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.
2015/11/17 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
Today as the autumn colors (koyo) approach the peak around western Japan, I spent the day closer to Tokyo and headed back down to the base of Mount Fuji to revisit the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko). When I came through the area on November 6th the season was only just getting going with the bulk of the colors being provided by the early changing cherry trees. However over the past 11 days almost all of the cherry leaves have fallen and the baton has been passed to the maples.
As usual, I like to start the day at the Chureito Pagoda to see the pagoda and Mount Fuji before the clouds come in. However, today's weather wasn't the best ever and the mountain already had a cap of white clouds covering it when I arrived. It wasn't a big loss though as the cherry trees around the pagoda were already bare. On top of that, there was some construction work being done, so all the best viewing spots were closed off and will remain closed until November 24th.
Just like last time it was the maple trees (and some larches) along the staircase up the mountain slope that provided the nicest colors today. It looked as though the peak was winding down however, so don't expect these colors to last too much longer.
Next I headed clockwise around the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko to the Koyo Tunnel, with its rows of maple trees that line the road. The maples here were right at the peak and looked like they will be nice for a while longer.
After visiting the Koyo Tunnel I made an unscheduled stop at the Kubota Itchiku Kimono Museum, which sits near the top of the Maple Corridor. The museum itself is fascinating, with some really unique architecture and a rotating exhibition of some truly amazing, hand-painted kimono. There are also quite a few maple trees planted around the museum's entrance gate which always look enticing around this point of the season. Today those maples were beckoning and drew me in to check them out.
I was not disappointed. Passing through the entrance gate leads to a nice garden that was surrounded by maple trees at their peak. There were also some maple trees further inside the paid area which lent a nice atmosphere to the museum's interesting architecture. Of course the kimono were spectacular as always, but you can see most of the colorful trees from the free areas.
Down the street was the top part of the Maple Corridor. The trees here have really improved since my last visit and were right at the peak showing nice golden yellows and vibrant oranges. If you are in the area in the evening be sure to check out the local autumn festival as the corridor will be illuminated until 22:00 in the evenings through the 23rd.
Not far away is the north shore of Lake Kawaguchiko, which is one of the most popular spots during the cherry blossom season. Unfortunately, the koyo season here was definitively over as the strong winds coming over the lake have stripped the trees bare.
My final stop today was to Yuyake no Nagisa Park along the southern shore of Lake Yamanakako. The trees here are usually ahead of those around Lake Kawaguchiko and were already approaching peak during my last visit. So it was not much of a surprise to find the park was deserted and the only leaves to be seen were those littering the ground.