Enjoy the Beauty of Nagano in Autumn
Nagano is a place of four seasons. Most famous for the deep snow of winter, Nagano undergoes dramatic change in spring, summer and autumn as the landscape is transformed by the shifting colours, sounds and smells of life in rural Japan.
Autumn is a time of abundance and beauty. The farms are busy with activity as rice is harvested and orchard trees are heavy with ripened apples. A largely agricultural region, Nagano is perhaps most famous for its apples which are ready to pick from September to November.
New smells and colours fill the valleys as rice is cut and dried by farmers and the deep red and gold apples are picked from the trees. As September passes into October, temperatures continue to drop, autumn takes hold and the landscape performs its most spectacular transformation.
Known as ‘koyo’ in Japanese, the changing colours of the autumn leaves are truly stunning. Though areas of higher altitudes are likely to enjoy the changing colours of autumn as early as September, most areas in Nagano welcome their koyo season between early-October and mid-November.
The mountainous character and forested nature of the region, blesses Nagano with some of Japan’s most spectacular autumn leaves. Famous destinations including Kamikochi and Togakushi draw visitors from all over Japan, while less well-known localities including the Matsukawa Valley offer some of the region’s best koyo spots along in combination with secret hot springs and traditional guesthouses.
The beautiful autumn weather – typified by warm and hazy days and cool, brisk evenings – is the perfect time to explore Nagano. A time of harvest, fresh produce fills the roadside markets and determines the menus of local restaurants and ‘ryokan’ (traditional guesthouses).
As such, autumn is the perfect time of year to experience the traditional service and comfort of one of the region’s many outstanding ryokan. Spread throughout the region, Nagano is home to many historic ‘onsen’ (natural hot springs) towns with many guesthouses to choose from. Each has its own character and most have their own in-house hot springs. Operating all year round, autumn is a wonderful time of year to stay as guesthouses design their ‘kaiseki’ (traditional multi-course) meal service around the autumn harvest.
With the mountains and valleys awash with leaves of red, gold, amber and brown, there really is no finer time to visit Nagano and enjoy the bounty and beauty of Central Japan in autumn.
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