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Japan: Fall colors Kyushu, Matsue, Naoshima, Nakasendo, Kyoto, Tokyo

Japan: Fall colors Kyushu, Matsue, Naoshima, Nakasendo, Kyoto, Tokyo

Old Nov 9th, 2020, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Mara View Post
russ in LA, I am enjoying your photos - thanks for sharing! I am thinking my next trip to Japan won't be until fall 2021 - I usually go in the spring so I need some more info about fall traveling which you are providing! When I was in Matsue a few years back I was able to travel to most of those same places by train and bus. Of course, that's not as convenient but I don't drive much at all at home and wouldn't in Japan... There is a lot of information online for bus schedules although sometimes only in Japanese. Also Tourist offices usually have schedules.

Looking forward to some more photos!!
Hi Mara,

Thanks for the feedback! Japan in the fall was fantastic. Wait until you see the pics of Kyoto coming up! One other bonus of going in the fall was very little rain. In our 21 days we had no rain, with the exception of our final two in Tokyo.

Yes, I could see that traveling by public transport to Izumo and the Adachi museum looked pretty easy, as we have found trains and buses to be in Japan. This is the first time we have rented car and I agree that itís not a necessity in Matsue, but since we had it already, it was a nice bonus and did allow us to fit more into our allotted time.
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Old Nov 9th, 2020, 03:54 PM
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Nagoya: Korankei

One of the things we love about Japan is the contrast of the very ancient and the very modern. After our visit to the historic Kiso Valley post towns, we decided to take advantage of this characteristic by stopping in Nagoya to take the Toyota Plant tour. Since the timing of getting there directly from Nakasugawa would have been tight, we scheduled it for the day after we arrived in Nagoya. As I was looking for something else to do along the way, I discovered what seemed to be the perfect option: Korankei, a valley near Nagoya that was reputed to have some of the best fall colors in the area.

The maple trees of Korankei originated in 1634, when the resident priest of the Kojakuji temple planted saplings, one by one, while chanting the Buddhist sutra. After that, local people planted additional trees throughout generations. Today over 4000 maple trees cover the hillsides and ravine. According to the koyo forecast, the park was not supposed to see ďpeakĒ colors for another week, but Iím not sure how much better it could have gotten, because the colors we saw were incredible!

In addition to the colorful foliage along the river and climbing the slopes of Mount Iimori, there was also the Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village, which has a collection of ancient thatched roofed houses. It was fun to wander through the workshops of the artisans to observe many of the traditional crafts, like weaving, pottery and wood working.

Across the river was a series of booths and kiosks selling meals and snacks as part of the koyo festival, celebrating the fall colors. I always enjoy street food in Japan, especially many of the local specialties, such as takoyaki, octopus encased in little dough balls, as well as eel, deep fried chicken wings or skewers of grilled squid.

The next day we did the Toyota Kaikan Museum and plant tour, which was very interesting to see, and includes a tour of the assembly line. Unfortunately, photos are prohibited so I have no images to offer.


Korankei foot bridge

Korankei

It almost doesn't look real

Korankei: walking up to the temple

Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village: playing

Sanshu Asuke Yashiki Village: shopping

Takoyaki

Grilled squid

Yum!

Korankei from across the river
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Old Nov 9th, 2020, 05:58 PM
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russ in LA, what were the approximate dates of your visit? I just sort of remembered my one fall trip in 2011 - after I cancelled my spring trip since it was right after the earthquake and tsunami in March - I looked at my photos and there was some fall foliage - I went to Kyoto, Nikko and Tokyo from Nov 17 to 27 - so not much time in each location then.....
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Old Nov 9th, 2020, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Mara View Post
russ in LA, what were the approximate dates of your visit? I just sort of remembered my one fall trip in 2011 - after I cancelled my spring trip since it was right after the earthquake and tsunami in March - I looked at my photos and there was some fall foliage - I went to Kyoto, Nikko and Tokyo from Nov 17 to 27 - so not much time in each location then.....
We arrived Nov 8 and returned Nov 29. The first week was a bit early for fall foliage in the locations we chose, but we hit Kyoto at the peak. We were also a bit early for Tokyo which usually peaks in early December.
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 08:32 AM
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russ in LA....another question! Sorry, but there are not many (none) trip reports nowadays so you are getting the brunt of my attention and questions!
Did you have a car to get to Korankei? It can be accessed by public transport but takes quite a while. It looks like a fabulous koyo experience!!
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Mara View Post
russ in LA....another question! Sorry, but there are not many (none) trip reports nowadays so you are getting the brunt of my attention and questions!
Did you have a car to get to Korankei? It can be accessed by public transport but takes quite a while. It looks like a fabulous koyo experience!!
No problem with the questions. I haven't really discussed logistics much, so ask away!

We only had a car from day 2-7, which covered Kurokawa Onsen, Hagi and Matsue. From that point onward we used trains and buses. We found schedules on line, and boiled it down to the following options:

TO Korankei

Train: From Nakatsugawa 8:22, arriving Yakusa 9:28, then Bus Yakusa 9:35, arriving Korankei 10:35 (this bus runs only Nov 7 - 30 for the festival)

FROM Korankei

Bus: From Korankei 14:50, arriving Higashi-Okazaki 15:41, then Train: from Higashi-Okazaki 15:52, arriving Meitetsu Nagoya 16:21

Here are links to my sources for buses (hyperdia for trains):

H31%E3%82%AA%E3%83%BC%E3%83%AF%E5%90%8D%E9%89%84%E3%83%90%E3%82%B9%E6%99%82%E5%88%BB%E8%A1%A8.pdf (in case this link doesn't work I've attached a pdf as well)
https://www.tourismtoyota.jp/en/spots/detail/782/
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3316....tion_get_there (see access)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf
Korankei bus schedule.pdf (85.4 KB, 41 views)

Last edited by russ_in_LA; Nov 10th, 2020 at 09:51 AM.
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 09:08 AM
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Last edited by russ_in_LA; Nov 10th, 2020 at 09:31 AM.
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 09:31 AM
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Kyoto: Eikando, Nazenji, Tofukuji, and Daigoji. ​​​​​​​

If you only visit one city in Japan, let it be Kyoto. It is a microcosm of the best in Japan, from traditional temples, stunning gardens, modern shopping and authentic food markets and cuisine, all in a fairly compact, walkable city, supplemented with varied transit options.

We were fortunate to arrive in Kyoto just as the fall leaves were peaking, and it seemed to get better with each passing day. For our first full day, we focused on four temples in the western portion of the city, based on the detailed websites which published daily announcements of where fall foliage would be at its best: Eikando, Nazenji, Tofukuji, and Daigoji.


Eikando Temple and Gardens

Eikando Temple and Gardens

Eikando Temple and Gardens

Eikando Temple and Gardens

Eikando Temple and Gardens

Nazenji

Nazenji

Tofuku-ji

Tofukuji

Tofukuji

Daigoji

Daigoji

Daigoji

Daigoji
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 10:01 AM
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Thanks so much, russ in LA....oh dear, didn't mean for you to go to all the trouble of posting the links - I found them as well. Just wondering if you did go by public transport.....and you have now answered that question...lol....
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 10:48 AM
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Correction

All these temples above were in the eastern portion of the city, not western.
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Mara View Post
Thanks so much, russ in LA....oh dear, didn't mean for you to go to all the trouble of posting the links - I found them as well. Just wondering if you did go by public transport.....and you have now answered that question...lol....
No problem, Iím sure someone can use them 😉.

Last edited by russ_in_LA; Nov 10th, 2020 at 11:04 AM.
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 12:31 PM
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Kyoto: Nishiki Market

The next morning we decided to take a break from temple visits, and nothing cures temple fatigue like a trip to the Nishiki Market shopping district, with some of the best food shops in town.


...and who wouldnít want a custard filled donut in the shape of a hedgehog?

Isnít that the cutest ever?!

Oh...and baby octopuses on a stick?

...and pickles,

,,,and chestnuts,

...and beef and egg on some sort of tortilla looking thing,

...and wedged in the middle of it all, a Shinto shrine,

...with an offering of barrels of sake.

Food shopping here is a religious experience!
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 01:01 PM
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Kyoto: Gion and Higashiyama

After our trip to the Nishiki Market, we were ready for a stroll through the traditional, eastern districts of Gion and Higashiyama.


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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 02:44 PM
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OMG, these photos are so stunning! I am loving them!

And praying that by next fall, we will be able to make a trip there. You have a wonderful eye and you’ve captured such gorgeous color!
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Old Nov 10th, 2020, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
OMG, these photos are so stunning! I am loving them!

And praying that by next fall, we will be able to make a trip there. You have a wonderful eye and youíve captured such gorgeous color!
Thanks so much! The trees were really that color. I was amazed that such a range of vibrant yellow, pink, orange and red could all be on the same tree. I have a couple more days of Kyoto pics coming up and they were just as vibrant the entire time.

Last edited by russ_in_LA; Nov 10th, 2020 at 03:21 PM.
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Old Nov 11th, 2020, 07:07 AM
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Russ_in_LA,

Thank you very much for your report and stunning pictures. I don’t mind driving in Europe but I just don’t think I can do it in Japan.
I am hoping Japan will open up soon.
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Old Nov 11th, 2020, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by cafegoddess View Post
Russ_in_LA,

Thank you very much for your report and stunning pictures. I don’t mind driving in Europe but I just don’t think I can do it in Japan.
I am hoping Japan will open up soon.
I agree that we probably won’t drive again. Fortunately we did it for only our first 5 days (from Kurokawa Onsen to Matsue), and everywhere we went during that time is also served by trains and buses.
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Old Nov 11th, 2020, 09:01 AM
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Kyoto Day 3: Arashiyama

Looking back on it now, our third day in Kyoto turned out to be our favorite. We decided to spend it in Arashiyama, a small rural district about 45 minutes west of Gion by train. There are three different lines to reach it, with the Keifuku line taking you closest to our starting point at the Tenryuji Temple. This UNESCO listed site has a gorgeous garden at any time of the year, but especially so during the fall koyo. The crowds seemed to agree, as it is very popular, making it difficult to get good photos, but nonetheless, enjoyable to wander through.

Exiting the north gate of the complex takes you directly into Arashiyamaís famous bamboo grove, which was absolutely heaving with tourists. We didnít linger because we knew that we would be visiting a much less well known grove on our walk to the north. Next, we visited Jajakkoji, which was spectacular. While as popular as Tenryuji, it is set on a hillside, which offers many more angles for viewing the foliage without being obscured by the crowds. Further up the road, the crowds thinned out at Nisonin, another hillside temple with beautiful gardens. This was followed by intimate Gioji, known for its moss garden and thatched roofs. The very tall skinny maples in the garden blazed in orange and red against the green moss beds.

There is a lull in the temples as you continue northwest into the Saga area, which brings you to the Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street. This has a series of traditional houses which now serve as shops and restaurants. Our favorite shop in Kyoto is Adashino Iwai, where we have never failed to find some good souvenirs. This was our third time going and each time they have not failed to greet us with a cup of hot tea. There is a small private garden in the back with another pavilion filled with beautiful home goods. Across the street is one of our favorite temples, Adashino Nenbutsuji. The garden is covered with hundreds of stone statues, and the ďsecretĒ bamboo grove in the back had a small fraction of the tourists found in the more popular one in the center of the village.

Finally, we finished with Otagi Nenbutsuji, which also has hundreds of small stone statues of rakan, followers of Buddhism, many of them from the past 40 years. Itís fun to see all the varied facial expressions and modern items that some of them are holding. In all of the places we went, the fall foliage was at peak perfection, and the 6km+ walk up and down the quiet paths to visit the temples was one of the highlights of our trip.


Tip: if you go during a less busy time of the year, and donít want to do as much walking, pick up a taxi at the train station and have them drop you off at Otagi Nenbutsuji. Not only will it cut your walking distance in half, but itís downhill the entire way!



Jojakkoji

Jojakkoji

Jojakkoji

Jojakkoji

Jojakkoji

Nisonin

Giouji Temple

Adashino Nenbutsuji

Adashino Nenbutsuji

Adashino Nenbutsuji

Otagi Nenbutsuji

Otagi Nenbutsuji (I love the guy on the right holding a Sony Walkman!)


Last edited by russ_in_LA; Nov 11th, 2020 at 09:56 AM.
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Old Nov 11th, 2020, 02:03 PM
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Kyoto Day 4: Philospher's Path

For our last day in Kyoto we decided to start with Shinnyodo, in eastern Kyoto, which is a lesser known temple, but was suggested on a fall colors website. The leaves there were hitting the absolute peak of peaks, so instead of a mix of yellows, oranges and pinks, the trees were ablaze in deep red. From there itís not too far to Ginkakuji, or the Silver Pavillion (although itís not actually silver in color). This is the northern-most point on the Philosopherís Path, a 2km walking trail that runs alongside a canal and links a half dozen or so temples, none of which is particularly known for fall leaves (until Nazenji and Eikando that is, which we had already done on our first day). Since it was Saturday, we decided that this might be a good way to avoid the worst of the weekend crowds, which would be at the more foliage-focused sites.

The plan worked out very well, because Kinkakuji had fewer people at it than either of the two other times we had been there. The other temples we visited along the path, Honen-in, Anrakuji, and Reikanji were even quieter, which was a nice change of pace from the previous few days. Afterwards, we found ourselves walking past Eikando and Nazenji, and they were absolutely mobbed with people. We were so happy we had seen them on a weekday! I highly recommend that if you come to Kyoto the week that the leaves are peaking (or during cherry blossom season, as well) try to avoid the weekends.

So that concludes our very fall color-centric visit to Kyoto. Next up is our last destination, Tokyo, and a much more urban adventure.


Shinnyodo

Ginkakuji

Ginkakuji

Ginkakuji

Ginkakuji

Hōnen-in

Hōnen-in

Anrakuji

Anrakuji

Reikanji
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Old Nov 12th, 2020, 02:29 AM
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I’m speechless. These photos are just stunning, capturing not just the beautiful colors but the serenity as well. Thank you!

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