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Autumn Color Report 2012
Official autumn color reports by japan-guide.com

Where to see autumn leaves? - When do trees turn colors? - What trees turn colors?
Schedule of upcoming reports - Post your own report

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2012/10/05 - Route 292 Report
by sean

Today we travelled a section of Route 292 between Kusatsu Onsen in Gunma Prefecture and Shiga Kogen in Nagano Prefecture. The high altitude of this section of the route, which at one point reaches 2172 meters - the highest of all national routes in Japan - is the reason why autumn colors can be spotted fairly early around here.

Approaching from the Gunma side, we made our first stop at Kusatsu Onsen, one of the most famous hot springs in Japan. They are building a new public bath near the Yubatake, which is slated to be completed in spring 2013. The autumn colors at Kusatsu town were still predominantly green, but to be honest, rather than for the red and yellow of autumn leaves, people go to Kusatsu primarily for the milky white-yellow of its onsen waters.

Yubatake at Kusatsu Onsen

Moving on, we travelled along Route 292 which took us to higher grounds and great scenery. As we climbed the winding road, autumn foilage began to show with increasing density and intensity. A nice stream of other visitors were traveling the route as well, like us, making occasional stops at the check points which offered scenic views along the way.

It was great to look down onto the valleys and see the dark green from evergreen trees in contrast with the yellow, orange and fiery red from some of the deciduous trees, with the pastel green from the sasa (small bamboo plants) providing a nice variation.

Uphill to Mount Shirane
Mononugunoike Pond
Close up of some colors

We arrived at Mount Shirane to quite a crowd of visitors, although it was not so packed as to make it unpleasurable. Views were very pleasant indeed, and autumn colors have reached their peak here. Actually, as we made the short 15 minute climb from the parking lot up to the top of the mountain, we saw some leaves of the nanakamado already beginning to dry up, perhaps signifying that peak might soon be over.

Visitors hiking up Mount Shirane
Views along the short hike
Man taking pictures
Yugama crater seen from the top of Mount Shirane
Driving along Route 292
Nice landscape
Pastel green from sasa plants

Making our way across Shiga Kogen, we noticed that the colors of the highlands were more developed on the Gunma side than on the Nagano side. Especially at lower elevations of the Nagano side of the highlands: colors were still mostly green, with the exception of some pockets of autumn colors such as that at the Ichinuma Pond.

Sasa flavored ice-cream after lunch, with Shiga Kogen in the background
Ichinuma Pond

After descending Shiga Kogen, we took some time to visit the Jigokudani Monkey Park which was just around the corner. While this is not usually an autumn color spot, it was as usual fun to watch the monkeys as they swing around nimbly and carefreely around nature.

Cute monkey

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List of Posts:
2012/12/11 - Tokyo Report
2012/12/07 - Tokyo Report
2012/12/05 - Kamakura Report
2012/12/02 - Kyoto Report
2012/12/01 - Tokyo Report

2012/11/29 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/29 - Himeji Report
2012/11/27 - Tokyo Report
2012/11/26 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/25 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/23 - Miyajima Report
2012/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/21 - Tokyo Report
2012/11/21 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/19 - Takaosan Report
2012/11/16 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/15 - Mount Fuji Report
2012/11/15 - Shosenkyo Report
2012/11/14 - Hakone Report
2012/11/13 - Tokyo Report
2012/11/09 - Sakurayama Report
2012/11/08 - Koyasan Report
2012/11/07 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/07 - Nikko Report
2012/11/07 - Yamadera Report
2012/11/06 - Naruko Report
2012/11/05 - Hiraizumi Report
2012/11/05 - Mount Fuji Report
2012/11/01 - Kuju Report

2012/10/31 - Towada Report
2012/10/30 - Bandai Report
2012/10/26 - Minakami Report
2012/10/24 - Nikko Report
2012/10/22 - Alpine Route Report
2012/10/18 - Noboribetsu Report
2012/10/18 - Sounkyo Report
2012/10/17 - Shiretoko Report
2012/10/16 - Norikura Report
2012/10/16 - Nikko Report
2012/10/15 - Kamikochi Report
2012/10/12 - Oze Report
2012/10/11 - Hachimantai Report
2012/10/10 - Bandai Report
2012/10/09 - Nikko Report
2012/10/05 - Route 292 Report
2012/10/04 - Alpine Route Report

2012/09/28 - Kurodake Report
2012/09/27 - Kogen Onsen Report
2012/09/26 - Asahidake Report
2012/09/21 - Asahidake Report
2012/09/20 - Kurodake Report
2012/09/18 - Asahidake Report

Tours and Experiences