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.
2010/10/27 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
Today I went on another follow up visit to the Okunikko region, following my previous visits on October 5, 2010 and October 14, 2010. As expected, the season is coming to a close in the higher elevations of Okkunikko a few weeks later than normal due to this years delayed autumn season.
A sudden cold snap brought bitter cold and a light dusting of snow to the top of Konsei Pass this morning, and nearly all the trees, except the late turning yellow larch, have already dropped their leaves.
Lake Yumoto was also rather drab with only a few yellow and red trees left along its shore. A similar view could be seen looking out over the top of Yudaki Falls. The forest below had very prominent gray patches of dormant, leafless trees.
At Senjogahara Marshland the marsh grasses have peaked and noticeably faded compared to previous trips. Again, the numerous gray leafless trees and late changing yellow larch signal that the end of the season is approaching.
Ryuzu Falls, one of the earliest developing areas in the Okunikko region, was also in significant decline compared to previous trips. Soon the only colors left to see will be green and grey.
On a brighter note, while everything above Lake Chuzenji is winding down for the season, the lake area is just around its peak. The shoreline is vibrant with color, and the road up the Chuzenji Skyline was glowing orange, and many people were out enjoying the views and taking photographs. Unfortunately, this also meant that the traffic around the lake was pretty heavy today (especially considering its a weekday) and nearly every parking lot was filled to capacity.
The weather was pretty good today despite a uninspiring forecast, and I finally got some good weather up at the Akechidaira Plateau. The leaves under the ropeway are also around their peak and I would have liked to have checked out the view from the ropeway except that the waiting line was over 100 people long.
I also finally had good weather at Kegon Falls today, and the leaves around the waterfall are at the same state as the rest of the Lake Chuzenji area. The colors appear less brilliant than in past years, however, which is probably due to the record heat this past summer.
The last few pictures were taken along the downhill section of the Irohazaka Road. It was busy today, but there wasn't any traffic jams yet as it was still morning. The colors are just around their peak along the road, so I expect that its going to be a very busy weekend around Nikko and Lake Chuzenji.
I mentioned that it was pretty crowded today, but the picture showing the uphill section of the Irohazaka Road above might give a better idea of what I'm talking about. That's bumper to bumper traffic of slow moving cars as far as I can see... at 10:30 AM on a Wednesday. On weekends it becomes a virtual parking lot, so try to avoid most of the crowds and come on a weekday if possible.
Because of the difference in elevation, Okunikko has an advanced autumn colors (koyo) schedule compared to Nikko and you can expect the colors to gradually make their way down to the town area around the temples and shrines soon.