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Karuizawa: Peak Colors

Kumobaike Pond ablaze

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.

Sam was in Onuma Park not far from Hakodate, Hokkaido today and reported that the colors there were at their peak. Click here to read his report.


Starting to Change

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.

Usui Lake with a bit of color
The best is yet to come
Lone fisherman
It takes about 20-30 minutes to walk around the lake, and this is one of the three bridges around it
Meganebashi Bashi is 91 meters long and 31 meters high
You'll end up at the former Kumanodaira Station if you keep crossing the tunnels
The old route 18 is quite a narrow, winding road
Leaves beyond the tunnel
Bridge across the valley

Usui Pass Observation Platform

Peak Color

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.

The border between Gunma Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture
Autumn colors and a snow-capped Mount Asama
Myogi mountain range in Gunma Prefecture
Hello Gunma Prefecture
United colors of autumn
Usui Pass Observation Platform
The walking trail leads down to Kyu-Karuizawa
Yellow and green

Kumobaike Pond

Peak Color

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.

Ducks swimming in lava
Blue sky and colors around Kumobaike Pond
So many wedding photoshoots today
Two colors, one tree
Morning crowd at Kumobaike Pond
Still waters run deep
Favourite house
Imagine living here in autumn

Karuizawa Taliesin

Approaching Peak

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.

Karuizawa Taliesin has halloween decorations
Look at what I found
Autumn colors across Lake Shiozawa in Karuizawa Taliesin
Paddle boats across the lake
My hitori romance in Karuizawa
Great views of Mount Asama from here. That's a plume of smoke above it!

Hoshino Resort

Approaching Peak

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.

Wedding chapel surrounded by autumn colors
Almost at their peak along the river
The autumn leaf version of the dead marshes
Doesn't look like much now, but there will be a temporary ice skating rink here in winter
Autumn outdoor library
Colors along the road
Much color, so autumn