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Autumn Color Report 2014
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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2014/09/26 - Nikko Report
by joe

Senjogahara Marshland in Okunikko showing its autumn colors

While Hokkaido's autumn color has begun two weeks earlier than usual this year, Nikko National Park, just a few hours north of Tokyo (which is still a couple months from seeing its first autumn color) is not far behind. The trees in Nikko's highest reaches have already begun changing color a week ahead of the park's normal timing. So Scott and I headed to the Okunikko highland area of Nikko early this year to check it out.

Thanks to the 2,000-meter difference between its highest and lowest elevations, Nikko's autumn color season lasts nearly two months. The earliest colors usually debut in the highest mountain peaks in Okunikko in early October and slowly roll down the slopes, reaching the lower areas around Toshogu Shrine by mid November. With that in mind, today we first made our way to Nikko's Yumoto Onsen area by way of the high Konsei mountain pass from Gunma Prefecture.

Mount Nantai from the entrance of Konsei Pass at the edge of Okunikko
The colors on the highest parts of Okunikko already showing near Konsei Pass

As predicted, the trees in the upper parts of Okunikko and near Yumoto Onsen were definitely showing their color. Being still early in the season, there is still a healthy mix of green in the palettes even in the high areas, particularly around Lake Yunoko, but it's clear the season has begun.

A fisherman up early at Lake Yunoko
Yudaki Falls under Lake Yunoko and a recently upgraded viewing platform

While many trees are still just changing color, the Senjogahara marshland was a glowing yellow sea today. The grasses and shrubs on the marshy plateau begin to turn golden early in the season, and other plants and trees added nice touches of red and green. The hiking path that circles much of the marsh is a great way to take in the color, with nearby Mount Nantai as an impressive backdrop.

The Senjogahara marshland and Mount Nantai
Plenty of reds, yellows and browns already showing at Senjogahara
Silvery autumn susuki in the shadow of Mount Nantai
Conifers just changing color

A little further down from Senjogahara, some of the trees surrounding the upper part of the popular Ryuzu Waterfall were in color, though the area at the lower part (which usually turns relatively early in the season as well) was still a bit green. When the season is in full swing here, the lower viewing balcony is often teeming with weekend tourists hoping to see the color around the falls' basin.

The top of the Ryuzu Waterfall cascade from above
The trees around the lower basin of Ryuzu Waterfall were only just beginning to show hints of color
Beautiful yellows along the walking path beside Ryuzu Waterfall
Red maple around Ryuzu Waterfall

While the highest parts of Okunikko have started changing color, the majority of Nikko, including the area around Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls, will begin its change in the following weeks and continue into late October. For today, the Chuzenji area was still rather green.

A green Mount Nantai looming over Lake Chuzenji in Okunikko
We spotted this deer on the road this morning, as well as a few monkeys
Kegon Falls falling in full force this morning, though not in full autumn color yet

Like Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls, the winding Irohazaka Road that leads down to the lower parts of Nikko was unsurprisingly still green today, but I'll be looking forward to seeing what colors the rest of Nikko turns when we return in a few weeks.

Tour buses wind their way down the still-green Irohazaka Road
A fallen maple leaf

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List of Posts:
2014/12/05 - Tokyo Report
2014/12/04 - Kanazawa Report
2014/12/03 - Kyoto Report
2014/12/02 - Kamakura Report
2014/11/28 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/27 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/26 - Nara Report
2014/11/25 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/21 - Osaka Report
2014/11/20 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/19 - Korankei Report
2014/11/18 - Miyajima Report
2014/11/18 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/17 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/14 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/14 - Himeji Report
2014/11/13 - Fuji Report
2014/11/13 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/12 - Eiheiji Report
2014/11/11 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/07 - Tokyo Report
2014/11/07 - Kyoto Report
2014/11/06 - Yamadera Report
2014/11/04 - Fuji Report
2014/11/04 - Hakone Report
2014/10/31 - Karuizawa Report
2014/10/29 - Shima Onsen Report
2014/10/24 - Fuji Report
2014/10/21 - Bandai Report
2014/10/21 - Nikko Report
2014/10/20 - Towada Report
2014/10/16 - Tateyama Report
2014/10/15 - Kurikoma Report
2014/10/08 - Nasu Report
2014/10/07 - Nikko Report
2014/10/01 - Oze Report
2014/09/29 - Tateyama Report
2014/09/26 - Nikko Report
2014/09/19 - Tokachidake Report
2014/09/18 - Kurodake Report
2014/09/17 - Asahidake Report

Tours and Experiences