Summer is really over, but there’s still sunshine and bright colors if you know where to look
Well the end is near. Not just for the year but for the leaves on the trees. But alas their death is bright and beautiful – and one of the best things about Autumn in Japan is watching them turn to shades of amber, orange and red. It is time for Koyo – the autumn foliage. The most colorful trees this time of year are the momiji, the Japanese maple, which presents itself throughout Japan on city streets as well as parks and woodlands.
Koyo viewing is right up there with hanami, the springtime viewing of the flowers – though the festival excitement of watching the cherry blossoms bloom is a bit more of a frenzied activity than going to see the fall colors which is contemplative and crisply invigorating.
In Nagoya you have loads of options for enjoying this seasonal display and top of most people’s list is Korankei a valley to the east of Nagoya where the leaves normally peak around mid-November. Here you will find a beautiful river and a the symbol of Korankei, the vermillion Taigetsukyo Bridge. Viewing the autumn leaves at Korankei Gorge is a tradition dating back 380 years, when the first maples were planted. With around 4,000 individual trees, Korankei is known for having one of the best vistas of red and yellow autumn foliage which is also lit up from sunset until 21:00.
The best way to get there is by car, though a combination of busses and trains will get you there for about ¥1,500. There are stalls and vendors selling treats and souvenir items close to the bridge. It is best to get there early in the day as it can get quite crowded. While you are there you may want to check out the Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village which has a lot of old houses and preserves a bit of the past. You can also participate in any number of activities like making washi postcards or baskets made of bamboo. Straw sandals and other novelty items are made here.
Tokugawaen (Tokugawa Garden)
If you just aren’t into the crowds but want to enjoy the colors in a bit more subdued fashion check out the garden next to the Tokugawa Art Museum, known as Tokugawaen. They also have booths set up and its a lovely place to spend some time and even take in a fusion Japanese-French lunch or dinner at the excellent (and somewhat pricey) Tokugawaen restaurant. Paths are illuminated by traditional Japanese lanterns allowing visitors to enjoy the leaves at night and the experience is quite romantic.
Of course most parks have koyo, but Heiwa park near Motoyama is a bit more laid back and is an enjoyable place for a picnic or BBQ during the fall months. Bring your dog, a frisbee and enjoy the wide open spaces and the tiny little lake which abuts it. Families and their kids spend the whole day here lasting into the evening hours yet it never seems so crowded. It is accessible via Motoyama on the Higashiyama and Meijo lines or via Jiyugaoka station on the Meijo line.
Located west of Jingu-Nishi Station and just across the river, this little-known spot is adjacent to the Nagoya Congress Center. It is a peaceful and verdant park near the Atsuta Shrine which will delight those in search of a tranquil Japanese garden. The traditional beauty of the Japanese garden is expressed in the abundance of ponds, trees, fish and flowers. The park is carefully maintained and designed to express the seasons as they change. As such its a great place to go year-round. It is accessible via the Meijo Line stop at Jingu-Nishi Stn.
Tsuruma Park is famous for its boisterous hanami parties, but the eastern part of this park has a Japanese-style garden, with a fishpond, and an iris garden. Here you will find a bit of fall colors in the middle of the city. It is easily acessible via the Tsurumai stop on the Tsurumai line.