by Francois, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2010/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
After reporting from Kyoto for the last three days, I spent one last day in the Kansai region investigating the state of the autumn colors. Today I went to Mino Park, located about 30 minutes north of Osaka station.
Mino Park is located in a forested area of northern Osaka, and consists of hiking trails through the woods and some temples. The main hiking trail runs alongside a river that passes through a valley and the entire trail is about an hour's hike from Mino Train Station to Mino waterfall, a 33 meter waterfall that has some surrounding maples. Along the way there are a few shops and temples.
Although there was a fair bit of color, I was not blown away by the leaves at Mino despite being informed that the area is at its color peak at the tourist information center. My personal feeling toward the area today was likely because of spending the last few days at some of Kyoto's best koyo spots at the height of their autumn colors. Mino still had many nice photo opportunities and the hike through the forest was pleasant in the cool fall air. The park should continue to be at its peak through the weekend but the state of the colors will gradually deteriorate afterwards.
One of the highlights was the middle area of the trail, around which many attractions are centered. The Ryuanji Temple had some nice colors around its buildings and there were also nice leaves around the nearby Momiji Bridge. Just after the bridge there is a trail up the mountainside that goes to the Bokai Hill observation deck. The trail was quite steep and had around 400 steps, so perhaps not everyone will want to take the hike.
The last section of the trail did not have many visible colors, although the valley had seemed quite colorful from the observation decks. I think that the koyo leaves were usually located high in the air or away from the trail, so many of them could not be seen.
The waterfall itself at the end of the trail was quite attractive, but despite being very nice I don't think I could describe the surrounding koyo as spectacular. On the return trip I passed by the tourist information center again and asked about this year's colors compared to other years, since some of the promotional pictures of the waterfall in autumn were much more impressive than their current state. I was told that a really spectacular year at Mino occurs about once a decade. Still, for people in the Osaka area who enjoy going for a hike, Mino Park makes for a very nice day trip and its koyo should persist for the last few days of the month.
One interesting thing that I tried today for the first time was a local specialty food sold at many small shops along the trail. Though the idea had never struck me before, it seems that someone figured that koyo can be a delight for more than just the eyes. After a thick coating of batter, some of the area's plentiful fallen leaves are deep fried and sold to tourists as Momiji Tempura. Though I would not be entirely truthful if I were to say that the leaves themselves tasted particularly delicious apart from the batter, the Momiji Tempura did taste quite good and provides one more way to enjoy autumn in Japan.