Things we love # 3 – Koyo (autumn foliage in Japan)

KoyouThe word Koyo in Japanese literally means red leaves but it is used to describe all the colors in the autumn foliage. Koyo in Japan generally begins mid September up north in Hokkaido and gradually spreads south within a span of 2 months. During this period, the Japanese people have a tradition of Momijigari. “Momiji” means maple leaves or red leaves and “Kari” means hunting. When combined, the term Momijigari literally means hunting for maple leaves or red leaves. This tradition is said to have originated during the Heian period.


Why we like Koyo –

  1. The maple trees ( Kaede) with their different colors look breathtaking. Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto looks amazing around that time. It looks like a scene from a very beautiful painting with colors of red and gold.
  2. In Japan, each season has a specific flavor to represent it. Chestnut (Marron) is the flavor for autumn. You get chestnut flavored cake, pie, latte – you name it! And we just love eating bigsmile
  3. In Japan, the autumn leaves are illuminated during the night-time which makes it even more beautiful.
  4. The maple leaf tempura is amazing. It’s light and crisp!

Red and yellow Koyou

Chestnut dessert (Marron Mont Blanc) by leonardchien










4 Koyo viewing spots we like –

  • Kiyomizudera (Kyoto) –The best view when visiting Kiyomzudera during Koyo is looking out from the Kiyomizu stage towards the pagoda. The landscape is a riot of colors. Kyoto is the best place to visit during autumn. It’s a perfect example of nature coexisting with man in a mix of traditional and modern setting. The autumn foliage covers the shrines and temples across Kyoto making it a picturesque sight.
  • Korankei (Aichi) – Kornakei valley has about 4000 maple leaves that change colors gradually. During this slow process, they change into different colors and hence are known as “Goshoku Momiji”  – the five color maple leaves. They are best when viewed from along Tomoe river and Taigetukyo bridge.
  • Momiji Kairo ( Lake Kawaguchi near Mt Fuji) – “Momiji Kairo” literally means a corridor or red leaves. You are surrounded by maple trees with different colored leaves. The pathway also appears to have been dyed in many colors because of the leaves that have fallen from the trees.
  • Lake Biwa ( Hikone, northeast of Kyoto) – Where Momiji pathway has many different colors, Keisoku-ji (temple) pathway at lake Biwa is a carpet of red on old stone steps. The pathway to the temple is surrounded by 200 maple trees on both sides – hence the  red carpet!


Your thoughts…

Have you visited any of the famous Koyo spots? What’s your favorite Koyo spot in Japan? Let us know in the comments!


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2 Responses

  1. Sebastian says:

    Absolutely loved your pictures in this article! Really really beautiful!

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