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.
2010/11/09 - Autumn Color Report: Fujigoko
Today we made a trip to the Fuji Five Lakes area around Mount Fuji to check out the autumn colors (koyo). The first stop of the day was at the Chureito Pagoda, a popular photography spot that looks out over Fujiyoshida City with Mount Fuji in the distance. The trees around the pagoda are mostly cherry trees which usually change color early in the koyo season. Today the cherry trees were almost barren and not very attractive, however there were a few maple trees along the approach to the pagoda that were bright red and yellow and appear to be approaching full color.
Next I headed over to the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko to a spot along the shore that we often go to to see cherry blossoms. Again the as there were mostly cherry trees in this area the trees were past their prime and have lost a good percentage of their leaves. But along other parts of Lake Kawaguchi, especially as you move away from the exposed lakeshore, were much more brilliant and filled with maples that are just reaching their peak. In fact the area is having a Koyo Festival right now to celebrate the peak season, and there are quite a few food stalls and street vendors around to serve the leaf viewers.
The next spot was an area a little further along the coast of Lake Kawaguchiko where the maple trees form a koyo tunnel over the road. The trees here were a few days behind our last stop and are still showing a little green. But with the right light this is one of the best koyo spots in the area, and it should only be getting better over the next few days.
The next stop was Koyodai, a large hill in the middle of the Aoki Jukai Forest around Lake Saiko. We had previously visited a different area of the trails around Koyodai, but this time I headed up to the 360 degree lookout point. It turns out that you can drive up a very bumpy unpaved road, and at the top I was suprised to find rather large parking lot and an observation deck on the roof of a very old looking restaurant. The views from the Koyodai were spectacular and you could view the entire Fuji Five Lakes region from the observation deck.
The final stop of the day was at Lake Yamanakako, the largest and one of the most popular of the Fuji Five Lakes . The north shore of Lake Yamanakako offers the best views of Mount Fuji, and the trees and koyo shrubs around the lake appear to be around their peak as there were around the other parts of the Fuji Five Lakes today. Again, like other parts of the country the hot summer has had a dulling effect on the autumn colors around Mount Fuji. It seems that they are not as bright in years past, however, perhaps its due to the high percentage of maple trees around here, but I think that these have been the brightest colors that I have seen this year so far.