Fall Foliage in Aomori (青森の紅葉)

Fall colors are almost here!  So I thought I’d send out a quick list of some popular spots to go ‘leafing’ and how to find out the best time to go. All of the sights are beautiful during the day, but several of them are also worth visiting at night, when they will be lighted for your viewing pleasure.
 
WHERE TO GO
 
Hakkoda Mountain
What to expect: Take a ropeway up to the top of the mountain where you will be treated to a wide vista of beautiful fall leaves and some nice hikes. There are also some wonderful onsens around Hakkoda worth visiting.
Websites: Write up from last year: http://www.boarder-san.com/2011/10/fall-colors-at-hakkoda.html
Ropeway info: http://www.hakkoda-ropeway.jp/lang/en.html 
 
Hirosaki Castle
What to expect: Gorgeous Japanese maples and cherry blossom trees all around the castle and moat. Many of the trees will be lighted at night. There is also a chrysanthemum festival with lots of fun displays. The festival and lighting runs from October 19th to November 11th.
Websites: Write-up from previous year: http://traveling-tengco.blogspot.com/2010/10/hirosaki-castle-chrysanthemum-festival.html
Official (Japanese): http://www.hirosaki.co.jp/htcb/sightseeing/fes/momijimatsuri.html 
 
Maple Mountain in Kuroishi (Nakano Momijiyama 中野もみじ山)
What to expect: Gorgeous scenery of almost every type. You’ll find a small shrine sitting next to a mountain, a beautiful curving river, and several hiking trails under maple leaf cover. The trees will be lighted at night from October 13th till November 11th.
Websites: Write up from previous year: http://aomorimori.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/autumn-colors-in-kuroishi/
Official info(Japanese): http://www.city.kuroishi.aomori.jp/Sight_Seeing/Sig_Nakano_01.html 
 
Lake Towada / Oirase Stream
What to expect: A beautiful path that runs along the river with several pretty waterfalls. You can rent a canoe, take a pleasure cruise on a larger boat, or even rent a bike at the lake. There are many bus stops along the path that will take you back to your car when you are tired of walking.
Websites: About the canoes: http://en.aptinet.jp/message/111107.html
Write up from previous year: http://www.japan-guide.com/blog/koyo/081029.html 
 
WHEN TO GO
There are several websites, and even smartphone apps, that track the foliage and tell you when the colors are at their best. These websites list several other popular fall foliage sights that I didn’t mention as well. So check them out (These links take you straight to the Aomori zone):
http://kouyou.nihon-kankou.or.jp/list/result.php?m=1&c=02
http://kouyou.yahoo.co.jp/spot/list/02.html
 
For anyone who’s not an expert in Japanese here is a good article about how to navigate these websites and understand what they are saying: http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2012/10/where-to-see-and-enjoy-japans-fall.html
 
Happy Fall Everyone!

~Jeff

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