This year's autumn color 'front' continues its annual sweep down the country, from north to south and from higher to lower altitudes; it now being well over a month since the start of the season when we saw spectacular colors emerge in Hokkaido. Still another few weeks before we can expect any serious colors in the autumn hotspots of Tokyo and Kyoto, this week I took a special two-day trip north to yet another of Japan's most popular color viewing spots.

Towada straddles Akita and Aomori prefectures in Japan's Tohoku region and is particularly renowned for its vibrant autumn color displays that are typically bang in peak at this time of year. Being my first time to the area, I was especially excited to see how the colors were faring around the area's two main attractions come autumn, Lake Towada and Oirase Stream, especially in light of the strong winds the area has experienced recently.

Oirase Stream

Peak Color

I started my first day in Towada at Ishigedo, one of the major stops along the Oirase Stream. The stream, surrounded by picturesque woodland that comes to life every autumn, is flanked by a path that visitors can traverse all the way to Nenokuchi Port on the eastern shores of Lake Towada. Following this plan, I wandered up the gentle trail, taking in the breath-taking scenery around me. Despite a few bare branches possibly the result of the recent strong winds, the area is generally rich in vibrant color, and I predict that the displays will remain spectacular here until at least the end of the week.

As for the colors themselves, there were major signs that the area's signature reds, oranges and yellows are about to burst through the leaves, however as of yet, that peak was still approaching, and in all probability take another couple of days to do so. Not yet in peak, the area is still breathtaking and well worth a visit.

Lake Towada

Peak Color

Following the hike, which typically takes around two hours from Ishigedo, I arrived at the port of Nenokuchi and boarded the ferry that would take me across Lake Towada to Yasumiya, the small town where I'd be spending the night.

I'm happy to report that the lake has reached its optimum viewing period, with the shores typically ablaze with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows. The autumnal displays make the 50-minute journey across the lake very enjoyable, and passengers bold enough to brave the chill crowded the decks to get the best views of the shoreline inferno. With the predicted temperatures, I expect that the colors here will remain at their best until around the middle of next week.

Upon arrival in Yasumiya, I checked into the ryokan where I'd be lodging, and was served a delicious kaiseki meal.

I woke early on my second day in Towada and meandered down to the shore where I took in more spectacular displays of color. I took a quick jaunt over to the lake shore's famous statue of two ladies, which was accented by some very vibrant yellow foliage, and then to Towada Shrine, which has an ethereal atmosphere and is well worth a visit, especially at this time of year. Following the morning of exploration it was time to head off with images of the bright leaves burned in my mind.