Thursday 23 April 2015

Autumn in Japan

After the heat of the summer months, autumn offers a welcome respite to the Japanese. There are a few popular axioms, shokuyoku no aki, dokusho no aki and finally supotsu no aki. They basically mean autumn is for eating, reading and exercise respectively.

Autumn leaves at Nanzen-ji Kyoto.
Why would you go to Japan in autumn? There’s a laundry list of reasons, and like spring and its cherry blossoms, one of the main reasons involves trees, beautiful nature and stunning colours.

Koyo (aka Momiji)

The kanji, or Chinese characters, 紅葉 can be read two different ways, either as momiji, or more frequently as kouyo. It can be translated as "red leaves", "maple tree", "fall colors" or "leaves changing colors". Most commonly it refers to going out and spending time among the red, yellow and orange colours of the trees leaves as nature winds its way from summer to winter. Unlike the cherry blossoms, which bloom in the warmer south first, the kouyo starts in the north and starts to move south across the country in October.
There are a number of remarkable places to view kouyo. Some of our favourites include:

Beautiful Autumn leaves in Kyoto.


A wonderful mountain town in the Japanese Alps, with perfectly preserved Edo period architecture. Walking these old world streets while surrounded by mountains coated in red and yellow coloured trees is an unforgettable experience.


Mt Koya (usually called Koya-san) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the center of Shingon Buddhism. It is a spiritual, peaceful town. The cool autumn temperatures makes this a perfect time to experience a stay in a temple lodge while admiring the abundance of red and yellow autumn leaves.

Autumn in Koya-san.

Of course, not everywhere is bathed in red and yellow leaves at the same time. Towns and cities at higher altitudes often experience kouyo well before the lower cities due to their colder temperatures. Timing the viewing of kouyo can be tricky, but Unique Japan Tours have been known to time it pretty well! Contact our team of talented Japan Travel Specialists to get your trip started! 

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