Autumn is absolutely my favorite time of the year. I’m at my peak in autumn, with the most energy and motivation (which makes it a great time to finish WIPs and hold NaNoWriMo). I always used to love the turning of colors back in the states, but none of that, at least not in the midwest where I come from, can compare to the glory that is autumn colors – or 紅葉 ‘koyo’ – in Japan. (Japanese like to tell foreigners and newcomers, “Japan has four seasons!” like Japan is the only country on the planet that goes through those seasons on a yearly basis.)
Koyo here doesn’t start until much later than I’m used to – I come from midwest America, where several years growing up saw snow during Halloween trick-or-treating. Japan is a milder climate, so the colors here in Tokyo don’t start turning until mid-November, and usually don’t reach anything resembling peak until the end of the month, which means they stay until the first few weeks in December! This leads up nicely into the winter holidays, so it’s a great change from seeing blizzards before Thanksgiving. If you are really craving those autumn colors as a Tokyoite, you can follow them down the country by traveling to the north and west mountain regions, which see koyo come as early as the beginning of October.
I do a lot of traveling in the fall – most of my ‘exploring Japan’ trips happened during the fall, and when I got married, I insisted that the wedding be in the fall, too. It’s my favorite time of the year! If you ever want to visit Japan, visit in mid-November, as it’s the only truly wonderful time to be here.
Tokyo is a concrete jungle, but it’s also home to some really nice koyo viewing parks. You can start up early by doing some easy day hikes from the metropolitan area and hit the colors in early November, and then by the end of the month, all you have to do is find your favorite local park and settle on in! I tend to take a lot of photographs during these months, but I thought I’d share a few of my favorites so everyone can see the beautiful sights that I’m talking about.
(From the summit of Mt. Takao, Nov. 2012)
(Hiking up Mt. Mitsutoge, Dec. 2013)
(Oirase Stream in Aomori prefecture, Oct. 2014)
(Hiking Mt. Mizugaki in Yamanashi prefecture, Oct. 2015)