Monday, December 12th, 2022

Autumn’s Koyo season has rushed past too quickly

Photo of a Japanese maple leaf in autumn. Have the leaf is yellow, the other half red

Koyo season was a bit of a damp squib from a photography perspective this year. The trip to Universal Studios Japan left me with a head cold that scuppered last week’s planned photo walk. Much of the redness has now passed from the trees in this part of Japan, which is disappointing.

Still, it wasn’t all bad news. At the start of November a trip to Arima just as the season started whetted the appetite. An impulsive wander around Kobe Sports Park brought a little red and yellow happiness, ready for what became my crescendo: Tambasasayama.

Photograph of leaves on a Japanese maple tree. Most are yellow, with reds sweeping through in waves

If you don’t know what the fuss is about, the autumn Koyo is when the trees turn into rich reds and yellows ahead of shedding their leaves for winter. It runs in a wave up the country, and just as the Japanese flock to see the cherry blossom in spring, so they rush to see the Koyo in autumn. Sites famed for their displays become tourist hotspots, filling with people who point their cameras at scene after scene of nature’s artistry.

While these scenes are undoubtably stunning, there are much smaller displays all around us. On streets in cities and towns, lone trees show off their reddish plumage, while the mountains dapple in reds and yellows before turning grey.

Now it’s all but over for another year. The flurries of photos that spread across Twitter and Tumblr like wildfire have subsided, replaced with a steady trickle of memories and photoshoots. Winter is ahead, and in a few months the whites and pinks of sakura will return.

Photograph looking up a tree trunk at the red and yellow leaves of koyo season
Photograph of a Buddhist temple roof seen through red koyo leaves in autumn

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.