The page then goes on to cover more related words, e.g. difference between かえで and もみじ trees and leaves.

P.S. To describe the activity of maple-tree viewing/hunting, say 紅葉{もみじ}狩{が}り and not 紅葉{こうよう}狩{が}り

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