Where to See and Enjoy Japan's Fall Foliage 2012 (紅葉)

kouyou, Japan, Fall, Autumn, leaves, foliage, see, view

Now that it's October, we're inching closer to seeing the Autumn leaves in much of Japan -- although some places, like Hokkaido, are already boasting their colors. Lucky you folks in the North!

I've written previously about finding places to go to see and enjoy the lovely hues of orange, red and yellow here in Japan, this is a 2012 update.

You may already be familiar with the popular tourist destinations for Fall colors (such as Kyoto), but if you're looking for some less crowded areas or some place nearby, you might find one of the following sites useful. Each site offers a way to search locations all over Japan and find listings of good 紅葉 (こうよう, kouyou) spots. They are in Japanese only, which is why I'm also providing a tutorial below.

Sites to look up 紅葉 (こうよう, kouyou) spots:

Japan Travel and Tourism Association
Yahoo Japan

Before we go into that, here are some words to know:

青葉 あおば aoba fresh/green leaves
色づき始め いろづきはじめ irozuki hajime beginning to change color
見頃 or 見ごろ みごろ migoro best time to see
色あせ始め いろあせはじめ iroase hajime beginning to fade
落葉始まる おちばはじまる ochiba hajimaru beginning to fall
落葉 おちば ochiba fallen leaves
~月 ~がつ, ~げつ gatsu, getsu month (~ would be a number, so 11月 is November)
上旬 じょうじゅん joujun beginning of the month, first 10 days
中旬 ちゅうじゅん chuujun middle of the month
下旬 げじゅん gejun end of the month

How to find a 紅葉 (こうよう, kouyou) spot using Yahoo Japan:

1. Go to this page, as shown below.

2. Click on a prefecture (whether your own or one you're visiting, etc.). For this example I'm going to click on Yamaguchi.

3. A list will show up with various locations (with the anticipated best time to view and current leaf status, indicated by the leaf color and changing icons) around the prefecture to view Fall foliage. Click on any of the names (blue links) for more detailed information.

4. Once you've selected a name, the next page to show up will list detailed information including the current status of the leaves (again), expected best time to view (again), type of leaves/tree, address, access information, fee (if applicable), inquiry info, whether the place offers nighttime viewing, parking, nearby onsen info, and other info such as public toilet info or shops.

And that's it! Though the other sites vary a bit in how you navigate them and some of the words they might use, it's still worth looking to see if they include any places the others don't.

Where is your favorite Fall foliage spot in Japan?

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