Enjoying the autumn colours

By on October 31, 2009

Another Japanese summer has come to a close and a refreshing autumn breeze is in the air. Soon the landscape will start to glow with the autumn colours of the deciduous forests that cloak the mountains of the Japanese Alps.  This is the season to do all those outdoor activities that the hot, summer swelter and the crowds prevented you from doing in reasonable comfort. Activities such as biking, hiking, climbing, canoeing and paragliding are among the favorites at this time of year, not to mention joining in the multiple harvest festivals through September and October. 


Japan is a great place to pack up your saddlebags and hop on your bike for some great touring of the countryside. It is not hard to find small country roads that allow you to travel with out the worry of large trucks and fast cars. The pace is slower in the country, people stop and greet each other, make prayers at the multiple road side shrines and Ojizo-sama, stone gods, as they go about their daily chores. The villages that you pass through will feel a million miles away from the urban sprawl of Tokyo and will no doubt be a refreshing change from the norm. If you time your travels well, you can enjoy the autumn harvest festivals in these rural villages. There are also, of course, some great dirt roads and exciting single track courses through extensive deciduous forests in more recreational centers that moutain bike enthusiasts can ride to their hearts content. 


Those looking for an even slower-paced adventure may want to take to the hills and explore the Japanese Alps during the autumn change of colours; the ever-revered Japanese ‘koyou’. Japan, although a relatively small island nation with a dense population, has a multitude of natural park land for you to discover. There are a whole host of great trekking routes with spectacular peaks to discover and Alpine Huts (hotels) with all the amenities you need to make your journey amazing. Note that many huts close between mid-October to mid-November and it is best to make reservations to assure that there is space. 


Many people have a desire to climb the symbol of Japan, Fuji-san, but if you are looking for beautiful scenery, solitude, wildlife and interesting trails that lead to spectacular peaks, then you may want to look to the Japanese Alps, as you are assured of a marvelous experience. There are most often high road passes or gondola-assisted approaches for easy access to alpine ridges that gain you access to those magnificent craggy alpine peaks and back in one day or you may want to travel the highlands of Japan for up to a week or two with out ever having to come down into town. 


As the topography of Japan is mostly mountainous, there are also many great spots for climbing and more advanced mountaineering from small roadside crags to the high Alpine routes in the Japanese Alps of Nagano, Yamanashi and Gunma.  Searching out one of the many professional climbing or mountain guides in the area that you wish to explore might be in your best interest to get an insight to the areas that suit your ability and endurance.


At the base of these towering peaks are innumerable crystal clear creaks and rivers fed by natural springs and snowmelt that flow into lakes that are just as clear and pristine. These lakes and rivers provide multiple fishing holes and exceptional locations for canoeing in the autumn colours that abound at this time of year. The weather at this time of year in the mountains is cool but more often than not, the skies are clear and the air clean and dry. The higher you go up the mountains, the cooler it gets, and and it is not unusual to encounter early snow falls at the peaks come October so it is essential to have the proper clothing to keep you warm if temperatures drop.  


So this autumn, take some time off and head into the interior of Japan for some refreshing time away from the city’s hustle and bustle to explore rural life, eat freshly harvested vegetables and enjoy some family time in the outdoors together.


Dave Enright

Director / Chief Guide

Evergreen Outdoor Center



Evergreen Outdoor Center 

Wadanomori Visitor Center 

4683-2 Happo Hakuba, Kita Azumi, Nagano, Japan 399-9301 

Tel: 0261-72-5150 

Fax: 0261-72-8056

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