Japanese Kōyō Season – in the West better known as Indian summer – was an unexpected but wonderful experience that was one of my absolute Japan highlights.
Nothing but flaming colors
To be honest, I had no clue about the Indian summer season in Japan, called Kōyō. I heard about the cherry blossom in spring, but it never occurred to me that Japan could have a fabulous fall just like Canada.
The south, where I had been first, showed no sign of it and as I progressed northbound, I found some single standing colorful trees only, mainly beautiful yellow ginkgo trees. I was happy about each of them but I had no idea what I would finally find in Kyōto…
At some point I read about Kōyō season in Japan’s fall. Fall? “It is fall right now!” I thought and was a little disappointed that I obviously missed it. When I tried to book a hostel in Kyōto some days later it turned out everything was booked and I had a hard time finding anything that was close to my budget. That was the first time my host Kiyoko speculated about it being caused by Kōyō season.
Finally, I found a “cheap” hostel in Kyōto and when I arrived there, first thing I saw was a whole wall covered with info about where to see what amount of autumn foliage – and it was state. I couldn’t wait long and headed into some parks right away.
I was struck with awe. Awe like awesome! The colors were so amazing – everybody should see that for himself if ever possible. Trees with leafs flaming red when lit up by the sun shining behind stood everywhere, sometimes dotted with some in green and yellow. Whole woods of trees that seemed to be on fire when being there in the right moment.
If you plan to head out to Japan and it is not about cherry blossom but in fall season check out these sites:
Kyōto was surely the most impressing place I saw although I saw some more like Miyajima and Nara. But there are many more great spots out there to see Indian summer Asian style.
What is outstanding in Kyōto however: Several parks are opened during nighttime. Thousands of spotlights under the trees and outside temples, shrines, pagodas, and pavilions light up huge parks with thousands of trees during the night. Hordes of locals and some tourists stand patiently in endless lines after nightfall in order to enter the parks. Passing under those wonderful ceilings was an experience not of this world.