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

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2015/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Takao

Colors bursting around Mount Takao's Yakuoin Temple

The autumn color season has finally begun in Tokyo this year, and our team is here to cover the progress at each of the city's best leaf-watching spots. While the color front has been moving rather fast this year in much of northern Japan compared with the seasonal average, the pace seems to be evening out as it moves down from the mountains, further south and into the capital.

As I reported last week, Tokyo's urban koyo (autumn color) spots are still just starting to develop more color, so today I headed a bit outside the city proper to check on the progress at Tokyo's Mount Takao. Still within the Tokyo Metropolitan Area (less than an hour west of Shinjuku by train), Takaosan (599 meters) is a favorite getaway for those looking to escape the busy city for a half-day amongst nature, especially during the autumn color season.

Compared to two weeks ago when Scott was last here, the colors on the mountain have progressed quite a bit. No longer just green everywhere, the area around the famous Yakuoin Temple in particular was starting to show some great color, especially the momiji (Japanese maple) trees.

Pro Tip: Arrive before 9:30 A.M.
Don't expect to be alone on the mountain during the peak of the season: 30-minute or longer waits for the cable car or chair lifts (even on weekdays) aren't uncommon
A few colors splashing against the side of the chair lift path
Near-peak autumn colors and city panoramas
The pathways lower on the mountain were still a bit green, but starting to change
A colorful branch jutting out like a giraffe's neck
The momiji (Japanese maple) trees around the main gate of Yakuoin Temple were showing plenty of color today, and will get even better over the course of the week
Like a rainbow sherbet of fall colors
Gaurdian of the gate
Spinning this large stone wheel is meant to purify each of the six senses (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind)
Great color in the temple grounds
Red and gold everywhere, not just on the trees
Purification by incense smoke
A full crowd enjoying the colors and nice morning weather
A flash of red

Towards the 599-meter-high summit, the leaves were even closer to their peak (if not beyond in some spots), drawing some healthy crowds for a weekday. The view from the summit was a bit hazy today, and unfortunately the view of Mount Fuji, which can be quite impressive on a clear day, was a little obscured by clouds (as Scott discovered firsthand in the Fujigoko area today). But the area was quite pleasant nonetheless with hikers stopping for picnics and plently of photos.

For those interested in catching some autumn color on Takao, the colors around the Yakuoin Temple will likely be peaking in the next week or so, and even those around the summit should remain nice for a little while longer, too—certainly some time left to get out and enjoy it!

A wilder bunch of trees nearer to the summit
The view from the top, with a hazy Mount Fuji in the background
Mt. Fuji sporting a cloud hat over its snow cap today
Some nice colors popping out on the mountain slopes around Takao
The summit area was prime picnicing real estate today
The bright red momiji trees around the summit were at their peak today, a bit further along than slightly lower on the mountain
Tuxedo cat creeping though the leaves
Just a 5-10-minute walk beyond the summit is a small area known as the momijidai (maple clearing) which was pleasantly colorful today
Yet another nice place to sit and relax while taking in the scenery
Tokyoites rejoice: the colors on the Takao should still be good for the next week or two

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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