Following on from Raina's trip to Nikko last week, I spent a very enjoyable day checking in on three well-known autumn leaf viewing spots within the Towada-Hachimantai National Park, straddling the border between Akita and Iwate prefectures.

Varying in elevation from 850 to 1000 meters, all sites appeared at least a little past their peak while still displaying some very attractive, if muted late season colors - roughly in line with what we would expect heading into the last few days of October.

Tamagawa Onsen

Peak Color

The first spot on my list was Tamagawa Onsen, a unique little hot spring resort known for its highly acidic waters and rare, radiation emitting rocks. Approaching via a winding mountain road, I came across some of the day's most vibrant scenes on the opposite bank of the Tamagawa River.

While much of the vegetation within the area of the hot spring itself had already turned a dull auburn, more colorful foliage could be seen at the fringes of the Jigokudani, or ghell valleyh. Splashes of red and yellow were just beginning to lose their vibrance at the time of my visit, but should still be enjoyable for at least a few more days.

Onuma Pond

Beyond Peak

From Tamagawa Onsen I made my way slightly downhill to the Onuma Pond. Looking over the water from the viewing point, the trees on the opposite shore were still showing some nice reds and yellows, but overall the foliage was already quite muted and a little threadbare.

Goshogake Onsen

Beyond Peak

My final visit, and at an elevation of 1000 meters the highest of the three, was to Goshogake Onsen. Making my way around the volcanically active valley that surrounds the resort's lone ryokan, it was clear that much of the autumn foliage had already fallen, leaving just a few sprays of scorched red and yellow amid bare branches and evergreens.

At the hot spring's most iconic spot - the view across the Oyunuma Pond - the treetops were generally a dull brown with just a little orange left on show. Overall it was quite past its best and will no longer be worth the trip - at least for the colors - after a day or two.