If you may choose one season of over a year, what is your favorite one?
Mine will be autumn and the reason is that I lived in the Tohoku region. Japan and Tohoku in particular have some of the best autumns leaves anywhere to be found.
Tohoku is the northern part of Japan which is like a hidden gem among travel destinations. Not so many tourists realized so many beautiful natural scenery here. You will be more amazed by the beautiful sight of the leaves that change color in autumn.
1. Oirase gorge, Aomori
The Oirase Gorge of Aomori Prefecture is one of the most beautiful river valleys in the Tohoku region and in Japan. The gorge runs 14 km from the Towada lake to Yakeyama.
Besides the beautiful icy rapids and plunging waterfalls of the crystal-clear Oirase River, there is also the wonderful and abundant nature that surrounds the gorge. Full of deciduous trees, the gorge is known for its spectacular colors during Autumn with its yellow and red leaves.
There is a well-established hiking course starting at Yakeyama. The gorge is also a favorite for cyclists and there is the charming Ishigedo area, a rest spot in the middle of the gorge. It is definitely a must-visit place when traveling during the Autumn season.
Access: Take a bus from JR Hachinohe Station (50 mins) or JR Aomori Station (2 hrs) towards the Oirase Gorge Stream.
Oirase gorge, Aomori: https://goo.gl/maps/wTjEVALgNm62
2.Kuroyu Hotspring, Akita
Kuroyu Onsen, a secluded hot spring area that’s surrounded by unwavering stillness located in Towada Hachimantai National Park. While Kuroyu is in Akita Prefecture, the park itself rests on an expansive area of forests, mountains, and hot springs that encompasses parts of Aomori, Akita, and Iwate prefectures.
Kuroyu Onsen is actually one of seven hot springs of Nyuto Onsen, a remote location that rests above Lake Tazawa, the deepest in Japan, and a major attraction in this area of Akita.
For accommodation, traditional inns dot the picturesque valley, but you can certainly visit this or other hot springs in the area, as several of them are open to guests even if you’re not staying overnight.
If you’re looking to enjoy the fall foliage, you have until November to make a trip to this scenic spot as some locations close in winter and re-open in April of the following year
Kuroyu Onsen, Akita: https://goo.gl/maps/QZpa9TvGcJN2
3.Geibikei Gorge, Iwate
Geibikei is categorized to be one of the 100 landscapes of Japan. This place is truly a heaven for nature lovers. Geibikei is a gorge in Iwate prefecture. You can access it easily by train. To enjoy the splendid scenery, you have to ride on a boat steered by local people there. The boat will bring you to see many beautiful sceneries along the river.
Geibikei can be enjoyed at any time in the year. However, if you come in summer, you will find the beautiful greenery along with the rocky wall. You can also spot the fish that follow the boat too. Moreover, you can eat a meal or snack there while enjoying the view, and you can give the fish food to the fish too.
On the way back, the boatman will sing a traditional folk song called “Geibi Oiwake”. This will be the perfect ending of your journey.
Access: Take a train to JR Geibikei station and walk for about 5 minutes
Geibikei Gorge, Iwate: https://goo.gl/maps/yZadfLWR6jq
Situated on the foot of the tallest mountain – Mt. Bandai in Fukushima Prefecture, Goshikinuma is a serene gift from nature. Goshikinuma, 五色沼, is a five-colored lake formed after the eruption of Mt. Bandai in 1887, which led to the formation of many lakes and ponds around the Bandai-Asahi National Park.
The presence of various minerals and chemical residues released from the eruption, the lake reflects a deep cobalt blue color, which changes in five different shades throughout the year with changing seasons.
In autumn especially, the lake is painted with a kaleidoscope of orange, yellow, and reds as the leaves change color. The distant snow-capped mountains, cascading shades of vibrant colors, bouncing off a caldera deep blue lake is an art that no artist can ever re-create.
It is an astounding experience to relish such serene nature in the natural heaven of Japan – Tohoku. To add more to this experience is kayaking in this beautiful lake during autumn. Rent a boat or a kayak from the boatshed and enjoy the calmness of Goshikinuma lake, perfumed with the freshness of maple trees. It is an exceptional experience in a stunning landscape that is hard to forget.
Goshiki Numa, Fukushima: https://goo.gl/maps/HSvyDdfQZeu
Yamadera (山寺), also known as “Hōjusan Risshaku-Ji Temple”, it was built in 862 years and located in the mountains northeast of Yamagata City.
It is a nationally designated “Place of Scenic Beauty” and “Historic Site”. True to its name which literally means “mountain temple”, it extends high up a steep mountainside, from where there are great views down onto the valley.
This beauty isn’t that easy to get, for it requires tackling a series of staircases totaling more than 1,000 steps before you reach the top. But all those panting and sweating are nothing compared to the sight that will surely astound you. Yamadera is particularly more beautiful when the autumn foliage peaks, which is around the end of October until early November.
Yamadera, Yamagata: https://goo.gl/maps/Ze7nLQiwf3U2
6. Entsuin Tempe, Miyagi
The Entsuin Temple gardens in Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, creates an enigmatic and romantic evening during the vibrant season of fall by hosting autumn illumination every year.
The tranquil nature of the temple gardens, lit by mesmerizing colors is an enticing opportunity to capture the season of fall in an ethereal atmosphere of beauty and positivity. The season of fall is undoubtedly beautiful during the crispy sunny days, however, it’s a whole a new world to relish the season during the night with cold chills from the passing winds, the rustling of leaves while contemplating the beauty of fall colors bouncing off the surrounding ponds like a mirror on the ground peppered by soothing sounds of flute and piano tuned to a perfect rhythm piercing through the soul in calmness and serenity.
Enjoy this marvel of nature situated in the heart of Matsushima Bay – Japan’s top scenic spot.
Entsuin Shrine, Miyagi: https://goo.gl/maps/tHZg6YoWgH42
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