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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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2014/11/06 - Yamadera Report
by schauwecker

After one and a half months of reporting the seasonal colors in the mountains of northern and central Japan, we will soon shift our focus onto the parks and gardens of Tokyo and Kyoto. Before that, however, I made a last report trip to the Tohoku Region today, where the colors have already descended into lower elevations. I visited Yamadera, which, despite its name (literally "mountain temple"), is located "only" 250 meters above sea level, albeit in the mountainous interior of Yamagata Prefecture.

Yamadera is generally most easily accessed in about one hour by the JR Senzan Line from Sendai. I got off the train one station before reaching Yamadera, at Omoshiroyama Kogen Station. The station is located in the middle of the forested mountains with just a handful of (mostly unmanned) buildings nearby. The area is known for nice autumn colors, so I completed the remaining seven kilometers of the journey to Yamadera on foot.

Omoshiroyama Kogen Station
View from the station into the ravine

The first two kilometers of the walk led through the Momijigawa Keikoku, a steep ravine that can be traversed along one of Japan's most thrilling riverside hiking trails. A good portion of the trail is built into the rock and is often just about 20-50 centimeters wide. It leads past many waterfalls and also includes over half a dozen, narrow bridges that people with a fear of height may not be able to cross. Good shoes are highly recommended. The colors along the ravine were already beyond their peak, but still enjoyable.

Near the station
One of the scary bridges
Maple leaf
One of many nice waterfalls along the ravine
Another maple leaf

The remaining five kilometers of the walk were considerably less exciting and followed mostly a paved, calm road through forests dominated by evergreen trees. Nevertheless, some nice autumn colors were visible along the road and on the mountain slopes on the opposite side of the valley.

Evergreen forest
Incredibly colorful mountain slope along the way
More nice colors along the way
Approaching Yamadera
First sight of Yamadera in the distance

About 2.5 hours after departing Omoshiroyama Kogen Station, I arrived at the base of the cliff into which Yamadera Temple had been built. The colors were still at their peak, although at a rather advanced stage. Colorful trees could be enjoyed both, in the temple's lower area at the base of the cliff and in the upper area. The steep ascent that leads over hundreds of stone steps from the lower to the upper area, however, led mostly past evergreen trees. Yamadera should remain worth an autumn visit for a few more days to come.

Colorful maple trees at the base
Colorful leaves and fish in a pond at the base
Reaching the upper area of the temple grounds
Colorful folded cranes and autumn colors
The temple's upper area
Well placed electric pole in the temple's upper area
Godaido Hall (leftmost building) from the outside
Godaido Hall from the inside
View from Godaido Hall towards the temple's upper area
View from Godaido Hall down into the valley

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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