Japan is known around the world as a country of advanced technology and developed cities. But aside from all its amazing skyscrapers and infrastructures, the country takes pride of its wonderful nature and picture-perfect sceneries. No wonder travelers from around the globe would never dare to forget including Japan on their bucket list!
As everyone knows, Japan’s natural treasures are dotted all over the country and are glorified in all four seasons. This autumn, however, one would not want to miss the beauty of the autumn colors. The most frequently asked question though would be, “Where do I start traveling?” Japan has a lot to offer, but there is one place you should never miss when searching for the colors of the wind. And that is the Nagano Prefecture.
Check out this list of the top five must-see places in Nagano Prefecture during autumn and get ready to be mind blown!
At the foot of Mt. Togakushi lies a highland village named Togakushi. The word “togakushi” means “hidden door.” As mysterious as its name sounds, Togakushi Heights is full of hidden natural scenic spots that are perfect for hikers and for those looking for a relaxing atmosphere in the woods. It is also highly popular for its Togakushi Shrine which is considered as one of the power spots in Japan because of its long history. A “power spot” refers to a Japanese spiritual spot that people believe would give natural power to them once reached.
In Togakushi Heights, several walking trails that lead to stunning lakes, including the famous Kagami Pond, can be enjoyed by visitors. The autumn foliage in Togakushi comes a little early starting from late September and ends in the middle of October, so make sure to check it out while the colors are still there! Plus, do not forget to try their handmade soba noodles!
Karuizawa is not just a popular getaway among tourists, but also for those who are living around the Kanto area as it is only an hour away from Tokyo by bullet train. It is also considered as the most famous summer resort town in Japan. This tourist attraction is mostly known for its spectacular Kumoba Pond and Shiraito Falls although the town itself is already a jewel.
The autumn foliage in Karuizawa starts from early October and ends in early November. It is best to catch the peak time of its autumn colors during the middle of October, although expect the crowd to go wild enjoying the scenery and taking the best Instagram shots!
If you look for images of Shiga Highlands on the Internet, you would surely be bombarded with lots of skiing and snow-filled photos as this attraction is actually one of the largest ski resorts in Japan. In fact, this was where some of the events of the 1998 Winter Olympics took place. However, despite being famous every winter, Shiga Highlands is also undeniably one of the favorite places of travelers to visit during autumn.
Located in Northern Nagano, it offers a wide variety of magnificent landscapes, stunning mountains, and picturesque lakes that are surely worth seeing. In fact, the area is so extensive that a single day trip is not enough to cover everything! There are so much to see here and so many places to explore. But when visiting Shiga Highlands, one must not forget to include Ichinuma Pond, Mt. Yokote, and Kanmandaki Falls in their itinerary as they never fail anyone.
Shiga Highlands has a lot of hiking and walking trails that anyone would surely enjoy. But wait, there’s more! The drive itself going to Shiga Highlands is already a bonus as the autumn colors welcome every visitor in this place. The best season to catch the autumn colors in Shiga Higlands is from early October to middle of October.
When talking about the magical colors of autumn, one would not miss mentioning the word “mountains” for they undeniably possess the beauty every hiker and traveler is looking for. But what if we are talking about not just any mountain but the Japanese Alps?
Yes, that is right! Mt. Karasawa is one of the peaks of the Hotaka Mountains that form part of the Northern Japanese Alps. The Japanese Alps is a series of towering mountain ranges in Honshu, the main island of Japan, that are known for their spectacular views and high peaks. In fact, all of Japan’s 30 highest peaks are here except for Mt. Fuji.
Mt. Karasawa is a nirvana both for novice and professional hikers. Its peak reaches 3,110 meters but the endpoint for many hikers is not always the peak itself as the views could be already that stunning from the campground and on top of the valley. The autumn colors could be enjoyed more and more as the climb gets higher and once the top is reached, a 360° view of the majestic Northern Alps welcomes everyone!
The autumn foliage in Karasawa can be best seen around late September to early October. During this season, the temperature can drop from 20°C to 0°C. Now that’s cold, so make sure to come prepared!
And finally, the best of the best!
If you have been planning to visit Nagano in autumn, you have already probably heard of Kamikochi. It is a place of wonder in Matsumoto City, offering many different kinds of landscapes and sceneries from ponds to rivers, from valleys to mountains.
Kamikochi is a very popular sightseeing resort in Nagano within the Northern Alps range. Despite the popularity, Kamikochi has preserved its natural scenic beauty in ages as it is under the Chubu-Sangaku National Park. To further protect its environment, cars have been restricted in the area and are only allowed up until the Hirayu and Sawando parking areas. Visitors have to take a shuttle bus or a taxi to access the park. Kamikochi is also designated as one of Japan’s National Cultural Assets which only puts its beauty more in no doubt.
There are many different hiking trails around the area which make it a good place for hikers of different levels. Some of the best mountains to climb here are the Yarigatake (3,180 meters) and Hotakadake (3,190 meters). For those who prefer a much calmer approach to nature, several walking and pond trails can also be done here like those featuring the Taisho-ike and Myojin-ike ponds which are two of the most sought-after spots in Kamikochi. One should also not miss seeing the Kappa Bridge, a wooden suspension bridge considered as the symbol of Kamikochi. From here, the views of the gigantic Northern Alps and the flowing stream of Asuza River can be seen.
Kamikochi is truly a total package, so make sure to check it out this autumn! It is open from the middle of April until November 15, 2016 and will shut down during winter. The best season to enjoy the colors of autumn is from mid to late October.
There you have it! These are just some of the most breathtaking autumn sceneries that you should not miss in Nagano. Autumn is truly fantastic in the Land of the Rising Sun, so make sure to make the most out of it. Go ahead and pull yourself out of your bed and have some time to be one with nature and its glory!
Now if you ask me, “Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?” Well, you know what? With all these gorgeous sceneries, of course, I can. And I bet you can, too.