Asia Japan Travel

Koyo: Japanese Autumn Colours

Sendan Waterfall, Gokanosho
Sendan Waterfall, Gokanosho

Fact: the Japanese love the changing reds, yellows, oranges and browns of autumn almost as much as they love cherry blossoms.

They love it so much that they have a word for the colourful leaves at this time of year – koyo.

As I type this, I’m sitting under a fan in Brisbane, where it’s a balmy 28 degrees Celsius. While I am physically a long, long way from the mountains of Japan ablaze in autumnal glory, through the magic of the internet and a little website called Facebook I am able to see koyo as it is happening today.

These photos are courtesy of my dear Japanese friend and colleague, Mr Schingo Hashizaki. Schingo-san lives in the heart of Kumamoto prefecture in the special mountain hideaway of Gokanosho. I’ve blogged a lot about Gokanosho before – especially in cherry blossom season –  but am yet to experience it in koyo.

Below are photos taken by Schingo-san at the Heike Museum in Gokanosho. This museum documents the retreat of the Heike samurai warriors to these mountains where they hid from the world for five hundred years. Their story is incredible, especially given the terrain of these mountains and the adversities that they faced.

Heike Museum in Autumn
Heike Museum in Autumn


Heike Museum in Autumn
Heike Museum in Autumn

There are so many beautiful autumn viewing spots in Japan. Two of my favourites are Takayama and Shirakawa-go, located at the foot of the Japanese Alps in Gifu prefecture.Known for their gassho (thatched roof) houses,  streets of wooden shop houses, beautiful Japanese inns and traditional festivals and parades, they are a highlight on any Japanese autumn itinerary.

Hida Folk Village, Takayama
Hida Folk Village, Takayama




Shirakawa-go - courtesy of AllJapanTours
Shirakawa-go – photo courtesy of

Have you seen autumn in Japan? Where? I’d love to hear!

Safe Travels,

x Sonia x


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