Touring the best of Mt. Fuji Five Lakes area in just one evening

View from the north shore of Lake Kawaguchiko
View from the north shore of Lake Kawaguchiko

Calmed waters inhabited by koi fish and swans, adorable thatched roof cottages, open fields carpeted with tulips or sunflowers and serene torii gates nestled in the forest, these are just some of the sights found in the Fuji Five Lakes area with the iconic Mt. Fuji at its center. The most convenient way to reach the area from Tokyo is on the Holiday Rapid Fujisan No. 1, which departs Shinjuku station and takes passengers directly to Kawaguchiko without the need to transfer to any other train or the need to pay any express rates. At Kawaguchiko, there are sightseeing bus tours that offer visitors the opportunity to make the most out of their time by taking them to the most iconic spots in a comfortable bus including transportation and admission fees as well as an automatic audio guide in English, Chinese and Thai.

There are two different courses available, both starting from either the Fuji Q Highland Highway bus terminal or Kawaguchiko Station. The “AM” course is a morning tour that goes to the 4th station of the Fuji Subaru line for impressive views at the observatory, then on to the 5th station where visitors can grab a bite and visit the nearby Komitake Shrine. Passengers have the option to stay in the area to explore or come back to Kawaguchiko station.

The “PM” course takes visitors across Ohashi Bridge for postcard views of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko and then heads to Lake Yamanakako where tourists get off the bus and board a boat shaped like a giant white swan to cruise its calmed waters. The bus then passes Hana-no-Miyako Park, where depending on the season, enthusiast photographers can snap a picture of fields covered in flowers. Passengers also visit Oshino Hakkai Village, with its traditional houses and clear ponds. The tour ends with a visit to Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen-jinja shrine, a sacred place that marks the beginning of one of the routes to climb Mt. Fuji.

Three of our WAttention Ninja had the opportunity to experience the PM course and this is what they had to say.

Janina Karlman

I felt so relaxed when we arrived at Kawaguchiko, like we had just found a refuge from Tokyo’s big city life. First we strolled around the streets, took a lot of pictures, especially near the Lake Kawaguchiko where the cherry blossoms greeted us with their presence!
Later, we visited a Kimono rental shop, where the professional staff helped us with both hair and kimono and the final result was stunning! Afterwards, we headed back to the bus station to join the “Fuji Five Lakes Sightseeing Bus Tour”. The tour was in a comfortable bus, with friendly staff and an audio guide in several languages, to help those whose Japanese is not so great (like me). We did so many fun things, like getting on a big Swan-shaped boat across Lake Yamanakako, we walked around Oshino Hakkai Village, where locals asked us if they could take our picture because we were wearing kimono. I felt like a rockstar. But my absolute favorite place of the tour was the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen-jinja Shrine. It was very beautiful and I enjoyed the sacred atmosphere of the shrine.
roddy2
roddy3
The day started well as we enjoyed the view of the countryside and the beautiful nature on the train ride from Shinjuku station to Kawaguchiko. We walked around the lake enjoying the fresh air and the wonderful natural landscape. We then stopped by a kimono rental shop, where we picked out a kimono to wear for the day. Afterwards, we joined the sightseeing bus tour, which took us to the nearby Lake Yamanakako, where we boarded a swan-shaped boat. We took a seat at a sofa in the corner of the boat and sipped coffee, which we bought at the bar of the boat as we enjoyed the calmed 20 minute ride. We then headed to Oshino Hakkai Village. What a beautiful place! with its small ponds and crystal clear water. Here, I felt like a model because lots of people wanted to take our picture with the cherry trees in the background. Finally, after a few more minutes in the bus, we arrived at Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen-jinja Shrine, where we enjoyed the beautiful nature and the peaceful atmosphere it gave the shrine.

Dagmar Warnecke

simon2
1simon
simon3

Marie-Louise Straub

The day started at Shinjuku station where we took the Holiday Rapid Fujisan No.1 to Kawaguchiko. We arrived approximately two hours later and had some time to explore the town and its beautiful lake. We especially enjoyed taking pictures of cherry blossoms. After a small lunch and visiting a kimono rental shop to dress up for our tour, we joined the PM course of the “Fuji Five Lakes sightseeing tour”. Our first destination was Lake Yamanakako, where we enjoyed taking pictures of koi fish swimming near the pier of the “Swan Lake” pleasure boat. After the wonderful boat ride, we went back on board the bus and headed to Oshino Hakka Village, where we spent time at a nice little stream bordered by cherry trees taking pictures. The bright colors of our kimonos matched perfectly with the cherry blossoms. Our last destination was Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen-jinja Shrine in Kitaguchi. The road was lined with cedars that led to the shrine, it was impressive and gave us the opportunity to take more nice pictures. After spending time at the shrine and buying omikuji, fortune-telling paper strips, the bus took us back to Kawaguchiko.
lucas3
lucas2
lucas1

Sample schedule for a day using the Fuji Five Lake Sightseeing Bus Tour
schedulefujifivelakes

Fuji Five Lake Sightseeing Bus Tour “Highlights Fujisan-go”

Available dates: Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays from April 22nd to 19 November, 2017 (Except from May 3rd to 5th) and National Holidays from April 22nd to 19 November, 2017 (Except from May 3rd to 5th)
Cost: Adults 2,800 JPY, Children 1,400 JPY for either the AM or PM course.
Adults 4,500 Children 2,250 JPY for both the AM & the PM courses.
Address: Kawaguchiko St.
3641 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi Prefecture 401-0301
Fuji-Q Highland Highway Bus Terminal
5 Chome-6 Shinnishihara, Fujiyoshida-shi, Yamanashi-ken 403-0017
URL: Visit this website to make an online reservation for the AM course and this website for the PM course. *Reservation closes 30 min before departure, however if there are available seats, you can buy your tickets at the ticket counter.
Kimono rental:Kimono Rental Kotobukiya
Phone: 0555-72-2911 (available only in Japanese)

Enjoy the Mt. Fuji Area to the fullest with these useful tools

・Mt. Fuji Pass
This is a tourist pass especially made for foreigners visiting Japan. Save on sightseeing and transportation and get preferential access to different tourists facilities, including Fuji Q Highland.
Find out more here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/
fuji-q-resorts-
・Fuji-Q Resorts App
Get insider tips to make the most out of your visit to the Mt. Fuji area
The app is available in Japanese, Chinese, English and Thai
Find out more here: http://app.fujiq-resorts.com/fuji-qresorts/lp/
apli

Japanese Gardens in Changing Times

poratdanihongarden
In the past, gardens were created by the upper-class of society and can be classified into three main groups:
1. Gardens representing a naturally scenery for aesthetic pleasure and later for strolling through
2. Dry landscape gardens
3. Tea ceremony gardens
Japanese gardens are meant to mimic natural landscape in a miniaturized form.

The history of garden design goes back about 1,000 years ago. The first form of gardening was seen in sacred places, deep in the forest containing natural objects like trees, mountains or rocks with extraordinary and rare shapes. These places marked with pebbles, white sand or rope ties were used for ceremonies to honor gods or sacred spirits which are believed to live in or come to these areas.

Saishou Tea Garden inside Tokorozawa’s Aviation Memorial Park (Saitama)
Saishou Tea Garden inside Tokorozawa’s Aviation Memorial Park (Saitama)

Chinese culture, especially Buddhism started influencing Japanese garden design in the 6th century. Since then, the style of this practice changed throughout the centuries and Japan developed its own special form of gardening. The ancient capital of Kyoto contains more than half of Japan´s historical gardens.

Different garden architecture throughout the centuries

Nara Period (710 – 794) 
Nara used to be the capital of Japan and during the end of the 8th century, Japanese garden culture sprouted and gardens for the higher society were built. These early gardens featured a pond with an island in the middle surrounded by shorelines and stone settings.

BK08_003
Heijo Palace Site (Nara)

Heian Period (794-1192)
With the dawn of the new era, the capital moved to Kyoto. The upper class started building large gardens at their palaces and villas using a layout inspired by the Chinese concept of feng shui. The gardens located on the south side of the villa focused on large ponds and winding streams connected by bridges, which were passable by boats; as well as islands and pavilions which reached over the water. These royal gardens were first and foremost mostly places for amusement and ritual worship.
One specific feature in these gardens was an empty place covered in gravel. Since the emperor at that time was the chief priest of Japan, white gravel or sand was an element for purity. In this certain area gods were invited to visit and religious ceremonies, as well as welcome dances for the gods were performed.

The late Heian Period was determined by a new style of garden architecture which made its way to Japan, called Pure Land Buddhism or Amidism. This architecture represented the Buddhist paradise. These Paradise-Gardens were equipped similar to their predecessor, but much bigger and more colorful. The stream which flows through these gardens separates the earth and the afterlife in a symbolic way and the bridge symbolize exactly this chapter in life. The ponds instead were usually designed in the character for heart ‐心.The gardens were mainly used for meditative strolling, chanting sutras, and to receive guidance into spiritual life. These Paradise Gardens are the forerunners of the stroll gardens.

heian
Motsu-ji Temple (Iwate)

Kamakura (1185–1333) & Muromachi Period (1336–1573)

With the beginning of the Kamakura Period the power possessed by the aristocratic court was taken over by the military regime (将軍 shogun), which supported a new form of Buddhism called Zen. Due to this new movement, garden architecture changed and became more simple and compact.

The biggest change in gardening and towards minimalism were new designed dry landscape gardens (枯山水 karesansui), connected to temple buildings with the main purpose to support monks during their meditation exercises and for spiritual improvement. The accurate raked white sand represents water and precise arranged rocks are a symbol for islands. These gardens only consisted of elements like rocks, gravel and white sand. The garden is not accessible and mostly viewed just out of one angle representing an ideal landscape or a philosophical concept.

kamakura
Erin-ji Temple (Yamanashi)

tenryu-ji05_R
Tenryu-ji Temple (Kyoto)

Azuchi – Momoyama Period (1573 – 1603)

New gardens and cities were created when the Japanese feudal lords (大名 daimyo) and their robust castles were the center of power and culture. The gardens during this era had one or more ponds surrounded by a riverside out of small stones. Natural stone bridges and stepping stones, artificial mountains and more combined the design of a promenade garden with typical elements of Zen. They were located right next to the castle, where they were meant to be seen from above and combined the design of a promenade garden with typical elements of Zen.

A new concept of garden architecture was introduced, the tea garden (路地 roji). These gardens were meant to resemble the spirit of wabi (侘び), rustic simplicity, utility and calmness. The tea house is small and made out of wood with a thatched roof. A paper roll with an inscription and a branch was the only decoration allowed. The narrow garden itself was regularly watered to stay humid and green. Except a cherry tree bringing color during spring, other flowers in bright color were not allowed. The visitor was supposed to meditate before the tea ceremony starts, and bright and flashy colors would have distract the visitors’ attention. The entrance and the tea house were connected by a small path made of stepping stones, with benches to wait for the ceremony, while stone lanterns light the way and a wash basin out of stone was used for the ritual cleansing of hands and mouth.

daigoji
Daigo-ji Temple (Kyoto)

 

IMG_0953
Saishou Tea Garden inside Tokorozawa’s Aviation Memorial Park (Saitama)

Edo Period (1603-1867)

During the Edo Period, the Tokugawa clan, who became the Shogun, took over the power and moved Japan´s capital to Edo (today’s Tokyo). The minimalistic garden design from the Muromachi Period changed back into the landscape architecture of recreation and extravagance. Large strolling gardens (回遊式庭園 kaiyu-shiki teien) were designed featuring ponds, islands and artificial hills as well as elements of tea gardens.

Another new form of garden design was the tsuboniwa (坪庭 / tsubo is the size of 3,3m²), an inner garden or small courtyard garden created by the urban population. These could not be entered and provided a piece of nature and fresh air featuring decorative elements like stone lanterns, water basins out of stone, stepping stones and some plants meant to be viewed from a porch or from inside the house.

0308db840f3982926659fdeaac9ab022_l
Meiji Period (1868-1912)
With the Meiji Period came the age of modernization and the re-opening of Japan to the western world. A new law of the year 1871 opened old private strolling gardens and abandoned gardens from the Momoyama and Edo period to the public.

DSC_1428
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (Tokyo)

Modern Japanese gardens (1912~)
Due to westernization western style city parks were designed featuring new elements like flowerbeds and open lawns. After World War II government agencies took over the task of building gardens instead of the private people. These new gardens are meant to be consistent with the architecture bringing landscape design to a different level.

“The White Gravel and Pine Garden “ Adachi Museum of Art (Shimane)
“The White Gravel and Pine Garden “ Adachi Museum of Art (Shimane)


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Spring events in Saitama

Days are becoming warmer and flowers are starting to bloom, this is the perfect time to visit Saitama city and see Japanese traditional crafts and beautiful Spring scenery!

Every March, Saitama city offers several events related to Hina dolls at the town of Iwasuki as well as several places to admire the cherry blossoms in full bloom.

(C)STIB
©STIB

The town of Iwasuki in Saitama city is particularly known in the Kanto region for their Hina dolls. Lots of events are held before and after Hinamatsuri, or the Doll Festival, celebarted on March the 3rd. One of them is Machikado Hina Meguri, where you can see a beautiful parade of dolls and Taiko drums performances. During the festivities, you will be able to not just see the dolls but also try to make your own, learn to cook the local food and experience real Japanese culture. There are endless activities for you to enjoy.

shashin2

Event Information
The 14th Hina Doll Street Festival and the Machikado Hina Meguri
Date: February 25-March12
Place: Shopping streets around the East Exit of Iwatsuki Station.

At the beginning of March, the most popular places to admire the cherry blosoms start preparations to welcome guests. This year’s blooming forecast predicts that the cherry blossoms will be in full bloom around March 25th. Due to it’s proximity to Tokyo, Saitama city offers many beautiful and unique cherry blossom landscapes visited by thousands of people every year.

(C)STIB
©STIB
Iwatsuki Joshi Park Sakura Festival (About 600 Sakura trees)
Date: April 1-2
Time: 10:00-16:00
Place: Iwatsuki Joshi Park
Cherry Blossoms Night Illumination
Date: Mar. 19-Apr. 9 (subject to changes in cherry blooming times)
Time: 18:00-21:00
Place: Iwatsuki Joshi Park Ayameike Pond

Saitama City’s famous Cherry Blossoms spots

shahsin4

Omiya Park: About 1,000 cherry trees bloom from late March to early April. They are lit at night when in full bloom.
Access: 20-min walk from JR Omiya St., 10-min walk from Tobu Omiya Koen St. or Kita-Omiya St.

Saitama Stadium 2002
Every year you can admire beautiful cherry trees in full bloom just outside the stadium.
Access: 15-min walk from Urawamisono St.

Shirakami Sanchi – Aomori, Akita

s_0803Fukaura_256

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, this expansive wilderness is one of the last remaining untouched beech forest in Japan. Shirakami Sanchi, stretching from Aomori to Akita Prefecture, boasts myriad hiking trails leading to breathtaking, panoramic views, along with waterfalls. Escape the heat from the city during the spring and summer seasons when the area turns green.

Access: 55-min by bus from JR Hirosaki Station
URL: http://www.en-aomori.com/scenery-014.html

Oirase Keiryu – Aomori

s_unspecified (3)

Oirase Keiryu, a picturesque stream flowing from Lake Towada, is representative of Japan’s unique beauty. You will never be bored by the enchanting waterfalls and stunning rocks along the 14-kilometer trek between Lake Towada’s Nenokuchi and Yakeyama. Be it the lush greens of summer or brilliant shades of red in autumn, the gorgeous sight itself is well worth the journey.

Access: 50-min by bus from JR Hachinohe Station to Yakiyama (Nearby lake Towada)
URL: http://towadako.or.jp/towadako-oirase/ (Japanese only)

Oga Peninsula – Akita

akita

The rugged peninsula, projecting west into the Sea of Japan, is home to the Namahage ogres (demon-like characters) in traditional Japanese folklore. Some of the breathtaking vistas include extensive cliff coastlines, the “Godzilla Rock” and a shrine with a flight of 999 steps, said to be built by the ogres themselves.

Access: The trip from JR Oga Station around the peninsula takes about two hours (excluding sightseeing time).
URL: https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/regional/akita/ogahantou.html

Tono – Iwate

s_遠野千葉家2

Tono – Iwate

Tono is the place to go and see how people live in beautiful harmony with nature, as Japan’s traditional landscape is perfectly preserved here. With old Japanese farmhouses and unchanged rural landscapes, you can discover ancient traditions and folklore in this countryside village beloved by all Japanese.

Tano-village

Places of Interest

Tono tourism association office
Hours: 8am – 7pm
Adress: 5-8 Shinkoku-cho, Tono-shi, Iwate
Access: Right outside JR Tono Station (Kamaishi Line)
URL: http://www.tonojikan.jp/Several_languages/english/english.html

Sasagawa Nagare – Niigata

s_笹川流れ

Breathtaking coastline with a beautiful contrast between the clear blue sea and white sand. The strange name “Sasagawa Nagare” roughly translates to “Sasagawa Flow” and is meant to express the waves brushing the coastline and flowing back between the complex rock formations like a mountain stream. You can gaze upon the rocks towering above the coastline from a leisure cruise.

Access: Area around Kuwagawa Station (Uetsu Main Line)
URL: http://www.sasagawanagare.co.jp/ (Japanese only)

Zao – Yamagata, Miyagi

s_unspecified

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, this expansive wilderness is one of the last remaining untouched beech forest in Japan. Shirakami Sanchi, stretching from Aomori to Akita Prefecture, _boasts myriad hiking trails leading to breathtaking, panoramic views, along with waterfalls. Escape the heat from the city during the spring and summer seasons when the area turns green.

Access: 55-min by bus from JR Hirosaki Station.

Hatsushima, an island full of adventure


A thrilling escapade away from bustling Tokyo


portadasagamiko
There is an island off the shore of the city of Atami in Shizuoka prefecture with the rare virtue of combining adrenaline and relaxation. The Hatsushima island adventure starts at the Atamiko port, where visitors ride either the “Ile de Vacance Premier” or “Ile de Vacance III”, the two high-speed vessels that serve the island with departures several times a day. It’s a 30-minute pleasant ride that gives passengers the chance to admire the breathtaking view of Sagami Bay and feed the sea-gulls that try to catch up with the boat.

Hatsushima offers a variety of amazing outdoor activities such as the Asian Garden “R-Asia”, where you can relax in a hammock and admire a great variety of flowers such as daffodils, the bird of paradise flower, and even early cherry blossoms, allowing visitors to Hatsushima to enjoy the quintessential Japanese flower as early as mid-February!. Inside the garden, adrenaline lovers can also join the SARUTOBI experience, an adventure course featuring bridges, webs and ropes hanging from the top of the trees that you have to complete wearing a special harness.

For lunch, there are many restaurants offering a great variety of dining options and seasonal dishes. For example, from February 4th to March 12th, visitors can taste the time limited Donburi Gassen, a delicious bowl of rice with fresh and tasty fish caught by local fishermen. Visitors can also take a relaxing dip in the ocean bath “Shimano-Yu” and admire the breathtaking view at the ocean pool during summer.

At Hatsushima, you can also get a glimpse of majestic Mt. Fuji on a clear day from the top of Hatsushima’s lighthouse or go underwater for scuba diving, spend the night in the camping site, go fishing or visit the local Maritime Museum. You will never run out of things to do.

Two of our WAttention Ninja got the opportunity to experience a full day of adventure at Hatsushima island and this is what they had to say about the trip.

Santiago Basterra

To say that my day at Hatsushima Island Resort was thrilling and exciting would not make it justice, it was so much more! The restaurants had such a friendly atmosphere, small and traditional with top notch food and great attention. The miso was delicious! The Sarutobi adventure was my favorite part though, the first course was exciting and good for people who are not used to obstacle courses. Meanwhile, the second course was amazingly challenging, with the zip-line at the end being the cherry on top of the cake as you celebrate having completed the hardest course! Afterwards, the ocean bath was exceptionally tidy, everything was perfect and the water deliciously warm. Special mention to the sakura in the garden which were already blooming despite the fact that it was only February!
lucas3
lucas2
lucas1
We took a 30 minute boat ride from Atamiko port to Hatsushima island, and as soon as we arrived, we saw the great variety of restaurants offering Hatsushima’s delicious sea food. We got to try the Donburi Gassen, a special, time limited dish made with shrimp, fresh fish, rice and accompanied with miso soup. We then headed to Hatsushima Island Resort to join the Sarutobi experience. The staff was always there to help us put on our safety gear, and there is also a brief orientation where they explain the dynamic of the activity. After that, we were confronted with two courses, an easy one, where you can test your abilities and then a hard one, only for those who feel comfortable going further. At first, it can be a bit scary because of the height and the difficulty level that increases as you go along, but after a while I felt excited and had an amazing time.

Samuel Estribi

simon2
1simon
simon3

Sample schedule for a day in Hatsushima Island
gosagamiko

Hatsushima Island

Open: Asian garden “R-Asia” 9am to 4pm (varies according to the season), Sarutobi experience 10am to 5pm, Ocean Bath Shimano-Yu 10am to 9pm, Lighthouse from 9am to 4pm.

Address:(Atamiko Port boarding place) 6-11 Wadahama-Minamicho, Atami, Shizuoka 413-0023. (Hatsushima Island resort) 1113 Kamifuruji-no-yama, Hatsushima, Atami, Shizuoka 413-0004.

Phone: Hatsushima Island resort, PICA Reservation center 0555-30-4580

Price: the Asian garden “R-Asia” is 900 JPY, Sarutobi experience is 1,700 JPY for adults and 1,300 JPY for children, the Ocean Bath Shimano-Yu is 900 JPY for adults and 600 JPY for children, Lighthouse is 200 JPY for adults, free for children and the Atami – Hatsushima round-trip high speed boat is 2,600 JPY for adults and 1,300 for children.

Website: http://www.hatsushima.jp/en/

Access: From Tokyo, take the Shinkansen Kodama for Atami Station and then take the bus bound for Atami Port & Korakuen from Bus Stop #8 (15 min). At Atami Port, get on boat named either “Ile de Vacance Premier” or “Ile de Vacance III” to reach Hatsushima.

Enjoy the Mt. Fuji Area to the fullest with these useful tools

・Mt. Fuji Pass
This is a tourist pass especially made for foreigners visiting Japan. Save on sightseeing and transportation and get preferential access to different tourists facilities, including Fuji Q Highland.
Find out more here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/
fuji-q-resorts-
・Fuji-Q Resorts App
Get insider tips to make the most out of your visit to the Mt. Fuji area
The app is available in Japanese, Chinese, English and Thai
Find out more here: http://app.fujiq-resorts.com/fuji-qresorts/lp/
apli

Sagamiko Resort, fun comes in many forms

With so much to do at Sagamiko Resort, the fun is guaranteed

portadasagamiko
If you ever find yourself undecided or at an impasse with your friends over what to do on weekends, consider this: nobody will have to compromise if you go somewhere that offers something fun for everyone like Sagamiko Resort. Located in Sagamihara city in Kanagawa prefecture, this amusement park is just 50 minutes away from Shinjuku station by train. It offers a variety of attractions divided into different areas. On Pleasure Forest you will find around 30 different attractions including a Ferris Wheel located at the top of a mountain with amazing views of the surrounding area. At Wild Cooking Garden you can make use of the BBQ facilities to enjoy a relaxed meal with friends on a sunny day, and even if it’s raining, you’ll be able to cook your BBQ inside the indoor facilities. And at night, the Illumillion decorations turn the park into a colorful wonderland as six million color light bulbs create a breathtaking landscape.

For people who want to get in touch with nature, Sagamiko offers Paddington Bear™ Campsite, with different kinds of lodging options and everything you might need to enjoy a night outdoors, as well as mountain bicycle courses and one of Kanto area’s largest radio-control car courses.The park also offers the on-site Ururi onsen, with an open-air bath, bedrock bath, a restaurant and resting areas among other facilities.

Three of our WAttention Ninja got the opportunity to experience a full day of fun at Sagamiko Resort and this is what they had to say about the trip.

Kerstin Thies

The first thing that amazed me was the view on the mountains all around the resort. It was a nice alternative to the bustling streets of Shibuya and the tall skyscrapers in Shinjuku. Since we arrived at lunch time, we had a barbecue lunch at the campsite and we even got to try a dutch oven where we cooked a tasty chicken. One of the highlights of the trip was the mirror maze, since it was something I had not done before and made me and my friends laugh a lot. But by far, the most amazing thing was the decorations once it got dark. The whole park was illuminated by pink, red, gold, blue and green lights in all shapes and sizes. There was even a field of glowing flowers and a light show. Soon after watching the show and taking pictures, we went to Ururi onsen. It was my first time in an Onsen and it was a great experience. It felt great to soak in the hot water after being on the move all day. I left Sagamiko Resort with a softer skin and a lot of beautiful pictures and memories.
lucas3
lucas2
lucas1
We started our day with a delicious BBQ lunch, where we got to test our cooking skills. After our tummies were full, we went on to the attractions. The mazes were a lot of fun, especially the mirror maze. It was challenging and confusing at the same time but we had a lot of fun. We then visited the Ferris wheel which offered an amazing view. As the sun was setting, the “Illumillion” show started and the whole park lit with many beautiful colors, it was such an amazing sight. After a nice walk around the park, our bodies were tired so we decided to go to the onsen. It had many different kinds of baths with different temperatures to fit everyone’s preference. After an hour-long, relaxing bath my skin was very soft and my body felt really good and filled with energy. We then rode a direct bus from the park to Shinjuku, which was very convenient for us. This was an amazing experience, and I made really good memories.

Maren Steine

simon2
1simon
simon3

Romina Bonilla

I had an amazing day at Sagamiko Resort with my friends. We arrived around lunch time and we headed straight to the BBQ area, where we had a delicious meal and even got to use the dutch oven, which I had never used before. We then spent a few hours enjoying the many attractions that the park has to offer. My favorite one was the Ferris wheel because of the amazing view. At night, I was impressed by the beautiful lights that decorate the park. We also had the chance to soak in the onsen and I was surprised to feel that my skin was very smooth and relaxed. I would definitely like to come back soon, I highly recommend it for anyone looking to have an amazing time!
roddysnowboarding
roddy2
roddy3

Sample schedule for a day in Sagamiko Resort
gosagamiko

Sagamiko Resort

Open: Open daily except Thursdays from 10:00am to 9pm on weekdays and from 9:30am to 9pm on weekends. Operation hours vary according to the season.
Address: 1634 Wakayanagi,Midori-ku,Sagamihara,Kanagawa 252-0175
Phone: 042-685-1111
Website: http://www.sagamiko-resort.jp/(in Japanese)
Access: Get on the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku station bound for Otsuki and get off at Sagamiko station. Then, get on the bus no. 1 bound for Mikage and get off at Pleasure Forest Mae. You can also take a direct bus from Shinjuku bus terminal to Pleasure Forest. (Operates only during Sagamiko Illumillion display season).
Price: Park admission 1,700 JPY for adults, 1,000 JPY for children and 1,000 JPY for pets
Free pass including park admission and unlimited rides to all attractions is 3,900 JPY for adults and 3,100 per children.

Enjoy the Mt. Fuji Area to the fullest with these useful tools

・Mt. Fuji Pass
This is a tourist pass especially made for foreigners visiting Japan. Save on sightseeing and transportation and get preferential access to different tourists facilities, including Fuji Q Highland.
Find out more here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/
fuji-q-resorts-
・Fuji-Q Resorts App
Get insider tips to make the most out of your visit to the Mt. Fuji area
The app is available in Japanese, Chinese, English and Thai
Find out more here: http://app.fujiq-resorts.com/fuji-qresorts/lp/
apli

Miharu Takizakura – Fukushima

fukushimasakura

Blossoms cascade like a waterfall from the top of one large benishidare (weeping cherry blossom) tree, leaving a stream of petals on the ground. During its nocturnal light-up period, this sakura is especially beautiful; all will be moved by such a magical sight.


Miharu Takizakura – Fukushima

Hours: 6am – 6pm
Admission: 300 yen (free for junior high students and younger)
Address: Sakurakubo 91, Taki, Miharu-machi, Tamura-gun, Fukushima
Access: 30-min by bus from JR Miharu Station
URL: http://www.tif.ne.jp/lang/en/sightseeing/topic.html?id=41&category=4

Kitakami Tenschochi – Iwate

iwate

About 10,000 sakura (dating back more than 90 years) form a magnificent, 2-km long tunnel along the Kitakami river. Enjoy the intertwined someiyoshino (hybrid sakura), yamazakura (mountain sakura) and yaezakura (double cherry blossom) from the sightseeing carriage at a leisurely pace.

Kitakami Tenschochi – Iwate

Hours: 24/7
Address: Chiwari 10, Tachibana, Kitakami-shi, Iwate
Access: 12-min by bus from JR Kitakami Station, get off at Tenshochi bus stop
URL: http://www.kitakami-kanko.jp/english/events.php?itemid=47

Yamagata castle (Kajo Park)

yamagata1

Kajo Park covers the site of the former Yamagata Castle and has a beautiful variety of sakura. Take a walk around the castle moat enclosed in sakura, and watch how the trees brush the surface, painting the water with swirls of pink petals. At night, the illuminated park castes a magical light on the flowers.

Yamagata castle (Kajo Park)

Hours: 5:30am – 10pm
Admission: Free
Address: Kajomachi 1-1, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata
Access: 10-min walk from JR Yamagata Station
URL: http://yamagatakanko.com.e.db.hp.transer.com/spotdetail/?data_id=395

Nature and worship “A journey of rebirth”


In The Realm of the Gods at Dewa Sanzan

denwamain1
denzamain2

In many cultures, mountains often have religious significance and are regarded as abodes of the gods. Tohoku has three holy mountains, known collectively as Dewa Sanzan, that is regarded as one of the most sacred sites in the country. Its landscape is defined by the stunning natural beauty of mystical mountains, volcanic lakes, hot springs and farmlands. This is where the soul of Japan lies in its traditional and religious culture, and where ancient mountain worship is still very much practiced. Against this background, we embarked on an epic journey to trace the footsteps of pilgrims who are followers of Shugendo.

s_DSCF3049

The Three Mountain Blessings

Shugendo is an ethnic religion influenced by Buddhism, Shintoism, Taoism and spiritual faith. Its main purpose is to strengthen the connection between people and nature, reaching enlightenment in this way. Practitioners preach the teaching that “nature is a manifestation of the gods and we should live alongside it with respect.” Mountains and forests have paramount importance in Shugendo. The Dewa Sanzan mountains of Mt Haguro (419m), Mt Gassan (1984m) and Mt Yudono (1504m) are the centres of pilgrimage in the region. The followers, known as Shugenjas or Yamabushi (mountain monks), have been following the rites of worship for the last 1,400 years. Followers embark on long pilgrimages and practice austere feats of physical endurance of natural elements as an ascetic rite of passage to gain spiritual power. We had the privilege of experiencing the immersive ceremony of Shugendo first hand by visiting the three sacred mountains that represents the present, death and rebirth at Mt Haguro, Mt Gassan and Mt Yudono respectively.

Praying in the Official Shinto Style at Mt. Haguro
We arrived at Mt. Haguro as dusk was setting in and, after a short visit to Ideha Museum nearby to get an insight of Shugendo and Dewa Sanzan, we entered the sacred site through the torii, a wooden gateway that is found in all sacred sites in Japan. A long flight of stone steps, known as the Ishi-Dan, led down to an enchanting forest with towering cedar trees along the ancient pilgrim route. The 1.7km trail built in 1648 has 2,446 steps leading to the Sanjin Gosaiden shrine at the summit. There are 33 carvings etched on the steps and it is believed that if you can find all 33, your wishes will come true. As we were pressed for time, we could only follow the sacred path as far as the 600-year-old Goju-no-to, the five-storied pagoda, a recorded national treasure. In the gloom of the forest, the ornate pagoda exuded an air of mysticism that lent to the belief that a deity of the forest lives in it.
The Ishi-Dan, Mt. Haguro
The Ishi-Dan, Mt. Haguro

When we arrived at Sanjin Gosaiden, the main shrine at the summit, we were met by a Yamabushi dressed in his traditional religious garb. He sounded a horagai, a religious conch trumpet, as a welcome and to ward off bad spirits. We were led to the inner sanctum of the shrine. There, a monk dressed in a splendid ceremonial robe with motifs of cranes performed a special ceremony accompanied by a beating taiko drum, followed by space clearing of malevolent energy around us by wafting a pole with white paper strips attached to the end and ringing bells to cleanse the air. He then chanted some mantras in a trance-like voice, which reverberated around the room, sending powerful vibrations into the ambience. We felt blessed and awed as we bowed twice, clapped our hands twice and bowed once again, completing the ritual where we were “spiritually born.”

Sanjin Gosaiden, Mt. Haguro
Sanjin Gosaiden, Mt. Haguro
Shukubo, Mt. Haguro
Shukubo, Mt. Haguro
We stayed the night at a shukubo, a traditional temple lodge owned by a Yamabushi and his wife, who welcomed us graciously by kneeling Japanese style where they sat on the floor with their legs folded behind them. The delightful lodge was immaculately clean and the minimalist décor was the personified tranquility that we badly needed after a long journey. I would highly recommend staying in a shukubo to attain a Zen state of mind. Early next morning, our landlord performed a Shinto ritual prayer to bless us and wished us a safe journey to Mt Gassan and Mt. Yudono.

Stepping to Mt. Gassan and Mt. Yudono

We headed to Mt. Gassan in howling wind and rain to visit a shrine. The pilgrimage trail was officially closed for the season, but we braved the elements by treading precariously on the path of a slippery, wooden walkway laid across a marshland of dwarf bamboo and grassland.
After twenty minutes’ walk, we reached a small shrine presided by a giant stone rabbit, the guardian of the mountain.

Mt. Yudono
Mt. Yudono
This mountain symbolized the path to death and it was apt that the short journey we took in the inclement weather seemed to convey that message. In the summer, pilgrims could hike to the summit, where the main shrine lies; from there, they could also hike to Mt. Yudono, the last mountain on the holy trail.
Our visit to Mt. Yudono was an epic experience where we were sworn to secrecy by the priest about the ceremony of “rebirth” that we underwent to symbolize being spiritually reborn to start a new journey in life. It is a taboo to divulge the secret of the ritual, but suffice to say that the experience is something I will always remember.

Dewa Sanzan is a pilgrimage, but mere mortals with spiritual interest will find the journey enlightening and soul stirring. Reflecting on my own awesome experience of the religious encounter, I now appreciate why mountains belong to the realms of the gods.

Hagurosan

Access: 40-min by bus from JR Tsuruoka Station, get off at Zuishinmon.
55-min by bus to the summit.
URL:http://www.dewasanzan.jp/publics/index/47/

Gassan

Hours: Closed late September until June
Access: 1h30-min by Shonan-
Kotsu bus from JR Tsuruoka Station to Gassan Hachigome.
URL:ttp://www.dewasanzan.jp/publics/index/48/

Yudonosan

Hours: Closed late September until June Admission: 500 yen
Access: 1h30-min by Shonan-Kotsu bus from JR Tsuruoka Station to
Yudonosan.
URL:http://www.dewasanzan.jp/publics/index/49/

Discover the warmth of Japan’s No.1 rice


Japan’s best rice
from Niigata


fotocollageniigata

Rice is an essential part of Japanese cuisine. The rice cultivated in Japan (also known as “Japonica rice”) has a rounded, oval shape, is very sticky and features a slight sweetness. After making the effort to come all the way to Japan, don’t you want to sample the most delicious rice available? “Japan’s rice” is said to be produced in Niigata Prefecture so, for Japanese, Niigatamai (Niigata’s rice) is a very attractive brand. If you are familiar with Niigatamai, you’re already well on your way to becoming an advanced Japanese chef!

mapaniigata

WAttention events

Skiing on the slopes of Mt. Fuji

The ultimate Japanese winter experience

tetipreview
It’s hard to imagine a better way to experience the Japanese winter than to slide down the slopes of Japan’s most iconic and sacred mountain, Mt. Fuji. Located at an altitude of over 1,300 m on its southern slope, Snowtown Yeti is a ski and snowboarding park that offers visitors four different runs, three lifts and incredible views of the snow-capped mountain.

The park is connected to Shinjuku station’s west exit by the direct Linerbus which takes two hours and half to reach the park. There are also buses from the nearby Mishima, Gotemba and Fuji Stations. Upon arrival, visitors can then rent the necessary equipment and enjoy the thrill of skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Mt. Fuji. Snowtown Yeti features courses for all levels with an average inclination of 11 degrees and up to 25 degrees for a more challenging experience.

The winter season starts early at Snowtown Yeti, as the park opens in mid October, when man-made snow covers the slopes, and the park even has all-night skiing days where the park remains open until early morning.

Three of our WAttention Ninja got the opportunity to experience a full day of skiing and snowboarding at Snowtown Yeti and this is what they had to say about the trip.

Lucas Vandenbroucke

The trip started off really well, since the bus was confortable and had Wi-Fi connection. When we arrived to Snowtown Yeti, we rented our equipment, which was of a very good quality, and completely water proof. The ski runs where adapted to different levels of skill. The weather that day was great for skiing and snowboarding and we enjoyed a fun day of going down the slopes. We also had time to rest at the restaurant and purchase gear at the shop where you can buy all you need to enjoy a full day out in the snow. I’m glad to have experienced skiing in such a great place, and in the company of my friends.
lucas3
lucas2
lucas1
I had an amazing day at Snowtown Yeti. The gear we got was comfortable and top notch. There were some restaurants too, where they serve appetizing hot meals. There was also a place where we could buy our own ski equipment like gloves or googles. We had fun enjoying the slopes, which had different levels, for both beginners and advanced skiers. Overall, we had an amazing time and I’m looking forward to come back soon.

Simon Brodard

simon2
1simon
simon3

Ricard Roddy

The first thing I realized when we arrived is that we were already at the top of the slope, so we didn’t have to wait to get on the ski lift, we were able to start having fun right away. I really liked that you can buy all the equipment you need at the park, since I had forgotten my gloves. That really saved my day! You can find everything you need on site, restaurant, shop, rental gear and changing rooms with lockers. I spent such a good time with my friends, that when we left we wanted to come back again the next day! I would definitely like to recommend this place to anyone who wants to have an amazing day.
roddysnowboarding
roddy2
roddy3

Sample schedule using the Fujikyu Direct Linerbus from Shinjuku Station
schedule

Snowtown Yeti

Open: Weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., weekends and public holidays from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., all-night skiing 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. the next morning (available on certain days).
Open mid-october to early April of every year.
Address: 2428 Aza Fujiwara, Suyama, Susono-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture 410-1231
Phone: 055-998-0636
Website: http://www.yeti-resort.com/en/
Access: Take the Fujikyu Direct Linerbus near Shinjuku west exit, in front of Kogakuin University.
Price: Yeti Liner Package (Yeti direct liner bus + rental ski + 1 day ticket) Adult 9,000-9,500 JPY, Child (6 to 11) 7,000-7,500 JPY. Please check Snowtown Yeti’s website for all-night skiing rates and other pricing information.

Enjoy the Mt. Fuji Area to the fullest with these useful tools

・Mt. Fuji Pass
This is a tourist pass especially made for foreigners visiting Japan. Save on sightseeing and transportation and get preferential access to different tourists facilities, including Fuji Q Highland.
Find out more here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/mtpass/
fuji-q-resorts-
・Fuji-Q Resorts App
Get insider tips to make the most out of your visit to the Mt. Fuji area
The app is available in Japanese, Chinese, English and Thai
Find out more here: http://app.fujiq-resorts.com/fuji-qresorts/lp/
apli

Ultimate Map of Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan : Okinawa

Okinawa 1~ 9

 

1Yaese Park (八重瀬公園) in Yaese Town

Kanakoさん(@mcki0627)が投稿した写真

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details: Beautiful view of southern Okinawa including cherry blossoms. Light-up of 500 cherry blossom trees during the evening.
Access: About 60min by car from Naha airport
Address: Tomori 1607, Yaese-cho, Shimajiri-gun, 901-0402 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
goryokaku-tower.co.jp

 

2Yaedake Sakura-no-mori Park (八重岳桜の森公園) in Motobu Town

舒跑さん(@shupau1987)が投稿した写真

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details: 7000 Ryukyu Kanhi cherry blossoms will color the mountain view. Cherry blossom light-up during the evening.
Access: About 120min by car from Naha airport
Address: 921 Namizato, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, 905-0222 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
okinawatravelinfo.com

Ultimate Map of Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan : Okinawa


3Nakijin Castle Ruins (今帰仁城跡) in Nakijin Village

Viewing preiod: End of January to early February
Details: Ocean view including Kanhi cherry blossoms. Light-up during the evening.
Access: About 90min by car from Naha airport
Address: 5101 Imadomari, Nakijin, Kunigami-gun, 905-0428 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
okinawatravelinfo.com


4Nago Central Park (名護中央公園) in Nago City

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details:The entire area has 200,000 cherry blossom trees. Enjoy look at them while walking a 2km long path to the castle.
Access: About 90min by car from Naha airport
Address: 5511 Nago, Nago-shi, 905-0012 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
okinawa-information.com

Ultimate Map of Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan : Okinawa


5Yogi Park (与儀公園) in Naha City

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details: 400 Hikan cherry blossom trees could be seen along the riverside.
Access: About 20min by car from Naha airport
Address: 1-1-1 Yorimiya, Naha-shi, 902-0076 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp.e.wp.hp.transer.com


6Darumayama Park (だるま山園地) in Kumejima Town

s-zimaさん(@sachi_zima)が投稿した写真

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details: You can enjoy Hikan cherry blossoms and beautiful flowers surrounded by the sea.
Access: About 4 hours by ferry from Naha city
Address: Uezu, Kumejima-cho, Shimajiri-gun, 901-3138 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
ritou.com

Ultimate Map of Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan : Okinawa


7Manko Park (漫湖公園) in Naha City

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details: Nice view of a large row of bright pink-colored cherry blossom trees together with a river.
Access: About 10min by car from Naha airport
Address: 3-23-1 Kohagura, Naha-shi, 900-0024 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


8Sueyoshi Park (末吉公園) in Naha City

mineさん(@mine_nakamura)が投稿した写真

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details: Watch Hikan cherry blossoms by hiking through the jungle-like path.
Access: About 20min by car from Naha airport
Address: Shurisueyoshi-cho 1-3-1, Naha-shi, 903-0801 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
okinawatravelinfo.com

Ultimate Map of Cherry Blossom Spots in Japan : Okinawa


9Kunigami Forest Park (国頭村森林公園) in Kunigami Village

Viewing period: End of January to early February
Details: Fantastic view from the top of the hill surrounded by cherry blossoms.
Access: About 120min by car from Naha airport
Address: 1094 Hentona, Kunigami-son, 905-1411 Okinawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com

Tobu Treasure Garden in Tatebayashi (Gunma Prefecture)

The Tobu Treasure Garden located in Gunma Prefecture about 55km away from Tokyo, can be reached within only 1hour from Asakusa Station (Tokyo) and is perfect for a day trip during spring, summer or early autumn. It´s especially popular for its beautiful Rose Garden, the moss phlox flower fields and the Blue Garden.

DSC_1224aaa

The entrance buildings are made out of bricks and resemble an English residence covered in rose bushes.

After entering the park you will be welcomed by a fountain and a small canal which leads you to the Sakura-Tunnel, entangled by hundreds of small pastel pink roses.

DSC_1224aaaasqw1

After strolling through the tunnel you are inside the Rose Garden and the English Rose Garden.

DSC_1223

Enjoy looking at many different kinds of roses blooming in dozen of shining colors.

DSC_1080

Relax in the shadows of white roses which bloom during May and June.

The main spot of the park features the pink moss phlox flowers fields.

DSC_1123

Beautiful pink and white moss phlox flowers in front of blooming cherry blossoms. (Please refer to the image of the pamphlet ;D)

DSC_1096

 

The next path leads you to the Brilliant Garden which features many colorful flowers arranged to a nice pattern. The lavender blue is one of the main colors for this theme.

 

 

Take a break in the Victorian House and enjoy some delicious food, buy souvenirs at Koruri’s or purchase original Treasure Garden goods at Mary´s Room.

Besides taking a visit to the park, you can also knot the tie with your beloved one in the chapel next to the park. You can book the full wedding-service and enjoy your special day surrounded by nature in the middle of a beautiful garden ambience.

DSC_1223www

The St. Peter & Paul Church was built and based on an original church from England and offers the best and most unique wedding location in this area.

DSC_1224

A big rose window, typical curch stained glass windows, a pipe organ, pews and much more will let you experience a typical proper western wedding ceremony.

Tobu Treasure Garden Info:
Hours & Admission for 2017:
☆Moss phlox Festival: March 25th (Saturday) – May 7th (Sunday); 9am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 600yen – 1000yen (adults: junior-highschool students and older); 200yen – 400yen (primary school students)
☆Rose & Garden Festival: May 8th (Monday) – June 30th (Friday); 9am – 5pm (las entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 1000yen – 1800yen (adults: junior-highschool students and older); 400yen – 800yen (primary school students)
☆Autumn Rose & Garden Festival: Early October – Early November; 10am – 4:30pm (last entry 4pm)
Admission: 800yen – 1000yen (adults: junior-highschool students and older); 200yen – 400yen (primary school students)
・July – September & Middle November – March closed due to maintenance
Address: 1050 Horikou-cho, Tatebayashi-shi, 374-0033 Gunma
Access: 15min walk from Morinji-mae Station (Tobu Isesaki Line) – 80min from Asakusa Station (Tokyo) station; 10min taxi ride from Tatebayashi Station (Tobu Isesaki Line) – 60min from Asakusa Station (Tokyo)
Tel: 0276-55-0750
URL: http://treasuregarden.jp/en/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Autumn Foliage Hunting in Hanno, Saitama!

1 (1)

Wanna go hiking in the golden season of autumn leaves? There is no lack of such hiking routes in suburban Tokyo! To show you what Tokyo has on offer, students from the graduate school of tourism in Rikkyo University took a Seibu Railway train to Hanno in Saitama prefecture (adjacent to Tokyo). Our trip features not only autumn leaves, hiking, and onsen, but also surprises for anime fans!

Anime pilgrimage: Yama no Susume

2 (3)

Speaking of anime pilgrimages in Saitama, the top destination might be Chichibu, which is the place featured in “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day”. While in Hanno, the talk of the town is “Yama no Susume”.

2 (2)
Hanno Ginza shopping street

Departing from Hanno Station, we walked through the main shopping street and arrived at Kannon Temple, one of the locations featured in “Yama no Susume”. Be sure to check out those “Emas” (small wooden plaque on which worshippers write their wishes) and a distinctive statue of a white elephant featured in the anime. Take a group photo and see how it compares with the scene in the anime!

2 (4)
(C )しろ/アース・スターエンタテイメント/「ヤマノススメ」製作委員会

2 (1)

Ascending Mt. Tenran for its panoramic views and autumn foliage

4 (1)

4 (2)

Mt. Tenran (a small mountain at about 200 meters above sea level) and Noninji Temple are famous for their autumn leaves, especially when the leaves are expected to be in full glory from the end of November. Though we were here a bit earlier (first weekend of November), we still had a whole lot of fun taking loads of pictures!

4 (4)

An easy autumn hiking trip to Lake Miyazawa

5 (4)

Departing from Mt. Tenran, we continued our casual hiking trip to Lake Miyazawa. The air was refreshing and the forest a perfect location for taking pictures. It took us about 90 minutes to get to the lakeshore. Shall we rent a boat and fish on the lake, or take a walk along the lakeshore path? Well, taking a soothing hot spring bath maybe the first priority!

5 (3)

5 (1)

Reminder:

  1. Get some food around Hanno Station or refuel halfway in the super market near the Seibu Railway elevated tracks.
  2. Though this hiking route is beginner-friendly, there are some up-hills and down-hills that may become slippery after raining.

Enjoy a lakeside hot spring bath

6 (2)

Our last stop is Lake Miyazawa Onsen “Kirari”, a hot spring facility boasting lake views from both the open-air hot spring bathhouse and the restaurant. After refreshing our mind and body with a soothing hot spring bath and a good meal, we hopped on a bus and returned to Hanno Station. What a perfect day!

6 (3) 6 (4)

How do you like our trip? For those interested in walking and hiking, do check out Seibu’s pamphlet for various hiking trips departing from stations of Seibu Railway. Hope it will be helpful during your next trip to Japan!

6 (5)

Lake Miyazawa Onsen “Kirari”
Hours: 9:00~24:00
Admission: from 1,000 yen (towel included)
Website: click here (Japanese)

Other useful information

Hiking route and map from Hanno Station: click here (Japanese)

Bus Schedule from Lake Miyazawa to Hanno Station (bus departs every an hour or so, takes about 10 minutes and the fare is 180 yen)

Seibu Railway Walking & Hiking Pamphlet (online version)

**For more information about tourist attractions along the Seibu Railway lines, check out Seibu Railway’s English website and facebook page!

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Osaka

Osaka 30~ 38

 

30Katsuo-ji (勝尾寺) in Minoo

First colors: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: Mo – Fr 8am – 5pm; Sat 8am-5:30pm; Sun & holidays 8am – 6pm
Access: 20min bus ride from Minoo Station (Hankyu Minoo Line) until Katsuo-ji; 30min bus ride from Senri-Chuo Station (Kita-Osaka Kyuko Railway Namboku Line, Osaka Monorail Main Line) into Hokusetsu-Reien direction until Katsuo-ji
Address: 2914-1 Aomatani, Minoo-shi, 562-0021 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★★☆
minohfalls.com

 

31Minoo Falls (箕面大滝) in Minoo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November
Recommended Spots: Hitome Senbon
Access: 40min walk from Minoo Station (Hankyu Minoo Line)
Address: Minoo Park, Minoo-shi, 562-0002 Osaka

Ranking: ★★★★☆
minohfalls.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Osaka


32Saiko-ji Temple (西江寺) in Minoo

First colors: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 5min walk from Minoo Station (Hankyu Minoo Line)
Address: 2-5-27 Minoo, Minoo-shi, 562-0001 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp


33Ryuan-ji Temple (瀧安寺) in Minoo

A photo posted by lemonlime (@lemonlime0828) on

First colors: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Access: 15min walk from Minoo Station (Hankyu Minoo Line)
Address: 2-23 Minoo Koen, Minoo-shi, 562-0002 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★★☆
osaka-info.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Osaka


34Sefuku-ji Temple (施福寺) in Izumi

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: March – November 8am – 5pm ; December – February 8am-4pm
Access: Nankai-Bus ride from Izumi-Fuchu Station (JR Hanwa Line) until Makio Chugakko-mae. Change into the Orange bus until Makio-san (35min walk)
Address: 136 Makiosan-cho, Izumi-shi, 594-1131 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


35Matsuo-ji Temple (松尾寺) in Izumi

A photo posted by uripon_uriuri (@uripon_uriuri) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am-5pm
Access: Nankai-Bus ride from Izumi-Chuo Station (Semboku Rapid Railway) until Matsuo-dera (10min walk)
Address: 2168 Matsuoji-cho, Izumi-shi, 594-1154 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
osaka-info.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Osaka


36Kyuan-ji Temple (久安寺) in Ikeda

A photo posted by Rina (@rinana.o) on

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Access: Bus from Ikeda Station (Hankyu Takarazuka Main Line) until Kyuan-ji (direct access)
Address: 697 Fushio-cho, Ikeda-shi, 563-0011 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★★☆
osaka-info.jp


37Mount Ushitaki (牛滝山) in Kishiwada

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: Daiitoku-ji Temple
Event: Ushitakiyama Autumn Color Festival
Date: November 23rd (Wednesday)
Details: Tempura and local alcoholic beverages are on sale, lottery with exclusive prizes
Access: 50min Nankai-Bus ride from Kishiwada Station (Nankai Main Line) until Ushitakiyama (direct access); 40min Nankai-Bus ride from Kumeda Station (JR Hanwa Line) until Ushitakiyama (direct access)
Address: 1178-1 Osawa-cho, Kishiwada-shi, 596-0114 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Osaka


38Osaka Castle Park (大阪城公園) in Osaka

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the Beginning of December
Access: Direct Access from JR Osaka-jo Koen Station and JR Morinomiya Station, as well as Subway Station Morinomiya Station and Tanimachi Yonchome Station
Address: 3-11 Osaka-jo, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, 540-0002 Osaka
Ranking: ★★★★☆
osakacastle.net

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kansai

Kansai is located in the southern central part of Japan’s Honshu island and consists of six prefectures: Mie, Shiga, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, and Wakayama. Often cited as the true cultural and historical heart of Japan, Kansai boasts a variety of cultural, historical, and gastronomical wonders that will leave you hungry for more.

Kyoto : Spots 1 ~ 29

Quick jump links:

085e49afeea5e860458e2a1fd315bf0d_s_TN
6Bishamon-do
Mid to end of November
m_158517_TN
13Arashiyama
Mid November
m_158043_TN
17Daigo-ji Temple
Mid November
m_143144_TN
20Kiyomizu-dera
Mid November

Go to Kyoto list top

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto

Kyoto 1~ 29


1Zenporitsu-ji Temple (善法律寺) in Yawata

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the Beginning of December
Hours: 9am – 3pm
Access: 15min walk from Yawatashi Station (Keihan Main Line)
Address: 88-1 Yawatababa, Yawata-shi, 614-8085 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


2Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu (石清水八幡宮) in Yawata

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Hours: January-March 6:30am-6pm; April – September 5:30am -6:30pm; October 6am-6pm, November-December 6:30-6pm
Access: 3min ride with the Otokoyama Cable Car from Yawatashi Station (Keihan Main Line) until Otokoyama-sanjo Station (5min walk)
Address: 30 Yawatatakabo, Yawata-shi, 614-8005 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


3Yokoku-ji (楊谷寺) in Nagaokakyo

みーさん(@yakimachiri)が投稿した写真

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am-5pm
Access: 20min taxi ride from Nagaokakyo Station (JR Kyoto Line); 15min taxi ride from Nishiyama Tennozan Station (Hankyu Kyoto Line)
Address: 2 Donotani, Jododani, Nagaokakyo-shi, 617-0855 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nagaokakyo-kankou.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


4Komyo-ji (光明寺) in Nagaokakyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 10min Hankyu-Bus ride from Nagaoka-Tenjin Station (Hankyu Kyoto Line) until Asahigaoka Homu Mae (3min walk); 20min Hankyu-Bus ride from Nagaokakyo Station (JR Kyoto Line) until Asahigaoka Homu Mae (3min walk)
Address: 26-1 Saijonai, Ao, Nagaokakyo-shi, 617-0811 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


5Kuwayama Shrine (鍬山神社) in Kameoka

A photo posted by Lieb*Eva | Eva Lee (@liebeeva) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Event: Autumn Color Light-up!
Date: November 10th (Thursday) – November 16th (Wednesday), 5pm-6pm
Admission: 300yen (adults), free for children
Access: 10min Community-Bus ride from Kameoka Station (JR Sagano Line) until Kuwayama Jinja-mae (direct access); 40min walk from Kameoka Station
Address: 22-2 Kamigaichi, Kamiyada-cho, Kameoka-shi, 621-0856 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


6Bishamon-do (毘沙門堂) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm
Access: 20min walk from Yamashina Station
Address: 18 Anshuinariyama-cho, Yamashina-ku, Kyoto-shi, 607-8003 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


7Shouji-ji Temple (勝持寺) in Kyoto

京都 長岡京 勝持寺の紅葉その9🍁 勝持寺の境内、不動堂へ #京都紅葉 #勝持寺 #kyoto

A photo posted by Hiroshi Noguchi (@noguchibiyousitu) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 400yen (adults), 300yen (Junior-high-school students), 200yen (Elementary-school students)
Access: 25min Hankyu-Bus ride from Higashi-Muko Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) until Minamikasuga-cho (20min walk)
Address: 1194 Minamikasuga-cho, Oharano, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 610-1153 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


8Yoshimine-dera (善峯寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 8am-5pm
Admission: 500yen (adults), 300yen (High-school students), 200yen (junior-high-school & elementary-school students)
Access: 30min Hankyu-Bus ride from Mukomachi Station (JR Kyoto Line)or Higashi-Muko Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) until Yoshimine-dera (8min walk)
Address: 1372 Oshio-cho, Oharano, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 610-1133 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kyoto.travel/en


9Oharano Shrine (大原野神社) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 25min Hankyu-Bus ride from Higashi-Muko Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) until Minamikasuga-cho (8min walk)
Address: 1152 Minamikasuga-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 610-1153 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


10Kosho-ji Temple (興聖寺) in Uji

A photo posted by 拓🍃風 (@sohkai_works) on

First colors: End of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 20min walk from Uji Station (JR Nara Line); 10min walk from Uji Station (Keihan Uji Line)
Address: 27-1 Yamada, Uji, Uji-shi, 611-0021 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


11Mimuroto-ji Temple (三室戸寺) in Uji

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: April-October 8:30am – 4:30pm; November – March 8:30am-4pm
Admission: 500yen (adults), 300yen (children)
Access: 15min walk from Mimurodo Station (Keihan Uji Line)
Address: Shigatani 21, Todo, Uji-shi, 611-0013 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


12Izumo Dai-jingu Shrine (出雲大神宮) in Kameoka

A photo posted by @mina08128 on

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 15min Furusato-Bus ride from Kameoka Station (JR Sagano Line) North Exit until Izumo Jinja Mae (direct access)
Address: Izumo, Chitose-cho, Kameoka-shi, 621-0002 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kyoto-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


13Arashi Yama (嵐山) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Togetsukyo Bridge
Access: 10min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line)
Address: Arashiyama, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8383 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
jnto.go.jp


14Rokuo-in Temple (鹿王院) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 400yen (adults), 200yen (junior-high-school & elementary-school students)
Access: 5min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line)
Address: 24 Sagakitaboricho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8367 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
pref.kyoto.jp


15Joujakkou-ji Temple (常寂光寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Admission: 400yen
Access: 15min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line)
Address: 3 Ogura-cho, Sagaogurayama, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8397 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jojakko-ji.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


16Nison-in Temple (二尊院) in Kyoto

A photo posted by LOVE❤KYOTO (@kyoto_mkssk) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: 500yen; free for children
Access: 15min walk from Saga-Arashiyama Station (JR Sagano Line); 45min Kyoto Bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Saga Shakado-mae (10min walk)
Address: 27 Chojin-cho, Saganison-in Monzen, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 616-8425 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


17Daigo-ji Temple (醍醐寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Admission: 800yen (adults), 600yen (high-school & junior-high-school students)
Access: 10min walk from Daigo Station (Subway Tozai Line)
Address: 22 Daigohigashioji-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-1325 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
daigoji.or.jp


18Kurama-dera (鞍馬寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 5min walk from Kurama Station (Eizan Kurama Line)
Address: 1074 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-1111 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
insidekyoto.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


19Kyoto Botanical Garden (京都府立植物園) in Kyoto

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Admission: 200 yen (adults), 150 yen (high-school students), children (free)
Hours: 9am – 4pm
Access: Direct access from Kitayama Station (Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line)
Address: Shimogamo Hangicho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-0823 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pref.kyoto.jp


20Kiyomizu-dera (清水寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 6am-5:30/6:30pm
Access: Bus ride from Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Kyoto Main Line) or Gion-Shijō Station (Keihan Main Line) until Kyomizu-michi (10min walk)
Address: 1-294 Kiyomizu, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0862 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kiyomizudera.or.jp


21Choraku-ji Temple (長楽寺) in Kyoto

#fujifilm#fujifilmxt10#fujinon#紅葉#姨捨#長楽寺

A photo posted by かず (@zutemasquerade) on

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Admission: 500 yen (adults), 200 yen (children)
Hours: 9am – 5pm (Closed on Thursday)
Access: 20min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station
Address: 626 Maruyama-cho, Yasaka Toriimae Higashi-iru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0071 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


22Tofuku-ji Temple (東福寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am – 4pm
Access: 10min walk from Tofuku-ji Station (Keihan Main Line, JR Nara Line)
Address: 15-778 Honmachi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0981 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tofukuji.jp


23Kodai-ji Temple (高台寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Admission: 600yen (adults), 250yen (junior-high- school & high-school students), children are free
Hours: 9am – 5:30pm
Access: 5min bus ride from Gion-Shijo Station (Keihan Main Line) into Kujoshakomae direction until Higashiyama Yasui (5min walk)
Address: 526 Shimokawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, 605-0825 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
kodaiji.com


24To-ji Temple (東寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 8:30am – 4pm
Access: 15min walk from JR Kyoto Station; 10min walk from Toji Station (Kintetsu Kyoto Line)
Address: 1 Kujo-cho, Minami-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-8473 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
toji.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


25Genko-an Temple (源光庵) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Admission: 400 yen (adults) [during November 500 yen], 200 yen (Children)
Access: 15min bus ride with Busline Kita 1 from Kitaoji Station (Subway Karasuma Line) until Takagaminegenkouan-mae (1min walk)
Address: 47 Kita-Takagamine-cho, Takagamine, Kita-ku, Kyoto-shi, 603-8468 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
jnto.go.jp


26Eikando Zenrin-ji Temple (永観堂 禅林寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Event: Autumn Night Time Visit
Date: November 8th (Tuesday) – December 4th (Sunday), 5:30pm – 8:30pm (closed 9pm)
Admission: 600yen (adults)
Access: 15min walk from Keage Station (Subway Tozai Line); 25min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Nanzen-ji ・Eikando-michi (3min walk)
Address: 48 Eikando-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8445 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★★☆
eikando.or.jp


27Nanzen-ji Temple (南禅寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: December – February; 8:40am – 4:30pm / March – November 8:40am – 5pm
Admission: No admission fee for the temple precincts.
Hojo Garden: 500yen (adults), 400yen (high-school students), 300yen (children)
Sanmon Gate: 500yen (adults), 400yen (high-school students), 300yen (children)
Nanzen-in: 300yen (adults), 250yen (high-school dtudnts), 150yen (children)
Access: 10min walk from Keage Station (Subway Tozai Line); 25min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Nanzen-ji・Eikando-michi (8min walk)
Address: Nanzenji Fukuchi-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8435 Kyoto

Ranking: ★★★★☆
jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Kyoto


28Enko-ji Temple (圓光寺) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Hours: 9am-5pm
Admission: 500yen (adults), 400 yen (Junior-high-school & high-school students), 300 yen (children)
Access: 15min walk from Ichijoji Station (Eizan Main Line), 35min bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Ichijo-ji Sagarimatsu-cho (7min walk)
Address: 13, Ichijojikotani-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 606-8147 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
enkouji.jp


29Sanzen-in Temple (三千院) in Kyoto

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Hours: March – December 7th, 8:30am-5pm / December 8th – February, 9am-4:30pm
Admission: 700yen (adults), 400 yen (Junior-high-school & high-school students), 150yen (children)
Access: 1hour bus ride from JR Kyoto Station until Ohara (10min walk),
Address: 540 Ohara-Raigoin-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, 601-1242 Kyoto
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Niigata Prefecture


3Yuzawa Kogen Panorama Park (湯沢高原パノラマパーク) in Yuzawa

A photo posted by Kazuhisa Inui (@kazuhisa_inui) on

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Details: During the winter this is a beautiful skiing area, but autumn is equally beautiful. Enjoy the 7min ride and observe the twisting mountains covered in colored foliage.
Recommended Spot: Mt. Omine
Access: 10min walk from JR Echigo-Yuzawa Station
Address: 490 Oaza Yuzawa, Yuzawa-machi, Minami Uonuma-gun, 949-610 Niigata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or


4Todo no Mori Water Park (杜々の森名水公園) in Nagaoka

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Details: Natural spring water still comes from the ground in this park. There are onsen nearby to enjoy while watching the trees turn color.
Access: 50min by car on the Hokuriku Nakanoshima Mitsuke IC
Address: 3996 Nishinakanomata, Nagaoka-shi, 940-0256 Niigata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
enjoyniigata.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Niigata Prefecture


5Kiyotsu Gorge (清津峡) in Tokamachi

First colors: mid-October
Color Peak: end of October – beginning of November
Details: One of Japan’s three biggest gorges
Special sight: The panoramic area with an overview of the gorge
Access: 30min by bus from JR Echigoyuzawa, then a 25min walk
Address: Koide, Tokamachi, 949-8433 Niigata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
snow-country.jp


6Yahiko Park (弥彦公園)

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the middle of November
Details: Best known for its shrine, Yahiko also has a big park with lush greenery. Why not combine your autumn walk with a shrine visit and mountain hike?
Recommended Spot: Maple Valley
Festival: Chrystanthemum Festival at Yahiko Shrine (November 1st – November 24th)
Access: 2min walk from JR Yahiko Station
Address: Yahiko, Yahiko-mura, Nishikanbara-gun, 959-0323 Niigata

Ranking: ★★★★☆
vill.yahiko.niigata.jp

Fukui Cosmos fields

Not so many years ago the locals of Miyanoshita in Fukui had to decide what to do with a large piece of barren ground. One of the options was to turn it into a construction site, but the local council made the final decision. Eventually the whole area got turned into a beautiful field ten times bigger than the Tokyo Dome and full of cosmos flowers.

5

The reason for choosing cosmos flowers is that it’s a strong flower not in need of much maintenance. They come in a variety of colors and can be left to bloom as is. It was Miyanoshita’s hope that the cosmos field would attract tourists and give the area a relaxing atmosphere. We must confirm that they succeeded, as the whole area looks peaceful with the Mt. Hakusane range as a backdrop.

3

During our visit the cosmos weren’t yet in full bloom, but there were already plenty of visitors and kindergartens on school outings to check the earliest flowers. There are separate patches dedicated to single color flowers and there’s an area for the cosmos festival held from mid-october until the end of october. The activities include tractor rides and a fresh market all organized by the locals.

10

If you’re in the area during fall, don’t forget to visit this flower field.

1

Information

Dates: from the beginning of October until the end of October
Location: Miyanoshita Cosmos Park
Address: 12-16 Goshogaichicho, Fukui, Fukui Prefecture 910-3112
URL: info.pref.fukui.lg.jp (PDF)

Welcome to Mount Oyama and its Afuri Shrine

One sunny autumn day we decided to hike Mount Oyama, located in Kanagawa Prefecture about 1,5 hours from Shinjuku Station. It takes a little while to reach the mountain foot, but the view across the valley featuring Mount Fuji is totally worth it!
The Odakyu Line brings you to Isehara Station, from there it´s a 30min bus ride until “Oyama Cable Station.” Another 15min walk along small souvenir shops selling handmade traditional goods and snacks, brings you to the actual Cable Car Station.

DSC_0998

The wooden plate says “Welcome to Mount Oyama, which brings nature and history together”

We arrived at the station and took the Cable Car until “Afuri-Jinja Station.”

DSC_0998a

Ninja ID: nene16

Welcome to Mount Oyama and its Afuri Shrine

The view over the city from Oyama Afuri Shrine is very beautiful and the shrine area itself offers many things to discover.

DSC_0998f

DSC_1003sss

The shrine was built more than 2,000 years ago and its name derives from the word “amefuri” which literally means “rainfall” or “rainy weather”. That´s why mostly farmers visited the shrine to pray for rain and a good harvest.

Next to the shrine, a statue showing two children of the post war period caught my eye. The name plate says “Kagayakesugi no Ko” (輝け杉の子) which could be translated as “The children of the shining cedar”. Sugi, the Japanese cedar is the national tree of Japan. You can find it mostly around temple and shrine areas. Therefore, Sugi can also symbolize the country itself and refers to the children of the nation.

DSC_0365

After some research I found out that during World War II on June 30th 1944 the decision was made to evacuate elementary school children between grade three to six of Kawasaki-city (Kanagawa Prefecture). Out of those 7,100 children, 3,200 children were sent to Mount Oyama. Children from nine different schools left Kawasaki between August 21st and 24th 1944. Until the evacuation dissolution due to the end of the war in October 1945, children were sent to different places.

This statue shows these young children during the reconstruction of the country after the second world war, sending gratitude and peace into all directions of the prefecture. It was built as a symbol to commemorate 40 years of the end of the evacuation.

Welcome to Mount Oyama and its Afuri Shrine

The real hike until the top of Mount Oyama starts on the left side next to the shrine. Steep stairs lead you to the hiking trail, which takes about two hours until the summit. Since it is a very tough hike, rugged footwear is a big recommendation.

DSC_0998c

DSC_0383

On a clear and sunny day, you can even see Mount Fuji in the distance.

DSC_0998d

On the top of the mountain, food and beverages are on sale, but keep in mind that it might become very pricey. We bought two bottles of water and two small portions of “Kakigori” (a dessert made of shaved ice) and paid 1,600Yen (about 15US$), which was quite a shock. The best way to enjoy the stunning view is bringing your picnic blanket, prepare a lunchbox and have a nice break surrounded by nature.

DSC_0998e

If you are lucky you can even spot deers on your way back to the station.

Enjoy your trip to Mount Oyama!

Information

Access: From Isehara Station (Odakyu Line) it´s a 30min bus ride until Oyama Cable Station; until Afuri-Jinja Station it´s the second stop of Oyama-Cable (Last departure 4:30pm weekdays/5pm weekend/national holiday)
Address: Isehara-shi, 259-1107 Kanagawa
Ranking:
www.ooyama-cable.co.jp (Japanese only)
www.afuri.or.jp (Japanese only)

WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture


51Lake Tanzawa (丹沢湖) in Ashigarashimo – Yamakita

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Access: 50min Fujikyu Shonan Bus ride from Shinmatsuda Station (Odakyu Odawara Line) into Nishi-Tanzawa Station direction until Tanzawa-Ko (direct access)
Address: Kamioda, Yamakita-mura, Ashigarakami-gun, 258-0203 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


52Oyama Temple & Oyama-Afuri Shrine (大山寺・大山阿夫利神社) in Isehara

A photo posted by てり~ (@telliart) on

First colors: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: Oyama Temple – 30min bus ride from Isehara Station (Odakyu Odawara Line) until the terminal stop “Oyama Cable”. From there it is a 15min walk to Oyama Cable Car Station. Take the cable car for a 2min ride to “Oyamadera Station”, get off and walk 2 min to the temple grounds.
Oyama-Afuri Shrine – 6min ride from Oyama Cable Car Station to Afuri Jinja Station (2min walk)
Address: Oyama Temple, Oyama 724 / Oyama-Afuri Shrine, 355 Oyama, Isehara-shi, Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture


49Lake Ashi (箱根・芦ノ湖) in Ashigarashimo – Hakone

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 1hour bus ride from Odawara Station (JR Tokaido Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, JR Tokaido Shinkansen, Odakyu Odawara Line, Hakone Tozan Line, Daiyuzan Line)
Address: Moto-Hakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, 250-0522 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
hakone.or.jp


50Yumoto (箱根・湯本) in Ashigarashimo – Hakone

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: Hakone-Yumoto Station (Hakone Tozan Line) (direct access)
Address: Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, 250-0311 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
hakone.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture

Kanagawa Prefecture 47~ 54


47Miyagase Dam (宮ヶ瀬ダム) in Aiko – Kiyokawa

A photo posted by かえる (@rhacophorus101) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 40min bus ride from Hon-Atsugi Station (Odakyu Odawara Line) via the Center into Hanbara direction until Aikawa-Ohashi (15min walk); Bus from Fuchinobe Station (JR Yokohama Line) until the Tana Bus Center, from there it´s another 40min bus ride until Hanbara (30min walk)
Address: 940-4 Miyagase, Kiyokawa-mura, Aiko-gun 243-0111 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com


48Sengokuhara (箱根・仙石原) in Ashigarashimo – Hakone

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the end of November
Access: 25min Hakone Tozan Bus ride from Hakone-Yumoto Station (Hakone Tozan Line)
Address: Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, 250-0631 Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
hakone.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Kanagawa Prefecture


53Zuisenji Temple (瑞泉寺) in Kamakura

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the middle of December
Admission: 200yen (adults), 100yen(children)
Access: 15min bus ride from Kamakura Station (JR Yokosuka Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, Enoshima Electric Railway) into Otonomiya direction until the terminal stop “Otonomiya” (15min walk)
Address: Nikaido 710, Kamakura-shi, Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.kamakura.kanagawa.jp


54Sankeien Garden (三溪園) in Yokohama

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Admission: 500yen (adults), 200yen(children)
Access: Bus from Negishi Station (JR Keihin Tohoku Line/Negishi Line, JR Yokohama Line) until Honmoku (7min walk)
Address: Honmoku Sannotani 58-1, Naka-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa
Ranking: ★★★★☆
sankeien.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan: Tokyo

Tokyo 33~ 46


33Yoyogi Park (代々木公園) in Shibuya

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 3min walk from Harajuku Station (JR Yamanote Line); 3min walk from Yoyogi-Koen Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line)
Address: Yoyogi Kamizono-cho 2-1, Shibuya-ku, 151-0052 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tokyometro.jp


34Meijijingu Gaien (明治神宮外苑) in Shinjuku

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Ginkgo tree row
Event: 20th Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival
Date: November 18th (Friday) – December 5th (Monday), Weekday 10am – 6pm, Weekend & Public Holiday 9:30am – 6pm (Last day until 2pm)
Access: 5-13min walk from Shinanomachi Station (JR Chuo Sobu Line), Sendagaya Station (JR Chuo Sobu Line), Aoyama-itchome Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line, Toei Oedo Line)
Address: Kita-Aoyama 2-chome, Minato-ku, 107-0061 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
meijijingugaien.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


35Mukojima-Hyakkaen Garden (向島百花園) in Sumida

A photo posted by こーさん (@kotyatora) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the middle of December
Opening Hours: 9am – 5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 150yen (adults), 70yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 8min walk from Higashi-Mukojima Station (Tobu Skytree Line); 13min walk from Keisei-Hikifune Station (Keisei Oshiage Line)
Address: 3-18-3 Higashi-Mukojima, Sumida-ku, 131-0032 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


36Rikugien Garden (六義園) in Bunkyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Suikonoue, Tsutsuji tea house
Event: Daimyo Garden & Autumn Color Light-up
Date: November 19th (Saturday) – December 7th (Wednesday), sunset – 9pm
Opening Hours during the Light-up period: 9am – 9pm (last entry 8:30pm)
Admission: 300yen (adults), 150yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 7min walk from Komagome Station (JR Yamanote Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line)
Address: 6-chome Hon-Komagome, Bunkyo-ku, 113-0021 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


37Koishikawa Korakuen Garden (小石川後楽園) in Bunkyo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Oigawa, Tsuten Bridge, Momiji Forest
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 300yen (adults), 150yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school with residence in Tokyo
Access: 8min walk from Iidabashi Station (Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, Tokyo Metro Tozai Line, JR Chuo-Sobu Line, Toei Oedo Line), 8min walk from Korakuen Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro Namboku Line), 8min walk from Suidobashi Station (JR Chuo-Sobu Line)
Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, 112-0004 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


38Showa Memorial Park (国営昭和記念公園) in Tachikawa

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Canal, Katarai Ginkgo Tree row, colored maple leaves in the Japanese garden
Opening Hours: 9:30am-5pm
Admission: 410yen (adults), 80yen (children), 210yen (pensioner)
Access: 2min walk from Nishi-Tachikawa Station (JR Ome Line), 10min walk from Tachikawa Station (JR Ome Line, JR Chuo Line, JR Nambu Line)
Address: 3173 Midori-cho, Tachikawa-shi, 190-0014 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆

showakinen-koen.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


39Tonogayato Garden (殿ヶ谷戸庭園) in Kokubunji

First colors: Middle of November until the end of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Koyo Pavilion
Opening Hours: 9am-5pm (last entry 4:30pm)
Admission: 150yen (adults), 70yen (people over 65years old), free entry for children and middle school students with residence in Tokyo
Access: 2min walk from Kokubunji Station (JR Chuo Rapid Line, Seibu Kokubunji Line, Seibu Tamako Line)
Address: 2-16 Minami-cho, Kokubunji-shi, 185-0021 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
teien.tokyo-park.or.jp


40Road Koshu’s Ginkgo Row (甲州街道いちょう並木) in Hachioji

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Recommended Spots: Musashi Imperial Mausoleum, Ryoho-Temple
Event: 37th Hachioji Ginkgo Festival
Date: November 19th (Saturday), 9am – 5pm; November 20th (Sunday), 9am – 4:30pm
Access: 3min walk from Nishi-Hachioji Station (JR Chuo Main Line); 15min walk from Takao Station (JR Chuo Main Line, JR Chuo Rapid Line, Keio Takao Line)
Address: Higashi-Sakawa-machi 120, Hachioji-shi, 193-0834 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


42Mount Takao (高尾山) in Hachioji

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November
Recommended Spots: Cable car, mountain summit
Event: Mount Takao Maple Leaf Festival
Date: November 1st (Tuesday) – November 30th (Wednesday)
Place: The Mount Takao “Takao Shinrin Center”, in front of the mountain foot`s cable car station “Kiyotaki”, in front of the mountainside teahouse “Juitchome Chaya”
Access: Takaosan-guchi Station (Keio Takao Line)
Address: Takao-machi, Hachioji-shi, 193-0844 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
jnto.go.jp


43Mitake Ravine (御岳渓谷) in Ome

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: Around the Gyokudo Museum
Access: Mitake Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: 310 Mitake–honcho, Ome-shi, 198-0173 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
pregamestraining.tokyo2020.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


44Akigawa Ravine (秋川渓谷) in Akiruno

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Recommended Spots: Around Ishibune Bridge, around Aokidaira Bridge, Kamiyozawa
Access: 15min bus ride from Musashi Itsukaichi Station (JR Itsukaichi Line) until Jurigi
Address: Akiruno-shi, 190‐0174 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
gotokyo.org


45Okutama & Okutama shore (奥多摩・奥多摩湖畔) in Nishitama – Okutama

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Recommended Spots: Mukashi Michi, Yama no Furusato Mura, Ikoi no Michi, Miharashi no Oka
Access: 20min bus ride from Okutama Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: 1740 Kawano, Okutama-machi, Nishitama-gun, 198-0225 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan Tokyo


46Okutama & Hikawa Ravine (奥多摩・氷川渓谷) in Nishitama – Okutama

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: Nippara Ravine, Hato no Su Ravine, Sogaku Ravine, Otaba River upper stream, Mukashi Michi
Access: 3min walk from Okutama Station (JR Ome Line)
Address: Okutama Visitor Center, 171-1 Hikawa, Okutama-machi, Nishitama-gun, 198-0212 Tokyo
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Chiba Prefecture


32Yomogi Fudo Falls (四方木不動滝) in Kamogawa

454

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the beginning of December
Access: Bus ride from Awa-Amatsu Station (JR Sotobo Line) until Yomogi (15min walk)
Address: Yomogi, Kamogawa-shi, 299-5506 Chiba
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
city.kamogawa.lg.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Chiba Prefecture

Chiba Prefecture 28~ 32


28Hondo-ji temple (本土寺) in Matsudo

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November
Access: 10min walk from Kita-Kogane Station (JR Joban Line)
Address: Hiraga 63, Matsudo-shi, 270-0002 Chiba
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor


29Narita-san Shinshoji (成田山新勝寺) in Narita

First colors: Mid November
Color Peak: Mid November to early December
Access: 15min walk from JR Narita Station or Keisei Narita Station
Address: Narita 1, Narita-shi, Chiba
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Chiba Prefecture


30Lake Kameyama (亀山湖) in Kimitsu

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 5min walk from Kazusa-Kameyama Station (JR Kururi Line)
Address: 8 Kawamata Kyukawamata, Kimitsu-shi, Chiba-ken 292-0524
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor


31Komatsu-ji Temple (小松寺) in Minamiboso

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November until the beginning of December
Access: 8min taxi ride from Chikura Station (JR Uchibo Line)
Address: 1057 Chikura-cho Onuki, Minamiboso-shi, 295-0013 Chiba
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nihon-kankou.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture

Saitama Prefecture 21~ 27


21Nagatoro (長瀞) in Chichibu – Nagatoro

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spot: Around Iwadatami
Access: 5min walk from Nagatoro Station (Chichibu Railway)
Address: Nagatoro-machi, Chichibu-gun, 369-1300 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


22Mount Hodo (宝登山) in Chichibu – Nagatoro

A photo posted by Kzm Iwt (@kzmkzmmzkmzk) on

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spot: Hodosan Small Animal Park
Access: 15min walk from Nagatoro Station (Chichibu Railway) until the ropeway Station
Address: Nagatoro-machi, Chichibu-gun, 369-1305 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.chichibu-railway.co.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture


23Nakatsu Ravine (中津峡) in Chichibu

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Access: 50min Seibu Kanko Bus ride from Mitsumineguchi Station (Chichibu Railway) until  Aiharabashi
Address: Nakatsugawa, Chichibu-shi, 369-1903 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
jnto.go.jp


24Park Togo (東郷公園) in Hanno

A photo posted by Misato Kitagawa (@misato_1966) on

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Recommended Spots: The grounds of Chichibu Ontake Shrine
Event: Maple Leaf Festival
Date: November 19th (Saturday) – 3pm~; November 20th (Sunday) – 10am~
Details: Saturday – Jazz music beneath the maple trees, Sunday – music and dance performances; as well as food stands
Admission: 100 yen (adults)
Access: 20min walk from Agano Station (Seibu Chichibu Line)
Address: 580 Sakaishi, Hanno-shi, 357-0215 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.hanno.saitama.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture


25Lake Kamakita (鎌北湖) in Iruma – Moroyama

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: Middle of November until the end of November
Access: 60min walk from Moro Station (JR Hachiko Line); 70min walk from Higashi-Moro Station (Tobu – Ogose Line)
Address: Oyagi, Moroyama-machi, Iruma-gun, 350-0452 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor


26Torii Kannon (鳥居観音) in Hanno

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Access: 40min bus ride from Hanno Station (Seibu Ikebukuro Line) until Renkeibashi (5min walk)
Address: 3198 Kaminaguri, Hanno-shi, 357-0111 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★★☆
city.hanno.saitama.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Saitama Prefecture


27Mount Tenran (天覧山) in Hanno

First colors: Middle of November
Color Peak: End of November
Recommended Spots: Mountaintop, Juroku Rakan
Access: 40min walk from Hanno Station (Seibu Ikebukuro Line) ; 45min walk from Higashi-Hanno Station (Seibu Ikebukuro Line, JR Hachiko Line)
Address: Hanno, Hanno-shi, 357-0063 Saitama
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture


15Suwakyo Gorge (諏訪峡) in Tone-Minakami

sightseeing_71

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 20min walk from Minakami Station (JR Joetsu Line)
Address: Minakami-machi, Tone-gun 379-1616 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp


16Sarugakyo (猿ヶ京) in Tone-Minakami

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Around lake Akaya
Access: 25min bus ride from Jomo-Kogen Station (JR Joetsu-Shinkansen) until Sarugakyo Onsen;
40min bus ride from Gokan Station (JR Joetsu Line) until Sarugakyo Onsen
Address: Sarugakyo Onsen, Minakami, Tone-gun, 379-1403 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture


17Agatsuma Ravine (吾妻渓谷) in Higashi-Agatsuma

First colors: end of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 1hour walk from IwashimaStation (JR Agatsuma Line)
Address: Matsutani, Higashi Agatsuma-machi, Agatsuma-gun, 377-0814 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp


18Kajika Bridge (河鹿橋) Illumination in Shibukawa

河鹿橋紅葉(2)(渋川市)_TN

First colors: End of October
Event: Oct 25 – Nov 13
Access: About 25 minutes by car from Shibukawa-Ikaho IC of Kan-Etsu Expressway
Address: Ikaho, Ikaho-machi, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture


19Mount Haruna & Lake Haruna (榛名山・榛名湖) in Takasaki

榛名湖 (5)(高崎市,東吾妻町)_TN

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spot: The view from Kohan no Yado Memorial Park
Access: 1,5h bus ride from JR Takasaki Station until Harunako
Address: Harunasan-machi & Harunako-machi, Takasaki-shi, 370-3348 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.visitgunma.jp


20Usui 3rd Bridge / Megane Bashi (めがね橋) in Annaka

めがね橋(3)(安中市)_TN

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Early to mid November
Access: About 15 minutes by bus from Yokokawa Station on JR Shin-Etsu Line
Address: Sakamoto, Matsuida-machi, Annaka-shi, Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Gunma Prefecture

Gunma Prefecture 13~ 20


13Fukiware-no-taki Falls (吹割の滝) in Numata

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Late October to early November
Access: About 40 minutes by bus from Numata Station on JR Joetsu Line
Address: Okkai, Tone-machi, Numata-shi, Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


14Tanigawa-dake Tenjindaira (谷川岳天神平) in Tone-Minakami

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Access: 25min bus ride from Minakami Station (JR Joetsu Line) to Tanigawa-dake ropeway , 45min bus ride from Jomo-Kogen Station to Tanigawa-dake ropeway (Ropeway round-trip 2060 yen)
Address: Yubiso, Minakami-machi,Tone-gun, 379-1728 Gunma
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.visitgunma.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tochigi Prefecture


9Setoai Ravine (瀬戸合峡) in Nikko

729E97ACF33D25EFEFC0D18CB60E7098_R

First colors: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Access: 1h10min Nikko-Shiei Bus ride from Kinugawa-Onsen Station (Tobu Kinugawa Line ) into Meotobuchi-Onsen until Kawamata-Heikezuka (10min walk)
Address: Kawamata, Nikko-shi, 321-2717 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
nikko-travel.jp


10Mount Futara Shrine, Rinno-ji Temple, Tosho-gu Shrine (二荒山神社・輪王寺・東照宮) in Nikko

toshogu

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Event: Light-Up Nikko
Date: November 11th (Friday) until November 13th (Sunday), 6pm – 9pm  
Access: 8min Tobu Bus ride from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu-Nikko Line) until Nishisando (10min walk); 20min walk from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station
Address: Kawamata, Nikko-shi, 321-2717 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tochigi Prefecture


11Lake Chuzenji (中禅寺湖湖畔) in Nikko

R_Chuzenjiko-photo-AC-3_R

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Access: 50min Tobu Bus ride from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu-Nikko Line) into Chuzenji-Onsen or Yumoto-Onsen direction until Chuzenji-Onsen (direct access)
Address: Chugushi, Nikko-shi, 321-1661 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


12Ryuzu Falls (竜頭ノ滝) in Nikko

800px-Ryuzu_Falls_01_R

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: End of September until the beginning of October
Access: 1hour Tobu Bus ride from Nikko Station (JR Nikko Line) or Tobu-Nikko Station (Tobu-Nikko Line) into Yumoto-Onsen direction until Ryuzu no Taki (2min walk)
Address: Chugushi, Nikko-shi, 321-1661 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tochigi Prefecture

Tochigi Prefecture 7~ 12


7Nasukogen (那須高原) in Nasu

m_181159_R

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spot: Nasu Onsen Shrine, Sessho-seki
Access: 35min bus ride from Kuroiso Station (JR Utsunomiya Line, JR Tohoku Main Line)
Address: Nasu-machi, Nasu-gun, 325-0301 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
nikko-travel.jp


8Kawaji Onsen (川治温泉) in Nikko

AEDCAF576C14DE337E5614772D37B56F_R

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the middle of November
Event: Kawaji Onsen Autumn Color Festival
Date: November 6th (Sunday); 10am – 3 pm
Details: 8 pm – 8:30pm Firework Show
Access: Direct access from Kawaji-Yumoto Station (Yagan Railway Aizu Kinugawa Line)
Address: Kawaji Onsen, Nikko-shi, 321-2521 Tochigi
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
travel.tochigiji.or.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Ibaraki Prefecture

Ibaraki Prefecture 1~ 6


1Hanazono Gorge (花園渓谷) in Kita- Ibaraki

盛紅葉

First colors: Late October
Color Peak: Early to late November
Access: 30min taxi ride from Isohara Station (JR Joban Line)
Address: Hanakawacho Hanazono, Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.ibarakiguide.jp (Japanese only)


2Eigen-ji (永源寺) in Kuji – Daigo

永源寺(もみじ寺)

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November
Access: 10min walk from Hitachi-Daigo Station (JR Suigun Line)
Address: 1571 Daigo, Daigo-machi, Kuji-gun, 319-3526 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.co.uk

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Ibaraki Prefecture


3Hananuki Gorge & Hananuki Dam (花貫渓谷・花貫ダム) in Takahagi

紅葉の花貫渓谷

First colors: Early November
Color Peak: Mid to late November
Event: Hananuki Gorge Autumn Foliage Festival October 29 – November 27
Access: 25min taxi ride from JR Takahagi Station
Address: Takahagi, 318-0104 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.takahagi-kanko.jp (Japanese only)


4Ryujin Great Suspension Bridge (竜神大吊橋) in Hitachi-Ota

©常陸太田市観光物産協会
©常陸太田市観光物産協会
First colors: Early November
Color Peak: Mid to end of November
Access: 45min bus ride from JR Hitachota Station to Ryujin Otsuribashi, then a 20 min walk to the bridge.
Address: Kegano 2133-6, Hitachiota, 313-0351 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★★☆
ohtsuribashi.ryujinkyo.jp (Japanese only)

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Ibaraki Prefecture


5Hitachi Seaside Park (国営ひたち海浜公園) Kochia plants

紅葉のコキア(写真使用の際は制限有 *下記参照)

First colors: Early October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Access: 15min taxi or bus ride from Katsuta Station (JR Joban Line)
Address: 605-4 Onuma-aza, Mawatari, Hitachinaka, Ibaraki 312-0012
Ranking: ★★★★☆
en.hitachikaihin.jp


6Mount Tsukuba (筑波山)

筑波山夕景

First colors: Mid October
Color Peak: Mid of November
Access: 40min shuttle bus ride from Tsukuba Station (Tsukuba Express Line)
Address: Tsukuba, 300-4352 Ibaraki
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Autumn guide for Japanese trees

shutterstock_697681822 (1)Study up before your autumn walk with this handy guide! Japan has many trees native to its soil that you won’t find anywhere else. The peak for the changing of colors is different for every region, so be sure to check one of our “Ultimate maps of foliage destinations” before planning your trip?

Trees that turn RED

Maple
Maple2_s
The maple tree has inspired Japanese art, gardening and even poetry for hundreds of years. Possibly the most iconic tree for autumn, it can turn beautiful shades of red, yellow and even purple. More than being a tree, it represents peace and serenity. The maple can be so important that a whole garden is centered around it.

Japanese Sumac
Japanese Sumac_s
Also knows as the Chinese lacquer tree because their sap is used to make lacquerware. The trees can grow up to 20 meters tall and the fruits can be used to make dye. Be careful of this tree, its sap may cause rash and other allergic reactions

Wax Tree
Wax Tree_s
Can alse be called the Japanese Wax Tree. It’s a flowering plant species with long leaves and it can grow up to 8 meters tall. Their sap is also used to make lacquer but its not as toxic as the Japanese Sumac. In moderation its fruits are edible but they still contain an amount of toxic.

Japanese Rowan
Japanese Rowan_s
These are mountain bushes of the flowering plant species native to Japan. They produce small fruits that are perfect for birds but are more of an accessory fruit for humans. In Japanese this tree is called nana-kamado, “seven (times in the) stove” because it never burns up completely and can be reused up to seven times as firewood.

Burning Bush
Burning Bush_s
In actuality, this plant is more of a herb than a bush. The Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki mass planted the Burning Bush for decorative purposes. The seeds are used in the Japanese kitchen as food garnish called tonburi. The texture is similar to caviar and it’s a delicacy in Akita prefecture.

Rhododendron
Rhododendron
The colors of the Rhododendron continuously change during the year, making it a favorite for the season-loving Japanese. This flower was originally imported from China hundreds of years ago but slowly made its way into the Japanese garden. Depending on the type of plant they can shed their leaves in autumn.

Trees that turn YELLOW

Maple
Maple_s
The iconic Japanese Maple not only has the ability to turn red, but also yellow and purple. See “Maple” under “Trees that turn RED” for more information.

Ginkgo
Ginkgo_s
The Ginkgo is considered the second most popular autumn tree right after the Maple. Possibly the earth’s oldest tree as fossils of its leaves, dating back 270 million years, have been found. They turn the brightest yellow out of all the trees. Tokyo has even declared it their symbol tree.

Japanese Larch
Japanese Larch
The second most yellow tree on the Japanese landscape is the Japanese Larch. It can grow at altitudes of up to 2,900m and is the only conifer that changes color and loses its needles. Besides being planted in parks, it is also an excellent tree for bonsai.

Poplar
Poplar_s
There are many different types of Poplars but they’re mainly grown as decorative trees. They can grow tall very fast and multiply at an amazing speed. Besides its beautiful yellow leaves during autumn, Poplar wood was a common used material for painting blocks and musical instruments.

Japanese Elm
Japanese Elm
Japanese elm is commonly planted as a street tree do decorate the roads. There are many variations of the Elm inside Japan but it always has a thick, lush top with a thin trunk. They are green to dark green in spring and start changing colors as early as summer. It is one of the strongest trees against any sickness.

Trees that turn BROWN

Japanese Beech
Japanese Beech_s
Native to Japan and one of the country’s most dominant trees in forests, the Japanese Beech can be seen everywhere. It can grow very large, up to 35m in height. The bark is very smooth with a greyish color and the top of the tree grows in a nice, large round bush. Young Japanese Beech leaves and seeds are edible.

Oak
Oak_s
A common tree all over the world, the Oak also makes an appearance in Japan. More than for the aesthetics of the leaves, the Oak was used for its wood. Nonetheless, the shape of the leaves give a beautiful accent to the autumn scenery.

Chestnut
Chestnut_s
Most easily recognizable by the nuts, the Chestnut tree is probably the first tree that pops into your mind when thinking about autumn. A popular activity in Japan, and probably all around the world, is to collect the delicious chestnuts and roast them on an open fire.

Japanese Zelkova
Japanese Zelkova
The Zelkova is a species of flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, Eastern China and Taiwan. Mostly used as a decorative plant it is an excellent tree to use for bonsai. To identify a Japanese Zelkova, look for a short main trunk, low branching and an overall vase-shape. This tree is quite sensitive to colder temperatures.

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Fukushima Prefecture

Fukushima Prefecture 36~ 45


36Bandai Azuma Skyline (磐梯吾妻スカイライン) in Fukushima

10_MG_5664

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the middle of October
Recommended Spots: Tengu no Niwa, Fudosawa Bridge
Access: 1h10min bus ride from JR Fukushima Station
Address: Between Niwasaka and Tsuchiyu Onsen-machi, Fukushima-shi, 960-2157 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.tif.ne.jp


37Ura-Bandai & Nakatsu River Ravine (裏磐梯高原・中津川渓谷) in Yama-Inawashiro

2-2

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Access: 45min taxi ride from JR Inawashiro Station (JR Ban’etsu West Line)
Address: Kita-Shiobara-mura, Inawashiro-machi, Yama-gun, Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Fukushima Prefecture


38Tatsuzawafudo Falls (達沢不動滝) in Yama-Inawashiro

1618

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the beginning of November
Access: 40min bus ride into Tatsuzawa direction from JR Inawashiro Station (JR Ban’etsu West Line) until the last stop (40min walk)
Address: Kogai Kotatsusawa, Inawashiro-machi, Yama-gun, 969-2752 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
bandaisan.or.jp


39Shingukumano Shrine’s large ginkgo tree (新宮熊野神社の大イチョウ) in Kitakata

005648035

First colors: Beginning of November
Color Peak: November 15th(Tuesday) – November 20th (Sunday)
Access: 10min taxi ride from Kitakata Station (JR Ban’etsu West Line); 10min taxi ride from JR Shiokawa Station (JR Ban’etsu West Line)
Address: Shingu Kumano 2258, Keitoku-machi, Kitakata-shi, 966-0923 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.tif.ne.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Fukushima Prefecture


40Tsuruga Castle Park (鶴ヶ城公園) in Aizu-Wakamatsu

005287037

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Event: Autumn Color Light-up
Date: October 21st (Friday) – November 13th (Sunday); sunset – 9pm
Access: 13min bus ride from JR Aizu-Wakamatsu Station (JR Ban’etsu West Line, JR Tadami Line, Aizu Line) ; 15min taxi ride from Minami-Wakamatsu Station (Aizu Line)
Address: 1-1 Otemachi, Aizu-Wakamatsu-shi, 965-0873 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.tsurugajo.com


41Midorigaoka Park (翠ヶ丘公園) in Sukagawa

0611-000

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the beginning of November
Access: 15min walk from Sukagawa Station (JR Tohoku Main Line)
Address: Atagoyama, Sukagawa-shi, 962-0867 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Fukushima Prefecture


42Natsui River Ravine (夏井川渓谷) in Iwaki

11_MG_8988

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November until the middle of November
Recommended Spots: Around the Kagoba Falls, View from the Natsui River Ravine observation deck
Access: (Kagoba Falls) 30min walk from Eda Station (JR Ban’etsu East Line)
Address: Within Ogawa-machi Kamiogawa and Kawamae-machi, Iwaki-shi, 979-3124 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.tif.ne.jp


43Tonohetsuri Cliff (塔のへつり) in Minamiaizu

First colors: Mid October
Color Peak: Late October to early November
Access: 3-min walk from Tonohetsuri Station on the Aizu Railway
Address: Minamiaizu District, Shitabayashi Yagoshima, Shimogō-machi 5316, Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Fukushima Prefecture


44Yukiwari Bridge & Yukiwari Ravine (雪割橋・雪割渓谷) in Nishishirakawa-Nishigo

0051500934

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Access: 30min bus ride from Shin-Shirakawa Station (JR Tohoku Main Line, JR Tohoku-Shinkansen) until Hatsudensho Mae (5min walk)
Address: Tsuryu, Nishigo-mura, Nishishirakawa-gun, 961-8081 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.welcome-fukushima.com


45Nanko Park (南湖公園) in Shirakawa

0053904749

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: End of October until the middle of November
Access: Bus ride from Shirakawa Station (JR Tohoku Main Line) or JR Shin-Shirakawa Station (JR Tohoku Shinkansen, JR Tohoku Main Line) until Nanko Koen (5min walk)
Address: Nanko, Shirakawa-shi, 961-0812 Fukushima
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
shirakawa315.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Yamagata Prefecture

Yamagata Prefecture 30~ 35


30Sankyo Warehouse (山居倉庫) in Sakata

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Around the warehouse
Access: 10min ride with the free sightseeing bicycles from JR Sakata Station (JR Rikuu West Line, JR Uetsu Main Line); 8min ride with the Runrun Bus – Sakita Station University line to Sankyo Soko Mae
Address: 1-1-20 Sankyo-machi, Sakata-shi, 998-0838 Yamagata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp


31Chokai Forest (眺海の森) in Sakata

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Chokai Forest accommodation “Chokai no Mori Sansan”, temple on the top of the mountain “Mine no Yakushi”
Access: 25min taxi ride from JR Sagoshi Station (JR Rikuu West Line, JR Uetsu Main Line) or JR Amarume Station (JR Rikuu West Line, JR Uetsu Main Line)
Address: Ohira Tsuchibuchi, Sakata-shi, 999-6839 Yamagata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
yamagatakanko.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Yamagata Prefecture


32Mogami Gorge (最上峡) in Mogami – Tozawa

nat212

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Around Shiraito Falls
Access: 10min taxi ride from Furukuchi Station (JR Rikuu West Line)
Address: Furukuchi, Tozawa-mura, Mogami-gun, 999-6401 Yamagata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
yamagatakanko.com


33Ravine of Bonji river & around Mount Yudono (梵字川渓谷・湯殿山周辺) in Tsuruoka

nanatsuwaterfall

First colors: Ravine of Bonji river – Middle of October; around Mountain Yudono – End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October until the end of October
Access: 45min bus ride from JR Tsuruoka Station until Gassan Asahi Hakubutsu-mura
Address: Bonji River Ravine, Etchuyama Nabira, Tsuruoka-shi, 997-0403 Yamagata; Mt. Yudono, Rokuju Riyama Tamugimata, Tsuruoka-shi, 997-0532 Yamagata
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
yamagatakanko.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Yamagata Prefecture


34Yama-dera (山寺) in Yamagata

2-1

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 5min walk from Yamadera Station (JR Senzan Line)
Address: 4495-15 Yamadera, Yamagata-shi, 999-3301 Yamagata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


35Tengendai (天元台) in Yonezawa

A photo posted by natsunori (@summer8forest) on

A photo posted by natsunori (@summer8forest) on

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spots: View out of the car of the Tengendai Ropeway in the morning.
Access: 40min bus ride from JR Yonezawa Station (JR Yamagata Shinkansen, JR Ou Main Line, JR Yonesaka Line) until Shirabu-Onsen; 5min ride from Ropeway-Yumoto Station until Kogen Station
Address: Tengendai Kogen, Sumomoyama 12118-6, Yonezawa-shi, 992-1461 Yamagata
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Miyagi Prefecture

Miyagi Prefecture 25~ 29


25Naruko-kyo (鳴子峡) in Osaki

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Recommended Spots: around the Narukokyo Resthouse near the western end of the gorge
Access: 30min walk from Nakayamadaira Onsen Station (JR Rikuu-to Line); buses are available from early October to mid November.
Address: Shitomae-87 Narukoonsen, Ōsaki-shi, 989-6100 Miyagi
Ranking: ★★★★☆ 
www.jnto.go.jp


26Entsu-in & Matsushima-chiku (円通院・松島地区) in Miyagi-Matsushima

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Event: Autumn Color Light-up, October 22nd (Saturday) – November 23rd (Wednesday)
Access: 8min walk from Matsushima Kaigan Station (JR Senseki Line); 20min walk from Matsushima Station (JR Tohoku Main Line)
Address: Chonai-67 Matsushima, Matsushima-machi, Miyagi-gun,981-0213 Miyagi
Ranking: ★★★☆☆ 
sendai-travel.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Miyagi Prefecture


27Shiwahiko Shrine & Shiogama Shrine (志波彦神社・鹽竈神社) in Shiogama

e4b14461409af68ed466983b5fd54ca4_s

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Middle of November
Access: 15min walk from Hon-Shiogama Station (JR Senseki Line)
Address: Shiwahiko Shrine & Shiogama Shrine, 1-1 Ichimoriyama, Shiogama-shi, 985-0074 Miyagi
Ranking: ★★☆☆☆ 
www.thm.pref.miyagi.jp


28Okunikkawa Valley (奥新川渓谷) in Sendai – Aoba

A photo posted by kan (@kiku_shin) on

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Access: 30min walk from Okunikkawa Station (JR Senzan Line)
Address: Nikkawa, Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi, 989-3434 Miyagi
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.tripadvisor.com


29Yamanaka Shichikashuku Highway (山中七ヶ宿街道) in Katta – Shichikashuku

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Middle of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Lake Choro, Nametsu Otaki Fall, Lake Shichikashuku
Access: For Lake Choro -> a 50min taxi ride from Shiroishi-Zao Station (JR Tohoku Shinkansen) , For Shichikashuku dam-> 30min taxi ride from from Shiroishi-Zao Station (JR Tohoku Shinkansen)
Address: Shichikashuku Dam, Kiritoshi 52-40, Shichikashuku-machi, Katta-gun, 989-0536 Miyagi
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Akita Prefecture

Akita Prefecture 19~ 24


19Mount Moriyoshi (森吉山) in Kita-Akita

A photo posted by @mado.ca on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Access: 20min taxi ride from Aniai Station (Akita Nairiku Line)
Address: Ani Kagi no Daki 79-5, Kita-Akita-shi, 018-4624 Akita
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.aniski.jp (Japanese only)


20Nyuto Onsen Village (乳頭温泉郷) in Semboku

A photo posted by ayuko! (@a1oxo5) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: The view from the Rotenburo (open air bath).
Access: 45min ride with the Ugo Transportation bus into Nyuto Onsen direction from Tazawako Station (JR Tazawako Line, JR Akita Shinkansen)
Address: Tazawako, Semboku-shi, 014-1204 Akita
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Akita Prefecture


23Dakigaeri Valley (抱返り渓谷) in Semboku

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Access: 30min taxi ride from JR Tazawako Station (JR Tazawako Line, JR Akita Shinkansen); 15min taxi ride from JR Kakunodate Station (JR Tazawako Line, JR Akita Shinkansen, Akita Nairiku Line)
Address: Tazawako Dakikaeri Prefectural Natural Park, Tazawako, Semboku-shi, Akita
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.city.semboku.akita.jp


24Oyasu Gorge (小安峡) in Yuzawa

a4e0fc96a02fffeaf8aea5600aa9a018_m

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: End of October
Event: Autumn Color Festival
Date: October 16th (Sunday)
Access: 1h10min bus ride from Yuzawa Station (JR Ou Main Line)
Address: Minaseyumoto, Yuzawa-shi, 012-0183 Akita
URL: http://www.jalan.net/kankou/spt_05465ab2040005443/ (Japanese only)
Ranking: ★★★★☆

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Akita Prefecture


21Senshu Park (千秋公園) in Akita

A photo posted by @syuu_01 on

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Access: 10min walk from JR Akita Station
Address: Senshu Park, Akita-shi, 010-0876 Akita
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp


22Kakunodate (角館) in Semboku

To_角館秋の武家屋敷通り3_R

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Recommended Spots: The street of the samurai’s residence.
Access: 5min taxi ride or 20min walk from Kakunodate Station (JR Tazawako Line, JR Akita Shinkansen, Akita Nairiku Line)
Address: Kakunodate-machi, Semboku-shi, 014-0300 Akita
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Iwate Prefecture

Iwate Prefecture 11~ 18


11Hachimantai (八幡平) in Hachimantai

八幡平の紅葉(熊沼)

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October
Event: Hachimantai Sanzoku Festival
Date: October 15th (Saturday) – October 16th (Sunday)
Access: 1,5hour Iwate Kenpoku Bus ride from JR Morioka Station; 1hour bus ride from Obuke Station (JR Hanawa Line)
Address: Sakura Park Event Hall, Kashiwadai, Hachimantai-shi, 028-7303 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.japan-iwate.info


12Park of Morioka castle – Iwate Park (盛岡城跡公園・岩手公園) in Morioka

First colors: End of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Recommended Spots: The bridge which connects the outer citadel and the inner citadel.
Access: 6min bus ride from JR Morioka Station; 25min walk from JR Morioka Station
Address: Uchimaru 1-37, Morioka-shi, 020-0023 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.japan-iwate.info

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Iwate Prefecture


13Geto Plateau Onsen Village (夏油 高原 温泉郷) in Kitakami

A photo posted by true (@tellus_jp) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Trekking route between Geto Plateau Ski Area and Geto Onsen
Access: 1hour bus ride from Kitakami Station (JR Kitakami Line, JR Tohoku Main Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen)
Address: Iwasakai Shinden, Waga-cho, Kitakami-shi, 024-0322 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.geto8.com


14Sennin Pass (仙人峠) in Kamaishi

A photo posted by mai .. yamanaka (@moco__3) on

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Sennin tunnel
Access: 3min taxi ride from Rikuchu-Ohashi Station (JR Kamaishi Line)
Address: Ohashi, Kasshi-cho, Kamaishi-shi, 026-0055 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.city.kamaishi.iwate.jp (Japanese only)


15Mount Kurikoma (栗駒山) in Ichinoseki

6ce7f98f1eced9c5da9032273255bb6a_m

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Beginning of October
Access: 1,5hour bus ride from Ichinoseki Station (JR Tohoku Main Line, JR Ofunato Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen)
Address: Genbi-cho, Ichinoseki-shi, 021-0101 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.tripadvisor.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Iwate Prefecture


16Chuson Temple (中尊寺) in Nishiiwai – Hiraizumi

chusonji_copyguard
First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October until the beginning of November
Recommended Spots: Around the golden temple hall, the scripture hall and the main hall
Event: The Autumn Festival of Fujiwara
Date: November 1st (Tuesday) – November 3rd (Thursday)
Access: 5min taxi ride from Hiraizumi Station (JR Tohoku Main Line); 30min taxi ride from Ichinoseki Station (JR Tohoku Shinkansen, JR Tohoku Line, JR Ofunato Line)
Address: 202 Koromonoseki, Hiraizumi, Hiraizumi-cho, Nichiiwai-gun, 029-4102 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★★☆
wattention.com


17Geibikei (猊鼻渓) in Ichinoseki

A photo posted by もす (@mozuyamaaa) on

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Access: 5min walk from Geibikei Station (JR Ofunato Line); 35min bus ride from Hiraizumi Station (JR Tohoku Main Line); 42min bus ride from Ichinoseki Station (JR Tohoku Main Line, JR Ofunato Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen)
Address: 467 Machiaza, Higashiyamachonagasaka, Ichinoseki-shi, 029-0302 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.japan-iwate.info


18Genbikei (厳美渓) in Ichinoseki

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Access: 20min bus ride until the terminal stop into Genbikei direction from JR Ichinoseki Station (JR Tohoku Main Line, JR Ofunato Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen)
Address: Taki no ue, Genbi-cho, Ichinoseki-shi, 021-0101 Iwate
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.japan-iwate.info

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tohoku – Aomori Prefecture Part 1

Aomori Prefecture 1~ 10


1Yagen Mountain Stream (薬研渓流) in Mutsu

A photo posted by kaorist (@kaorist) on

A photo posted by キソキソ (@kuwakeen) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Yagen Bridge, Koyo Bridge, Otome Bridge (Suspension Bridge), Rotenburo (open air bath)
Access: Take the bus from Shimokita Station (JR Omita Line) and get off at Ohata. From there it´s a 20min taxi ride (reservation before is necessary).
Address: Yagen, Ohata-machi, Mutsu-shi, 039-4401 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
www.en-aomori.com


2Mount Osore (恐山) in Mutsu

A photo posted by Hisaya Wada (@komanosuke678) on

A photo posted by Sachi Wakasa (@sachiwakasa) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the beginning of November
Event: Autumn visit at Mount Osore!
Date: October 8th (Saturday) – October 10th (Monday), 6am – 6pm
Admission: 500 yen (adults), 200 yen (children)
Details: Different guided walks through the nature, Yosakoi performance, food stands, Segway, etc.
Access: 43 bus ride from Shimokita Station (JR Omita Line) until Osore-zan
Address: 3-2 Usoriyama, Tanabu, Mutsu-shi, 035-0021 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp


3Kawauchi River Valley (川内川渓谷) in Mutsu

A photo posted by meg* (@me9mi3to) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Sekirei Bridge, Ajisai Bridge, Asunaro Bridge
Access: 15min Taxi ride from Kawauchimachi Station; 40min JR Bus ride from Ominato Station (JR Ominato Line) into Wakinosawa direction until Kawauchi
Address: Kawauchimachi, Mutsu-shi, 039-5201 Aomori
aomorishokoren.or.jp (Japanese only)
Ranking: ★★★★☆

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tohoku – Aomori Prefecture Part 2


4Jogakura Onsen & Jogakura Bridge (城ヶ倉温泉・城ヶ倉大橋) in Aomori

A photo posted by Qoo (@qoo_aomori) on

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spots: view from Jogakura Bridge
Access: 1,5hour JR Bus ride from JR Aomori Station or JR Shin-Aomori Station into Towada-ko direction until Jogakura Onsen (30min walk)
Address: Minami-Arakawayama, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, 030-0111 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com


5Lake Towada (十和田湖) in Towada

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Event: Oirase Mountain Stream Eco Road Festival 2016
Date: October 29th (Saturday) – October 30th (Sunday), 9am – 3pm
Details: Different guided walks through the nature, Yosakoi performance, food stands, Segway, etc.
Access: 2h15min bus ride from Hachinohe Station (JR Hachinohe Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen, Aomori Railway Line); 2h45min bus ride from Shin-Aomori Station (JR Ou Main Line, JR Tohoku Shinkansen, JR Hokkaido Shinkansen)
Address: Kowadakohanyasumiya 486, Okuse, Towada-shi, 018-5501 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.jnto.go.jp


6Hakkoda Mountains (八甲田連峰) in Aomori

To_八甲田DSC_0890_R

First colors: End of September
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Hakkoda Ropeway, Tamoyachi Shitsugen
Access: 1hour JR Bus ride from JR Aomori Station or JR Shin-Aomori Station into Towada-ko direction until Hakkoda Ropeway Station Mae
Address: Hakkoda Ropeway Sanroku Station, 1-12 Kansuizawa, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, 030-0111 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.hakkoda-ropeway.jp


7Hirosaki Park (弘前公園) in Hirosaki

m_182619

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: Beginning of November
Event: Chrysanthemum and Autumn-Color Festival of Hirosaki Castle
Date: October 21st (Friday) – November 13th (Sunday), 9am – 5pm (Admission to the park until 4:30pm)
Admission: Botanical Garden of Hirosaki Castle 310yen (adults), 100yen (children); Botanical Garden of Hirosaki Castle + Around the castle + Fujita memorial garden 510yen (adults), 160yen (children)
Access: 15min Konan Bus ride from Hirosaki Station (JR Ou Main Line, JR Gono Line, Konan Line) into Fujishiro Eigyosho direction until Shiyakusho Mae Koen Iriguchi
Address: 1-1 Shimoshirogane-cho, Hirosaki-shi, 036-8356 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.hirosakipark.jp

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Tohoku – Aomori Prefecture Part 3


8Shirakami Sanchi (白神山地) in Nakatsugaru – Nishimeya Village

白神_暗門の滝

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October until the end of October
Recommended Spots: Anmon Waterfall sidewalk
Access: 1h10min taxi ride from Hirosaki Station (JR Ou Main Line, JR Gono Line, Konan Line); 1,5hour bus ride from Hirosaki Bus Terminal
Address: Between Meya Bridge and Anmon Waterfall, Tashiro, Nishimeya-mura, Nakatsugaru-gun, 036-1411 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com


9Sukayu Onsen & Jigoku Numa (酸ヶ湯温泉・地獄沼) in Aomori

To_八甲田_地獄沼_R

First colors: Beginning of October
Color Peak: Middle of October
Recommended Spots: Manju Fukashi, Sukayu Camping Ground
Access: 1h40min JR Bus ride from JR Aomori Station or JR Shin-Aomori Station into Towada-ko direction until Jogakura Onsen
Address: Jigoku Numa, Arakawa, Aomori-shi, 030-0111 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com


10Nakano Maple Mountain (中野もみじ山) in Kuroishi

1c5c3c7997623f3085ba530834daaa0d_m

First colors: Middle of October
Color Peak: End of October
Event: Nakano Maple Mountain Light-up ~ Light Fantasy
Date: October 13th (Thursday) – November 6th (Sunday), 4:30pm – 9pm
Access: 40min bus ride from Kuroishi Station (Konan Railway Konan Line) until Itadome (10min walk); 30min taxi ride from Kuroishi Station (Konan Railway Konan Line)
Address: Nakano Shrine, Fudodate 27, Minami-Nakano, Kuroishi-shi, 036-0405 Aomori
Ranking: ★★★★☆
www.en-aomori.com

Ultimate Map of Fall Foliage Destinations in Japan : Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the great landmass in the north of Japan, boasts sweeping natural landscapes and a variety of adventures and activities. It is also the first region in Japan where you can enjoy autumn leaves in the fall, that in some regions would reach their full splendor as early as September. See WAttention’s list of fall foliage destinations starting from the earliest to the latest spots to reach their peak colors.



1Mount Daisetsu (Kogen Onsen) 大雪山 (高原温泉) in Kamikawa

Ho_eb82d50f67761a63431829744fd83c1e_m_R

First colors: Beginning of September
Color Peak: Middle of September until the end of September
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there it is a 40min taxi ride until Kogen Onsen
Address: Sounkyo Onsen – Daisetsuzan Kokuritsu Koen, Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★★☆
tripadvisor.com


2Mount Daisetsu (Kurodake) 大雪山 (黒岳) in Kamikawa

Ho_Kurodake_R

First colors: Beginning of September
Color Peak: Middle of September until the end of September
Access: 30min bus ride from Kamikawa Station (JR Sekihoku Main Line) until Sounkyo Onsen, from there you can take the ropeway until the 5th station (7min), or the 7th station by lift from station 5 (15min). From station 7 to the top it is a 1,5hour climb.
Address: Sounkyo Onsen – Daisetsuzan Kokuritsu Koen, Kamikawa-cho, Hokkaido
Ranking: ★★★☆☆
tripadvisor.com

Japan’s Wild Side : Japan’s Interesting Wildlife

Tourists flock to Japan year after year for its deeply-rooted traditions, exquisite cuisine, and vibrant popular cultures. However, nature lovers can also indulge in the rich biodiversity that Japan offers. Its vast mountains and forests, coupled with snowy Hokkaido in the north and tropical Okinawa in the south, is home to many interesting and unusual wildlife, as well as their associated cultures.

Here are some unique ones:

Tanuki ( Raccoon dogs)

Often depicted in anime, tanuki can be found throughout Japan, even in the suburb of Tokyo. They were thought to be able to change into human form or into objects, and were mischievous but untrustworthy creatures. However, many temples and noodle shops have tanuki statues for good luck!

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 18.06.09
How they really look like | Photo source

There are 8 traits to note:

  1. A hat for protection against trouble or bad weather
  2. Big eyes to analyse the environment and help make good decisions
  3. A sake bottle that represents virtue
  4. A big tail that provides steadiness and strength until success is achieved
  5. Over-sized testicles that symbolise financial luck
  6. A promissory note that represents trust or confidence
  7. A big belly that represents bold and calm decisiveness
  8. A friendly smile

“Have you seen me before?” | Photo source

Nihonzaru (ニホンザル Japanese macaques)

I’m sure most of you have seen photographs of “snow monkeys” enjoying a hot spring bath. These Japanese macaques are native to Japan and are excellent swimmers. In winter, their fur increases in thickness to keep them warm in temperatures as low as -20° C (-4° F). A popular tourist attraction, Jigokudani Monkey Park (Nagano Prefecture) features hundreds of these monkeys playing in the snow.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 20.02.54
Who says hot springs are only for humans? | Photo source

Toki (トキ Japanese crested ibis)

With a scientific name as patriotic as Nipponia nippon, the toki deserves our attention. Extensively hunted until 1908, the last wild-born toki died in 2003. Fortunately, captive breeding efforts has successfully reintroduced several of these beautiful birds in Sado Island (Niigata Prefecture), which is one of Japan’s most rice-productive areas.


A toki in flight | Photo source

The toki depends on the rice paddy fields to find their prey such as loaches, frogs, snails and more. Visit Sado toki-no-mori Park to catch a glimpse of this rare bird!

Tsushima yamaneko (対馬山猫 Tsushima leopard cat)

As the name suggests, this critically endangered species can only be found on Tsushima Island (Nagasaki Prefecture). They face threats such as road kills, diseases transmitted from domestic cats and habitat loss.


That’s one chill kitty! | Photo source

Although similar in appearance to domestic cats, they can be distinguished by a white spot behind each ear. Those who wish to see them can visit Fukuoka city zoological garden, Inokashira park zoo, Zoorasia Yokohama zoological garden, Toyama family park zoo, or Ishidake zoological garden.

Esayari (餌やり Feeding wild animals)


Feeding carps in the ponds is a common sight | Photo source

Touted as a national pastime, many Japanese love to feed the animals, from the usual cats and dogs to tanuki, bears, fishes, monkeys and a whole variety of other wildlife. Even tourists, hikers and photographers know to attract these fearless animals with food, so that they can get close for photographs or for pleasure. It is not unusual to see animal feed being sold in temples, shrines, parks and other recreational spots such as “wild monkey parks”.

Why is this so popular? Some of the possible reasons include taking pity on the animal and wanting to “tame” it, especially when it begs for food.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 20.20.55
Sometimes these animals may attack humans! | Photo source

However, we need to note that esayari is actually NOT ENCOURAGED! Feeding the wild animals allows them to become overly familiar with humans and acquire a taste for human foods, which can result in them raiding our crops. Several Japanese prefectures have taken action against feeding the wildlife through slogans such as:

“Wild animals are not pets.”

“For the sake of coexistence with humans, stop feeding pigeons.”

“Wild monkeys come down to the village and cause a nuisance. Please don’t feed them.”

“To protect their way of life, please do not feed the deer.”

“Food is something we [animals] will find for ourselves.”

“Offering food is not the same thing as love.”

In order to prevent unnecessary killing of wild animals due to human-wildlife conflicts, we should not be feeding them!

What do you think?

For more exciting adventures, interesting places to go, good foods to eat, follow us on Instagram, like us on Facebook or read an issue of our magazine.

Read the original article on WAttention Singapore.

Scenic Food Spots: Mori no Eki Fujisan

Our next spot to get good food with a million-dollar view is Mori no Eki Fujisan, a newly opened eatery and souvenir shop at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Look out of their giant glass windows for a breathtaking and unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji.

sub1_R
sub7_R

They serve dishes made from ingredients taken from the local area as well as fresh seafood from Suruga Bay.

Try their green onion and pork soba, made from pork raised at the foot Mt. Fuji and buckwheat that was cultivated in nearby Gotemba.
sub2_R

If you prefer beef, try their “Hayashi Rice” (hashed beef rice) made to look like Mt. Fuji.
sub3_R

If you plan to go as a large group, you can reserve a grand meal in buffet-style, consisting of more than 20 types of dishes including sushi and freshly cut roast beef.
sub5_R

For an additional 2,000 yen to the price, you can even add crab to the menu!
sub9_R

Find interesting Fuji-themed treasures on the 1st floor souvenir shop, as well as some seasonal vegetables harvested from the surrounding area.
omiyage
IMG_5846

Being at the foot of Mt. Fuji, this eatery is located in an extremely strategic spot. There is a large parking lot nearby for people planning to climb up Mt. Fuji. It is also within a short driving distance from major tourist spots around Mt. Fuji, such as the Fujisan skyline and Grinpa theme park, making this place a convenient and beautiful place to eat and rest during your trip up and around Mt. Fuji.

Information
Address: Shizuoka Prefecture, Susono, Suyama
Hours: 9am – 5pm
Telephone: 055-998-0085
URL: http://www.pica-style.co.jp/retail/morinoeki.html (Japanese)

The Charm of Hokuto (5): Top 5 Photogenic Nature Spots

Get your cameras ready! Wattention staff visited Hokuto in Yamanashi prefecture and listed up the most photogenic spots in this area.

  1. Hokuto City Akeno – Sunflower FestivalDSC_0663

600,000 sunflowers will welcome you at the Sunflower Festival in Hokuto City. Surrounded by Mount Fuji, the Yatsugatake Volcanic Group and the Southern Alps, the scenery is breathtaking and counts as one of the best photo spots during summer.

Information
Date: July 23rd – August 21st
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Admission: free
Access: About 20 minutes by taxi from Nirasaki Station (JR Chuo Main Line)
Address: Akeno Sunflower Field,  Asao 5664, Akeno-cho, Hokuto-shi, 408-0201 Yamanashi
URL: Hokuto Sunflower Festival 2016


2. Sun Meadows – Kiyosato Terrace

DSC_0669

The Kiyosato Terrace located at 1900m altitude is usually known as a popular ski area during winter season, but in summer you can enjoy the beautiful view of Kiyosato Highland, Mt. Fuji and the Southern Alps while relaxing on the huge bed-like sofas together with a delicious drink or dessert available at the Kiyosato Terrace Café. The Panorama Lift which takes you to the terrace has a total length of 1100m and the altitude difference from ground to top is about 330m.

DSC_0663ss

The price range for food and drinks is between 200 ~ 500 yen and the Sky Waffle for 500 yen is our recommendation!

Information
Date: May 28th – November 6th
Hours: 10am – 3pm (weekday); 9:30am – 3:30pm (Weekend, public holiday and during summer season)
Admission: Lift ticket (both ways) – 1,300 yen (adults), 700 yen (children)
Access: About 20 minutes by taxi from Nirasaki Station (JR Chuo Main Line)
Address: Sunmeadows Kiyosato Ski Area, Nishiide 8240-1, Oizumi-cho, Hokuto-shi, 409-1501 Yamanashi
URL: Sun Meadows – Kiyosato Terrace


3. The Red – and Yellow Bridge of Hokuto

DSC_0663

The red bridge named “Higashizawa Ohashi” and the yellow bridge named “Yatsugatake Kogen Ohashi” are surrounded by beautiful nature and especially during autumn season they offer a stunning photo scene when the trees show their beautiful autumn colors.

Information
Higashizawa Ohashi – Red Bridge
Address: 8240-1 Nishiide, Oizumi-cho, Hokuto-shi, 407-0311 Yamanashi

Yatsugatake Kogen Ohashi – Yellow Bridge
Address: Higashiide, Takane-cho, Hokuto-shi, 408-0024 Yamanashi  (Prefectural Road No. 28)


4. JR Koumi-Line and the Yatsugatake Volcanic Group

The JR Koumi-Line runs along the Yatsugatake Volcanic Group and offers a beautiful view of the surrounding nature and the mountains.

DSC_0663aa

JR Koumi-Line connects Hokuto in Yamanashi with Komoro in Naganao Prefecture. It runs 78,9km through the mountains with 31 stations. The best place for trainspotting is the Kobuchizawa Big Curve, where the train turns and you can get an unobstructed view of the sky and mountains. Or get on the train itself at Kobuchizawa Station and be fascinated by this unique panoramic view.


5. Suisha no Sato Koen (water wheel village park)

DSC_0663

This beautiful little park is surrounded by paddy fields and shows you the original rural life of Japan’s countryside. If you are lucky you can even spot Mt. Fuji.

Information
Hours: open all day
Admission: free
Access: About 10 minutes by taxi from Hinoharu Station (JR Chuo Main Line)
Address: Mukawacho Mifuki 2573, Hokuto-shi, 408-0301 Yamanashi
URL: Rural Water Wheel Park

Read the rest of the series:
The Charm of Hokuto (1) : Oasis of the Highlands
The Charm of Hokuto (2) : Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum
The Charm of Hokuto (3) : Suntory Hakushu Distillery
The Charm of Hokuto (4) : Inn Blue in Green
The Charm of Hokuto (6): Moegi no Mura
Restaurant Review: Soba Restaurant Sanbuichi

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

God’s Creation Wonders : 4 Divine Spots in Tohoku

Here are four amazing places that will captivate not only the eyes but most importantly the heart and soul. For the locals, the grandeur of these majestic, centuries-old attractions continues to serve as a reminder of God’s omnipresence.

Hayachine Kagura

kagura_dummy
Hayachine Kagura is a traditional folk performance that features a series of 40 masked dances with live music that originated from Mount Hayachine, the highest mountain in the Kitakami Range. Originally a ritual to worship gods 500 years ago, the dance is now performed by locals who take pride in showing their rich cultural heritage.

Hanamaki City Ohasama Exchange Vitalization Center
Hours: 11am-3pm, second Sunday of every month (except Aug, Dec and Jan) Access: 30 minutes from Shin-Hanamaki Station by car
Admission: 800 yen presale, 1,000 yen at the door

Tonohetsuri Cliff

tonohetsuri_1
A popular scenic spot in Fukushima, the gigantic multi- layered rock was shaped by wind erosion over millions of years. Tonoheturi, meaning tower cli in Japanese, got its name because of its tower-like appearance.

塔のへつり秋3 (1)_R
塔のへつり秋2_R
塔のへつり秋3_R
塔のへつり紅葉2_R
塔のへつり_R

Take in the amazing suspension bridge, be mesmerized by nature’s breathtaking palette of autumn colors and enjoy a moment of peace at one of the temples nearby.

Access: 3-min walk from Tonohetsuri Station on Aizu Railway

Shirakami Sanchi

shirakami_1-2
A vast wilderness area stretching from Aomori to Akita Prefecture, Shirakami Sanchi has the largest remaining virgin beech forest in East Asia. The main attractions of this UNESCO World Heritage Site are the various hiking trails that lead to extraordinary panoramic views of waterfalls and peaceful solitude.

shirakami
Besides hiking, visitors are encouraged to spend the day shing, boating and camping around Juniko, an area to the northwest of Shirakami Sanchi.

Access: 55 minutes from JR Hirosaki Station by bus

Dragon Legends: Lake Tazawa and Lake Towada

Autumn foliage at Lake Towada
Autumn foliage at Lake Towada
Legends always add a touch of mystical, romantic appeal to travel destinations. Lake Tazawa, the deepest lake in Japan, and Lake Towada, the largest crater lake in Honshu, are two excellent examples. According to locals, Lady Tatsuko became a dragon after wishing for eternal beauty at Lake Tazawa.
Lake Tazawa
Lake Tazawa
Meanwhile, a boy named Hachirotaro was magically transformed into a huge dragon after drinking water from mountain streams in Towada.
Lake Towada
Lake Towada

The popularity of these legends sheds valuable light on the historic importance of water to the entire Tohoku region.

Lake Tazawa Access: 15 minutes from JR Tazawako Station by bus
Lake Towada Access: 2hr 15 minutes from JR Hachinohe Station by bus

Ascending Mt. Fuji

Mt.Fuji

Mt. Fuji is Japan’s most iconic volcano and highest mountain. While visitors can make a trip to the mountain all year round, summer is the only season when you can climb straight to the peak. Before you put on your hiking boots here are some things you need to know.

Mt. Fuji Fun Facts

Mt. Fuji is the 17th World Heritage Site in Japan. There are a total of 19 sites (as of July ’15) — 15 cultural and four natural.

Mt. Fuji is one of the 3 Holy Mountains (三霊山, Sanreizan) together with Mt. Tate and Mt. Haku.

3 active volcanoes make up Mt. Fuji. They are Mt. Hakusan, Mt. Kengamine and Mt. Jojugatake.

300,000 people climb Mt. Fuji yearly, making it the most climbed mountain in the world. 70% of the climbers are Japanese while the remaining 30% are foreigners.

5 lakes surround the majestic mountain: Kawaguchiko, Yamanakako, Saiko, Motosuko and Shojiko. Kawaguchiko is a tourist favourite as it is better developed than the other lakes, and offers the most amenities and attractions.

Mt. Fuji’s climbing season only lasts 2 months each year, making it one of the shortest for any mountain in the world. It starts in July and ends as August finishes.

4 trails lead up to the peak: Yoshida in Yamanashi Prefecture and Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya in Shizuoka Prefecture. Each trail has 10 stations or mountain huts which provide climbers with provisions and basic rations.

In 2013 Mt. Fuji was recognized as a World Heritage Site at the annual UNESCO conference.

Climbing Notes

by Tomoji Kato (certified guide) Japan Mountain Guides Association, Kojitsusanso

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Climbing Season
Beginners are encouraged to hike during end July to early August due to the stable weather.

Getting up the Mountain
During climbing season there are car restrictions at Yamanashi Prefecture’s Yoshida, Fujinomiya and Subashiri Trail so check for shuttle buses before heading up.

Which Trail to Choose
The most popular trail, Yoshida, takes about 10 hours to ascend and descend while Fujinomiya is the shortest at 8 hours and Gotemba, the hardest at 16 hours.

Physical Preparedness
It is important to prepare physically before hiking up Mt. Fuji as the atmospheric and temperature changes can be challenging for first-timers.

Enjoy the Climb
Climbing Mt. Fuji is not a competition, hike at your own comfortable pace, and take snack and water breaks while enjoying the views.

Some Things to Bring
Pack high energy, easy-to-eat snacks, plenty of water, sunscreen, sunglasses, portable oxygen, climbing shoes, cold wear, rainwear, headlamp and trekking pole.

Tips for Altitude Sickness
Try to walk slowly without raising your heart rate. Drink warm water or tea and if you get a severe headache and start your descent as fast as possible.

Cash Only
Mountain huts along the trail only accept cash. They sell snacks (starting from ¥200), water and have toilets for use (¥100-¥200).

Bring a Trash Bag
You are responsible for your own trash on Mt. Fuji; be prepared to carry your trash along your hike until you descend from the mountain.

3 Faces of Mt. Fuji

While serene Mt. Fuji seems to be an immovable, unchanging giant, it has many hidden beautiful faces that are truly a marvel of nature to behold.

Diamond_Fuji
Diamond Fuji
This rare phenomenon only happens around the winter solstice, during sunrise or sunset. When the sun aligns with the peak of Mt. Fuji, it causes the crown to shine like a diamond.
Red_Fuji
Aka Fuji (Red Fuji)
When the skies are clear, the rising sun shines on the eastern face of Mt. Fuji and turns it red. This is usually seen between summer and fall.
Kumo_Fuji
Kasa Fuji (Fuji with umbrella-shaped clouds)
The ever-changing cloud and skyscape above Mt. Fuji creates opportunities to capture once-in-a-lifetime images. Lenticular clouds over the peak are an especially unique sight.

Places with a view

Lake Saiko
P2MT_3306_Lake Saikorgb
One of the Fuji Five Lakes, the scenery from the western end of the Lake Saiko is one of the most sought after by photographers, campers and trekkers.
Oishi Park

This park offers a stunning view of Mt. Fuji looming above Lake Kawaguchi, especially from mid-June to mid-July when the lavender field is full bloom.

Photo credits: Visitor Use Promotion Office, National Park Division, Nature Conservation Bureau, Ministry of the Environment, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park

The Charm of Hokuto (1) : Oasis of the Highlands

Nestled in the highlands between the Yatsugatake Mountains and Minami Alps, Hokuto City in Yamanashi Prefecture is a true jewel worth exploring. Surrounded by majestic mountains from 3 sides and the view of Mt. Fuji to the south, awe-inspiring views abound no matter where you look. Only two hours by train from Tokyo, the alpine weather in Hokuto is considerably cooler, making this one of the best places to escape from the summer heat of the Kanto region.

hokuto_DSC_1526_R

Hokuto is blessed with some of the purest, most mineral-rich water in Japan flowing down from the mountains into their many natural springs.

This water lends to extraordinarily tasty vegetables, fruits, and produce. It is also credited for delicious soba, wines, whiskey, and sake that is loved by many connoisseurs.

Beautiful flowers grow in abundance here, evidenced by their many flower fields and gardens.

hokuto-flowers

In Hokuto you can see a blend of different cultures. Yet, all those different cultures seem to be perfectly at home here, anchored down harmoniously by the sky, the mountains and the surrounding nature.

In the northeast, you will encounter many Western styled houses and facilities. Seisenryo that wouldn’t be out of place in the American countryside, the Blue in Green guesthouse that is reminiscent of a French country house, and Moeginomura that looks like it was taken straight out of a German fairy-tale are all within driving distance.

A few minutes drive to the southwest will take you to a more Japanese area with expansive rice paddies and old-fashioned establishments including the Shichiken sake brewery and confectionery manufacturer, Kinseiken.

hokuto_IMG_4347_R_R
hokuto_IMG_4315_R_R
hokuto_IMG_4316_R_R
hokuto_IMG_4464_R_R

You can enjoy outdoor activities such as horseback riding, segway tours, trail walking, or plain old trainspotting. And being out in the countryside doesn’t mean you can’t have a posh holiday. Go taste-testing in “wine resort” Risonare Yatsugatake or the Hakushu Whiskey Distillery. Hokuto also houses several art museums including the Keith Haring Museum and the Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum.

hokuto_DSC_1385_R_R
DSC_0780

So what are you waiting for? Quench your thirst this summer with picturesque views, good food and drinks, and cultural experiences here in Hokuto.

Read the rest of the series:
The Charm of Hokuto (2) : Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum
The Charm of Hokuto (3) : Suntory Hakushu Distillery
The Charm of Hokuto (4) : Inn Blue in Green
The Charm of Hokuto (5): Top 5 Photogenic Nature Spots
The Charm of Hokuto (6): Moegi no Mura
Restaurant Review: Soba Restaurant Sanbuichi

Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (4) : Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu

The last stop during our Ajisai-Tour, after visiting the Tokei-ji, Jochi-ji  and Meigetsu-in, was the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (鶴岡八幡宮), the most significant Shinto Shrine in Kamakura area. We reached the shrine within 30 min after leaving the Meigetsu-in.

DSC_0491

We entered the shrine from the back side and were welcomed by beautiful Hydrangea flowers.

DSC_0196a

The shrine was built by Minamoto Yoriyoshi (988-1075) near the seaside in Yuigahama in 1063. Then, in 1191, the first Shogun of Kamakura, Minamoto Yorimoto (1147-1199) moved it to its current position.
The location of the shrine is meticulously calculated, with Mt. Hokuzan on the north and Nameri River on the east, making Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu the geographical and cultural center of the city.

DSC_0505

Interestingly enough, Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu used to be a hybrid of a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine until the Meiji government started the separation of Buddhism and Shinto. The new law “Shinto and Buddhism Separation Order” was enacted in 1868which forced the shrine to sell or even destroy Buddhism-related treasures and buildings. With that said, the remaining buildings still hold cultural importance and are designated as important cultural properties.

DSC_0196aa

The Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu was dedicated to Hachiman (八幡), the tutelary god of warriors. He acts as the divine protector of Japan and its inhabitants, as well as the Imperial Family. The dove is the symbol and messenger of the Hachiman.

You can purchase a variety of fortune bringing talismans, as well as… DSC_0443

… an o-mikuji, a strip of paper that predicts your fortune. You can also receive an English explanation of your o-mikuji.

DSC_0496

If you receive a bad fortune you can leave your bad luck at the shrine by putting the paper strip into the red box, which is located in front of the Ema wall.

DSC_0500
The view from the main shrine to the lower worship hall, the main gate and the alley of cherry trees.
DSC_0503
Preparations for the O-nikku-kensenko-kosha-sai, a special festival and consecration held on June 12th, were in full progres

On the right side of the shrine grounds there is a little park with a pond, where water lilies, kois and turtles can be spotted.

DSC_0500aaaa

The white flags can be purchased at the shrine. You can write down your prayer and put it on the little island.

After leaving the shrine grounds we headed to the beach. We strolled through the Komachi street, where coffee shops, souvenir shops and restaurants providing Kamakura’s specialties are located right next to each other.

DSC_0500aaaassss

We arrived at the beach perfectly in time for the beautiful sunset.

IMG_4587

Information

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu
Hours: 5am – 8:30pm (Apr. – Sep.) 6am – 8:30pm (Oct. – Mar.), 24 hours (January 1st – 3rd)
Access: A 10-15 min walk from JR Kamakura Station – East Exit (JR Shonan-Shinjuku Line, JR Yokosuka Line)
Address: Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu, 2-1-31 Yukinoshita, Kamakura-shi, 248-8588 Kanagawa

The Kamakura Walking Course:

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (3) : Meigetsu-in

Our next destination after visiting Tokei-ji and Jochi-ji is Meigetsu-in (明月院) which is popular for its Hydrangea and flower garden. We left Jochi-ji and reached the temple grounds of Meigetsu-in after a 10 minute walk.

The little hike leading to the entrance of the temple was already covered by blooming Hydrangea flowers and fresh greenery.

DSC_0360 DSC_0481

A romantic temple of flowers, rabbits and the moon

We reached the Meigetsu-in, paid 500 yen entrance fee and lined up to enter the Hydrangea garden.

Once you step inside, you will know why it´s called Ajisai-dera, the Hydrangea Temple. There are more than 2500 Hydrangea shrubs all featuring beautiful blue colors known as Meigetsu-in blue. They are in full bloom during the rainy season in June.

Meigetsu-in was built by Uesugi Norikata (1335-1394) in 1383. It used to be a part of a larger temple complex named Zenko-ji (禅興寺), which was then abolished during the anti-Buddhist movement after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, leaving Meigetsu-in as an individual temple.

DSC_0465

DSC_0481a

Every corner of the temple grounds is decorated with beautiful Hydrangea flowers. Even Hydrangea ema are available during this time. Ema (絵馬) are little wooden plaques, on which you write your own wish. Then you hang them on a board, where the specific god of the temple or shrine receives your wish.

DSC_0395 DSC_0442

DSC_0481aa

Inside the temple grounds you can see several small statues of rabbits, as well as real rabbits kept in cages. This is because there is a deep rooted connection between the temple´s name and the moon. Meigetsu means “harvest moon” or “bright moon.”  When you gaze at the moon, some see faces, others see figures or hands. But here in Japan, people see a rabbit pounding a rice cake.

DSC_0384

Beside the beautiful Hydrangea flowers, you can enjoy a stroll through the bamboo forest, as well as a cup of green tea in their Japanese style teahouse. Completing the Zen atmosphere of the place is the austere serenity of the Karesansui (枯山水), a traditional Japanese dry landscape garden.

DSC_0196assa

Information

Meigetsu-in
Hours: 9am – 4:00pm (8:30am – 5pm in June)
Admission: 300 yen (500 yen in June)
Access:  A 10-min walk from Kita-Kamakura Station (Shonan-Shinjuku Line and Yokosuka Line)
Address: Meigetsu-in, 189 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, 247-0062 Kanagawa

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (2) : Jochi-ji

In the previous article, we visited Tokei-ji, a peaceful temple, which used to be a safe haven for women. Now on to our next stop, Jochi-ji (浄智寺).

It is located near Tokei-ji and it takes you 4min by foot to go there.
Since the outside scenery was so beautiful, covering so many kinds of Hydrangea, we decided not to enter the temple grounds and focus on the surrounding area.

DSC_0302

The entrance to this temple has so many different shades of green, turning this place into a mystical relic that takes you back in time.

Jochi-ji is a Buddhist Zen temple and was founded in 1283 by Hojo Munemasa (1253-1281) and his son Hojo Morotoki (1275 – 1311). The temple grounds used to be much bigger, including 11 buildings with 500 people living there. Due to the Great Kanto earthquake of September 1st 1923, nearly every building collapsed and the remaining ones you can see now are all rebuilt after the disaster.

The entrance of Jochi-ji features a Shoromon, a two-storied combination of a gate and a belfry, which holds a bell that is close to 7 centuries old.

DSC_0310

DSC_0323

DSC_0324

All these beautiful Hydrangea flowers are situated around the entrance of the temple grounds.

Information

Jochi-ji
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: 200 yen (Adults), 100 yen (Primary and Middle School Students)
Access:  A 8-min walk from Kita-Kamakura Station (Shonan-Shinjuku Line and Yokosuka Line)
Address: Jochi-ji, 1402 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, 247-0062 Kanagawa

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Kamakura Ajisai – Hydrangea Tour (1) : Tokei-ji

On Saturday, June 11th, Wattention staff visited Kamakura to take a look at the beautiful Hydrangea flowers. Rainy season in Japan comes together with these flower blossoms and the shrine and temple areas in Kamakura where they grow attract thousands of people wanting to test out their photographic talents.

Our tour for this day: Tokei-ji -> Jochi-ji -> Meigetsu-in -> Tsurugaoka Hachimangu -> sunset view at the beach of Kamakura.

The tour starts in Kita-Kamakura . We left the station and headed to our first stop, the Tokei-ji Temple (東慶寺) which was just a 4min walk away. We paid a 200 yen entrance fee, and stepped onto the sacred ground.

Historical Importance and Natural Beauty

Tokei-ji was founded by nun Kakusan Shido-ni in 1285 after the death of her husband. During this period of time, it was common practice for women to become a nun after their husband’s death.

Back then it was easy for men to divorce their wives, but unfortunately women usually could not divorce their husbands. Tokei-ji temple became a safe haven for many women, sheltering abused wives who fled from their husbands to break ties. The temple authorizes the women to be officially divorced after having stayed there for three years.

During the Edo Period (1603-1868) about 2,000 women entered Tokei-ji to seek shelter and this tradition continued for almost 600 years. Due to a new law which got approved in 1873, the temple had to hand over its authority to handle divorces. Now the Court of Justice takes care of these matters. In 1902 Tokei-ji changed from a nunnery into a monastery. Up till then, men were not allowed to enter this place.


DSC_0175

DSC_0200


DSC_0196

DSC_0207

You can enjoy a variety of Hydrangea flowers, which come in different colors and shapes.

DSC_0280

Behind the temple buildings is a graveyard. Many celebrities are buried there, among them are Oda Mikio (1905–1998), the first Japanese athlete who won a gold medal at the Olympic Games 1928 in Amsterdam for the “triple jump event,” and Daimatsu Hirobumi (1921-1978) a politician and the trainer of the Japanese Woman Volleyball National Team during the Olympic Summer Games of 1964.
We were surprised that this temple was not very crowded. After your stroll you can also buy some souvenirs and talismans, as well as enjoy a cup of green tea in the garden while viewing the Japanese iris.

DSC_0215
Let´s head to the next stop, Jochi-ji temple!

Information

Tokei-ji
Hours: 8:30am – 5pm (Mar. – Oct.), 8:30am – 4pm (Nov.-Feb.)
Admission: 200 yen (Adults), 100 yen (Primary – Middle School Students)
Access: A 4-min walk from Kita-Kamakura Station (Shonan-Shinjuku Line, Yokosuka Line)
Address: Tokei-ji, 1367 Yamanouchi, Kamakura-shi, 247-0062 Kanagawa

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Picturesque Matsumoto (1) – Hiking in Beautiful Kamikochi –

Some of the best hiking trails in all of Japan are in the Japanese Alps in Nagano Prefecture. You can make it as adventurous as you want, climb a high mountain or take a long leisurely walk in the forest. Be prepared for raw nature, as the Kamikochi area is forbidden for personal vehicles. Access is only possible by bus or taxi. Special buses are arranged to take you to Kamikochi.

3

Most hikers start from the Bus Terminal near a wooden suspension bridge called Kappabashi (the Kappa bridge). A Kappa is a mythological water creature that lives under bridges. Near this suspension bridge are several hotels, souvenir shops and restaurants. Besides these facilities and the Visitor Center, the whole area is without human interference. The trails along the Azusa river provide you with the most scenic views as you see the Japanese Alps reflected in the crystal clear water. This easy walking route is often very crowded in the summer and the best season to go is from mid May through July.

17

Along the way you may encounter some monkeys and various birds. Bears do live in the area but they are rarely spotted along the trails.

Monkeys

Kamikochi_Monkey2
You can get very close to wild monkeys!

There are about ten kinds of willow species in the Kamikochi area. The higher you go the more the landscape changes and the dominant trees shift from willow to Japanese elm and Japanese larch trees. During Autumn these trees turn into beautiful hues of red and yellow, giving Kamikochi a completely different look.

Mountains

For the more adventurous hikers there are plenty of mountains to challenge. A popular mountain is Mt. Okuhotaka-dake, the third-highest mountain in all of Japan. In 2016 Kamikochi is scheduled to be open from April 15 to November 15, as it can be dangerous to climb the mountains out of season. If you want to make your hiking trip longer than a day, there are mountain huts along the trails where you can stay for around 8,000 yen per person. No need to bring food or a sleeping bag as bedding and two meals are provided. It is advised to arrive at these huts before 3pm. Of course you can stay in one of the lavish hotels or relaxing ryokans where you can enjoy natural hot spring water. It is advised to make a reservation or check availability beforehand.

22
14

Access

There are many ways to get to Kamikochi. You can start from the nearest city, Matsumoto, but there are even buses from Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka all the way to the Kamikochi area.

From Matsumoto Station, Nagano: A local bus takes about 90 min.
From Shinjuku, Tokyo: The highway bus takes about 4h 40min.
From Nagano Station, Nagano: With highway bus takes about 2h 30min.

2 Day Pass for sightseeing in Kamikochi, Norikura and Matsumoto: 
This pass allows unlimited travel by train & bus to/from Kamikochi, Norikura-Kogen, Norikura area and the local bus in Matsumoto within 2 days. This is the best deal if you want to sight-see not only in Kamikochi but also in Norikura and Matsumoto.
Price: 5,150 yen (adult), Children: 2,580 yen (children)
Pass is Available in the Matsumoto Bus Terminal.

Read also: Cool Summer Treks Around Tokyo (1): Kamikochi in Nagano Prefecture

Come on over to Komatsu (2) : The Forest of Wisdom

The actual name for this peculiar place is “Koke no Sato”, or “Moss Village”. This is because the whole area is covered by a fine layer of green moss, cultivated over many years. Hiyou Town has been taking care of this moss, cleaning it every day.

R_P1060380

Only 7 families live in Hiyou Town, making it one of the smallest villages in Japan. Moss can only grow in certain conditions making it tough to maintain. The area needs to have enough moisture, not too much light and no stepping all over from humans and animals.

R_P1060385

The nearby shrine is beautiful surrounded by the moss. Visitors are advised to stay on the path as to not damage the moss.

R_P1060391

The Forest of Wisdom is the perfect place to see the famous, untranslatable word “Komorebi”, the rays of sunlight falling in between the trees.

R_P1060435

“The Forest of Wisdom is a place to explore the wisdom along with the eternal culture and nature of Japan.”

The Forest of Wisdom project aims to bring all kinds of culture and wisdom from all over the world together. This mostly happens in the Wisdom House where you can attend workshops and even jazz concerts. The Wisdom House is a refurbished 100-year-old folk house, built using local timber.

R_P1060422

Access

From Kanazawa by train: Take an express train from Kanazawa to Komatsu (15 min) and then take a taxi to Koke-no-sato in Hiyo-machi (20 min).

Read Also:
Come on over to Komatsu (1) : The City of Kabuki
Come on over to Komatsu (3) : Craft Theme Park
Come on over to Komatsu (4) : Natadera, the temple in touch with Nature
Come on over to Komatsu (5) : 1300 year old Ryokan – Houshi
Come on over to Komatsu (6) : Rojo Park
Come on over to Komatsu (7) : The 7 wonders of Komatsu

Visiting the crow gods of Mt. Takao

50 Minutes from Central Tokyo is a beautiful mountain called Takao. It is said to be the home of crow-gods called Tengu and has many temples scattered on the hiking trails up to the top.

P1040733

The main trail takes about 90 minutes to get to the top but you can half this time by taking either a cable car or chairlift to the first temple stop. I recommend walking the whole way because you get to admire the scenery at your own pace and you come across some interesting good luck rituals. Not to say that the cable car and chairlift have an average waiting time of 40 minutes on busy days, the exact same time it takes you to walk the distance they cover. The paths are all paved and even beginners can take on this climb.

P1040725
Change the kanji on the wheel to the body part you want healed

The most important temple on Mt. Takao is Yakuoin. This Shinto-Buddhist temple is protected by Tengu and just like the mountain trail it features various rituals for good luck, health and wealth. Yakuoin is believed to have been built in 744 during the Nara period on the orders of Emperor Shomu as a base for Buddhism in Eastern Japan. Over the years Mt. Takao got known as a sacred mountain, but is most famous for being the home of Tengu, long-nosed beings with crow features. They serve as messengers of the deities to ward off evil and protect the good. Their fan sweeps away misfortune and brings good luck.

P1040784

rituals

On your way further to the top you will encounter a monkey park, various food stalls and more shrines and temples. Once you reach the top you have a beautiful view of the area. If you have time, visit the visitor center at the top to learn about the wildlife living on the mountain. During the winter period you have the chance to see the famous “diamond Fuji” if you arrive on the mountaintop in the early morning.

P1040799

If you’re more adventurous, you can take a different trail back down. The signboards are very easy to follow so you can change routes whenever you see a fork in the road. One of these routes takes you deeper into the mountain forest, along narrow pathways and a suspension bridge.

P1040815

After your long hike, congratulate yourself with a meal of Tororo Soba, the local specialty. Tororo is grated mountain yam and it is delicious in combination with the soba and raw egg.

P1040825

Access:

From Shinjuku station : 50 min with the Keio Line to Takaosanguchi station, 390 yen

The foot of the mountain is a 10 minute walk from the station and the route is marked with signposts.

 

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Secret Spot – Meguro Sky Garden

This secret garden in the middle of Tokyo is the perfect hideout during Golden Week.
Enjoy the view over Tokyo in a relaxed atmosphere above the busy city-life.
Meguro Sky Garden is located in Ohashi, Meguro-district, just one train stop away from Shibuya station.

nei

The garden opened in 2013 and won the Good Design Award because of its special shape. It is built on the roof of the Ohashi-Junction, which connects the express highways Central Circular Route C2 and the Shibuya Route 3. Even though the park is located directly on the top of the highway, you cannot hear any sounds of traffic at all!

The garden is divided into different areas that you can enjoy, such as the garden of four seasons, the community space, the amusement area or the chill-out area.

P1060352

The loop-shaped garden area is about 7000m² wide and 400m long, while the elevation differs from 11 to 35 meters above the ground.

Here you can see the view of modern and traditional Japanese elements which are set up next to each other.

P1060356

P1060351

You can also enjoy viewing beautiful flowers, trees and plants all year round.

Thanks to the big number of benches and green areas, you can help yourself to a nice picnic or view the cherry blossoms during spring time.

On a clear, sunny day you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji, as well as Tokyo Tower from the top of the park.
DSC_0752

DSC_0749 P1060353

Garden details:
Address: Meguro Sky Garden
1 Chome-9-2 Ohashi,
Meguro, Tokyo 153-0044, Japan
Opening hours: 7:00 ~ 21:00
Entrance: Free
Access: It is a 3min walk from Ikejiri Ohashi Station on the Tokyu Den-en-toshi Line.

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Benibana – Japanese Safflower

The Benibana is grown in Yamagata prefecture in Japan and this little flower can do more than you would think. The inhabitants used the flower’s potential to turn Yamagata prefecture into an important place for luxury goods. Back in the old days the flower was mainly used as dye but now they also turn it into food products. Geisha from Kyoto would paint their lips with Benibana and rich nobles wore kimono dyed with the flower.

With the development of synthetic dyes during the Meiji period the demand for Benibana declined and the industry became much smaller. However, the flower still grows in Yamagata prefecture and the traditional process of turning these flowers into beautiful dye is very interesting.

1032b09cccf083b66d99240971df2ed0_s

How to use Benibana

The safflower is an annual (sometimes biennual) plant. They bloom during the summer and are a beautiful shade of yellow and red. After gathering all the flowers, they are locally processed into a pulpy state called Benibana mochi. From this product the treasured dye can be extracted. Benibana actually contains only 1% of red while the other 99% is yellow. To get the red from the Benimochi, you must boil it so that all the yellow parts can be removed. This Benimochi was also easier to transport than a finished product and it gave the buyer more freedom in what color to use.

The Benimochi was transported by land or shipped by river boat down the Mogami River to the port of Sakata near the Japanese sea. From here it was shipped to Kyoto where it was used in Nishijin textile making and the manufacturing of lipstick and cosmetics. The red part of the flower was the most valued color, so it comes to no surprise that with only 1% of it in the flower it was the most expensive. Today, rouge to paint only your lower lip in a flower shape would cost you 500 yen and a full lips cost about 2,000 yen. It was also possible to get a pink color from the Benimochi. In Heian period, a roll cloth of a deeper red dyeing was said to be equal to a residence of noble men. This tells us that clothes dyed with Benibana were priceless in the old days.

Benibana
photos from Marugotokan Beni No Kura

The ship you can see clearest on the picture bears the marking of an old Benibana store that still exists today. This shop is called Marugotokan Beni No Kura and now helps to promote the local products of Yamagata all over Japan. When the Marutani Hasegawa family still runned the shop as a Benibana storehouse it was the commercial hub for Yamagata-city.

Benibana & Hanagasa Matsuri

The Benibana Matsuri takes place in June or July, depending on the harvest of the Benibana. The collected flowers are processed during demonstrations and Benibana cuisine is served to visitors. Beautiful floats are paraded through the city of Yamagata. Try your hand at lip cream making or fabric dyeing with Benibana.

m_105412

The Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri attracts more than 1 million spectators over three days in August and is now considered one of the major festivals of the Tohoku area in Japan. Dancers wearing the same outfit per group and holding hanagasa hats adorned with Yamagata Prefecture’s unique safflowers parade through the main street of Yamagata City. A total of 10,000 dancers participate in this dance every year. The parade is led by gorgeously decorated festival floats. The dancers shout ‘Yassho! Makkasho!’, this not only heightens the festival mood but it is also a phrase from a traditional Yamagata folk song.

The dancing has gradually changed over the years. In the past, dancers would mostly perform synchronized dance moves but today dance performances come in a wide variety, like twirling the hanagasa hats and other creative performances.

m_105406

Benibana today

The Benibana flowers serves as the symbol of Yamagata and is an important part of the prefecture’s culture. Students graduating from Elementary and Middle School make paper Benibana and wear them during the graduation ceremony. The dye is still used to make beautiful yellow, pink and red and now the locals even make soumen from the young leaves of the flower. Yamagata truly knows how to use the flower to its full potential, just like their ancestors before them.

P1030579

Local mascot Beni-chan
Local mascot Beni-chan

Yamagata Benibana Festival

Address: Shimo-Higashiyama 1360, Yamagata (Yamagata Takase Community Center)
Date: Mid July, 2016
Access: A 20-min walk from Takase Station (JR Senzan Line)

Five things to do at Fuji Five Lakes

Mt. Fuji is closer to Tokyo than you think, and on a sunny and clear day you can even see its top from certain viewpoints in the capital. Take a bus from Shinjuku and you will see Mt. Fuji in about two hours. But what do you do around Mt. Fuji besides admiring its beautiful blue color? WAttention gives you Five things to do at Fuji Five Lakes!

1) Flower Viewing

Spring is the perfect season to visit Mt Fuji. You can’t climb the mountain during this period but you can visit the many flower festivals that generally run from mid-April until the end of May. The three best flower viewing spots are:

  • The Fuji Shibazakura Festival (04/16- 05/29)
  • Grinpa Tulips Festival (04/16 – 05/29)
  • Oshino Ninja Village (04/23 – 05/08)

WAttention staff had the chance to visit the Fuji Shibazakura Festival to see the beautiful pink flowers and the equally beautiful pink desserts. The flowers weren’t in full bloom yet, but this year the image created in the flowers is a dragon.

P1030827

Besides flower viewing you can enjoy delicious Mt. Fuji-exclusive food or a relaxing foot bath.

Sweets

Access: Take the Mt. Fuji Explorer bus from Kawaguchiko station to visit all the flower viewing areas. They have regular stops.

2) Go Cave Diving

The Fuji Five Lakes area has many national forests you can explore by yourself or with a guide. A unique location is the cavernous area near Aokigahara forest. The most visited caves are the Wind Cave, Ice Cave and Bat Cave (no, sadly we did not see any traces of Batman). The Wind Cave was used as a natural refrigerator in the old days and also stored silkworms. The cave has a year-round temperature of 0 to 3 degrees C making permanent ice a common sight.

P1030880

 

After a visit to the caves you can stop by the nearby tourist shop and eat some corn ice cream. This sweet treat has a unique flavor and is a must try if you’re into strange flavors. Once you’re all rested up, feel free to explore the surrounding forests which have been untouched for many years. The bus station near the caves has a Tourist Information Center providing maps with ideal hiking routes and viewpoints.

Access: Take a bus from Kawaguchiko Station in the direction of Lake Motosuko and Shin-Fuji Station. For the Ice Cave get off at Hyoketsu and for the Wind Cave at Fuketsu bus stop. The ride takes about 15 minutes one way.

3) Ride a Hippo

Yes, you heard that right. There is a hippo near Mt. Fuji, more specifically at Lake Yamanaka. Actually, it’s not a real hippo. It’s an amphibian bus named after a hippo, but still very amazing nonetheless! The bus first takes you for a short ride in the area and the bus guide will give you some quiz questions about the area, Mt. Fuji and fun facts. Don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese, the questions are also provided in English, Chinese and Korean.

kaba

The bus drives all the way into the lake giving you a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji. This is a truly unique photo opportunity. The most exciting part of the ride is when the bus drives into the lake, creating a big splash!

P1040017

Access: 30 minutes on the Fujikyu Yamanashi bus from Fujikyuko Kawaguchiko Line Fujisan Station bound for Asahi-oka.

4) Enjoy Roller Coasters and Sweets

Next to Mt. Fuji is an amusement park full of Guinness World Record holding rollercoasters. Fuji Q Highland has the 5th longest rollercoaster in the world, the rollercoaster with the world’s fastest acceleration time, one of only two “4th dimension” rollercoasters in the world and the rollercoaster with the steepest freefall in the world. If that hasn’t convinced you to go nothing will. Next to the park is a natural hot spring (Onsen) and a little town that replicates Paris with amazing sweets shops. Artisans from Japan and France have created delicious sweets combinations for you to enjoy.

P1040061

Paris

 

Access: There is a special 7,300 yen Fuji Q Pack with a free return bus trip, park entrance fee and a Free Pass for all the rides in the park. Buses leave from Shibuya, Tokyo, Yokohama and Shinjuku station. Depending on where you leave it takes between 100 and 150 minutes to reach Fuji Q Highland.

5) Scenic Train Ride

Last but not least is a brand new Scenic Train that rides around the Mt. Fuji area. The Fujisan View Express takes about an hour to go from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko and makes stops at Mt. Fuji and Fuji Q Highland. Riding this train all the way is definitely worth it. The interior gives a nice old-timey feeling and the windows are big enough to see the surrounding nature – and Mt. Fuji – clearly. If you book the “Sweets Plan” for 4,000 yen you can ride first class while enjoying a specially designed “sweets only” Mt. Fuji bento box. There is a bar on the train with drinks that all passengers can visit.

sweets2

Access: Main stations for this train are Otsuki and Kawaguchiko. The train makes three rides every day.

 

Yamagata Sakura Matsuri

During the sakura blooming season, Yamagata shows two sides. During the day you see colorful “pompom”-like tufts of flowers and at night you are transported to a flowery fairy world. Here are some of the best sakura viewing spots in Yamagata.

Daytime Sakura

Yamagata Castle

During the Edo period, Yamagata Castle was the residence of the lord of Yamagata domain. Its formal name is Ka-jō (Ka castle). When the sakura are in bloom the castle area holds a festival with actors and entertainment from the Edo period. You can even spot the official Geisha of Yamagata City. There are approximately 1,500 sakura trees in the park surrounding the castle.

Maiko of Yamagata City
Maiko of Yamagata City

Basho Yamadera Memorial Hall

This hall is built to honor the poet Matsuo Basho. In this area there is a museum about haiku and a restaurant where you can enjoy tea and sweets. The memorial hall is on top of a hill in front of Yamadera, so you can watch the sakura on the hill while enjoying the sakura in the park.

P1030635

Yamagata City Hall

From the top floor you have a beautiful view over all of Yamagata city. Including the sakura.

P1020555

Nighttime Sakura

When the sun goes down over Yamagata city there are still plenty of sakura to enjoy.

P1030155

 

Mamigasaki River

At night the sakura lane next to the river is lit up and festival stands start selling their food. Be sure to bring something extra to cover up, because it can get quite cold watching the sakura at night. And if you need to re-energize, visit the festival stands to order some konnyaku or dondon yaki ‘ (rolled op okonomiyaki on a stick), the soul food of Yamagata.

P1030263

Yamagata castle

We are at Yamagata castle again to enjoy the sakura, but this time the atmosphere is completely different. The lights peeking through the thick coverage of sakura look like little fairies flying in between the flowers. The reflection of the castle wall in the sakure petal covered water  makes you stop and admire the amazing colors.

P1030383

If you head deeper into the park you can see the same cherry blossoms from before, or are they? At night, the area is truly different.

P1030327

Bloom Period: Mid to Late April

How to get to Yamagata from Tokyo:

Train: 2h 30min to Yamagata Station with the Yamagata Tsubasa Shinkansen

Express bus: 5h 30min from Tokyo Station

Car: 4h 20min Urawa Main Line ⇒ Yamagata zao I.C

From Osaka :
Train: 5h from Shin-Osaka via Tokyo (JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line) to Yamagata Station by JR Yamagata Shinkansen Line.

Flower Festival in Tachikawa’s Showa Kinen Park

This year’s Flower Festival in Tachikawa’s Showa Kinen Park invites you to come and see hundreds of tulip fields in a variety of types and color. You can admire these flowers until May 22nd (Sunday).

WAttention staff visited the park on a Saturday and was overwhelmed by its beauty and colors.
DSC_0010

The little pond and stream contribute to the calm atmosphere, which helps you relax while being surrounded by nature.

The flowers match each other very well and create a harmonic play of colors.

DSC_0082

After strolling around and enjoying all the pretty tulip fields, this special photo-spot in the shape of a house is sure to be a great memory of your trip.

DSC_0104

Another flower field full of poppies is in full bloom as well.

DSC_2331 DSC_2337

Visiting Showa Kinen Park during Golden Week makes for a perfect day trip, not just for couples or friends, but also for families. Entrance will be free on April 29th, and on May 5th it is free for elementary and middle school children as well as for their guardians. To explore the whole park we suggest to plan a full day to see all the attractions, playgrounds, events, flower fields, etc.
It is also possible to rent bicycles, unicycles, pedal boats or rowboats. At the BBQ Garden, you can hold your own grill-party, as well as play disk golf,  petanque, croquet, lawn bowls and much more.

Food stands and restaurants are located in nearly every area of the park, where you can enjoy Japanese food and snacks as well as the limited time tulip soft cream.

Park details:
Showa Kinen Park
3173 Midoricho, Tachikawa
Tokyo 190-0014
Opening hours: 9:30 ~ 17:00
Entrance fee: Adult (over 15) 410yen
Children (6 to 14) 80yen
Senior (over 65) 210yen
Access: From Shinjuku Station by JR Chuo Line (Express Train) about 25min until Tachikawa Station, 10min way to Akebono gate
Website: http://www.showakinen-koen.jp/event/httpwww-showakinen-koen-jpp5370/

Ninja ID: nene16


WATTENTION WRITER PROFILE

Image_

Tabea Greuner
Living and working in Japan since 2015. Always excited about discovering new places. Passion for photography, nature-lover & Japanese fashion expert. MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Flower hills of Chichibu

Chichibu is located in Saitama prefecture, less than 80 minutes away from the capital by train. Anyone in need of a green escape from the concrete buildings of Tokyo will enjoy a day trip to Chichibu. Surrounded by the lush forests and green hills of Chichibu you are sure to come back to nature. Every spring one of the highlights of Saitama prefecture are the Moss Pink (Shibazakura) hills of Chichibu’s Hitsujiyama Park.

P1040292

More than 400,000 Shibazakura plants of nine varieties blossom during April and May, creating beautiful hues of pink. The locals tend to the flowers and make patterns with the color variations. For example, here you can see a heart, smiley and color pattern.

2 4

3

After visiting the flowers you can go to the nearby market where Chichibu’s mascot Potekuma-kun is greeting you with a stick of Chichibu’s famous Miso Potato. You can try these tempura-battered deep fried potatoes with a coating of miso sauce yourself at one of the stands. Wattention staff rated these potatoes to be very delicious and this is to no surprise as they won first prize in the 5th Saitama B Class Gourmet Grand Prix.

7

Golden Week Campaign

From the 23rd of April until the 8th of May there is a special prize campaign in to win some Shibazakura Hill goodies. All you have to do is take the Red Arrow Limited Express Train to see the Shibazakura Hill in Chichibu and show a photo of your train and flower viewing ticket at the local Tourism Office. Be sure to take a photo of your train ticket before you arrive at Chichibu! Because the ticket gate at the train station will take your ticket upon arrival.

campaign

There are some really nice prizes to be won so I highly recommend everyone to participate. And knowing that there are up to a 100 prizes every day the odds are quite good you will go home with a hotel voucher or beautiful Shibazakura Hill hand towel.

Access

Fastest by Limited Express Train: Red Arrow Limited Express train to Chichibu from Ikebukuro Station, 80 minutes

Tottori: The Desert of Japan

Yes, the following photo was taken in Japan.

1

This area is called Tottori Sakyu or Tottori Sand Dunes.  These hills of sand are 16 kilometers long from east to west and 2 kilometers wide from north to south. Located in the Northeast of Tottori prefecture they face the Japanese Sea. The ocean wind that blew from the Sea of Japan created these dunes over a period of almost a 100,000 years.

I came here with a group of friends in September. During this time Japan is still warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt, compared to some European countries. A member of our group heard about the dunes and wanted to see them because we were in the area. I was very surprised to learn of their existence as even some of our Japanese friends had not heard of the dunes. Even if you’re more of a “forest and lakes” person, this unique sandy area makes a big impression.

The area really feels like a different country and the locals play into that atmosphere by providing camels – yes, camels – to ride on for a fee. If camels aren’t your thing, you can also ride a horse that is decorated like it came from North Africa.

When you thought you had seen it all, I give you camels in Japan
When you thought you had seen it all, I give you camels in Japan

The dunes are a popular spot for paraglading and sandsurfing or for swimming in the ocean. During the summer, the sand gets nice and warm making relaxing on your beach towel feel like visiting a spa. But what’s truly amazing is the view. The contrast between barren desert and lush green hills in the distance is truly spectacular. The dunes are actually slowly disappearing because of reforestation efforts in Tottori prefecture. Even if it might take a long time before they’re completely gone, don’t miss the chance! You will amaze all your friends by saying your photos of the dunes were taken in Japan.

The Japanese Sea
The Japanese Sea

After seeing the dunes you can visit the local Sand Museum that displays sand sculptures from artists all over the world. The exhibitions change annually so be sure to visit regularly if you’re into sand art. Near the sand Museum is a shop that sells juice made from the famous Tottori pears. Japanese pears are round like apples, and the ones from Tottori  are highly valued.

Tottori pear snacks
Tottori pear souvenirs

The area is truly unique in Japan and a must-visit when you are near Tottori. The area is easily accessible with hourly busses from Tottori Station.

Read also: Picturesque Japan: The Tottori Sand Dunes and check out our Picturesque Japan series for other photogenic places to visit.

Access:

Local Bus : 20 minutes from Tottori Station, take the bus bound for Tottori Sakyu and get off at the last stop.

DSCI0585

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Traditional Rice Harvesting in Japan

Rice is a staple in Japan and has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. In the Edo, period rice yields were a measurement of a lord’s wealth and when asked about your income you would usually say the amount of rice you receive each year.

To create quality rice, farmers first have to create quality soil. This process begins when the Sakura start blooming and ends when the soil is deemed ready. The rice is then planted and will be ready to harvest depending on the region. I visited a traditional rice farming area in Hyogo Prefecture called Kami-Cho. It has a terraced rice field that belongs to one of the top 100 most beautiful rice fields of Japan. The harvest for this particular rice field starts in early September.

DSCI0352

Before the rice can be harvested, the water has to be drained from the fields. The rice paddies stay very muddy so wearing boots is a must. There are two ways to harvest the rice; traditional by hand or using a machine. Some paddies are too small for the machine so they are always harvested by hand using a sickle. Before you cut the rice, the water has to be removed from the grains so the rice can dry more easily. This is done by “brushing” a stick over the rice. But be careful! If you do this too rough, the rice can fall from the plants and you will have less to harvest.

20130910_114427

In the end, your ricefield should look like this
In the end, your ricefield should look like this
Removing the water
Removing the water
Cutting the rice in bundles
Cutting the rice in bundles

The rice is then tightly bound using a piece of rope or a strong dried long leaf of the rice bundle. The bundles are then placed rice down so the remaining water can drip off onto the ground.

In the end, your ricefield should look like this
In the end, your rice field should look like this.

There are two ways to dry the rice. One is to run the rice through a drying machine and the other is to gradually let it dry in the sun. The second method has been proven to make the rice taste much better, but it’s a very risky procedure because it depends on the weather. If there are long periods with lots of rain, the drying process is affected. A drying machine is expensive, so many small rice farmers have no other option than to dry it the traditional way or to buy the expensive drying machine as a community.

To dry the rice, teamwork is needed. To reach the highest tier of the rice-drying rack one person has to climb up a ladder while the other person throws the bundles of rice. All bundles are hung upside down and then the sun will do its work.

The time it takes for the rice to dry depends on the type of rice and the farmer’s preference. But usually the rice stays on the drying racks longer than one week.

Traditional rice harvesting is really hard work, but it pays off to taste the rice your farmed yourself. Rice farmers are always looking for help, so why not volunteer the next time you see a rice field during Fall?

Ninja ID: KansaiKitsune


WATTENTION NINJA WRITER PROFILE

Ilse Montald
From popular culture to traditional culture, I’ve immersed myself in both. I love writing about tradition, history and sharing fun discoveries. If I’m not outside watching a festival parade I’m leisurely reading manga in kimono.

MORE ARTICLES BY THIS WRITERABOUT WATTENTION NINJA

Denbo-in, Asakusa’s Secret Garden

When you are in Asakusa you will notice there are many temples near the Senso-Ji area. One of them is the Denbo-in Temple, the office of Senso-Ji Temple and the residence of the head priest for generations. The garden is one of the few temple gardens from the Edo period in Tokyo.

Denbo-in was a secret garden as even the ruling lords were not easily allowed to visit. This is because Denbo-in Temple was used as Gozen-sho (place the shoguns of the Tokugawa family took a meal or rest when they came to visit). The area was opened as a public park from 1873 until 1930 but is now only open to the public for a certain period every year.

WAttention visited the garden to discover its secrets during its limited opening time. For the 300 yen entrance fee you can visit a small exhibition with ema (wooden plaques) from the Edo period. Photos are prohibited in this area but taking pictures of the garden is ok. The proceeds from this garden will be donated to support the recovery from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake.

P1020384

Typical for this period was the arrangement of ponds on the north and west side of buildings. When you enter the garden you are greeted by flowers and a temple. The ladies who attend to the temple serve free tea to all the visitors just as they would if the Shogun came to visit.

1

The view opposite the temple is beautiful. There is a rock beach, a pond with big Koi fish and greenery giving the area a relaxing atmosphere. Even in the center of Tokyo, you can experience this calm area as if you were in the middle of a forest. Although the illusion is broken by the silhouette of modern buildings in the background, the tranquility is amazing.

4

You can reach the other side of the pond by crossing a stone bridge facing a small shrine. These ladies in kimono and hakama were taking a stroll in the garden.

P1020375

After crossing the bridge you will see a stone staircase leading to a hill from which you have a beautiful view of the garden and the Temple. But before you completely cross the bridge, admire the view of Sensoji-Temple peeking through the foilage.

3

If you are in Tokyo during the limited opening period, the garden is well worth a visit, if not only for the privilege that you walked in a private garden usually only accessible for nobles. The small exhibition with Ema and original sculptures from the Edo period is an amazing bonus with the entrance fee. Two things you must see at the exhibition are the original Golden Dragon puppet from the Golden Dragon Dance performed twice a year in Asakusa and the original scroll that tells the story of how Asakusa Temple came to be.

P1020390

Access: 6 min walk from Asakusa station, on the temple grounds of Senso-Ji Temple.

Discover the beauty of Northern Tohoku – Part Ⅱ Shirakami Sanchi

Discover the beauty of Northern Tohoku - Part II

Precious heritages of the Shirakami Sanchi

A number of beech forests around the world have lost much of their ecological diversity due to the formation of continental glaciers some two million years ago; however, the beech forests and primeval plant population survive in Japan because continental glaciation did not occur here. Moreover,the Japanese didn’t cut down beech trees for centuries because they served little purpose to them.

After World War II however, Japan’s beech forests were logged gradually. This situation threatened wildlife habitats, so an active conservation movement to preserve the forests was begun. This movement garnered so much attention from the world that in 1993, UNESCO recognised the value of beech forests and declared the 16,971 ha area of Shirakami Sanchi as a World Natural Heritage Site. Today,the precious beech forests of Shirakami Sanchi remain almost entirely undisturbed.

shirakami-sanchi

This is an area of wilderness with no access trails or man-made facilities,and more than half of the heritage site comprises of deep valleys with steep slopes. Numerous kinds of plants grow in this precious beech forest, while various species of animals call this place home, despite the high altitude. Having escaped glaciation, these 8,000 year-old forests are home to 500 plant species that have been identified as those generally seen in alpine and sub-alpine zones, of which 108 have specially protected status.

There are threatened and semi-endemic species present, such as Ranzania japonica, Hylotelephium tsugaruense, and Tipularia japonica.

Ranzania_japonica_4
Ranzania japonica

The beech forests have played a vital role in the ecosystem for thousands of years. All mammals found in the Tohoku region exist in Shirakami Sanchi, including the black bear and Japanese serow. There are 87 bird species currently identified in the area, including the Golden eagle and Hodgson’s hawk eagle. There is also a particularly rich insect population, with 2,212 recorded species.

Black bear and Japanese serow
Black bear and Japanese serow

Read also : World Heritage (1): Shirakami Sanchi

The outstanding beauty of Juniko

Juniko
Juniko

Juniko, which literally means “twelve lakes,” consists of 33 lakes and ponds scattered across a 780 ha area of beech forests in Shirakami Sanchi. These were created by a big earthquake of about 300 years ago. It is said the name Juniko comes from the fact that the twelve lakes can be seen from the top of a mountain.

gr16_07_R_R

Aoike Pond, part of Lake Juniko, is known for its inky-blue beauty and clarity. The fallen beech trees lurking beneath the surface appear as ever-changing illusions. Oike, the largest of all ponds, is made up of two (eastern and western) ponds and Wakitsubo Pond is designated as one of the best water sources in Aomori Prefecture. Other drawing points here include 0’kuzure and the Nihon Canyon, a breathtaking gorge with steep, rugged rocks that are huge and dynamic.

Nihon_Kyanion_R

Please note that if you prefer touring all 33 ponds,it will take a full day and you would need a car. However, visiting the major ponds and forest area along the hiking trail will take just about an hour.

“Resort Shirakami” train

kumageratrainIf you travel to Tohoku, riding a train on the Gono Line is recommended. The line, stretching 147.2 km, was first opened in 1908 between Noshiro (now Higashi Noshiro) and Noshiro City (now Noshiro) as a branch of Japan National Railways’ Ou mainline. In 1936, the railway line fully opened when the final section between Mutsu Iwasaki and Fukaura was completed. Today, the railway line is known for providing one of the most scenic views in Japan.

Debuting in 1997 at the same time as the Akita Shinkansen, the Resort Shirakami is a train that operates in three configurations, named the Aoike, the Buna and the Kumagera. These limited express trains run from Akita along the Gono Line to Hirosaki, and then turn around before continuing northward along the Ou Line to Aomori. The train trip offers alluring vistas of the Japan Sea and the Shirakami Sanchi highlands, as well as expansive panoramas of the Tsugaru Plain. Specialty bentos (lunch boxes) are popular among passengers and if you are lucky, there will be local events taking place. You can also stopover to enjoy a soak in an onsen.

As the train trip is popular, seats may easily be sold out during some periods of the season, thus making a reservation in advance is recommended.

More information for Resort Shirakami or Gono Line:
https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/joyful/shirakami.html

More attractions around Shirakami Sanchi

There are a lot more attractions to draw tourists along the Gono Line.

Ajigasawa, situated on the west coast of Aomori Prefecture, connects the Sea of Japan in the north and Shirakami Sanchi. There are rich beech forests along the headwaters of Akaishi and Nakamura rivers to provide a freshening breeze. The town has highly-reputed onsen facilities and fried squid is a popular local food there.

Kikusui-breweryNoshiro in Akita Prefecture has a unique background, known as the “the town of basketball,” thanks to the success of the Noshiro Kogyo High School team. You will see a hoop at Noshiro Station. The town is also famous for its pine forest, which is one of the largest in the country. For sake lovers, there is a Kikusui Brewery that uses an old railroad tunnel.

How to get to Aomori

japanmap AomoriTo Shirakami Sanchi
It is a 5-hour train ride from Tokyo via Hachinohe (Tohoku Shinkansen Line) to Hirosaki Station on the JR Tohoku Line, and a 50min. bus ride from Hirosaki Bus Terminal to Tashiro. Alternatively, it’s 3 hr 55min. from Tokyo to Akita by Akita Shinkansen Line, then 50min. from Akita to Higashi-Noshiro station by JR Ou Line, and 33min. from Higashi-Noshiro to Akita Shirakami by JR Gono Line.

To Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center
A 5min. walk from Nishimeya Murayakubamae bus stop. The Nishimeya Murayakubamae bus stop is approx. 50min. by Konan bus (to Tashiro) from the Hirosaki Bus Terminal near the JR Hirosaki Station.

To Lake Juniko
From the JR Juniko Station on Gono Line,it’s a 15min. ride by Konan bus bound for Juniko. The Juniko Yogyojo bus stop is in front of the Juniko Visitor center.

Special thanks to: APTINET AOMORI Prefectural Government, JR East, and JNTO

Discover the beauty of Northern Tohoku – Part I Aomori

Discover the beauty of Nothern Tohoku

The best way to travel to the Tohoku region is to take advantage of the Shinkansen (bullet train). It will take just 3 hours and 20 minutes from Tokyo to Shin-Aomori station in Aomori prefecture, which is best known for its marvellous Nebuta Festival, one of the Japan’s most famous and beloved festivals. It also has distinct cultures rooted in local communities, as well as an abundance of seafood and sansai (mountain vegetables). It is also an all-season resort: in spring, beautiful cherry blossoms bloom; in summer, verdant forests and lakes are found; in fall, leaves turn brilliant red or yellow; and in winter, snow blankets towns and mountains ranges.

Majestic nature and Exciting Festival

The northernmost prefecture on Honshu island, Aomori is endowed with abundant nature, including the well-known Mt. Hakkoda, Lake Towada, a large dual crater lake surrounded by beech forest with wild animals, and Oirase Stream, a striking mountain stream with over a dozen waterfalls. Also, the Shirakami-Sanchi (Shirakami Mountains), a World Natural Heritage site, is spread across 130,000 hectares on the border between Aomori and Akita prefectures.

Facing both the Japan Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Aomori is blessed with various seafood which never fails to draw gourmands. Its most popular attraction is the Nebuta Festival, which brings in about 3 million visitors each year. For history enthusiasts, the Sannai-Maruyama Ruins – the largest archeological site of the Jomon Period (about 10,500-300 BC) – is a recommended destination.

sannai-maruyamaSannai-Maruyama Ruins

cooltrekoirase5Oirase Stream

Things to do in Aomori

Enjoy spectacular view of rich nature

Aomori has a number of tourist spots, including outstanding natural sites such as Mt. Hakkoda and Lake Towada. Roads for buses and cars, as well as climbing routes and paths have been improved in recent years. Mountain cable cars are built so that children and the elderly can explore them too. However, note that it is a heavy snowfall area and you need to wear suitable winter clothing.

hakkodaMt. Hakkoda

Experience the tradition through festivals

Nebuta Festivals are celebrated in several northern regions, mainly in Aomori prefecture. The Aomori Nebuta Festival, which is celebrated annually from August 2-7, is the most recognised. Over 20 gigantic three-dimensional Nebuta (papier-mache dolls) depict ancient warriors, legendary creatures or Kabuki characters that illuminate the night with bright colours. Today, the Nebuta floats are made of a wood base,carefully covered with Japanese paper and lit from the inside with hundreds of light bulbs. Quite a few spirited dancers (called “haneto”) in native Nebuta costumes, surround the floats and dance to the tune of flutes and beating of drums.

For those who missed the Aomori Nebuta Festival, there is an exhibition hall, Neputa No Yakata, that displays three floats all year around in Goshogawara city. Situated 25km west of Aomori city, Goshogawara is another site of the Nebuta Festival – this one is called “Neputa.” It is said that the name came from the local direct “neputai,” which literally means “sleepy,” and the festival itself is a “sleepless festival” that prays for safety and a good harvest.
The 3 displayed Neputa, at 22m high and weighing of 16 tons, will be moved for 1.5km around the city from August 4-8. There is also a studio where visitors can see the work in progress and have a hands-on experience. Visit the official website (in Japanese) at www.tachineputa.jp.

In Hirosaki city, a central part of Tsugaru district, crowd-pleasing events include the Hirosaki Neputa Festival (characterised by 60 small and large fan-shaped floats) and Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival. Throughout the year, there are several flower festivals held in different cities throughout Aomori.

nebutaAomori Nebuta Festival
P1070284-760x507
m_105215_R

Where is the most famous Onsen in Aomori?

There are a number of onsen (hot springs) with good reputation and high spring quality in Aomori. Koganesaki Furofushi Onsen is one of the most popular and is often featured in magazines and TV programs. Its name “furofushi” means “immortality” in Japanese. Bathers can see the wild waves of the Japan Sea while soaking in their outdoor spa, with a view of the distant horizon and a splendid sunset. For more information about the onsen, please visit www.furofushi.com.

hot-springKoganesaki Furofushi hot spring

Taste the season’s best

Enjoying local delicacies is a must during your journey. Aomori is known for its abundance and high quality seafood. Ohma tuna, one of the best grade tunas, is caught at Ohma Port facing the Tsugaru Strait that connects the Japan Sea with the Pacific Ocean. These tunas feed on fresh Pacific sauries, sardines and squids, and are sold almost exclusively to high-end sushi restaurants. Other seafood like squids and scallops caught in adjacent sea are also tasty.

Aomori Prefecture is Japan’s largest apple producer – there are approximately 60 kinds of apple varieties, thanks to its significant difference in temperature and improved cultivation methods,which are shipped seasonally. You can try apple picking in several farms, but there is a charge.

kaisen-donhotate

How to get to Aomori

From Tokyo to Aomori
From JR Tokyo station, take the Tohoku Shinkansen (Northern Shinkansen) “Hayate” to Shin Aomori station. Hayate is the fastest train category on the Tohoku Shinkansen and it takes 3 hours 20 minutes to there.

Bird Watching in Yoyogi Park

tori

Did you know there are a variety of birds you can spot in Shibuya?
If you’re interested in bird watching, we recommend you join this class!

Information
Date: Jan. 23 (Sat), 2016
Place: Bird Sanctuary, Yoyogi Park in Shibuya
Participation Fee: Free
Participant Max: 20
Application Method: Call 03-3469-6081 (Yoyogi Park Service Center)

Birds viewable in January, 2015
Spot-Billed duck/Turtledove/Goshawk/Buzzard/Kingfisher/Pygmy Woodpecker/Parus Varius/Japanese Great Tit/Brown-Eared Bulbul/Japanese White-Eye/Starling/Thrush/Sparrow/Water wagtail/Oriental Greenfinch/Black-faced Bunting/White’s Thrush etc.

URL: http://www.tokyo-park.or.jp/event/2015/12/post-691.html (Japanese)

The 5 highest mountains of Japan

Who is Japan’s king of the hill?

With 73 percent of Japan’s land consisting of mountains and more than 100 of them being over 2,500 meters high (including peaks of the same mountain range), it is safe to say that Japan is a mountainous country. But which of these giants, are the very highest? Here follow Japan’s big five!

1. Mt. Fuji

m_155429

Height: 3,776m
Prefecture(s): Shizuoka, Yamanashi

Mt. Fuji is not only Japan’s most iconic, but also Japan’s highest mountain. Best viewed from Yamanaka lake in Yamanashi prefecture.

2.  Mt. Kita

m_164495

Height: 3,193m (10,476 ft)
Prefecture(s): Yamanashi

Mt. Kita is Japan’s tallest non-volcanic mountain. It is located in Yamanashi’s Minami-Alps city, which can be translated as Southern Alps city.

3. Mt. Okuhotaka

m_159807

Height: 3,190m (10,470 ft)
Prefecture(s): Nagano, Gifu

If its peak had been only 2 average women’s size taller, this would have been Japan’s second highest mountain. Being more rocky than most of Japan’s other mountains, climbing Mt. Okuhotaka is not recommended if you are not an advanced climber.

4. Mt. Aino

間ノ岳

Height: 3,189m (10,463.0 ft)
Prefecture(s): Yamanashi, Shizuoka

With a mountain peak so wide you can even get lost, Mt. Aino’s peak is also known as the Aino Dome. Climbing Mt. Aino is often done on the way to Mt. Shiomi, a popular mountain to climb in the same region.

5.  Mt. Yari

 

m_163605Height: 3,141 m (10,305 ft)
Prefecture(s): Shizuoka, Nagano

Towering in the back of this picture like a sharp spear, it is not hard to understand where Mt. Yari got is name from, yari being Japanese for spear.

Hokkaido By Rail & Car: Day 1,2 – Sapporo, Lake Toyako –

Hokkaido, Japan’s second largest island, is also referred to as the “The Big Land in the North” by the locals. Blessed with picturesque nature and bounty from the sea and land, it is a favorite getaway destination for the Japanese and tourists alike. WAttention flew in to Sapporo and did a 5D4N rail and rental car tour through the big land. Follow our trip and train details here!  

IMG_4681
L’EX Hokuto No.12

Day 1:
14:48  Board Rapid Airport No. 147, alight at Minami Shin Chitose at 14:51
15:05  Board L’EX Hokuto No.12
16:25 Arrive Lake Toya Station
Rent a car from the station to Toyako Onsen, 15 mins by car

LAKE TOYA ONSEN

IMGP6111
View of Lake Toya from Toya Manseikaku Hotel. In the distance is Mt Yotei.

Lake Toya is one of the biggest lakes in Japan and is a popular onsen resort. It offers views of Mt Yotei, which is fondly known as Hokkaido’s Mt. Fuji for its symmetry.

IMG_4884
View of the fireworks from a cruiseship

Fireworks are held every night on the lake in front of the various hotels lining the lake. In fact, Lake Toya has the longest running fireworks festival, running from April to October.

Mt Usu Ropeway

IMG_5043
View from Mt Usu

Just a 15-min car ride from Lake Toya is the 733-m high Mt. Usu, one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. It erupted four times in the past century, and Mt Usu is a result of one of the eruptions. The G8 Summit was held near here in 2008.

DRIVE FROM LAKE TOYA TO NISEKO

niseki
Lunch at Niseko

 

The ski resort of Niseko is a scenic 2 hour’s drive from Lake Toya, and we had lunch at Niseko Prativo, a semi-buffet style restaurant that boasts a salad bar serving vegetables grown in Hokkaido, and milk from the next-door award-winning dairy farm. From the restaurant you can get a view of Mt Yotei as well. The milk pudding, cheesecake and yogurt drink here were also divine! Not to mention the cheese tarts at Takahashi’s Dairy Farm next door.

SEGWAY

IMG_5472
Segway tour

Now, what better way to work off those lunch calories than to hop on a segway? WAttention explored the surrounding area on these cool segways.

 

After that, we drove back to Sapporo for the night.

Stay tuned for Day 3: Autumn leaves at Sounkyo Onsen, minus 21 degrees Celsius Ice Pavilion, and more!

Here’s the rest of the series:
Hokkaido By Rail and Car: Day 3 – Kamikawa, Sounkyo
Hokkaido By Rail and Car Day 4: Biei and Furano
Hokkaido By Rail and Car Day 5 : Feasting at Furano

 

Picturesque Japan: The Oki Islands

10 Dangyo-no-taki

If Japan is still thought of by some as a sort of Galapagos, the Oki islands – not to be confused with Okinawa – is like a Galapagos within a Galapagos. Located off the shores of Shimane Prefecture, this remote cluster of islands comprising four inhabited and numerous uninhabited islands boasts Japan’s oldest rocks, and in 2013 was recognized as a member of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network for its rich flora and fauna.

Oki Ferry
One of the most unique sights here is the Rosoku Island – or literally, candle island – a 20-meters tall candle-shaped cliff protruding out of the sea just off Dogo Island’s (one of Oki’s major islands) coast.
The Rosoku Island is most romantic at dusk, when it stands alit by the setting sun.

3 Rosoku-jima

The dramatic rugged coastlines of the Oki islands will have you staring at the ocean for hours. Of course, sunbathing, going for a swim and even full-fledged marine sports as kayaking and scuba diving can be enjoyed as well.

oki
Hidden deep in the island forests, you will find many gems such as the Dangyo no Taki, a 40-meter high waterfall that gives the illusion of water streaming out of the sky. A shrine embedded in the midst of nature like Dangyo Shrine won’t be easy to find on Japan’s main islands anymore either.

s_Dangyo-no-taki Waterfalls

The Chichi Sugi, or breast-shaped cedar tree, is a natural wonder on the peculiar side that can be found on Dogo Island.

2 Chichi-sugi

If you want to enjoy a more remote tourist destination in Japan, the Oki Islands are highly recommended. Besides the stunning nature, there are many activities to enjoy, the fresh seafood is fantastic, and the island inhabitants are so friendly the language barrier is easily forgotten. 

The islands can be reached by direct flights from Shimane Prefecture or Osaka in around an hour, but why rush to the slow life in Oki islands? Getting there by a ferry which departs from Sakaiminato Port in Tottori Prefecture, and Shichirui Port in Shimane Prefecture is much more fun, as it allows for island hopping within the Oki Islands as well.

Oki Islands

Access: 1 hour and 3 minutes by ferry from Sakai-minato Port, 1 hour by ferry from Shichirui Port
URL: http://www.oki-geopark.jp/en/

Picturesque Japan: Unkai Terrace

Heaven in Hokkaido

Tokyo’s towering skyscrapers – not to forget about the Tokyo Skytree – might take you up high in the sky, but Hokkaido’s nature takes you above the clouds. A 13 minute gondola ride in Tomamu goes up to an altitude of 1,088 meters, which is just high enough to surpass the clouds.

tomamuA-016
The Unkai Terrace is located near the endpoint of this gondola, and trust me, you will understand why this terrace was named Unkai, or “sea of clouds”.

雲海テラス2009-1
Tomamu has been a popular ski resort since the early eighties. However, the amazing summer view remained a secret only known by the gondola staff until a summer service started in 2005.

kisetu
Tomamu in summer and winter

From the Unkai Terrace, you can see one of Hokkaido’s most stunning views, but only if it’s your day. The endless sea of rolling clouds that conjure the illusion of heaven can only be seen if the right amount of clouds appear at the right time of the day.

DSC_4161 のコピー

As Tomamu is not easy to reach and the gondola and terrace are only open from 4:30 am to 8 am and from 11 am to 2 pm, staying at Hoshino Resort is highly recommended.
Hoshino Resort Tomamu consists of The Tower and Risonare Tomamu, and both feel just as close to heaven as the Unkai Terrace itself!

resort

If you are in luck and get to see this phenomenon of heaven in Hokkaido, sitting down on the terrace with an “Unkai Coffee” while gazing at the clouds like a lookout staring at the sea from a crow’s nest might very well become the highlight of your trip to Hokkaido, or even to Japan in general!

coffee

Next in this series: Picturesque Japan: The Oki Islands

Spot information

Name: Unkai Terrace
Address: Nakatomamu, Shimukappu-mura Yufutsu-gun, Hokkaido
Access: From Tomamu Station (JR Hokkaido), call for a pickup bus with the telephone on platform 2 that takes you to the resorts.
Period: From May 16 to October 13 (check the website for time schedules)
Gondola Round Trip Fares: 1,900 yen (adults) 1,200 yen (children)
Official Information: http://www.snowtomamu.jp/unkai_terrace/index_en.html

World Heritage (1): Shirakami Sanchi

downimage_00000368Shirakami Sanchi: Beech Forest Sanctuary Transcending Time

With its four distinct seasons and deep valuing of tradition, it is no wonder that Japan ranks among the top of the list of countries with numerous natural and cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Recognized as superb scenic and historic areas of “outstanding universal value”, to not be familiar with these locations is to miss the heart of Japan’s beauty. So join WAttention as we introduce you to these 19 registered spots, worthy of sharing with the world.

A visit to Shirakami Sanchi, one of the world’s largest and last remaining primeval beech forests, is like travelling back in time to nature untouched by mankind.

Futatsumori

Sprawling across northwest Akita and southwest Aomori Prefectures, Shirakami Sanchi is an expansive mountain range reaching as high as 1,243 m, split by six rivers, and accented with steep waterfalls, and interlocking deep gorges. Yet its defining characteristic is its vast virgin beech forest, particularly the central area of 16,971 ha, registered as one of Japan’s first natural heritage sites in 1993.

4-11

Though continental glaciation destroyed most of the world’s beech forests, the lack of such devastation in Japan, as well as the Japanese beech’s suppleness and resistance to heavy snowfall has preserved Shirakami Sanchi through the ages. Yet also responsible for the protection of this wildlife refuge are the Japanese people, whose devotion to nature has kept this ecosystem remarkably unmarred by man’s influences. A walk through its lush foliage therefore is like entering a wondrous forest museum, unchanged by time. And only within this pristine woodlands can you get a rare glimpse of over 500 precious plant species, and incredibly endangered animals, including the Japanese serow, golden eagle, and black woodpecker.

A cool trek under the shade of these towering beech trees in the summer months is the best way to explore this wonderland. For a short leisurely stroll, the popular 3 km hike along the gushing Iwaki River to Anmon Falls, a dynamic three-tier waterfall with each precipitous drop higher and more breathtaking than the previous, can be completed in just over an hour.

7-11-anmon no taki

Or for a more strenuous sampling of the region’s landmarks, an 8-hour rugged climb to the highest peak, Mt. Shirakamidake, begins at Aoike pond, whose mysterious blue and green hues change throughout the day.

00835

As such unaltered treasures become more and more scarce, this irreplaceable relic continues to transcend time, testifying not just to the majesty of Japan’s native flora and fauna, but also Japan’s reverent preservation of such splendor.

Shirakami Sanchi
Access: A 55-min bus ride from JR Hirosaki Station (JR Ou Main Line) to the Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center. Get off at Tashiro (Nishimeya-murayakubamae) bus stop.

Read also : Discover the beauty of Northern Tohoku – Part Ⅱ Shirakami Sanchi

Photo Credit: Shirakami Sanchi Visitor Center, Alastair Rae, JNTO

Picturesque Japan: Yakushima

2cb5b976db9e27236ac4bfe9604db5c9_m
A journey to one of the world’s oldest cedar trees

With over 90 percent of Yakushima  covered by mysterious forests, this island to the south of Kagoshima Prefecture can boast of over 1,900 species and subspecies of flora.

But the one tree that it  can be really proud of is what is thought to be the world’s oldest cedar tree.

58cae9c26708be02845a181b6de3fb0d_l
This majestic tree is speculated to have looked over the island for between 2,500 and 7,000 years, which is why it is called the Jomonsugi, Jomon referring to Japan’s first era after the stone age and sugi being the Japanese word for cedar tree.

Little wonder then, that Yakushima island became one of Japan’s first World Natural Heritage Site in 1993, along with Shirakami-Sanchi in Aomori and Akita Prefectures.

Despite its age, the Jomonsugi was only discovered in 1966. That may sound like ages ago to some, but would be just like a blink of an eye to this ancient tree.

PHT5006

Since its discovery, scientists and artists alike have been intrigued by the Jomonsugi and Yakushima, and Ghibli Studios’s epic “Princess Mononoke” comes to mind as a work of art that was inspired by the island’s magical forests.

Scientists speculate that the Jomonsugi and other flora and fauna on the island, somehow managed to survive a giant volcanic eruption of 7,300 years ago, which is said to have dramatically changed greater Kyushu’s vegetation. That could be a valid explanation, as for some reason Yakushima’s nature is significantly different from that of Kyushu.

defe29b6a586d95031c1bc66cd4fca42_l
Although the island’s population hasn’t changed much over the years, Yakushima has become a popular tourist destination with more and more visitors that come to pay pilgrimage to this ancient tree every year, so don’t expect to be the only visitor. Especially during the Golden Week (a Japanese holiday season in May), up to 1000 people a day come to trek to the Jomonsugi, which is located at 1,280m altitude.

Be prepared for a journey that takes the average walker around 10 hours. It is worth the sweat as you pass myriads of ancient trees in obscure shapes, waterfalls and springs with amazingly clear water, and cute deer and monkeys can be spotted on the way. Still, keep in mind that this course is not recommended for inexperienced hikers.

JS745_yakushimanoshika

The epic journey to this Mother Tree starts with the Anbo Trail, which stretches along a disused railway through the forest.

railway
The railway first leads you to Kosugidani, a village deep in the mountains that was abandoned in 1970. Now, 45 years later, nature is slowly reclaiming the village with moss and plants growing on remains of buildings and abandoned roof tiles.

After passing Kosugidani, you reach a difficult uphill trek called the Okabu Trail leading directly to the Jomonsugi. The path is often steep, and consists of a mixture of dirt footpaths, boardwalks and wooden steps.

4b8a929a91b6837f5e51581c8247db01_l
Nothing beats the sense of accomplishment once you finally reach the Jomonsugi site after all the hard trekking. Leaving an impact just as massive as its trunk’s diameter of of 5m, the Jomonsugi is a sight to behold. Take your time and  be mesmerized by this ancient tree!

jomonsugi

Next in this series: Picturesque Japan: Unkai Terrace

Spot Information

Name: Yakushima

Access: From Kagoshima, 30 minutes by plane, 2 hours by speed boat, 4 hours by ferry.

Jomonsugi trek starting point: Arakawa-tozanguchi (reachable by car or taxi from Ambo Village)

Official Information: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-708.pdf

Picturesque Japan: The Tottori Sand Dunes

m_182069

Sand, camels, and…a refreshing sea breeze

Surrounded by rippled sand dunes that sparkle with the reflection of the sun, you mount a camel and gaze upon what looks like an oasis in the far distance. Strangely enough though, you are not in a desert. And yes, you are still in Japan.

While featuring practically everything one expects from a desert, the Tottori Sand Dunes fail to officially qualify as one.

l_182077

The total size of the Tottori Sand Dunes is about the same as 140 baseball stadiums. That may sound like quite a lot, but unfortunately falls short to qualify as a real desert. The Sahara Desert for example, is 24 times the size of whole Japan!

Everyone knows that deserts are supposed to be dry. This is due to a serious lack of rain and the absence of a sea or river in the area. The Tottori Sand Dunes, however, are located right next to the Japan Sea (yes, that’s the oasis I was talking about)…another fatal flaw in the pursuit of being a true desert-ness. 

l_105243
Though the sand may look dry on the surface, if you start digging, you will notice that this is in fact nothing more than some “desert makeup”, as the sand becomes watery after just a few digs. So, point taken, the Tottori Sand Dunes may look like a desert, but only on the surface, literally.

Still, it is easy and a lot of fun to pretend. You get to experience the whole package including camels and an oasis without having to worry about dehydration! And Tottori, which is the least populous prefecture in Japan, can still pride itself on having more sand than any other prefecture in Japan. 

Next in this series: Picturesque Japan: Yakushima

Spot Information

Name: Tottori Sand Dunes

Location: Fukube-cho Yuyama 2164-661, Tottori, Tottori

Access: A 20-min taxi-ride from Tottori Station (JR West).

Ukai: A 3-in-1 Truly “U”-nique Experience

P1050691

To enjoy Japan’s culture, cuisine and scenery, try a Ukai river cruise.

“Ukai” literally means the rearing of cormorants and refers to a traditional fishing method deploying these long-necked aquatic birds to hunt for river fish.

P1050673

While fishing might sound like a boring activity at first, this is anything but that. In fact, it is said that Charlie Chaplin, who visited Nagaragawa River in Gifu prefecture on two occasions to see cormorant fishing, kept on exclaiming “Wonderful!” throughout the spectacle.

The 3-in-1 enjoyment of Ukai

“U” get Cuisine

IMGP4045
Ayu hungry yet?: A full course of sweetfish – salt-baked, sweetly-simmered and fried.

The trip starts with a delicious bento lunch – all featuring salt-roasted ayu (sweetfish), which is the fish that cormorants dive, swallow and spit out (but try not to think about that) – aboard a yakatabune, or a barge-style boat.

“U” get Scenery

P1050620

While one can take a yakatabune ride along the Sumidagawa in Tokyo and enjoy the city skyline, these manually-steered barges really belong to a river surrounded by verdant valleys, with the natural background music of river birds singing.

“U” get Culture

IMGP4157

Harking back 1,300 years, Ukai was a fishing technique used in China and Japan.

While once a booming industry, it can only be witnessed in 12 locations in Japan today, from around early summer (June) to late autumn (October).

Up to ten cormorants are strung up and skillfully steered by the cormorant master, and when the hunt begins, he wields a burning metal frame in front of the boat. This is used to scare the river fishes to the surface for the cormorants.

At the clack of wooden blocks, the cormorants dive in unison to swallow as many river fish as they can. The string around the birds’ necks prevents them from swallowing fish like ayu or even the occasional unagi, but they get to keep the smaller fishes.

P1050679

Master trainers of cormorants belong to a national agency (the Imperial Household Agency), and an important duty of theirs is to make offerings of small trout to the Emperor.

IMGP4111

With prices ranging from around 2,500 yen to 4,500 yen for this 2-1/2 hour trip, it’s definitely worth making a day trip from the city for.

DSC_4177

Here are the venues where cormorant fishing can be viewed today:

-Nagaragawa, Gifu
-Hijigawa, Aichi
-Mikumagawa, Oita
-Fuefukigawa, Yamanashi
-Kisogawa, Aichi
-Ujigawa, Kyoto
-Yodogawa, Kyoto
-Basengawa, Kyoto
-Aritagawa, Wakayama
-Takatsugawa, Shimane
-Nishikigawa, Yamaguchi
-Chikugogawa, Fukuoka

Picturesque Japan: Engetsu Island

a0830_000524_m
Japan’s most magical sunset display at Nanki Shirahama

Engetsu Island is a small rock island just off Nanki Shirahama’s coast in Wakayama Prefecture, and it’s almost as if it was created for postcard-perfect photos.

4475c3b6009bf6464b0fd0310c352326_l
Nanki Shirahama is a seaside resort with hot springs that look out at white sandy beaches and probably the clearest sea of Japan’s main island. These hot springs are said to be one of Japan’s three oldest hot springs together with Dogo Onsen in Ehime Prefecture and Arima Onsen in Hyogo Prefecture.

onsen
The rock island’s formal name is Takashima, but it is widely known as Engetsuto, which can be literally translated as “round moon island”. This is due to the round-shaped hole in the middle of the island.

To me, Doughnut Island also comes to mind as a valid name, but thankfully it was Japanese politician Masaomi Tsuda’s poem penned in 1887 – in which the island was coined as Engetsu Island – from which the island got its current name, as this is the kind of romantic name it deserves.

With rays of sunlight piercing through the hole, Engetsu Island makes for an incredible sunset display, but here is an impressive collage to convince you that the island looks stunning at any time of the day. Sunset is around 6:30pm in the summer and 4:30pm in the winter.

engetuto2
Please note that even when the tide is low, walking to the island – which can just about fit into a football pitch – is forbidden because the island is not very stable and sea urchins are lying on the sea-bottom. You might see fishermen at the shore as octopus, squid, crab, sweepers and other fish can be caught.

Since the island’s sandstone rocks have become less stable throughout the years, the island was artificially repaired in 2011 to make it earthquake proof, so hopefully we will be able to enjoy this breathtaking sight for many years to come!

Next in this series: Picturesque Japan: The Tottori Sand Dunes

Spot information:

Name: Nanki Shirahama

Location: Shirahama-cho, Nishimuro-gun, Wakayama
Access: From Tokyo take the Shinkansen and get off at Shirahama Station (around 6 hours from Tokyo, or 2 hours from Shin-Osaka), or take a 1hr 15min plane ride from Haneda Airport to Nanki Shirahama Airport.

Picturesque Japan: The Great Seto Bridge

seto ohashi

Breathtaking beauty at the world’s longest two-tier bridge

With its lofty white steel towers and gentle curves spanning across five islands, the Great Seto Bridge combines Japan’s natural seaside elegance and technological eminence. Stretching 13.1 kilometers across the Seto Inland Sea between Kojima in Okayama Prefecture and Sakaide in Kagawa Prefecture, this amazing architectural feat is the world’s longest two-tier bridge. 

KA_21

seto ohashi 3
The Shimotsui-Seto portion of the bridge

Completed in 1988 after 10 years of construction, what distinguishes this masterpiece from other bridges is its employment of three forms of structural technology–suspension, cable-stayed and truss bridge. Such variety is reflected in the bridge segments, to bearing three unique designs, making a full tour across this seaside landmark well worth your time.

pic20150618
The Kita and Minami Bisan-Seto portions of the bridge

There’s no better way to enjoy viewing this structural marvel and its surrounding scenery than by taking a trip across it. Delight in the fresh seaside breeze by taking a refreshing 20-min daytime drive across its span (tolls starting at 3,300 yen), or hop on the JR Seto-ohashi train line (510 yen) that runs on the lower level of the bridge–the only railway line connecting Honshu and Shikoku islands.

IMGP3986

For a view that doesn’t require crossing the bridge, take a longer one-hour leisurely cruise along the pleasure boats departing from the Kojima Sightseeing Port. Or for an observation point from land, get your camera ready for some panoramic views at the Seto Ohashi Commemorative Park, which even has a Bridge Theater, taking you on a virtual flight over this bridge!

seto ohashi 2

Yet, whether by train, car, land or sea, be sure to stick around until sunset, as this bridge illuminates the darkening sky, paving a glowing path across the sea. For picturesque beauty featuring both natural and manmade wonders, the Great Seto Bridge is sure to take your breath away.

Next in this series: Picturesque Japan: Engetsu Island

yun_11345

Access: From Tokyo, take Shinkansen to Okayama Station, change to the local JR Seto-ohashi Line to Kojima Station. To get to the bridge, take a Shimoden bus from Kojima Station headed for Sakaide Station, and get off at Seto-ohashi FW (Fishing Wharf).  To cross the bridge via train take the JR Seto-ohashi Line from Kojima headed for Takamatsu Station in Kagawa Prefecture.

Seto Ohashi Commemorative Park
Hours: 9am-5pm (Last entrance 4:30pm)
Entrance/Theater Fee: None
Address: 6-13 Bannosumidoricho, Sakaide, Kagawa
Access: From JR Sakaide Station, take the Sakaide-shiei Bus to the Seto Ohashi Commemorative Park.

Cool Treks Around Tokyo (3): Oze National Park in Gunma Prefecture

cooltrekoze1

This sprawling marshland at 760 hectares is well-loved for its charming wooden boardwalk paths through seemingly endless carpets of flora and fauna. The ‘mizubasho,’ or Japanese skunk cabbage, and ‘nikko-kisuge’ (yellow alpine lily) are the signature blossoms here, though there is no lack of other rare mountain foilage at this strictly protected national park.

cooltrekoze5

Visitors even have to brush their boots against a special carpet before entering to prevent the introduction of non-native plants to this almost pristine park. At some 1,700m above sea level, it’s also Japan’s highest moor. Oze is made up of the Ozegahara moor, Ozenuma lake and surrounding mountains.

cooltrekoze2

Trekkers are in close proximity here as there is just one path, with one lane for each direction. Nevertheless, as can be expected of Japan, trekkers are thoughtful and there is often what seems to be a greeting competition to see who can “Konnichiwa” the oncoming trekker first.

cooltrekoze4

The climb to the wooden path involves descending a few flights of steps, which makes this slightly more challenging amongst the treks mentioned. But come here once, and you’ll be back for moor, so to speak.

Access: From Tokyo Station take a JR train to Numata Station, change to an express bus to Oshimizu station.

Next cool trek: Oirase Keiryu in Aomori Prefecture

 

Picturesque Japan: Feel the suspense in the air with this bridge walk

kazurabashi2

Like a crossing out of an Indiana Jones movie, this primitive bridge made out of vines can be found hanging over a roaring river in the Iya region of Tokushima Prefecture, and is a popular summer trek for adventurous nature lovers.

The Iya no Kazura Bashi was built by samurai who escaped into this area over 800 years ago with the intent of it being easily cut to prevent pursuers from crossing. It is now designated as a national important tangible cultural asset – and you’ll be relieved to know the 45 meters long and 2 meters wide bridge is completely replaced every three years to ensure its sturdiness.

kazurabashi4

That said, it will still take some courage to cross this bridge when you reach it as each step is shaky and rocky. Look down, and you can see the river coursing through some 15-m below!

kazurabashi3

Next in this series: Picturesque Japan: The Great Seto Bridge

Spot information

Name: Iya-no-Kazura Bashi
Address: 162-2 Nishiiyayamamura Zentoku, Miyoshi-shi, Tokushima Prefecture
Access: Fly into Tokushima, then take the Shikoku Kotsu Bus from JR Oboke Stn, bound for either Kazura Bashi or Kubo, get off at Kazura Bashi Bus stop and walk 5 minutes to Iya-no-Kazura Bashi.

A Lavender lover’s wonderland

l_170014

Fragrant fields in the heart of Hokkaido

For the scents, sights, and even tastes of this beloved purple flower, escape the summer heat and head to Hokkaido’s Farm Tomita.

Two hours by train from Sapporo by the rustic Furano valley in central Hokkaido, you’ll find ten different flower gardens and fields here. Dating back over a hundred years to the Meiji Era as one of the original lavender cultivators in Japan, this farm helped put the Furano area on the map as a popular flower viewing site.   

Amongst the ten gardens and fields, the rainbow-like Irodori Field is the most eye-catching with its colorful seven-flower array. 

l_170016

The vivid contrast of lavenders, white baby’s breath, red poppies, pink garden catchflies and orange California poppies form a rainbow of flowers that flow along these rolling hills. Blooming only throughout July, with peak season towards the end of the month, you’ll definitely want to visit before these flowers fade!  

idori field

Or for a sight of one of the oldest lavender fields of Japan, walk over to the Traditional Lavender Garden, where Tomita Farm first started. Photos from this field on Japan Railways’ photo calendar helped launch Hokkaido’s lavender farms into nationwide fame back in the 1970s.

l_105590

With the Furano valley and Tokachi Mountains in the distance, the sight of lavenders swaying in the wind along these sloping hills make for quite the panoramic view. But plan ahead, for lavender season only lasts from late June to early August, with peak season from early to mid-July.

l_161967

Fortunately however, even should you arrive before or after peak lavender season, these fields are filled with a wide variety of other flowers that bloom from spring through autumn. From Iceland poppies to bright marigolds and red roses, these flowers create a colorful carpet across the rural farm landscape.

Autumn Field

l_163517

Beyond flower gazing and photo taking, you can also delight in every possible lavender experience at Tomita’s 11 lavender-themed stores, eateries, galleries and workshops. See how Tomita Farm produces their lavender oils, soaps, and award winning perfume at the Distillery and Perfume Workshops, or even create your own lavender scented bookmark to take back home.   

Then to cool off, try their popular lavender flavored soft serve ice cream, or their original “Lamune” drink – a lavender version of the Japanese Ramune soda, only available here!

l_161959

Whether admiring its beauty, smelling its fragrance, or tasting its subtle flavor, this lavender wonderland has it all!

Read also: 3 Lovely Lavender Spots Around Tokyo

Farm Tomita
Access: A 7-min. walk from Lavender Farm Station (JR Furano Line)
Address: Kisen Kita 15, Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido
Tel: 0167-39-3939
Hours: 8:30am – 6pm (vary based on the season and weather)

Cool Treks Around Tokyo (2): Goshikinuma in Fukushima Prefecture

cooltrek2a

 

Here you can row a pleasure boat in one of the largest lakes in the 800m high Bandai Highlands, Lake Hibara, before embarking on a 3.6km route through the cluster of lakes at Goshiki-numa Park nearby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This natural wonder was formed when Mount Bandai erupted on July 15th, 1988. The main lakes in this park are called Akanuma, Bentennuma, Rurinuma, Aonuma and Bishamonnuma. The park is a must-see spot in the Bandai Highlands region.

cooltrek2b

Minerals from this devastating eruption tints each of these lakes a different hue, ranging from emerald green to cobalt blue to reddish green, the color of which fluctuates throughout the year according to the weather. The easy trek can be completed in around an hour.

cooltrek2c

Access: From Tokyo Station take the Shinkansen to Kooriyama Station (1 hr 20 mins), change to the JR Banetsu Nishi Line to Inawashiroko Station (35mins) then take the local bus to Ura Bandai.

Next cool trek: Oze National Park in Gunma Prefecture

Picturesque Japan: The Kujuku Islands

NPS1890
Natural seaside beauty at Kyushu’s “99 Islands”

Nearly untouched by human hands and abounding with intricate islet formations, the Kujuku Islands offers an unparalleled scenic seascape view.

NPS247

Scattered along Nagasaki’s coastline for 25 km, the Kujuku Islands (literally “99 Islands”, though generally referring to “many”,) form the most densely concentrated collection of islands in Japan. Together with the Goto Islands and Hirado Peninsula, these 208 islands make up the Saikai National Park, on Japan’s most western border.

NPS1888

For some breathtaking views of these islands from above, stop by one of the four observation points on the Sasebo hills, including Ishidake Observatory. The picturesque scenery from here made it the prime choice as one of the filming locations for the movie, “The Last Samurai.”

NPS1879
The view from Ishidake Observatory

Better still, embrace the beauty of the deep blue sea and lush green islands by taking a relaxing cruise along the Kujukushima Excursion Boat Pearl Queen, departing five times a day between 10am and 3pm from the Pearl Sea Resort Tour Boat Terminal.

l_105373

This white multi-deck ferry weaves throughout these islands on a 50-minute tour, allowing you to get up close to these uninhabited islands while listening to the scenery explanations in both English and Japanese. With islands on every side, roam about the deck or climb up to the lookout post for the perfect photo opportunity. Throughout Golden Week and the summer months (July through October), you can also watch the sun slowly descend beneath these islands on their Sunset Cruise.

NPS1875

For water sport lovers, you can also yacht or kayak your way through these calm waters. Or if you’d like to actually set foot on one of these islands, take the Uninhabited Island and Feeding Cruise. See