After an amazing summer has gone, another beautiful season has just arrived in Japan, Autumn. Do you know Japanese leaf peeping (紅葉狩りKooyoogari)? Or have you already done leaf peeping somewhere in Japan? So many leaves turn their colours to red or yellow before fallen. Leaf peeping is a hiking to the mountain to see beautiful sceneries made by these coloured leaves. However, you have to prepare yourself before you go! Thus, I will give you 5 tips that you might want to know and worry!
- Best season
Normally, when the day length becomes shorter and the lowest temperature in a day get around 8 degrees, leaves start to change their colours. In contrast to Sakura season, autumn colours happen from northern area to southern area in Japan. The detail is below.
Hokkaido and Tohoku district: the beginning of September to the beginning of November
Kanto, Chubu, Kansai and Koshinetsu district: the beginning of October to the beginning of December
Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu district: the end of October to the end of November
However, it depends on the weather of the year and the place, so you would be better to check the situation before you go. (please try the website below if you want!)
Website (English ver.): http://www.nihon-kankou.or.jp.e.wp.hp.transer.com/kouyou/
- What to wear (suitable clothes)
As I already mentioned above, the colour of the leaf is changed with a quite cold temperature. Therefore, the place you will go should be so cold, which is sometimes like a winter. Although, you feel a bit warm since the temperature occasionally turns to be around 20℃ when it is sunny. For this reason, I think you must be careful about your clothes. First, you have to put on sneakers, not high-heeled shoes or loafer because mountain paths are bumpy roads. Secondly, you can wear any autumn clothes (better to wear something easy to walk in) but not skirts, since it is difficult to move. Plus, you need to bring jackets for the temperature difference I explained. In this way, you should be prepared for both cold and warm temperature, since there may be big temperature differences at some areas! Besides, you should take spare clothes, in case you sweat much and catch a cold after.
- What to bring
Needless to say, you must bring your wallet and phone as usual, but I recommend something you had better take to the mountain:
This is the most important thing for leaf peeping! Current smartphones can take extremely clear photos, but you would be better to bring your treasured camera such as a single‐lens reflex camera since the beautiful moment will never come back.
The weather is easy to be changed in a mountain even though the weather news says it will be sunny all day. Therefore, it is a good idea to bring rain gear such as a raincoat and a folding umbrella. I recommend you the separated raincoat since it is easy for you to walk.
・Light meal & water
Water or tea is better to be hot as you should feel cold at some point. And you maybe get hungry after you walk a lot.
You could hurt yourself by broken branches or step of rocks in the mountain.
・Tissue & towels
You might have a runny nose, get dirty soils, spill the water or become sweaty. I am sure you will need some in the mountain.
If you find beautiful leaves, just take some of them to your home! A plastic bag will help you not to make your bag dirty.
- Manners at the mountain
There is no official rule of the mountain in Japan, but you ought to care about some things as manners as same as Japanese. Firstly, you had better not to take lots of leaves from the mountain, because it could destroy the beautiful sceneries if lots of people it. Please take only a few of them as your little souvenir. Secondly, it would make a big trouble to park your car in no-parking-zone, as the mountain road is very narrow at some points and car accident could happen. If you want to take a picture, just park at the parking spot and walk to the place where you want to go. Lastly, when you eat or drink some foods, you need to take all rubbish you make. Your rubbish could hurt the cute animals living in the mountain and someone who see the rubbish might feel bad though the scenery is still amazing.
- Another thing you have to care
I guess that most of you have ever seen bears in a zoo, but not in a daily life. What if you suddenly see a bear on the mountain during your leaf peeping? This happens sometimes, unfortunately. When you find the bear and the distance between you and the bear is more than 20m, just keep looking at the bear and stay back slowly. Don’t run suddenly since the bears have habits to chase something moving so fast. They will chase you with 60km/ hour, which is impossible for you to run away from them! If the distance is less than 20m, just move slowly behind the trees or high and strong plants and prepare to use intimidate spray for the bears. When they come closer to you less than 3-4m, you should spray to their nose and eyes. If they still want to attack you or you don’t have any sprays, just lie on your face and protect your head with your hands. If you are rolled, please be back to this posture! However, at first, you need to make a noise to let bears know that you are near them all the time when you are in the mountains.
Are you ready to go to the mountain? I have heard that some places in Hokkaido are already opened the mountains for leaf peeping. Do not be late and enjoy yourself in this never return autumn leaf season!