Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture, is a National Special Scenic Spot and is one of the largest and most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan.
The building of this garden dates back to the early 17th century. In 1625, the lord of the Takamatsu domain, Ikoma Takatoshi, began the construction. Then in 1642, Matsudaira Yorishige took over the domain and continued its construction. The work was completed by the 5th lord of the Matsudaira family in 1745 after 100 years of improvements and extensions. After the new Meiji government took control, the park was designated a prefectural park and opened to the public.
Ritsurin Park is a stroll-type landscape garden exquisitely laid out with mounds, ponds and trees, where visitors can appreciate landscapes from every part of the garden. The building of a garden around the South Pond using the beautiful greenery of Mt. Shiun as a backdrop is specifically exquisite.
Tea ceremonies and garden concerts are held at Kikugetsutei Tea House, which used to be favored by the successive domain lords. In fall, the garden is lit up for visitors to enjoy autumn leaves.
Mt. Tanzawa with an altitude of 1567 m is on the border of Sagamihara City, Kiyokawa-mura in Aiko-gun and Yamakita-cho in Ashigara-Kami-gun in Kanagawa Prefecture. It is a part of the Tanzawa Shumyaku (the great ridge) and a part of Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park. Being close to Tokyo metropolitan area, Mt. Tanzawa is thronged with hikers all through the year.
It is said that “Mt. Tanzawa” on the list of “Japan’s 100 Fine Mountains” includes not only Mt. Tanzawa but also other mountains rising in the central part of the Tanzawa mountain range, which used to be generically called “Tanzawa-san.” However, in the Meiji period (1868-1912), when a land survey was conducted, the triangulation point was placed at this mountain peak and the mountain was tentatively named Mt. Tanzawa. In time, people began to call this mountain alone “Mt. Tanzawa.”
The mountain is covered with the flowers of Yamazakura (Prunus jamasakura), Mitsuba-tsutsuji (Rhododendron dilatatum), Yamatsutsuji (Rhododendrom obtusum) and Shiroyashio (Rhododendron quinquefolium) in spring, Gakuutsugi (Hydrangea scandens), Japanese dogwood, Kobaikeisou (Veratrum stamineum), Yamayuri (Lilium auratumand) and lespedeza in the early summer, and autumn leaves in fall.
Inukoeji located in Yamakita-cho, Ashigara-Kami-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture, is a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,050 m. This scenic spot has provided a comfort stop for trekkers since old times.
In the Warring States period (1493-1573), Takeda Shingen in Kai province (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) extended powers over the area around Tanzawa Mountains. The name of this pass, Inu-koe-ji, meaning “the path that dogs go over” is derived from the legend pertaining to their attacks on the Hojo clan in Odawara. Legend has it that whenever the Takeda forces headed for Odawara, they took this trail with their army dogs leading the steep and dangerous way.
You can command a panoramic view of the west part of Tanzawa Mountains and Mt. Fuji from Inukoeji Pass, which is selected one of the Kanagawa 50 Scenic Places. This tranquil mountain pass is a resting spot for the hikers climbing Mt. Hinokiboramaru and Mt. Omuroyama. Wonderful autumn foliage can be enjoyed in fall.
Kumano Shrine is located in Takadate, Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture. The enshrined deities are Hayatamao no Okami, Izanagi no Okami and Kotosakao no Okami.
Natori is the center of Kumano Worship in the Tohoku region during the Middle Ages. Kumano Shrine in Natori was one of Natori Kumano Sanzan constituted of Hongu, Shingu and Nachi Shrines, which were founded by transferring Kumano Sansho Gongen (the great deities of Kumano in present Wakayama Prefecture) in 1123.
The Honden (main hall) building composed of three sections is a prefecturally designated cultural property as the oldest existing building in Kumano-Gongen-zukuri style. By the pond in the precinct is a kagura hall, a part of which protrudes over the pond. Kumanodo Kagura, and Kumano Bugaku (a court dance) have been handed down at this shrine and both are prefecturally designated intangible folk cultural properties. The kagura is dedicated in spring and fall and the bugaku is dedicated only in spring.
A beautiful view of autumn leaves may be seen from late October to early November in Takanose Valley near Naga in Tokushima Prefecture.
This sight became famous in 1980, when it received the most votes in a poll for the 100 (Best) Tourist Spots in Tokushima. The poll was part of the commemoration of the prefecture’s 100th anniversary.
'Kouyou-no-nishiki' (a tapestry of autumn leaves) became the specialty of this region, along with the Kitou cedar and the Kitou yuzu.
The autumn leaves cover the sharply-sloping sides of the valley, which was formed by the headstreams of the Nakagawa River. This magnificent view stuns all those who see it. The turning maple leaves are especially beautiful, making the valley the best-loved scenic spot in Shikoku.
In other seasons, too, Takanose Valley is attractive for the tender green leaves of spring, the deep green leaves of summer, and the snow-covered landscapes of winter. This makes the area appealing to tourists all year round.
Mt. Goshikidake is a volcano composing the Zao Mountain Range in the border of Yamagata Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture. It is 1,674 m above sea level. It is a post-caldera pyricrastic cone in the outer rim of the crator with a diameter of 2 km. At the center of the caldera lies a caldera lake known as Okama, one of the major attractions in Zao area.
The walking trail is set around Okama so that you can go round the lake, which changes colors from cobalt blue or emerald green to brown depending on the weather conditions.
As there is nothing to cut off the view, you can enjoy the scenery of the magnificent Zao Mountain Range covered with crimson foliage in fall. In winter, you can take a close look at snow monsters, which are trees frozen by winds and covered with snow. In any season, you will fully enjoy soaking yourself in the world filled with the wonder of nature.
Kurodani Gorge is located in the upstream of the Danto River, which flows into Lake Okuyahagi and join the Yahagi River. The gorge is about 2 km in length and filled with mysterious atmosphere.
The gorge is bustled with anglers in summer when the Ayu fishing tournament is held. They enjoy fishing in the brilliance of tender green reflected on the surface of the river. However, the most impressive is the gorge ablaze with autumn leaves. You will feel refreshed by the exquisite view of the clear stream.
A camping site and bungalows are provided in the vicinity, where you can stay and enjoy bountiful nature to your heart’s content.
Mt. Iimoriyama is a 254-meter mountain in Asuke Town in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. It is a part of Korankei Gorge, a famous scenic spot of the prefecture. About 4,000 maple trees growing from both sides of the Tomoe River, a tributary of the Yahagi River, to the top of Mt. Iimoriyama, turn red all at once in fall, which creates an exquisite landscape. It is selected as one of Japan’s 100 Scenic Spots of Autumn Leaves.
The fallen leaves are always cleared off the promenade in this mountain, so there is no danger of slipping on the wet fallen leaves even in fall. The best viewing spot of the autumn leaves is from the vermillion Taigetsu Bridge. It is breathtakingly beautiful.
There are several historic sites in the mountain area. The back shrine of Asuke Hachimangu Shrine used to be located in this mountain until the Meiji period (1868-1912), but there is no remnant of it today. On the mountainside is Kojakuji Temple, where the colony of katakuri (Erythronium japonicum) produces cute white flowers in spring.