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Fukuoka: Beyond Peak

Autumn colors in the Japanese garden of Maizuru Park

As November comes to an end, the autumn color season is starting to wrap up in most of the country. But the season almost always ends with a bang in Japan's major urban centers like Kyoto and Tokyo, which last week were both at peak color.

Today, I headed to another major city, Fukuoka, to follow the fall color "front" as it finishes up in Japan's southernmost island of Kyushu this week.

Maizuru Park:
Beyond Peak

My first stop today was to Fukuoka's Maizuru Park. The spacious park is a central feature of the city with plenty of open space and features the ruins of the former Fukuoka Castle (a fantastic place to enjoy cherry blossoms in late March).

The park also sports a smattering of color-changing trees in autumn which today were looking quite nice, if a bit beyond their peak color.

Patches of autumn color were scattered around Maizuru and Ohori Parks today
Gorgeous golden ginko in the Fukuoka Castle ruins
Later-changing momiji (Japanese maple) trees were at peak in Maizuru Park's Japanese garden
Momiji at peak color
The Fukuoka Castle ruins' vast array of cherry trees were still providing some color
Capturing the season
Cherry tree leaves
Prelude to the afternoon of some cats

Komyozenji Temple, Dazaifu:
Beyond Peak

After exploring Maizuru Park, I took a 30-minute train ride south of downtown Fukuoka to the town of Dazaifu, known for its historical shrines and temples. The colors around town were also slightly beyond their peak today, but still enjoyable.

My first stop in Dazaifu was to Komyozenji, a small temple of the Rinzai sect known for its lovely gardens. The gardens also host some trees that had some nice fall color today, if a little past their peak.

Pending any unforseen bad weather, colors should remain nice here through the weekend.

Approach to the shrines and temples of Dazaifu
The outer courtyard rock garden of Komyozenji
The inner courtyard garden of Komyozenji
A good place to contemplate

Tenmangu Shrine, Dazaifu:
Beyond Peak

From Komyozenji I walked around the grounds of neighboring Tenmangu Shrine, Dazaifu's most prominent shrine built to appease the spirit of an slighted poet-politician.

While the shrine grounds don't have many concentrated collections of color-changing trees, there were still some nice pockets of color here and there that added some seasonal ambiance.

The main gate of Tenmangu Shrine
Tenmangu's main building
Some nice splashes of fall colors were scattered around the grounds
Most trees were shedding their leaves today
Around the shrine
For Arnauld

Kamado Shrine, Dazaifu:
Beyond Peak

My last stop for today was to Kamado Shrine, located a 10-minute bus ride from Dazaifu Station (100 yen). The shrine sits partway up the slopes of the sacred Mt. Homan and sits next to the trailhead of a trail that leads to the mountain's summit.

The shrine is also one of Fukuoka's most impressive autumn color spots, and was looking fantastic today. Most of the shrine's color came from late-changing momiji (Japanese maple), though even those were beginning to lose their leaves today.

I expect the colors here should still be quite nice through this weekend.

Approach to Kamado Shrine
Kamado Shrine's momiji (maple trees) were still showing some fantastic color
Fiery momiji
Kamado Shrine's main building
The overgrown, forgotten-looking trailhead of the hiking trail to sacred Mt. Homon
The trail begins
A place to enjoy the colors and the views
Heading down

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