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.
2015/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Osaka
Today I headed east to continue reporting on the autumn colors (koyo) from the Kansai Region. After an early morning train ride, I arrived in Osaka, stowed my bags, and hopped a Hankyu train for the 30 minute trip to Minoo Park (also Romanized as Mino or Minoh) in the northern part of Osaka City. The park is a pocket of nature in an otherwise urban metropolis, and is one of the better autumn color spots in Osaka. Minoo Park also shares a similar relationship to its city as Mount Takao does with Tokyo, in that they are both nature retreats within the easy reach of the city.
Hikers arrive at Minoo Station, from where roads lead an easy 3 kilometers walk into a gorge that cuts through the mountains. Along the way you can see all kinds of maples and other colorful foliage that line the road, river and various hiking paths that lead around the mountains until you reach the 33 meter high Minoo Waterfall in the back of the park.
Like most mountainous areas, there can be quite a difference in the state of the colors around Minoo Park depending on elevation. And today the colors were already pretty good in the higher regions and mountaintops when you could catch glimpses of them through the morning drizzle. But the maple trees around the lower slopes and especially around the entrance to the park were still improving and not quite at the peak yet.
After about an hour's walk I arrived at the waterfall, which was surrounded by some of the better colors of the day. The leaves were still approaching peak, however, and should continue to improve over the next week or so.
After returning back to central Osaka I headed over to Osaka Castle to see how it fares as a koyo spot. While we visit the castle at least annually for its cherry blossoms, I think this is the first time that we've gone specifically to check out the autumn colors. The grounds are essentially a large forested park with all manner of stately trees planted around it that we were expecting to be nice. And if all else failed, the cherry trees around the castle would provide some nice steely red and burnt orange foliage if in season.
It looked promising when I arrived at the castle grounds, as I could see rows of reddish orange cherry trees and some golden ginkgoes hanging over the edges of the castle walls and out over the moats. Not quite the dense concentrations of colorful trees as you'll often find in gardens, but more dotted with trees as is common in city parks. The nice foliage persisted as you got closer and closer to the keep, while inside the main bailey the colors were mostly provided by single trees here and there
After visiting the main bailey I went to go check out the lower parts of the castle grounds to the east which became more and more city park-like as you got farther and farther away from the keep. It was easy to find colorful trees around the paths and I also stumbled into what looked like a newly constructed area filled with young maple trees. Overall the castle park turned out to be a nice city autumn color spot with plenty of colorful foliage to enjoy while strolling about. The colors looked to still be in the early stages, especially as the early changing cherry trees were at their peak, so it should continue to be enjoyable over the next few weeks.