by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com
This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.
2010/10/14 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
Today I went on a follow up visit to the Okunikko region, the Inner Nikko area in the mountains above the temples and shrines of Nikko, to check out the autumn colors (koyo). As I saw last week, due to the record heat this summer, the autumn colors are a week or two behind the typical year. This morning, the forests around Konsei Pass were really starting to turn and are becoming a patchwork of muted yellow, orange and red.
We were fighting the weather again this week, and this morning provided a rare window of sunshine. Lake Yumoto was covered in mist, as it always seems to be, but the atmosphere was nice, and the trees along the lakeshore are progressing nicely with gold, red, and orange leaves gradually appearing in areas that were completely green only last week .
At Senjogahara Marshland the marsh grasses were noticeably redder and more golden than last week. The larch trees have yet to really change, but are beginning to show hints of yellow along their edges.
Ryuzu Falls, one of the earliest developing areas in the Okunikko region, were significantly more vibrant today. Many, if not most, of the trees were already showing strong autumn colors, and I wouldn't be surprised if the area around the falls reaches its peak rather soon.
Lake Chuzenji was a lot more developed today. The exposed trees along the town streets (which I would expect to advance at a faster rate than the surrounding forests due to their exposure) look nearly at their peak today, while the forests along the lakeshore are beginning to get that patchwork look as more trees change color.
The weather was clear enough to visit the Chuzenji Skyline today, and the trees at the higher elevations were more advanced than the ones lakeside. Lots of yellows and reds especially could be seen along the mountain tops and ridges that surrounding the lake.
The Akechidaira Plateau was cloudy again today, but not as bad as last time. The leaves (at least those of the trees that I could see) are just beginning to turn. The gondola was running today and the parking area was quite crowded with people. In fact, all of Okunikko was rather crowded for a weekday and I encountered numerous tour buses throughout the day.
Unfortunately Kegon Falls was again covered in mist today, but the trees surrounding the falls were maybe ten to twenty percent yellower than last week.
The end of the trip was clear enough that I decided to return home via the Irohazaka Road that connects the inner Okunikko area to the temples and shrines of Nikko city. It was still pretty green along the road, but there were some nice vistas with the beginnings of autumn colors showing up amongst the trees. The state of the colors along the road was very similar to the upper Okunikko areas last week so I would guess that it will really start to show in about a week if the weather stays constant. From then on you can probably expect Okunikko to have some pretty nice colors and to be pretty crowded.