Today, I made my way to Karuizawa, a popular vacation destination in Nagano. Karuizawa just over an hour away from Tokyo by shinkansen and can be done in a day trip. But of course, it would be more comfortable to stay overnight and enjoy the sights and attractions at a leisurely pace.
I found that the autumn colors here are at their peak outside of the town, and almost at their best in the town. The best viewing period is expected to continue into next week, though rain is forecast this weekend which may have a negative impact on the longevity of the leaves on the trees.
I started my day from Gunma Prefecture at the Meganebashi Bridge. This Meganebashi Bridge has four arches and made out of bricks, and is one of the largest brick bridges in Japan. It was completed in 1892 and was a railway bridge until 1963 when a separate new track was built. Visitors today can walk along the former railway bridge and there is a six kilometer walking course starting from Yokokawa Station to the former Kumanodaira Station. This hiking route crosses ten tunnels and Usui Lake, allowing one to follow the former train line.
I found the colors at Meganebashi Bridge and the nearby Usui Lake to have started but not yet approaching their best. Many of the trees had some color, but the best is yet to come. I expect the leaves to progress over the next few days and the best viewing period to start from next week.
My next stop was the Usui Pass Observation Platform. I found the colors here to be at their best and the best viewing period to continue on to next week. Rain is forecast this weekend and may take down some of the trees, but I expect the views to still be good early next week.
Back into the town of Karuizawa, I headed to Kumobaike Pond. There were large tour groups there already by the time I arrived and the place was packed with lots of visitors enjoying the amazing views at the pond. I found the colors here to be at their peak with amazing colors. The best viewing period should continue until next week though rain this weekend may take some of the leaves down.
Moving on to a slightly less touristy place, Karuizawa Taliesin was not packed with tour groups but still had lots of color around it. I found the colors around Naka-Karuizawa where Taliesin is at to be a few days shy of reaching their best, and the best viewing period to continue into next week.
My final stop for the day was the popular tourist attraction, the Hoshino area in Naka-Karuizawa. The area offers trendy shopping and dining facilities, as well as accomodation options. I found the colors here to be attractive and approaching their best, and should continue into next week.