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Oze: Peak Colors

It is that time of the year once more when the autumn color chase has begun. This year, we started the season in Hokkaido in late September when the colors were already at their best. From there, we continued at places in higher elevations including the Alpine Route, Nasu and Nikko which were either at their peak colors or approaching it.

Today, I visited Oze National Park where I found the colors in the marshland to still be at their best, while the leaves in the forest leading to the marshland were a mixed bag with some just approaching their peak and others nearing the end of their best. The coming weekend is one of the last few chances to see autumn colors at Oze before the national park closes down for winter. Mountain huts and shops are scheduled to be all closed by the end of the month while public toilets will all be locked by early November.

I arrived to steady rain and wind and started my hike from the Hatomachitoge trailhead, and wasn't too hopeful for much views nor colors. However, the sight that greeted me a few steps into the trail was quite impressive and I found the colors still amazing in spite of the rain and slight fog. The trees in the forest leading to the marshland suffered a little damage in the recent typhoon that passed through, which also resulted in a lot more leaves on the ground than on the trees. But the colors on the leaves that remained on the trees made for a very pretty autumn wonderland when I was there today.

Down in the Ozegahara Marshland which sits at about 1400 meters above sea level, the kusamomiji (marshland grass) had taken on a beautiful shade of gold and was still pretty despite the rain. Sunny weather is forecast for this weekend and I expect the view to remain gorgeous over the next few days. However, there are not many flowers left to see in the marshland and flower hunters will have to search hard to find the remaining few.

For those planning to visit Oze National Park over the weekend, be reminded that the paths can be quite slippery and slick with wet leaves due to relatively heavy rains from the last couple of days. It is advisable to tread with care to avoid slipping like some of the folks I saw today.