Autumn Leaves Guide

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Autumn Leaves Guide

October 1, 2013 | Guides | 3 Comments

Hi, friends! As school starts back up and the days grow shorter, I wanted to share a guide about one of Gunma’s best features: autumn leaves!

This guide is based off of 「ググっとぐんま」: a Japanese-language tourism magazine that can be found in several major stations around Gunma (I picked mine up at Takasaki Station). I chose my favorites out of the autumn leaves and onsen (hot springs) issue, but if you want to see even more—and even take advantage of the coupons at the back of the publication—hurry to your nearest major station!

For an up-to-date report on autumn leaves around Japan, check out Japan Guide’s Fall Color watch (English) or Nihon Kankō’s Gunma Kōyō report (Japanese).

Photo: Liz Bender
Photo: Liz Bender

Oze (尾瀬)

Location: Katashina (Tone Region)
Fall leaves period: Late September to mid-October
Often renowned as the best location for autumn leaves in Gunma, this national park features a massive marshland at an elevation of 1,400 m, as well as the Ozenuma Pond at 1,660 m. Every year, Tokyo visitors travel four hours on jam-packed buses just to soak in the endless reds, yellows, and browns Oze offers. More information here.

Minakami (水上)

Location: Minakami (Tone Region)
Fall leaves period: Mid to late October
Minakami offers hiking, ropeways, and onsen to boot! The Tanigawadake Ropeway runs along Mt. Tanigawa, one of “Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains”, which straddles the border of Gunma and Niigata prefectures.

Lake Nozori (野反湖)

Location: Nakanojo (Agatsuma Region)
Fall leaves period: Mid to late October
The high elevation’s translucent sky reflects seamlessly in Lake Nozori to magically compliment the lake’s surrounding fall colors. You can trek around the lake in three hours, try your hand at fishing for ¥1,000 per day, and even camp in cabins or your tent for ¥300 per person! More information here.

Photo by Lindsay Woodville
Photo: Lindsay Woodville

Ikaho (伊香保)

Location: Shibukawa (Chubu Region)
Fall leaves period: Mid-October to mid-November
As the muggy weather abates, many visitors enjoy viewing the fall colors while soaking in Ikaho’s outdoor bath. As for pictures, the most famous fall photo spot has always been the bold red Kajika Bridge. As a last note, on your way up and down the 365 stone steps, don’t forget to try Ikaho’s hananoyu manjuu, a freshly-baked bun filled with sweet bean paste—they make for a scrumptious snack and great souvenirs. More information here.

Jomo’s Three Mountains (上毛三山)

Gunma’s famous three mountains are ablaze with fiery reds and gleaming yellows during fall. Hiking in the midst of these burning colors also offers crisp, clean air, as well as crystal clear views far across the Kanto Plain.

Mt. Akagi (赤城山)

Location: Border of Kiryu and Maebashi (Chubu/Tobu Regions)
Fall leaves period: Early to late October
Akagi boasts eight peaks, the tallest of which (Kurobisan) reaches 1,828 m and is also included in “Japan’s 100 Famous Mountains”. After your hike, be sure to stop by Akagi Shrine and enjoy autumnal views of the caldera lake. More information here.

Mt. Haruna (榛名山)

Location: Border of Takasaki and Shibukawa (Seibu/Chubu Regions)
Fall leaves period: Mid-October to early November
Hikers can take a dip in the onsen after their climb, take a paddle boat for a loop around the lake, or even just cheat the hike by taking the ropeway. Haruna’s sole peak reaches 1,390 m. More information here.

Photo: Ashly Schanback
Photo: Ashly Schanback

Mt. Myogi (妙義山)

Location: Border of Shimonita, Tomioka, and Annaka (Seibu Region)
Fall leaves period: Early to late November
The most famous of the three for fall colors, Mt. Myogi offers several trekking courses, which makes it great for beginners and experts alike. Its tallest peak is only 1,162 m tall; however, reaching this peak requires expert rock climbing experience. After your hike you can go down the extra-long roller slide to enjoy soft cream at the Michi no Eki. For more details on climbing Myogi, check out Jenn Cohen’s expert article here.

Watarase Keikoku TetsudoWatarase Valley (わたらせ渓谷)

Location: Midori (Tobu Region)
Fall leaves period: Early to late November
Midori City is aptly named “Green City”, as trees can be found at every turn. Accordingly, the low-dipping temperatures of autumn nights make for gorgeous fall colors in Midori. In addition to various hiking routes, the Watarase Railway has a windowless, two-car line for you to enjoy the gorgeous autumn colors in a unique and special way. You can even preorder their specialized bento to enjoy during your scenic ride. More information here.

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3 Comments
  1. corporate jet hire

    Good post. I certainly love this website. Keep writing!

  2. Patrick M

    About the Watarase Torokko–for those who get cold easily, there are also fully enclosed, heated cars 🙂 If you’re interested in the train, you should reserve you ticket *in advance* or you might be stuck on the regular (significnatly more expensive) local train service, as any tickets that aren’t reserved out by busses of old people are sold out soon after the ticket windows open.

  3. Brandon

    One that I feel that you should have included was Kusatsu up on Volcano. (The name has slipped my brain). However, they are most likely already changing and will be at their peak this week or next week. (Taking into account the altitude difference.) They are beautiful and there is a park/like path/trail thing that is off the beaten path in a marsh where you are surrounded by the colors of fall. I have pictures from my trip to Kusatsu last year during the 3-day weekend if you want to see what I mean. 🙂

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