The Fall Colors
The beginning of fall means that the start of the momiji season in Japan is not far behind.Momiji is often translated as “the fall colors.” People in Japan do not take the same approach to momiji viewing as they do for hanami (cherry blossom viewing), but this does not mean that they do not enjoy the leaves. During hanami, people will eat and drink as they gather under a tree, but this type of activity does not occur during momiji season. Instead, people simply enjoy the beauty of the fall colors as they move around outdoors in the comfortable weather. As many of you know, summers in Japan are very hot and humid, and the onset of fall means that cooler weather is coming. The cooler weather in the fall presents people in Japan with the opportunity to spend time outside comfortably, an opportunity they do not often have during the summer.
The fall colors begin in September at Daisetsuzan National Park, the largest national park in Japan, in Hokkaido and gradually work their way south through the rest of Japan. As with the sakura (cherry blossoms) in the spring, there is a “momiji front” in weather forecasts that tracks the progress of leaves at their peak.
Momiji in Japan usually last about a month. From start to finish, the cycle of color change in a given region will take about 20~25 days. The colors begin to change in Hokkaido in October, the Tohoku region (Fukushima-ken, Miyagi-ken, Iwate-ken, Aomori-ken, Yamagata-ken, and Akita-ken) in November, and in other regions from November to December. The leaves may change sooner in certain places, such as towns in the mountains.
There are many factors that contribute to a vibrant momiji season. For example, there should be a large degree of difference between the temperature during the day and the temperature at night, plenty of rainfall in the summer, and low humidity. Because Japan has a diverse climate, there are certain regional factors as well. When days where the low temperature is below 10˚ C continue, the leaves will begin to change color, and when the low temperature drops between 5˚ C, the colors will change all at once.
The leaves on the trees will gradually change color as fall progresses. Depending on the color or the intensity of the color of the leaves, you can determine whether or not a tree has passed its peak for the season. The gradual changes the leaves go through can be divided into the following stages based upon their color.
Leaves begin to change color → Change in color continues → Leaves almost at their peak → Leaves at their peak → Leaves just beyond their peak → Leaves start to fall → Momiji season nears its end
Below is a list of places the Japan Tourism Association recommends for viewing momiji in Yamaguchi-ken. The predicted best times to view momiji are also given. These times are based on data from previous years, so keep in mind that the change in color and peak could occur sooner or later than these estimates depending on this year’s weather.
-Ryuzoji- Leaves should begin to change color at the end of October.
Leaves should be at their peak through the month of November.
-Ryosokuji- Leaves should begin to change color at the beginning of November.
Leaves should be at their peak from the middle to the end of November.
-Momijidani Koen- Leaves should begin to change color at the beginning of November.
Leaves should be at their peak at the end of November.
-Kidanikyo- Leaves should begin to change color at the end of October.
Leaves should be at their peak from the end of October to the beginning of November.
-Takaseko- Leaves should begin to change color at the beginning of November
Leaves should be at their peak in the middle of November.
-Takasekyo- Leaves should begin to change color at the beginning of November.
Leaves should be at their peak at the middle of November.
-Chomonkyo- Leaves should begin to change color at the end of October.
Leaves should be at their peak at the beginning of November.