Almost as popular as hanami (flower watching) in Japan is koyo (autumn leaf viewing). There is something about the change of seasons that is so refreshing, and the intense, warm colors of red, orange, and yellow that accompany the transition from summer to autumn can be quite the spectacle. This tutorial helps take the leg work out of find a great koyo spot, which is often difficult to search for if you can’t read Japanese.
(Image Source: kouyou.yahoo.co.jp)
Even though there are ample locations throughout Japan to enjoy nature’s display, it can be hard for foreigners who don’t read or speak Japanese to know where to find them. And while there are resources for locating popular koyo scenary online in English, there are so many lesser known parks, rivers sides, and forests worth visiting that are only written about in Japanese.
To help you in your search for a great koyo spot, I’ve put together a guide for using the popular Japanese site kouyou.yahoo.co.jp. While it is a pretty straight forward site to navigate, there are a couple tricky parts described below to help you out in finding a train route to the spot you want to go to. (Click on the images to enlarge.)
Find a Great Spot Using Yahoo’s Koyo Search Tool
1. Go to the website’s main page and choose a prefecture from the map; in this case, I chose Tokyo. Below the prefecture map you also have two more search options. 1) Clicking on a the small, blue link inside the red box, or 2) doing a custom search; however, you must be able to write Japanese and you probably wouldn’t be reading this tutorial if you could.
2. Once you’ve selected a prefecture, an unorganized list of koyo spots around Tokyo comes up. I suggest narrowing down your search by choosing what color leaves you want to see or location options. Here I chose peak season (red leaf) and free entrance. Click the bottom that says “決定.” This narrows the Tokyo search down to five results.
3. Once you’ve clicked on a spot, details about the specific location will be given, including access information, whether or not there is parking, if there are stores around, if there are restrooms, etc. This information is all in Japanese, but there is an easy way to translate it.
4. In order to look at the information in English, you simply copy the URL and paste it into Google Translate search box. Choose Japanese (日本語) to English (英語) and click translate (翻訳). The Japanese kanji characters may appear in your browser if you are accessing Google’s website in Japan.
5. You now have a brief overview of the spot translated in English as well as the closest train station.
6. Now all you need to do is go to Hyperdia and search for the best train routes to get to your destination.