Joe's Japan Travel Journal
by Joe, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2014/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko

On our last report from Nikko about a week and a half ago, the fall colors in the highest mountainous areas of Okunikko were just reaching their peak. Today, I headed back to Nikko to see how much further the autumn leaves had changed. Because of the huge range in elevations in Nikko, the fall colors around the national park can be enjoyed for almost two months.

I first retraced my steps from two weeks ago by going through the Konsei Pass in one of the highest areas in Okunikko. The bright yellows and reds I found here last week were noticeably darker today (possibly accentuated by the partly cloudy weather), and some trees were already losing leaves. The same went for the trees around Lake Yunoko in the Yumoto Onsen area, but look as though they'll still have a bit of color perhaps into next week.

Slightly further down from Yumoto Onsen, the tall grasses on the Senjogahara marshland were still a brilliant yellow, though some of the surrounding trees seemed to be passing their peak color today. At nearby Ryuzu Waterfall, too, while some trees had started browning or losing leaves since last week, the colors were nonetheless still impressive here.

The Lake Chuzenji area, on the other hand, is definitely hitting its sweet spot this week. The yellows on the mountains around the lake were impressive, and may be even better this coming weekend.

To get a better view of the lake and the ever-present Mount Nantai, I drove up to the sometimes-overlooked Mount Hangetsuyama near the lake. At the end of a road that leads up the mountain, there is a great lookout spot with wonderful views of the Nikko mountains. For the more adventurous, there is also a trailhead for a 20-30 minute hike at the lookout point which leads to a higher lookout deck with incredible views of Nantai and Lake Chuzenji.

The views today were even more dramatic with passing clouds. While the trees on the Okunikko side of Hangetsuyama which I could see from here were in full color, the trees around Chuzenji and on the stunning Hachodejima Peninsula seemed to be just about to peak.

I also made a quick stop at Kegon Falls and along the Irohazaka Road. The colors in both spots also seemed just pre-peak.

Finally, I made my way down from the highlands of Okunikko via the Irohazaka road to the lower elevations where the main town and tourist areas of Nikko are. My goal here was to check on Rinnoji Temple's beautiful Shoyoen Garden. The quintessential temple garden features a healthy number of Japanese maple (momiji) and other trees that turn brilliant colors in the fall. Today, the momiji were just beginning to change color. In the coming weeks the rest of the garden and the other lower parts of Nikko will be exciting to see.

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List of Posts:
2020/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2020
2019/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2019
2018/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2018
2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/03/24 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Mitake
2015/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Takao
2015/11/12 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/11 - Autumn Color Report: Fukuroda Falls
2015/10/30 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2015/10/22 - Autumn Color Report: Northern Alps
2015/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Northern Alps
2015/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
2015/10/14 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2015/10/13 - Autumn Color Report: Hakkoda
2015/10/08 - Autumn Color Report: Nasu
2015/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/04/14 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Yoshino
2015/04/13 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Miharu
2015/04/08 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Matsumoto Report
2015/01/29 - Crabs, Peonies and Castle Cruises in Shimane

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/16 - Seasonal Illumination: Osaka
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Kobe Luminarie 2014
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Ashikaga Flower Park
2014/12/05 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
2014/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Hakone
2014/10/29 - Autumn Color Report: Shima Onsen
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/10/08 - Autumn Color Report: Nasu
2014/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/08/20 - Kusatsu Onsen Beautification