|Schauwecker's Japan Travel Blog|
by Stefan Schauwecker, webmaster of japan-guide.com
This blog is intended to record some of my travel activities in Japan.
2009/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Fuji Five Lakes
This year's autumn colors seem to be descending into the lower elevations and southern latitudes of Japan about a week earlier than in previous years. Trees in Tokyo and Kyoto have already started coloring, but the peak of the season there won't be reached for another week or two. Around Tokyo, colors are currently best at altitudes of around 1000 meters, and that is where we headed today. For the second time this season, we paid a visit to Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko).
When we visited the area two weeks ago, cherry trees were at the peak of their autumnal beauty, but the more vibrant maple trees were only starting to change. Today, while the cherry trees had already dropped most of their foliage, the maple trees have reached their peak, providing breathtaking views of orange and red colors in combination with Mount Fuji and the lakes.
The best spots for viewing Mount Fuji in combination with maple trees are found along the northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko. There we joined many other photographers, trying to combine all three elements, the leaves, the lake and the mountain, into beautiful photographs. Early mornings are the best time for a visit, when light conditions and visibility tend to be relatively good. Later during the day (typically after around 9-10am) clouds often build around the mountain's top even on days with fair weather.
Another good spot for views of Mount Fuji is the Chureito Pagoda in the hills north of Fujiyoshida City, a 15-20 minute walk from Shimo-Yoshida Station. Also famous as a cherry blossom spot in mid April, the pagoda is surrounded mostly by cherry trees, that must have provided a great sight in combination with the pagoda and Mount Fuji about two weeks ago. Today, the cherry trees were all barren, but a small number of maple and ginko trees along the ascent to the pagoda did provide some colors, nevertheless.
We estimate that the Fuji Five Lake region should remain colorful and worth an autumn leaf visit for at least another week. A festival with light up of trees in the evenings is held until November 23, 2009 around the northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko.