community-forum community-penpal community-userReports destinations-admission destinations-beenThere-solid destinations-bookmark-solid destinations-city_outline destinations-city_solid destinations-closedDays destinations-date destinations-getThere destinations-hotels destinations-hoursFees destinations-itineraries-3 destinations-nearbySpots destinations-pin-simple-outline destinations-pin-simple destinations-sortBy-dots destinations-tours destinations-town interests-agriculture interests-amusementParks interests-beaches interests-castles interests-city_solid interests-contemporaryArt interests-events interests-festivals interests-flowers interests-foodDrink interests-gardens interests-hiking interests-historicSites interests-industry interests-koyo-single interests-koyo interests-mangaAnime interests-museums interests-nature interests-onsen interests-parks interests-pottery interests-sakura-single interests-sakura interests-scenicRides interests-shopping interests-shrines interests-skiing interests-snow interests-sumo interests-temples interests-traditionalArts interests-traditionalTheater interests-viewpoints interests-volcanoes interests-wildlife interests-winterIlluminations news-section planning-tickets-2 planning-transportation-access planning-transportation-bicycle planning-transportation-boat planning-transportation-bus planning-transportation-car planning-transportation-plane planning-transportation-shinkansen planning-transportation-tickets planning-transportation-train planning-transportation-walk shapes-chevron-down shapes-circle shapes-star social-fb social-gplus social-instagram social-twitter social-youtube ui-alert-construction ui-alert-warning ui-calendar ui-confirmed-outline ui-confirmed-solid ui-date ui-globe ui-lightbulb ui-no_entry ui-ok ui-pencil ui-reverse ui-search ui-time ui-video-play ui-x user-avatar
seasonal-koyo-brown seasonal-koyo-green seasonal-koyo-red seasonal-koyo-yellow seasonal-sakura-aboutToOpen seasonal-sakura-endOfSeason seasonal-sakura-fullBloom seasonal-sakura-justOpened seasonal-sakura-notOpen seasonal-sakura-opening seasonal-sakura-petalsFalling seasonal-sakura-petalsStarting

Nikko: Peak Color

Looking out on peak colors and Lake Chuzenji

It's that time of year and Japan is once again being swept up in a swell of beautiful autumn color as it washes down from north to south and high to lowlands.

Following my colorful investigation of Dewa Sanzan earlier this week, today I headed to the picturesque Nikko National Park in Tochigi Prefecture. Adorned with mountains, grasslands, water features and temples, this area is a popular destination for travelers from Tokyo during autumn when the elevation differential typically permits for a showing of color throughout the month of October as it sweeps down from the high points of Okunikko to the town below.

Joe was in the area ten days ago and reported how the upper elevations had reached their peak whilst the mid and low levels were well on their way. With this in mind, I was eager to see for myself how things had progressed since then.

Yumoto Onsen: Beyond Peak

My first stop today was at Yumoto Onsen nestled in the highlands of Okunikko. At 1500 meters above sea level, it is not unusual for the area to have exceeded peak by this time, and true to form, many of the trees and bushes were looking a little wintery, especially around the banks of Lake Yunoko. Still a picturesque place to visit, but I expect it to be more or less completely bereft of autumn color within the next week.

First light heading into Yumoto
Looking down on the sleepy town
Placid Lake Yunoko, looking slightly bare
The last of autumn on the banks of Yunoko
Yudaki Falls as virile as ever

Senjogahara Marshland: Beyond Peak

Next on my list was Senjogahara, the vast grasslands just a short drive from Yumoto. The grass surrounding the elevated boardwalk seemed a little spent and not quite glowing its hallmark golden brown today. Many of the trees were even further along, looking decidedly past it and leading me to believe that winter may now be just around the corner in these parts.

The grass is starting to lose its luster
Still time for photos
The hue of winter and stripped shrubs
Naked trees and winter just around the corner
Mount Nantai looms in the background

Ryuzu Waterfall: Beyond Peak

From Senjogahara I headed to Ryuzu Waterfall, a favourite color viewing spot with some great vantage points. The surroundings were a tad past optimum coloration, with a significant portion of the trees that glowed brightly before now waning and some completely bare and ready for winter. Despite this, there were some rebels in the pack, brazenly illuminating the banks of the falls so as to make it still worthwhile for color viewing. I wouldn't give it much more than a week however before even these trees follow suit and succumb to the chill of winter.

Slightly past peak but still quite a sight
Worthy of a few snaps
The gushing falls flanked by foliage
Some brazen colors still on show
Fall frolicking

Lake Chuzenjiko: Peak Color

It was time to drop by Lake Chuzenjiko, which, located at a lower elevation, still held some hope with me in my quest to see some peak autumn colors. The weather may have been a little dull but the radiance of some of the foliage in this area made up for it, glowing reds and oranges and yellows. I tried my luck at getting some spectacular panoramic views from the observation deck up on Mount Hangetsuyama, but the fog thwarted my attempt whilst admittedly adding to the overall autumnal ambience. It seems as though the colors will be well in around here for at least the next week as they make their way to the lowlands.

Mount Nantai behind Lake Chuzenji's dull shimmer
Vibrant colors on the banks of Chuzenji
Grey skies make the British Embassy Villa look especially...British
Boats on the water
Pop
Lush radiance of peak season
Monkey business on the way up Mount Hangetsuyama
Views through the mountain fog
Kegon Falls alive with color

Irohazaka Road: Peak Color

The Irohazaka Road usually starts to show some spectacular colors around this time, and this year is no exception with the colors progressing nicely along the windy roads. The drive down here was highly pleasant, with some great opportunities to stop (with care) and take in the views.

The winding road has some autumnal treats in store
The road winds down through the blazing mountains
Nice scenes

Nikko Town: Approaching Peak

The final stop on today's report trip took me down into bustling central Nikko where the town's great shrines and temples are located. Also here is the the Shoyoen Garden at Rinnoji Temple, one of the few great spots in the town for autumn colors. I'm happy to report that compared to my last visit when the garden was serene but green, today the foliage was on the brink of bursting into color, with some vibrant yellows oranges and reds leaking through the leaves. Within a week or two I fully expect this garden to be an inferno of color!

Bustling Nikko Town
Rinnoji Temple's Shoyoen Garden
The colors are well on their way
Change happens
Some of the trees are further along than others
The pristine pond with brushes of red and gold

Tours and Experiences