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.
2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
Today we paid a visit to the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko) region along the northern side of Mount Fuji. At about 1000 meters above sea level, the area normally sees its autumn foliage about three weeks earlier than Tokyo.
One reason for checking out Fujigoko today was to report on the state of the autumn colors ahead of forum member snkfreak's upcoming visit. Using his itinerary as a rough guide, our first stop of the day was to the Chureito Pagoda, a five story pagoda on a hill overlooking Fujiyoshida City and Mount Fuji in the distance.
Chureito is mostly surrounded by cherry trees which change to a dull red color relatively early in the season. Today the cherry trees were nice colors and probably about the best they'll ever get. Several maples were also beginning to color around the pagoda, especially along the stairs leading down the hill and around the main shrine buildings at the bottom of the slope. Unfortunately, the weather was bad and Mount Fuji couldn't be seen in the distance.
Next we headed over to Lake Kawaguchiko and stopped around the ryokan along the lake's eastern shore. Some of the lakeside maples in this area were already beautiful shades of red, however the trees higher up the slopes and along the Kachi Kachi Ropeway are only just beginning to change.
The cherry trees along the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko were also approaching their peak, and lots of nice red foliage could be seen today. The maples in this area were also starting to change colors, especially along the main road and around the Kubota Itchiku Kimono Museum. Most of the trees along the relatively sheltered Maple Corridor, however, were still very green. The area is currently having a koyo festival until November 18th with food stalls, crafts stalls, and light up events in the evenings (until 10PM).
A little ways further around the lake is the Koyo Tunnel, one of our favorite spots to see autumn colors in the Fujigoko region. The trees along the Koyo Tunnel are usually a little behind those around the rest of the northern shore, and today was no exception. The colors were surprisingly good though, and should only continue to improve over the next week or so.
Our next stop was Lake Yamanakako, the largest and one of the most popular of the Fuji Five Lakes. Usually the north shore of Lake Yamanakako offers the best views of Mount Fuji, but today was so overcast that you couldn't see the mountain. Instead we stuck to the Yuyake no Nagisa Park near the Asahigaoka bus stop (also known as Yamanakako bus stop). This 600 meter long, lakeside path is surrounded by hundreds of maple trees. As expected, the maple leaves were only just beginning to change and were still pretty green around the area. Expect it to continue improving over the next week.
This area also has a Koyo Festival similar to the one held at Lake Kawaguchiko, complete with food stalls and evening illuminations from 16:30 to 21:00. This festival runs a little shorter than the one at Lake Kawaguchiko and will be held until November 11th.
We ended our day with a visit to Fujikyu Highland, a popular amusement park known for its awesome roller coasters such as Fujiyama and Eejanaika. Although we weren't really expecting to see any autumn foliage, we were pleasantly surprised to see some nice ginkgo and maple trees that were showing their autumn colors. Like the rest of Fujigoko, it looks like the trees around Fujikyu Highland should peak in a week or so.