Autumn Chills and Early Signs of Color


Though the sultry summer of 2018 is still fresh in our memories, it would seem that autumn is well and truly here. As of September 18th, morning temperatures hovered around 12 degrees Celsius, climbing to a peak of 17 at midday.  That in turn marked a shift from ten days earlier when you might expect 16 degrees in the morning and 18-20 by noon. The writing’s on the wall folks: it ain’t getting any warmer.

But while cooler temperatures call for hats and windbreakers, they also herald the beginning of one of Kamikochi’s most beloved times of year, the autumn foliage season. For this week’s blog, we’ve consulted a few sources to give you the skinny on current conditions:


Conditions in central Kamikochi as of 2018/09/19:

At present, we’re only seeing the first splashes of color on leaves.  The pictures above show an Amur barberry shrub (top) and a forked viburnum (second from top), both photographed near the Shimizu River. As you can see, they’re not completely yellow yet.

By way of contrast, the Erman’s birch seen here is rapidly turning yellow:


So in summary, we won’t be seeing broad swathes of color on the trees for a while yet, though by mid-to late October you can count on some impressive scenes.

Visitors enjoy a tranquil riverside moment amid light rain.


Conditions in Karasawa as of 2018/09/19:

Karasawa famously gets its peak foliage earlier than central Kamikochi by virtue of its higher elevation. We’ve gone beyond our usual sources for news on the current conditions further up the trail and here’s what we found:

The popular Japanese language mountaineering site  Yamakei Online reports that the foliage in Karasawa is still in its early stages (think 10 to 20 percent of peak colors), but that this should improve by the end of the month. Karasawa Hyutte’s homepage offers similar info with pictures you can see by following the link below.

Having visited Karasawa in mid-September several years ago, I can tell you that it gets crowded at this time of year. Reservations for tatami space and tents at the lodges are at a premium, so planning ahead is recommended.

That’s all for now. We’ll be back with further updates when we have more to report. Oh, thanks again to the hard working, devoted, and knowledgeable bloggers at National Park Guide for providing valuable info and images!

Sources of Info:

National Park Guide Kamikochi blog:

Yamakei Online:

Karasawa Hyutte homepage: