|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.
2014/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan, but due to its relatively southern location and bald top, it is not the first place in the country or even on Honshu to see autumn colors. On Mount Fuji's northern side, trees and bushes grow up to an elevation of around 2500 meters or until around the 5th Station. Colors usually start appearing in early October. By now, the colors have descend into the Fuji Five Lake region at the volcano's northern base (at an elevation of around 1000 meters), but the season there was still at an early stage today. In slightly higher elevations, however, the season was in full swing.
I started the day early, arriving at the trailhead to Mount Mitsutoge at 5am. By sunrise, shortly before 6am, I stood near the top of the 1785 meter tall mountain and enjoyed surreal scenes of Mount Fuji rising out of a sea of clouds. The autumn colors around the peak of Mount Mitsutoge were near their peak, and the rising sun further enhanced their red tones.
Mount Mitsutoge is popularly accessed via one of three hiking trails. One starts at Mitsutoge Station along the Fujikyu Railway (about 3-4 hours uphill), one starts at the upper station of the Kachi Kachi Ropeway (about 3 hours uphill), while I took the steep 60 minute ascent from a trailhead west of the peak which can only be accessed by car (except on weekends outside of winter when there are buses from Kawaguchiko Station).
Next I drove up to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, halfway up Mount Fuji. The Subaru Line toll road, which connects the Fuji Five Lake area with the 5th Station, was lined by colorful trees virtually along its entire length of 30 kilometers. The colors in the lower half of the road were provided by a variety of trees and ranged from yellow to orange and red, while golden larch trees dominated the upper half of the road. The 5th Station itself was also surrounded by golden larch trees at their best. Their sight and the views down onto the sea of clouds delighted the large numbers of - dominantly foreign - tourists on the mountain.
Down in the Fuji Five Lake region, I stopped by the lakeside parks of Lake Yamanakako. An autumn color festival is held at the Yuyake no Nagisa Park near Asahigaoka/Yamanakako bus stop until November 9 with daily illuminations from 16:30 to 21:00. The park's trees were still mostly green today and just starting to change colors with the exception of a few scattered maple and cherry trees that were already vibrantly colorful.
The Chureito Pagoda is surrounded by cherry trees, which tend to change colors a few days ahead of maple trees. Today, the cherry trees were already quite advanced (although not particularly vibrant - which is not uncommon for cherry trees) and provided a nice scenery together with the five-storied pagoda and Mount Fuji which had become partially visible in the meantime.
The colors around Lake Kawaguchiko were also generally at an early state. An autumn color festival will be held around the Maple Corridor at the lake's northern shores from November 1 to 24 with daily illumination until 21:00.