Japan loves its seasons. Just as people get excited about cherry blossoms in spring, autumn brings its own special feeling. After the hot summer, the cooler weather of autumn is a welcome change. The trees change colors, turning the entire landscape into a mix of red, orange, and gold.
People might think of cherry blossoms when they think of Japan, but autumn is just as beautiful. The colors of the leaves seem to tell a story about nature and how it changes. From the top of Hokkaido to the bottom of Kyushu, forests look like they’re on fire because of the bright colors. Even in big cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, autumn makes its presence felt. Streets are lined with trees that turn yellow and red. Parks become popular spots where people hang out and enjoy the view.
Autumn is also a time when people think about life. As they see the leaves falling, they’re reminded that nothing lasts forever. Like in spring, when cherry blossoms fall quickly, autumn leaves show the beauty in things that don’t last. It’s a simple yet deep thought that many in Japan share during this season.
Autumn in Japan is more than just a change in weather. It’s a time to enjoy nature’s beauty and to think about life.
Koyo and Momiji: The Poetry of Leaves
While Japan’s spring cherry blossoms claim international fame, the autumn tapestry of ‘koyo’ and ‘momiji’ adds an ending to Japan’s seasonal narrative. Derived from the kanji characters (紅葉), both words whisper of ‘red leaves.’ While ‘koyo’ paints a broad picture of observing autumn leaves, ‘momiji’ dives specifically into the crimson heart of maple leaves. This celebration begins in Hokkaido around mid-September and flows south, enveloping Japan in a vibrant embrace through November.
Delving into Autumn’s Rich Legacy
The art of koyo traces its roots back to Kyoto’s imperial court during the early samurai eras. Here, nobles, while indulging in spring’s accessible cherry blossoms, yearned for autumn’s allure, often journeying into mountains for intimate communion with nature.
Such was the profundity of these experiences, which were deeply entrenched in Shinto beliefs, that they birthed a rich tapestry of art and literature, including classics like ‘The Tale of Genji’ by Murasaki Shikibu.
A Tour Through The Region’s Autumn Best:
- Korankei Gorge, Asuke Town: A jewel near Toyota City, Korankei boasts 4,000 maple trees. Their fiery autumn transformation is an event that beckons families and couples alike. Stalls line the vicinity, offering a taste of local delights, and floodlights cast a magical glow over the trees each night.
- Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Nagoya: A serene escape in the city, the gardens are framed with 500 Hananoki Maple trees. Their shimmering golds offer a smaller but equally enchanting experience compared to Korankei.
- Tokugawaen, Nagoya: Next to the esteemed Tokugawa Art Museum, this garden encapsulates the daimyo garden design from the Edo period. Streams, waterfalls, and a diverse palette of autumn leaves await visitors.
- Jokoji Park, Seto City: Beyond its rich history dating back to 1336, Jokoji Park offers breathtaking panoramic views. The autumn spectacle here is a feast for the senses.
- Shurakuen Park, Tokai City: Home to Japan’s grandest Buddha statue, this park is a spiritual haven accentuated by fall hues.
- Inuyama Castle, Inuyama: This historical castle, one of Japan’s few originals, is an exquisite backdrop to autumn’s vibrant tableau.
- Obara: Not just an autumn destination, Obara’s Shikizakura cherry trees bloom in spring and autumn. This rare occurrence of cherry blossoms amid autumn leaves is genuinely magical.
- Mount Horaiji: For the adventurers, this mountain promises a challenging trek leading to the Horaiji Temple. Autumn here isn’t just visual; it’s a multisensory experience.
- Yoro No Taki, Gifu: Beyond the cascading beauty of the waterfall, the surroundings, adorned in autumnal finery, create a mesmerizing tableau.
- Chausuyama: An escape near the Nagano border, Chausuyama’s slopes come alive in autumn. Nightly illuminations in October further elevate its charm.
Concluding Autumn’s Tale
From the poetic dances of leaves in Korankei Gorge to the solemn grace of the Buddha in Shurakuen Park, autumn in Japan is a celebration of life’s fleeting beauty. It’s a reminder that while moments are fleeting, their memories are timeless.