We've now reached the middle of the season for autumn colors in Japan, and last Friday Raina reported that Nikko was at peak colors. However it's likely that colors in Tokyo and Kyoto won't be at their best until the second half of November, as Andrew reported last week that Kyoto was still green.
Today I went to the Fuji Five Lakes region to check the leaf conditions at some of the most iconic spots near the northern base of Mount Fuji. I'm happy to report that it is a great time to visit the area. Lake Yamanakako, Chureito Pagoda, and the Fuji Subaru Line up to the Mount Fuji 5th station were all approaching peak or at peak colors. Only the maple corridor on the northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko had leaves that were mostly green. The trees in region seem to be changing at an average pace. Based on the lack of heavy rain or storms in the forecast, I would predict that the region will continue to look good through mid November.
To start the day I took a drive up the Fuji Subaru Line which is a toll road that leads to the 5th station of the Yoshida hiking trail up Mount Fuji. With an elevation change of 1,448m, there were naturally some differences in the states of the leaves. Starting from the bottom on the toll road, three quarters of the drive was at peak colors with the larch trees looking only slightly past peak at the top. There were also some spectacular views along the way.
My next stop was Yuyake no Nagisa Park located along the southern shore of Lake Yamanakako. Many of the maple trees were approaching peak colors and the view of Mount Fuji from the nearby lake shoreline was particularly stunning. This is an especially good time to visit since the Yamanakako Autumn Leaves Festival is being held between October 26 and November 11 with an evening illumination everyday of the festival between 16:30 and 21:00.
Chureito Pagoda, which is known for its particularly good view of Mount Fuji, did not disappoint with the fall colors at their peak. The orange leaves of the cherry blossom trees that surround the pagoda framed Mount Fuji beautifully and the maples along the stairways were also looking good. The cherry trees on the mountain slope below the pagoda though have started to lose their color.
Lastly, I ended the day at Lake Kawaguchiko and found the trees along the walking paths to be looking good with the sakura and ginkgo trees displaying vibrant colors. However, the popular maple corridor was just starting to change colors. Although the lower entrance had promising red hues, the interior was almost entirely green. If you're aiming to see the corridor at its best, I recommend coming in two weeks. The Momiji Festival of Fujikawaguchiko will be held November 1 to November 23 from 9:00 to 19:00 with an illumination lasting until 22:00.