October marks a great opportunity for visitors to Japan to hunt for the countries best Autumn leaf viewing spots. Fukushima Prefecture is no different when it comes to Autumn time.
Although there are some calendars online, it is very tricky to plan a trip to see autumn leaves in Japan in advance.
A couple of weeks ago, I went for a drive along Bandai-Azuma Skyline – one of the most scenic roads leading in and out of the centre of Fukushima City.
On the road to Jododaira – an area with restaurants and gift-shops – I became a little worried, because even after fifteen or twenty minutes of driving, I couldn’t see many red leaves, but once we approached Jododaira, colour began spreading across the mountains.
The contrasting colours of the white cliffs with the red and yellow leaves was spectacular. I love the scenery around Jododaira.
I took my time at the top of Jododaira, and had a lovely creamy ice cream.
Top tip: If traveling in well-known koyo areas, prepare yourself for long queues!
Although we were one week early for the peak koyo season, it took twice as long as normal to drive to Jododaira from Fukushima Station. I naively drank a whole cup of tea right before setting out, which I regretted during the queues.
One week later, I went to Mt Adatara. Mt Adatara is 1718m tall, and is a popular destination for skiing in the winter.
Due to the popularity of the mountain for autumn leaf viewing, the roads were really packed, meaning that it took two hours to travel just 18 km!
Top tip: When you go to see Autumn leaves, wake up as early as possible
When we reached the rope-way area, I was very happy to find two things waiting for me: A Japanese BBQ and toilets!
There is a restaurant at the base of Mt Adatara where you can BBQ as much meat, veggies and yakisoba noodles as your table orders, with drinks provided. The food was great (thanks to my amazing chef friends) and you could see a lovely view from the restaurant.
The rope-way to the top of the mountain was busy, but the Japanese queuing system is very efficient, so it wasn’t frustrating at all.
The views from the top were spectacular. I’ve never seen so many bright red trees. Reaching our destination, I understood why people were willing to queue for that long!
Mt Adatara is known for a quote which is carved into a stone post on top of the mountain. It reads: この上の空がほんとの空です。 In English, this translates as: The sky that you see from here is the real sky.
After feeling satisfied with the photographs I had taken, I took the rope-way back down to the bottom and treated myself to yet another well-deserved ice cream.
Bandai-Azuma Skyline is a 28.7km long road which is approximately a 30 minute drive away from Fukushima Station. The best way to experience this scenic route is to rent a car or motorbike (or bike if you are feeling very, very strong).
Once at Jododaira, you can go hiking up to the top of Mt Azuma-ko-fuji, or around the many nearby ponds .
For more information about Jododaira, please look here!
By car: 20 min from Nihonmatsu IC on Tohoku Expressway.
By bus: 60 min by a shuttle bus (resevation necessary) from JR Koriyama Station.
For information about skiing on Mt Adatara, please follow this link.