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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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2012/10/10 - Bandai Report
by scott

Mount Bandai

Today we paid a visit to the Bandai area of Fukushima Prefecture for our first autumn color (koyo) report this season from the Tohoku Region. After an early morning start, we arrived by train in Koriyama, rented a car, and started the drive to Mount Bandai, a volcano northeast of Aizu Wakamatsu in western Fukushima, and one of Japan's 100 famous mountains.

The quickest way to the top is via the Bandaisan Gold Line, a toll road that leads up the western side of Mount Bandai. The road normally costs 730 yen but is currently free to promote tourism. We were able to drive quite high up the mountain and parked at a trailhead from where it is an approximately two hour hike to the peak.

Green trees around the main parking lot next to the trailhead

The first half of the hike leads through relatively green forests and we were almost always under the tree canopy. At one point however, there was a break in the trees and we stepped out into a clearing next to the remains of an abandoned mountain hut and a babbling hot spring.

A break in the forest around an old abandoned mountain hut and hot spring
As often seen around hot springs, the colors were a little more advanced around the hot springs than the nearby forest

As we continued up the mountain, the trees began to thin out and were replaced by mountain bushes and shrubs. Their leaves were already changing colors to nice oranges and yellows and really began to show around the first mountain hut from where we finally had a good viewpoint from which to look out over the slopes.

The green lower slopes of the mountain and Urabandai
Orange mountain bushes and shrubs below the mountain hut
The mountain hut surprisingly had not just one, but two shops way up on the mountain

The final push to the top was a steep 20 minute climb up a slippery, rocky trail. Moreover, there were quite a few bus tours on the mountain, and the trail really started to get congested as we neared the top. The views along the way, however, made it worth it and were quite rewarding as the autumn colors were right at the peak around the summit. Over the next few weeks the nice colors will slowly make their way down to Urabandai at the base of the mountain.

Heading up to the top
Beautiful colors around the trail
The emergency shelter near the top was a popular lunch spot
Hiking around the rocky summit
Nice colors just below the summit
This orange bush's leaves looked slightly brown and burnt from the hot summer

After a quick descent, we got back to the car and headed through the Urabandai Area to Mount Azuma. We travelled via the Bandai Azuma Lake Line, another temporarily free toll road, which led past several lakes. As it is much lower than the summit of Mount Bandai, the trees along the road have barely begun to change colors. In a few weeks though, this should become a beautiful and popular leaf viewing spot.

Still green around the Bandai Azuma Lake Line
Green on the other side of the road as well

Mount Azuma is accessed by another (temporarily free) toll road, the Bandai Azumai Skyline. This windy mountain road is an attraction in itself and its numerous twists and turns offer beautiful, panoramic views. The road leads to the Jododaira Marshland which wasn't very colorful by itself, but the hills and slopes overlooking the marsh were at their autumn color peak.

The Bandai Azuma Skyline
The lower parts of the Skyline were still green
Beautiful colors behind the Jododaira Marshland
Geothermic vents billow white steam on the slopes above the marsh

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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