Staff Reports
Raina's Japan Travel Journal
by Raina, staff writer of japan-guide.com

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2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai

View from the bridge at Nakatsugawa Gorge

After a day out in Lake Towada yesterday, I headed to Urabandai in Fukushima Prefecture for another day of autumn colors. Due to the large change in elevation around the mountain, autumn colors around Urabandai tend to be good for about a month as they make their way down the slopes.

The weather forecast for today was for rain and generally cooler temperatures and I was worried about how it would affect the views. However, my worries were unfounded as the views from about 800 to 1300 meters were at their peak: beautiful and filled with yellow, orangey-red leaves. From Fukushima Station, I picked up a rental car and drove on the very scenic Bandai-Azuma Skyline towards my first stop, Jododaira. Near the lower levels, the trees were still green, but once we climbed higher towards 600 meters, the colors exploded into view and remained that way until about 1300 meters where the autumn color season was over.

At around 1600 meters, the autumn color season was over at Jododaira. The volcanic terrain reminded me of Mars and had me imagining the Mars scene from Total Recall. I joined the other tourists and climbed to the top of Azuma-Kofuji at 1707 meters to look down the crater; the path is wide enough to walk around the crater, however there are no ropes or fences that prevent people from falling over.

Started the day with blue skies towards Jododaira
View of Mount Azuma
Visitors can walk around the crater on the rocky terrain
Looking down at the Jododaira visitors area
Clouds rolling in and the skies became overcast

The Bandai-Azuma Lake Line was lined with trees at their peak of the season, looking like they were on fire with orangey-red and yellow leaves. I had to tell myself to concentrate on driving as the scenery and view at each turn was fantastic and all I could think of were "That's a great view!" and "I want to stop and take some pictures here".

The autumn colors at Nakatsugawa Gorge were at their peak and will remain so for a while more. There were many tourists there by the time I arrived and I joined some of them walking down to the gorge. The path was a little slippery walking down to the gorge as it had been drizzling and the area by the gorge was slick from the drizzle, sprays from the river and wet leaves. All this did not stop the tripod-wielding photographers from getting their pictures and the seasoned photographers even had their rain boots on. Best views of the autumn colors, however are from the bridge over the gorge as you can see the wall of red, yellow trees with the gorge at the bottom.

Autumn colors along the Lake Line making for a beautiful drive
Red and yellow maples
Visitors walking back up to the parking area from the gorge
Down at Nakatsugawa Gorge
Small yellow maples against green moss
Photographers and their tripods, you can hardly see the bridge from here
More people along the bridge taking in the beautiful view
River flowing between walls of trees at Nakatsugawa Gorge

Finally, I drove to Goshikinuma and went on a short walk along the lakes. There were more tourists here compared to Nakatsugawa Gorge and Jododaira. I walked along the largest lake which had beautiful blue waters and incredibly large koi fishes. The autumn colors here were not as impressive with more green than yellow and red leaves.

On my way back, I took the Bandaisan Gold Line to complete my tour of the skylines in the Bandai area. The Gold Line is a toll road that normally costs 730 yen, but is currently free to promote tourism. Due to its elevation (between 800 to 1200 meters) the autumn colors here were also at their peak and made the return journey very enjoyable. I also managed to get to see a sea of clouds (unkai) over the lake and town below as it had been raining and the cooler temperatures made it possible. However, it also meant that the final part of my drive was not as enjoyable as I had to drive through a thick fog back to the station.

Painting at the lake despite the rain
At the biggest lake at Goshikinuma
All these colors from the one tree against the blue lake
Goshikinuma and peach flavored soft cream
The trees at the Happodai trailhead looking a little sparse
From a viewpoint along the Gold Line
The lake and town below covered in clouds
You can make out the ski slopes from here
Coniferous trees and autumn foliage
Autumn foliage with Mount Bandai in the background

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List of Posts:
2018/12/31 - 2018 Travel Highlights
2018/10/25 - Business as usual at Tsukiji Outer Market
2018/08/19 - Hello Kitty Shinkansen
2018/05/16 - Cruising Tokyo's waterways
2018/04/17 - Wisteria blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park
2018/01/18 - Shinanomachi, the Backcountry of Nagano

2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2017/10/25 - The 45th Tokyo Motor Show
2017/10/11 - Dipping into the three onsen towns of Yamanaka, Yamashiro and Katayamazu
2017/07/24 - Remote Riches in Toyama
2017/07/03 - Spiritual Chichibu
2017/05/02 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2017/04/14 - Sneak Peek from Ginza Six
2017/03/21 - A bit of everything in Fukui
2017/03/13 - Nikko Toshogu Uncovered
2017/02/15 - Subculture in Ikebukuro
2017/02/07 - Travel to the Goto Islands
2017/02/06 - Nagasaki Lantern Festival

2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/12/19 - Winter Illuminations in Tokyo
2016/10/24 - The way of old on the Kunisaki Peninsula
2016/10/11 - Following the Tadami Line in Oku Aizu
2016/08/27 - Fool's Dance at Koenji Awa Odori
2016/08/16 - The three sacred mountains of Dewa Sanzan
2016/06/20 - Train travel into the Ise-Shima region
2016/04/03 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2016/03/08 - The hunt for Namahage on the Oga Peninsula
2016/03/02 - Sake Sangria
2016/02/20 - Tokyo Plum Blossom Report
2016/01/26 - Tour de Reinan: Obama, Oi and Takahama
2016/01/25 - Tour de Reinan: Tsuruga, Mihama and Wakasa

2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/10 - 48 hours in Tokushima
2015/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Kankakei
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/10 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Koyasan
2015/11/08 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2015/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Dazaifu
2015/10/28 - The 44th Tokyo Motor Show
2015/10/21 - Hirado, where East meets West
2015/10/20 - Kujukushima Islands and Winter Illumination at Huis Ten Bosch
2015/10/19 - Navigating the Christian sites in Nagasaki
2015/10/18 - Cosplay at Haco Stadium Tokyo
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2015/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2015/09/24 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2015/09/16 - Nakanojo Biennale 2015
2015/08/19 - Traditional culture and hot springs of the Aizu Region
2015/08/17 - Nature and Hot Springs at Naruko Onsen
2015/08/04 - Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale 2015
2015/04/30 - Sapporo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/29 - Hakodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/23 - Kakunodate Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/22 - Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/21 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/16 - Sendai Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/09 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/08 - Fukushima Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/06 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/02 - Nara Cherry Blossom Report
2015/04/01 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/31 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/27 - Fukuoka Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/26 - Kumamoto Cherry Blossom Report
2015/03/25 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Sendai
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Tokyo
2014/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kanazawa
2014/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
2014/11/20 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Korankei
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Miyajima
2014/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji
2014/10/31 - Autumn Color Report: Karuizawa
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2014/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2014/10/01 - Autumn Color Report: Oze National Park
2014/09/29 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/06/19 - Toranomon Hills opens in Tokyo
2014/04/24 - Kitakami Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/23 - Morioka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/22 - Aizu-Wakamatsu Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/16 - Matsumoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/15 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/14 - Yoshino Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/13 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/12 - Kanazawa Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/10 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/06 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/05 - Hiroshima Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/04 - Osaka Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/03 - Kyoto Cherry Blossom Report
2014/04/02 - Nagoya Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/31 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/26 - Tokyo Cherry Blossom Report
2014/03/04 - Early Tokyo Blossom Report