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Autumn Color Report 2009
by japan-guide.com

This are the official japan-guide.com autumn color reports for 2009 from our trips to various autumn leaf spots across Japan. Check our page on Autumn Leaves for general information.

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2009/10/05 - Nikko


by scott

Mount Nantai from the Senjogahara Marshlands

Today we checked out the Okunikko area of Nikko National Park in Tochigi Prefecture. While most people are familiar with the temples and shrines of Nikko, the national park which they are a part of is really quite a large area. The Okunikko, or Inner Nikko, area makes up the mountainous areas farther into the park, and are at a significantly higher elevation than the city below. This wide range of elevation means that Nikko has one of the longest leaf viewing seasons in Japan, with at least some part of park showing autumn colors from October through mid November.

Irohazaka Road

The route through Okunikko is part of the Japan Romatic Road, and begins with Irohazaka Road at the entrance to Okunikko. The trees along the winding mountain road turn brilliant colors when in season and the road itself becomes incredibly crowded with cars. Today, however, the trees have yet to turn and the road remains clear. The highest point of Irohazaka Road passes the Akechidaira Ropeway Station from where you can catch a gondola up to the Akechidaira Plateau for views of the surrounding area. The trees along the gondola also have yet to show any significant color change.

Akechidaira Ropeway
Lake Chuzenji

Dropping down into Lake Chuzenji gives the first signs of autumn. The trees around the lake are beginning to change and the forest is dotted with spots of red, orange, and yellow. Kegon Falls, the outlet of the lake, however, is just beginning to change, and while the trees opposite the falls are more advanced in color, the ones immediatly surrounding the waterfalls are still mostly green.

Kegon Falls
Ryuzu Falls

Passing Lake Chuzenji will take you to Ryuzu Falls, whose name means "dragon head waterfall". The falls are sort of an anomaly, and tend to reach their peak earlier than the surrounding areas. This was evident today as Ryuzu Falls are currently at their peak of autumn color, with the rest of the area a little bit behind. If you enjoy walking, a trail leads up past the falls and along the river, flanked on both sides by more spectacular colors.

Above Ryuzu Falls
Senjogahara Marsh

Farther into Okunikko brings you to Senjogahara Marsh, which has a network of trails leading through the marsh and the surrounding forests. Many of the broad leaf trees in the forest have changed color and are currently yellow, with shades of brown quickly coming in. The larch trees, a type of conifer that changes colors, is only just beginning to show signs of yellow. The marsh, on the other hand, has few trees and instead displays its color in its grasses, which were various shades of orange and red today.

Senjogahara Marsh
Senjogahara Marsh

The farthest into Okunikko that you can get by bus is the small hot spring town of Yumoto Onsen located on the shore of Lake Yunoko. This area, along with the mountains higher up, are currently around their peak and displaying brilliant autumn colors. If you are heading into Okunikko soon, make sure you go all the way into the back and check out this area. Also check out the Yudaki Falls at the outlet of the lake.

Lake Yunoko
Yudaki Falls

Finally, the Okunikko area, and this portion of the Japan Romantic Road, ends at Konsei Pass. From here you can get a view of Lake Yunoko below, as well as the rest of Okunikko off in the distance. Unfortunately, it is not easy to get this far without a car, and the road gets closed for the winter once it begins to snow.

Road up Konsei Pass
Lake Yunoko from Konsei Pass

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List of Posts:
2009/12/08 - Tokyo
2009/12/02 - Kamakura

2009/11/27 - Tokyo
2009/11/26 - Kyoto
2009/11/25 - Kyoto: Light Up
2009/11/23 - Nara
2009/11/22 - Kyoto: Ohara
2009/11/21 - Kyoto
2009/11/19 - Kyoto: Arashiyama
2009/11/18 - Tokyo
2009/11/18 - Kyoto: Higashiyama
2009/11/16 - Kyoto: Kurama
2009/11/16 - Mount Takao (Takaosan)
2009/11/12 - Kyoto
2009/11/09 - Fuji Five Lakes
2009/11/04 - Hakone

2009/10/28 - Mount Fuji
2009/10/19 - Nikko
2009/10/16 - Onuma Park
2009/10/15 - Noboribetsu Onsen
2009/10/14 - Shikotsu-Toya National Park
2009/10/07 - Hachimantai
2009/10/06 - Mount Akita-Komagatake
2009/10/05 - Nikko

2009/09/30 - Kusatsu Onsen
2009/09/28 - Kamikochi
2009/09/24 - Oze National Park
2009/09/16 - Tokachidake Onsen
2009/09/15 - Ginsendai
2009/09/14 - Mount Asahidake

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