Nikko and Okunikko are two areas in Nikko National Park, which is located two hours north of Tokyo in Tochigi Prefecture. The areas have an elevation range of about 2000 meters, which means the autumn colors in the area stretches for about a month or so when the colors make their way down the mountain slopes. Today I visited six spots in the Nikko and Okunikko areas and found the autumn colors to be at varying stages. The colors were at their peak or approaching their best in the Okunikko area, while the leaves in the Nikko area have started changing colors and need a bit more time before they reach their best.

Yumoto Onsen

Peak Color

I visited Yumoto Onsen first, which is located at an elevation of about 1500 meters. I found that trees around the lake to be very colorful, and expect the leaves to get even more colorful through the rest of this week.


Approaching Peak

From there, I headed to Senjogahara, a marshland at an elevation of 1400 meters. The marsh grass was already a nice golden brown, but the larch trees still had green tinges to them. It should not be long before the larch trees turn golden yellow. I expect the autumn colors at Senjogahara to develop even more, especially the larch needles, through the rest of this week.

Ryuzu Waterfall

Peak Color

Continuing with my journey down, I went to Ryuzu Waterfall, a waterfall famous for its autumn colors. The fall foliage did not disappoint when I was there, and Ryuzu Waterfall had the most colorful leaves of all the spots I visited today. I expect the autumn colors to continue to develop towards their best through the rest of this week.

Mount Hangetsu

Peak Color

Breaking away from the downward journey, I moved on to Hangetsuyama, which is a 1753 meter tall mountain. From the car park or bus stop at Hangetsuyama, it is a 20-30 minute walk to the peak. The colors on and around the mountain were at their best, and I expect them to remain at their peak through the rest of this week.

Kegon Waterfall

Approaching Peak

Moving back down to Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Waterfall at an elevation of 1300 meters. The trees around the lake were very colorful, many of them were blazing red and yellow, while others needed more time to develop similar hues. I expect the colors around the lake and at Kegon Waterfall to improve over the next few days.

Shoyoen Garden

Approaching Peak

Finally, I made my way down the mountain to central Nikko, which sits at an elevation of around 600 meters, via the Irohazaka winding road. The autumn colors had barely reached the winding road, which was mostly green, and so it was in central Nikko, where the trees were mostly green as well. I visited Shoyoen Garden, a Japanese garden on the grounds of Rinnoji Temple, Nikko's most important temple. The maple trees in the garden had started taking on their red and yellow hues, but it will be a while before they reach their best.