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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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2014/10/07 - Nikko Report
by joe

The foliage around Yunoko Lake

On our last report from Nikko about a week and a half ago, the fall colors in the highest mountainous areas of Okunikko were just reaching their peak. Today, I headed back to Nikko to see how much further the autumn leaves had changed. Because of the huge range in elevations in Nikko, the fall colors around the national park can be enjoyed for almost two months.

I first retraced my steps from two weeks ago by going through the Konsei Pass in one of the highest areas in Okunikko. The bright yellows and reds I found here last week were noticeably darker today (possibly accentuated by the partly cloudy weather), and some trees were already losing leaves. The same went for the trees around Lake Yunoko in the Yumoto Onsen area, but look as though they'll still have a bit of color perhaps into next week.

Some yellows and reds lingering on the high trees near Konsei Pass
View from the top of Yudaki Falls in Yumoto Onsen

Slightly further down from Yumoto Onsen, the tall grasses on the Senjogahara marshland were still a brilliant yellow, though some of the surrounding trees seemed to be passing their peak color today. At nearby Ryuzu Waterfall, too, while some trees had started browning or losing leaves since last week, the colors were nonetheless still impressive here.

Senjogahara's marshland grasses still brilliant yellows and oranges
Ducks leisurely floating down a stream in Okunikko
Autumn foliage near Ryuzu Waterfall
Still some color around the top of the Ryuzu Waterfall cascade, though not for much longer
Ryuzu Waterfall

The Lake Chuzenji area, on the other hand, is definitely hitting its sweet spot this week. The yellows on the mountains around the lake were impressive, and may be even better this coming weekend.

A cloud setting in over boaters on Lake Chuzenji
Fisherman on Lake Chuzenji

To get a better view of the lake and the ever-present Mount Nantai, I drove up to the sometimes-overlooked Mount Hangetsuyama near the lake. At the end of a road that leads up the mountain, there is a great lookout spot with wonderful views of the Nikko mountains. For the more adventurous, there is also a trailhead for a 20-30 minute hike at the lookout point which leads to a higher lookout deck with incredible views of Nantai and Lake Chuzenji.

The views today were even more dramatic with passing clouds. While the trees on the Okunikko side of Hangetsuyama which I could see from here were in full color, the trees around Chuzenji and on the stunning Hachodejima Peninsula seemed to be just about to peak.

Mount Nantai and Lake Chuzenji from Mount Hangetsuyama
Looking west from Mount Hangetsuyama
Yellow-spotted mountains around Mount Hangetsuyama
Hachodejima Peninsula shooting out into Lake Chuzenji

I also made a quick stop at Kegon Falls and along the Irohazaka Road. The colors in both spots also seemed just pre-peak.

The foliage around Kegon Waterfall is nearing its peak
Onlookers enjoying the view of Kegon Waterfall
A waterfall near the Irohazaka Road

Finally, I made my way down from the highlands of Okunikko via the Irohazaka road to the lower elevations where the main town and tourist areas of Nikko are. My goal here was to check on Rinnoji Temple's beautiful Shoyoen Garden. The quintessential temple garden features a healthy number of Japanese maple (momiji) and other trees that turn brilliant colors in the fall. Today, the momiji were just beginning to change color. In the coming weeks the rest of the garden and the other lower parts of Nikko will be exciting to see.

Rinnoji Temple's Shoyoen Garden, just beginning to show its autumn colors
A fallen Japanese maple (momiji) leaf resting on moss at Shoyoen Garden
Momiji starting to turn red at Shoyoen Garden

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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