During autumn in Japan, the magical reddening of the leaves of deciduous trees occurs, especially that of Japanese maples. This colorful spectacle is one of the most beautiful that takes place on the planet, however, in Japan it enjoys a particular charm and amazing popularity . People from all over the world travel to Japan to see how all the trees in its streets and parks turn red and orange during the autumn season.
This enchanting season is popularly called Kōyō or Momiji, a typical Japanese name that alludes to the Japanese maple, the tree that gives life to this beauty of nature. Also, this variety of maple is native to Japan and is found almost everywhere in the country.
The Momiji presents its greatest splendor between the months of October and November . Because it moves from north to south, according to the drop in temperature, it usually ends in December on the island of Okinawa in southern Japan. Therefore, today we are going to tell you everything you need to know to fully enjoy the Kōyō or Momiji, this being one of the best times to visit Japan .
JAPANESE AUTUMN OR MOMIJI
Momiji begins to occur in northern Japan when temperatures drop and trees stop photosynthesizing to prepare for winter. At the end of September, what is known as Irodzuki can be seen in the trees of the mountainous island of Hokkaido. It is an orange coloration of the tips of the leaves of the maple trees, being a state that follows after the Mada (green leaf).
The shades of colors are diverse and appear differently in different areas of Japan, depending on the temperature drops. Even the Japan Meteorological Agency and the Japan Meteorological Corporation function as the two most reliable organizations that provide Momiji calendars. These calendars try to predict the dates on which autumn will exhibit its greatest charm in Japanese cities .
The Momiji has become a very important natural event for all Japanese , millions of people from this Asian country mobilize during the season to tour the country along with the advance of low temperatures and the change of color of the leaves. In addition to this, thousands of tourists arrive every week to the cities where the momiji is at its highest and most colorful. For this reason, it is possible that the accommodations are sold out or reach a high price, if they are not reserved in advance. In this sense, it is recommended that you plan your trip in advance, so you will avoid setbacks as well as unexpected expenses.
PLACES TO ENJOY THE MOMIJI
Normally, when people plan a vacation trip, time is limited. Therefore, it is important to make an itinerary with the places to be visited and the activities to be carried out. The official website of Japan Tourism offers schedules and important information so you can enjoy the Momiji. With the help of the calendar, you will know the cities where the Momiji is at its highest point as well as a list of parks and places of interest where the climatic event offers unparalleled beauty.
If you are one of those travelers who have little time to explore Japan, you should continue reading this article, since at Mondo we have prepared a selection of the most beautiful cities to enjoy autumn in Japan .
The mountainous island of Hokkaido is one of the first places where the leaves begin to change color. During mid-September to the end of September, the tips of the maple leaves begin to turn yellow, the most colorful days of Momiji in Hokkaido occur during the first days of October . However, in Daisetsuzan National Park Momiji occurs early, from mid-September the national park is dressed in orange, yellow and red, this place is ideal for outdoor camping and connecting with nature.
Noboribetsu Valley is another beautiful place in Hokkaido to see autumn, where the views are most impressive, as countless geysers erupt with hot springs, which combine with the orange and red colors that autumn offers.
Majestic scenery is also available in Shiretoko National Park, this park is located on a peninsula in the extreme northeast of Hokkaido. For the ancient Ainu, a Japanese indigenous tribe, this place was the end of the earth, it was the point furthest north and east that they knew. There the maple trees are covered in red during mid-October. Hokkaido is a great place to enjoy autumn with activities like hiking and backpacking.
Kyoto is an imperial city where the best of Japanese architecture is exhibited . The city has great palaces, temples and parks that are surrounded by countless Japanese maples, for this reason, it is a special place to enjoy Momiji.
The Arashiyama Bamboo Forest is one of the quintessential places to visit in Kyoto during any time of the year, but during the fall its beauty is also special, since all the surroundings of the park also have abundant deciduous trees. During the autumn its beauty is exceptional, even in this forest the Festival of the kōyō or Momiji is usually organized every year.
Kiyomizudera Temple, Higashiyama , offers the most impressive autumn view in Kyoto. This temple is located on one of the hills with the best views of the city, it has a spectacular platform that rises on hundreds of pillars, likewise, at its feet are hundreds of maples that are dyed red during mid-November and early December.
The Kifune-jinja Shrine, kibune, is another of those mystical places that cannot be missed during your visit to Japan . It is located north of Kyoto and offers a centuries-old stone staircase that is surrounded by dozens of lamps, its appearance will take you back centuries, it is a fantastic experience during the fall.
This place is part of the mountain range known as the Japanese Alps, there from mid-October to early November, the color red takes over the Japanese maples. A very visited place is the famous “Swan Lake” , popularly known as such, but its official name is Lake Kumoba Karuizawa. This pond is calm, ideal for meditating and relaxing, and it is also surrounded by many trees that change their color during the fall.
Zenkoji Temple is one of the most spectacular places in Nagano , it has few maples and deciduous trees, however, it is fascinating during any time of the year. This temple has more than 1,400 years of history, it is still intact. To get to it you must travel through Omotesando Avenue, an avenue that is surrounded by magnificent architecture, in addition, the avenue integrates some beautiful stone lamps, there are 48 lamps that are distributed from the beginning of the avenue to the temple.
One of the most interesting attractions of Nagano is that you can stay in the popular shukubo temples , these temples transmit peace and tranquility. They are surrounded by numerous maples and offer an impressive view during the fall.
This city known for its great abundance of deer is one of the most traditional in the country. In this population, the leaves turn red from the beginning of November to the beginning of December, by mid-December the leaves begin to fall with a yellow color. The Momiji is a spectacle from start to finish in Nara, the Isuien Garden is a must-see in the city, there are the Todai-ji and Kofuku-ji temples, both surrounded by magical ponds, gardens and deciduous trees.
The Tanzan Shrine is also a must during your autumn tour in Nara , this shrine was where the great Nakatomi no Katamari discussed the Taika reform, said character later also became Emperor Tenji. This shrine has 17 architectural structures of great importance, including a 13-story wooden pagoda, the only ancient pagoda of this size still standing in Japan. Only in the surroundings of the sanctuary have been counted more than 3000 deciduous trees that change their color during the fall, the landscape of this sanctuary is unique!
If you want to spot deer, Nara Park is the place to be . Located at the foot of Mount Wakakusa, this park is dominated by cherry trees and Japanese maples. This enclave is surprising both in spring and autumn. In addition, the deer walk calmly through the park, they have become accustomed to humans and approach with their great beauty.
Throughout the month of October Nikko is dressed in the fascinating colors of momiji, to enjoy its maximum splendor we recommend starting the tour through mountain sites that allow you to go hiking and have contact with nature.
Lake Chuzenji is one of the favorite places to visit Nikko, this lake reflects all the orange and red colors around it to offer a unique experience that you will remember for a lifetime. The trails are beautiful, many passages are totally red, and the forest is totally calm.
Another place you must visit is the Ryuzu Falls, for many this place is the best in Nikko, although we see it very crowded during the kōyō. But in reality, it is a place that you should not miss, these falls are impressive, they are surrounded by thousands of maples that create nuances of colors that go from red to yellow, apart from the strong sound of the falls and their head shape dragon is awesome.
To enjoy the kōyō in the urban area of Nikko, we recommend the Shinkyo Bridge, a Japanese-style bridge that leads to the Futarasan Shrine . There you can appreciate many maples with red leaves, a bridge that crosses over a river, paths of ancient architecture, stone lamps, and much more.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRAVELING TO JAPAN IN AUTUMN
Traveling to any foreign country requires certain precautions to deal with local conditions. Although Japan during the fall has a pleasant climate, we offer you some recommendations so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.
During the autumn in Japan the temperatures begin to drop, but unlike other countries here the temperatures drop gradually, they can be 18 degrees at the end of September and reach 7 degrees at the end of November. These ranges may vary according to the area where you want to travel. For this reason, it is important to consult the calendars offered by official tourism organizations and wear appropriate clothing for the Japanese climate. It is always advisable to bring warm clothes for the months of October to November .
During mid-September, the days are still warm, and at the end of September the days are still cool, but they are not cold. Warm clothing in the last days of September may be useful if you want to go out at night. But in October the days already begin to have temperatures of 18 degrees and 14 degrees. During this month you can use a thin coat for your outings during the day and long pants.
When November arrives the temperatures are much cooler, especially in the north of Japan . The temperature can be between 14 degrees and 7 degrees, this would force you to dress in warm clothes, use a scarf and perhaps gloves. In relation to footwear, it is recommended to wear leather shoes and avoid sports shoes, since these are not very pleasant during the coldest days.
During the Japanese autumn you can also enjoy the festivals that take place throughout the country, many of them have rotating dates, this makes it advisable to check the official tourism websites in Japan to know the exact date of each one of them. their festivals.
The Himeji Wrestling Festival is one of the most popular, this festival takes place on October 14 and 15 every year. In this festival, men can join a mikoshi, or portable temple, according to their age, of which there are three and are distinguished by a colored scarf that is placed on the head. It is not as such an event of fight or competition between two people, but between the three mikoshi they hit each other without any rules or order with their shide (bamboo sticks). When a portable temple or side dominates, it is declared the winner.
The Kurama Fire Festival is another important event, where thousands of men wear only traditional underwear as clothing, in addition, they carry torches made of pine wood and fat, which are lit to illuminate the march at night. The songs that are sung are epic, there is an atmosphere of hubbub and it is a special moment to enjoy with the locals. This festival takes place north of Kyoto, in the small town of Kurama.
In Kyoto, on the same day, the Jidai Matsuri is celebrated, a festival where soldiers in imperial clothing march accompanied by large bands in typical Japanese clothing, drums and traditional dances. You can visit this festival during the day and travel to Kurama in the afternoon to enjoy the Fire Festival at night.
Japanese cuisine is exquisite and during Momiji there are delicious dishes that you cannot miss. Did you know that there are some Japanese mushrooms called matsutake mushrooms that can cost up to 2,000 euros per kg ? But do not be alarmed, when visiting Japan in autumn, the volume of mushrooms in forests is abundant and within Japan their price drops considerably. You can try many dishes with this delicious ingredient that is very expensive in other countries.
During the fall there is also a traditional activity known as the “Maple Leaf Hunt” . This activity is carried out in a family way and the Japanese go to the forests to collect leaves that have recently fallen. This in order to make tempura with them, the fresher the maple leaves are, the more delicious your tempura will be. Many Japanese restaurants offer this typical dish during the fall.
Finally, we recommend the momiji oroshi, which is a dish with a strong and exotic flavor . It is made up of Japanese spicy paste, daikon (white radish) and ito togarashi (red chili pepper). This dish is one of the most striking proposals during the kōyō, in addition, it has red shades common during the time.
TRAVEL TO JAPAN PROTECTED WITH MONDO
If you want to enjoy autumn in Japan to the fullest, you should venture out on hiking trails through the vast Japanese wilderness. During each walk, you will be exposed to different factors. Therefore, it is advisable to have travel insurance that provides assistance in any unexpected situation. But this is not all: insurance to travel to Japan must have extensive coverage, from medical assistance to accident coverage. In Japan the laws are strict and medical services are expensive.
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