Kitakaruizawa is a stunning place to go to see autumn in full de-bloom, a mountain area that’s a 1 hour bullet train and a 40 minute bus ride from Tokyo. It’s a place with a real countryside feel – and unfortunately, like country areas in lots of countries, that means that it’s slowly dying as young people flock to big cities for better job opportunities and a faster pace of life. You can really see that faster pace of life on people’s faces, though – the average Tokyo commuter’s stony mask is a marked contrast from the much more open and receptive expressions you’d see around the streets of small mountain villages.
Sometimes, the city comes to the country, too. On the bus ride from the bus station, plenty of small B&Bs dotted the winding road, and unfortunately, a lot of them looked quite run down or shut. The place it turned out I’d be staying, on the other hand, was a modern, 13-story resort with tennis courts, buffet restaurants and hundreds of rooms, a fairly unsightly grey oblisk that dominated the sleepy little town of Kitakurizawa.
At any rate, autumn in Japan is something to behold. Reds and oranges explode across the countryside just like they did in all the reading primers from my childhood (rather than Australian autumn, which is more a gentle segue from summer to winter where it gets slightly colder).
The good news is that since the autumn colours hit in the colder, higher-altitude places first, I’ll get to enjoy it all over again in Tokyo in a few weeks! Unfortunately, this time I’ll be competing with around 12 million other people for a look. Until then: mountain pictures.
This sign advertises autumn fruits: plums (puramu), peaches (momo), nectarines (nekutarin).
The goat below tried to bite my elbow after I took this photo. I thought he was being flirty, but then I found out that goats eat anything.