Experiencing Autumn Foliage in Japan

There are generally four seasons that a country may experience every year, namely, spring, summer, fall, and winter. Each season offers a different kind of experience due to the temperature that it provides and the effects that it gives to nature. The summer season would be the hottest months of the year while the winter season would be the coldest months of the year. The spring season serves as a respite from the sometimes harsh winter season while the fall season, sometimes also called the autumn season, is the cooling down time after the scorching heat caused by the summer season. Not every country experiences all four seasons; there are some that only experience one or two seasons depending on their location. Hence, many people travel just to be able to experience other seasons.

One of the countries in Asia that undergoes all four seasons is Japan. Most foreign tourists travel to Japan not just to experience the rich history and culture of the country, but also other experiences brought about by the seasons. The most popular seasons in Japan are the summer season and the winter season. This is because matsuris, also known as festivals, typically occur during summer while the winter season enables the people to go to the mountains to snow ski. On the other hand, there are also others who wait especially for the fall or autumn season as it is the time for the autumn foliage. It is the season when the temperature is no longer too hot and the colors of the trees change, ranging from orange to dark red. Many liken the autumn foliage of the fall season to the cherry blossoms of the spring season. Truly, Japan is a must-visit even during the fall season.

Autumn Months in the Year 2017 and 2018 in Japan

Certain parts of Japan experience the autumn season in different months of the year. The autumn season typically starts from late September and ends late November, depending on the region. The best places to be during the autumns season depends on the months of the year and the region. From late September to early October, the best places to be to experience the autumn season would be in Niseko located in Hokkaido, Hachimantai located in Iwate, Mt. Nasu-dake located in Tochigi/Fukushima, Togakushi Height located in Nagano, and Shiga Kogen, also located in Nagano.

From early October to Mid October, the places to be would be in Lake O-numa Quasi National Park located in Hokkaido, Mt. Zao-san located in Yamagata/Miyagi, Yatsugatake Height located in Nagano/Yamanashi, and Mt. Fuji, located in Shizuoka/Yamanashi. Following this season, from mid October to late October, the places to be would be Lake Towada-ko located in Akita/Aomori, Kinu-gawa River located in Tochigi, and Karuizawa located in Nagano.

As October ends and November begins, the places to be during the fall season would be Rasshaku-ji Temple located in Yamagatai, Lake Inawashiro-ko located in Fukushima, Lake Ashino-ko located in Kanagawa, Eihei-ji Temple located in Fukui, and Takachijo-kyo Gorge located in Miyazaki. Continuing to mid November, the places to be would be in Sendai located in Miyagi, Nagatoro-kyo Valley located in Saitama, Kenrokuen Garden located in Kanazawa, Ishikawa, and Momiji-dani Park located in Miyajima Island, Hiroshima.

Ending the fall season up to late November, the places to be would be Yoro Valley located in Chiba, Imperial Palace located in Tokyo, Arashiyama located in Kyoto, Eikando Temple located also in Kyoto, and Kumamoto Castle located in Kumamoto. These are only some of the places to visit depending on the months that one would be traveling to Japan during the autumn season.

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On the other hand, if one is concentrating on a specific area only, the most recommended places to experience the autumn season include Hokkaido and Tohoku. The national parks in Hokkaido are almost always filled with people who would like to witness the autumn foliage as these places are just too beautiful to miss when one is already in the area. The first place to actually experience the autumn season in Japan would be the mountains of Daisetsuzan National Park. Many locals go on a hiking trip into the higher elevations just around Mount Asahidake, Ginsendai, or Kogen Onsen during the early season and just stay in the lower elevations like Sounkyo during the later season. Other great places to visit in Hokkaido during the fall season would be Shiretoko National Park, Noboribetsu, and Onuma Park.

Tohoku is another great place to visit during the autumn season. The most popular places to go to in Tohoku during the fall season would be Hachimantai and Lake Towada. The Hachimantai mountains are the perfect spot to witness some of the most beautiful autumn colors in all of Japan. Other great spots to visit and take photos of are the summit of Mount Hachimantai, Tamagawa Onsen, Goshogake Onsen, and Nyuto Onsen. As for Lake Towada, along with its Oirase Stream, it is the most popular spot to witness autumn leaves in Aomori Prefecture. Also a must-visit are the Naruko Gorge and Urabandai.

Outdoor Events During the Fall Season Despite the Temperature

Aside from visiting parks, temples, and garden to witness the beauty of the autumn season in the country, there are also other events that occur during the fall season. Despite the weather being already a bit cold, the Japanese people still go out during the day and even at night to take photos and partake in occasions that come along with the autumn season. Among the most popular events that happen during the autumn season is the Takayama Autumn Festival. Held on the 9th and 10th of the month of October every year in Takayama, this festival is a parade of tall antique floats. With a history dating back to 350 years, this old ritual has floats carrying karakuri mechanical dolls that perform on top of the floats.

Another festival that occurs during the fall season would be the Niihama Taiko Festival. Held from the 16th to the 18th of the month of October every year, it is a parade of 45 floats that are shaped like taiko drums. These floats are quite heavy as they weight around two tons each. Also referred to as the “men’s festival,” every team displays their strength and spirit in a dangerous way wherein they toss the floats wildly into the air. While there is an intense taiko drumming in the background, the teams also ram the giant floats against one another.

One more festival that is held during the autumn season would be the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival. Held from the 7th to the 9th of the month of October in Nagasaki, this festival was highly influenced by both Chinese and European culture. Reflecting the interesting history of Nagasaki, this unique festival is composed of 59 neighborhood teams that perform only once every 7 years. This makes the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival different every single year.

Best Places to Witness Autumn Foliage When in Tokyo

By Kakidai (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

While Hokkaido and Tohoku are the most famous places to visit during the autumn season, Tokyo still holds a torch in being one of the most popular places to witness autumn foliage. Because the autumn season begins in the later months in Tokyo, people who would like to witness the autumn foliage are advised to visit Tokyo from November to December. One of the best spots to visit in Tokyo for the autumn foliage would be none other that Rikugien. This traditional Japanese landscape garden is high popular as an autumn color spot. There are three best views when in Rikugien, namely, from the hilltop viewpoint, along the canal lined with maple and near Tsutsuji no Chaya teahouse, and around the Togetsukyo Bridge.

Another popular autumn color spot in Tokyo would be the Koishikawa Korakuen. Also a traditional Japanese landscape garden, it is among the best autumn color spots in Tokyo that is highly populated during the fall season as people are eager to witness the autumn foliage. Best visited from late November to early December, its main pond is the best feature of the garden, as it is surrounded by numerous maple trees that turn into hues of red and orange during autumn season. Other great spots would be the three main ponds of Koishikawa Korakuen.

An avenue in Tokyo that is highly popular during the fall season is the Icho Namiki. A ginkgo avenue located in Meiji Jingu Gaien Park, Icho Namiki is very popular during the fall season as it is lined with uniquely trimmed trees that change hues once it is fall season. Instead of turning into red, the trees in this avenue turn into a golden hue, which a lot of people find really attractive. It is typical for people to walk under the leaves or just relax in the sidewalk cafes that stand along the street. This avenue begins only around one block from the Aoyama-Itchome Subway Station. Truly, this is a place of respite from the bustlng city.

Best Places to Witness Autumn Foliage in Osaka

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Osaka is another place worth visiting during the autumn season. One of the most popular autumn spots to visit in Osaka is none other than Minoh Falls. With a height of 33 meters, the falls are among the top 100 waterfalls in the country. The view is especially mesmerizing from mid November to early December as the falls are surrounded by red maple leaves during the autumn season. Located at Minoh Koen, Minoh-shi, Osaka, these waterfalls are often visited along with the autumn festival held in the area.

Another great autumn spot would be the Osaka Castle Park. Already, it is one of the most popular tourist spots all-year round, but come foliage season, it just becomes more pleasing to the eyes. The best time to visit the park is from late November to mid December, wherein all kinds of trees, ranging from gingko to cherry blossom, change colors to further accentuate the beauty of the castle. There is also an area on the eastern side of the park that is filled with gingko trees, wherein one can visit and see the beautiful trees up close. Located at 3-11 Osaka-jo, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka, Osaka Castle Park is definitely a must-see during foliage season.

Temples are also good spots to witness autumn foliage. Among the many temples in Osaka, the best temple to visit during the fall season would be Katsuoji. With an area of around 264,000 square meters, the temple is highly popular not just among the locals but also among international crowds as it symbolizes good luck for people who are facing challenges in their lives. Different kinds of trees surround the temple such as cherry blossom, maple, and gingko trees. From mid November to early December, Katsuoji is a sight to behold. Better to visit on the weekends and holidays as these are lit up at night, which gives off a mystical atmosphere.

Autumn Outfit: What to Wear During the Fall Season

Because the weather during the autumn season can be a bit cold, people generally wear coats when going out. Though these coats do not necessarily have to be as thick as the ones used during the winter season, having enough material to induce heat would be the best. Layering clothes is what is usually done to keep the body warm. For the bottoms, it is advisable to wear bottoms with thicker material so as to keep the legs warm and the blood circulating. Open-toed shoes are not exactly recommended, but this depends on how cold the day would be. Most people opt to wear closed shoes and boots. If one would be strolling along the park to witness the autumn foliage, closed shoes would be the best bet.

There are now tours and packages that are being offered in Japan for the autumn season. Having a guide would be most convenient if one would like to visit all the must-see places during the autumn season. Another great place that has autumn color spots would be Nikko, in case one would like to add more autumn spots on the list. Definitely, Japan is a place to visit during the autumn season to see just how beautiful the country can be with its autumn foliage.