Joe's Japan Travel Journal
by Joe, staff writer of

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2015/10/14 - Autumn Color Report: Towada

The rocky shores of Lake Towada

After a cold and unexpectedly snowy night on Mount Hakkoda, I continued my autumn color reporting from Japan's northern Tohoku region today making my way deeper into the heart of Towada-Hachimantai Nation Park. After yesterday's astounding peak colors on Hakkodasan, I was curious to find out how the season status of my next destination: Lake Towada.

I started my journey as the sun was finally coming out from behind yesterday's persistant storm clouds, and couldn't help but admire the beautiful colors on the drive between Hakkodasan and Towada (about an hour drive) on National Route 103 in Aomori Prefecture. The route passes through highland marshes and forest, which were stunningly at their peak autumn color today.

Jigokunuma pond and Mount Hakkoda, freshly frosted in a layer of snow
Autumnal mountain pastoral
Suirennuma Marsh in front of Takada-odake Peak of the Hakkoda mountains
Amazing colors along National Route 103 in Hachimantai National Park

After an hour or so, I finally reached my first destination within the Towada area of Towada-Hachimantai National Park: the Oirase Stream. The mountain stream flows from Lake Towada in a beautiful forest, and the 14-kilometer stretch starting at the lake is a well-loved autumn color spot. While the colors around the stream usually peak around late October, today I found many patches of colors already well-developed. While the forest around the stream is still a week or two away from seeing its best color, the brisk autumn air (and the off-and-on freezing rain and hail) were signs the season is moving fast here, too.

The hike through this pristine forest was magical today. Waterfalls pouring down both walls of the gorge into the stream, flashes of yellow and orange in the trees, and a pervasive calm (even despite the nearby road) made the trip well worth it.

The lovely Oirase Stream
Trees and shrubs around the stream are approaching their peak color, but most are still a little ways off
A hint of red creeping in
Colorful foliage on the forest floor
Hairline streaks of water pouring into the stream
Shirabu-no-taki Falls, surrounded by a scaffolding of shirakaba (birch) trees
Blowing yellow leaves against pouring water
Every bend in the stream was gorgeous, accented by flashes of autumn color
Lots of Japanese maple (kaede) were turning yellow around all around the stream
A photographer finds a perfect subject

After hiking about 5 peaceful kilometers upstream along the Oirase Stream, I made it to the Nenokuchi port of Lake Towada itself. I was lucky enough that the passing rain and hail storms that have been chasing me yesterday and today seemed to clear up just as I boarded a sightseeing boat to take in the colors from the water. The colors around the lake were breathtaking today. In some spots, the mountainous slopes that plunge into the water were carpeted in pure orange and red, while in others the trees were still approaching their peak color.

In all, I think visitors still have a good two weeks (or more) to enjoy the colors around the lake; and they don't disappoint.

The slopes around Lake Towada, parts of which were bursting with color
Just after the boat departed across the lake, the sun came out... and a DOUBLE RAINBOW!
What does it mean?
Incredible fall colors of Lake Towada
Lake Towada showing off its best autumn beauty
Passengers were glued to the ship's deck rail, as if they'd just spotted Maleficient walking around on shore
Another lake cruise ship rounding the peninsula
A solitary Japanese pine at the tip of a peninsula
A biker riding towards the lake

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List of Posts:
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