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Nasu: Peak Colors

Mount Nasu's main volcanic peak, Chausu-dake, enveloped in bright autumn colors

The autumn color season is now in full swing in many of Japan's mountains in the northern half of the country. High elevations in places like Hokkaido, Nagano Prefecture and parts of the northern Tohoku Region are now seeing their autumn colors near their best viewing. Other great high elevation autumn color spots like Nikko, Oze and Towada-Hachimantai National Parks should be following suit soon.

Today, I had the pleasure to visit one of the Kanto Region's most impressive autumn color spots: the lovely Mount Nasu, located in Tochigi Prefecture. A mere 2-hour journey from Tokyo, Nasu's unique natural beauty, hot springs and other interesting attractions beckon thousands of visitors year round. But in early October, the mountain's breathtaking autumn color display takes center stage.

I was excited to find that the autumn colors all around Mt. Nasu were looking gorgeous and definitely at their peak today.

The well-guarded hiking trailhead
The slopes of Mt. Asahi-dake were covered in peak-color autumn foliage today

After fighting through nearly 2 hours of holiday weekend traffic up the road to the mountain's highest parking lot (accessible by bus, car or foot from the Nasu Yumoto area), I was excited to finally start my hike to the ridge line. Happily the weather was kind today and offered some spectacular views of the peak-color foliage.

No shortage of hikers enjoying the scenery on this national holiday
Some of Japan's best autumnal mountain views
Colorburst
Nearing the windy col between the peaks of Chausu-dake and Asahi-dake
Hikers making their way to (and some already of top of) craggy Asahi-dake

After reaching the ridge, I was surprised to also see the foliage on the northwestern slopes of the Nasu mountains, which usually finish more quickly than those on Asahi-dake's slopes, to also still be at peak color today.

While the "backside" colors will likely begin fading more quickly, pending any unforeseen extreme inclement weather, I expect the colors around the mountain in general to remain nice through the rest of the week.

Looking out across the grand valleys on the western side of Nasu (facing Fukushima Prefecture)
Spectacular colors still going strong on the colder side of the mountain
Like a French impressionist painting come to life
The lovely Uba-ga-daira pond
Joining the queue down the slope toward the Uba-ga-daira pond (pro tip: avoid visiting on peak weekends if you value your time and sanity)
The fiery source of Nasu's colors
Mt. Chausu-dake in all its autumnal glory
Nasu, how you so beautiful?
Clouds dancing between the slopes
Wishing you were here

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