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Autumn Foliage


Japan is located in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, and it's home to many deciduous plant species whose leaves turn color in the fall, including the maple, ivy, yamaurushi (a type of sumac), and mountain ash.

When autumn deepens, these leaves change from green to red and gold. This is called momiji, or autumn foliage. Since ancient times, the Japanese have been fond of the beautiful colors of autumn and have written many poems about them.

Momiji begins when temperatures start falling to as low as 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), and the colors grow more brilliant with each frost. Studies have shown that the autumn colors are more breathtaking when the trees are growing in the mountains, rather than on flat land; when they get a lot of sunshine; and where the air is crisp and dry. The most beautiful reds are found on the maple, while gingko leaves turn the deepest yellow.

The tapestry of crimson and gold lures people out to the mountains for autumn-foliage viewing, or momiji-gari. The people enjoy being close to the beautiful colors, and they usually bring along box lunches and drinks.


The Japanese regard the autumn leaves as objects to be admired for their beauty, much like flowers. There are many famous sites for foliage viewing around the country. Some of the most popular places are Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture), Hakone, (Kanagawa Prefecture), Takao, and Arashiyama (both Kyoto Prefecture).

October and November in Japan are neither too hot nor too cold. The skies are a deep blue, and a lot of families take advantage of the lovely weather to visit scenic places. Besides viewing the autumn colors, people enjoy going to the countryside to gather matsutake (a particularly aromatic type of mushroom that grows only in the wild); pick fruits like grapes, tangerines, and pears; dig for potatoes; and gather chestnuts.

By late November, when the trees shed their coat of red and yellow leaves, the chilly winds of winter begin to blow.