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AUTUMN IN NIIGATA IS A GORGEOUS BROCADE OF SCARLET AND GOLD

In Niigata Prefecture, which offers opportunities to experience the grandeur of nature, there are numerous places that are famous for their autumn leaves, which have been valued in Japanese culture for centuries. When the season arrives for the leaves to change color, the trees clad themselves in brilliant scarlets and golds, offering a grand finale to the year as these beautiful landscapes spread around the prefecture, entrancing visitors and locals alike. Over austere waterfalls and rivers, or in carefully manicured parks, famous sites perfect for driving tours, or seen from ropeways cascading over the mountainsides, there is no end to the diversity of autumn leaves, known as “koyo” in Japanese. With such variety on offer, why not visit a range of them to find your own favorite spot?

A 25-minute aerial stroll overlooking a
vast, gorgeous autumn panorama

 

Dragondola

This gondola, linking the Naeba and Tashiro ski fields, is Japan’s longest at a total length of 5,481 meters. This impressive gondola rises and falls, following the river valley, offering views of scarlet and gold leaves carpeting the hills below during its 25-minute (one-way) ride through the air. Mt. Tairappyo, considered one of the 100 Best Flower Mountains, and Lake Futai, with its mystical colors, are two of the highlights of a panoramic experience so beautiful it will leave you breathless. These wonderful landscapes are why this is one of the most popular places to see the autumn leaves.

Information

Dragondola
Location: Mikuni, Yuzawa-machi, Minamiuonuma-gun
Operates: For autumn leaves: 9:00 to 16:00, October 8 to November 6, 2016 (last ride up at 15:00)
Cost: Return: adult 2,200 yen, child 1,100 yen. One way: adult, 1,400 yen, child 700 yen
Inquiries: 025-789-4117 (Naeba Ski Resort)

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Stunning landscapes of old-time
rural Japan perfect for driving tours

 

Akiyama-go

This valley lies deep in the mountains that straddle the border between the town of Tsunan in Niigata and the village of Sakae in Nagano. Akiyama-go is the overall name for the seven hamlets in Niigata and five in Nagano that lie dotted around the upper reaches of the Nakatsu River, hemmed in by Mt. Naeba and Mt. Torikabuto, both rising more than two kilometers above sea level. Legends say that the remnants of the defeated Heike clan fled here to escape pursuit. The large numbers of broadleaved trees mean that autumn here is especially colorful. Be entranced by the fantastical, beautiful sight of the maples with their brilliant reds and yellows reflected in the surface of the Nakatsu River. Enjoy driving out to places like Jabuchi Falls or the Heike Teahouse which offer incredible views of the area.

Information

Akiyama-go
Location: Akiyama-go / Midama, Tsunan-machi, Nakauonuma-gun
Leaves peak: Mid-October to early November (variable)
Inquiries: 025-765-5585 (Tsunan Tourism Association)

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The symphony between the Kangetsu Bridge and the
autumn leaves is as beautiful as a painting

 

Maple Valley

Yahiko Park covers an expansive 13 hectares. In it, the section known as Maple Valley is famed throughout Niigata as one of the best places to see autumn leaves in the prefecture. Maples have been planted here to make best use of the terrain, especially around the Kangetsu Bridge, so that visitors can enjoy different views depending on where they stand. The symphony between the vermilion bridge and the gorgeous deep scarlet leaves, almost like flames, offers a view as pretty as a picture, charming thousands of visitors. The illuminations at night also provide a completely different and glorious impression to that of day.

Information

Maple Valley
Location: Yahiko Park, Yahiko, Nishikanbara-gun
Leaves peak: Late October to mid-November
Inquiries: 0256-94-3154 (Yahiko Tourism Association)

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White waterfall, red leaves, and a pure blue sky.
Be entranced by the colorful contrasts.

 

Naena Falls

This famous waterfall plunges over a 55-m drop with a thunderous roar. It is a 15-minute walk along the path and across the hanging bridge from the carpark. The closer you get to the falls, the louder the sound of cascading water that seems to shake the very earth, giving them their nickname “Quake Falls” (Jishin-taki). Selected as one of Japan’s 100 Best Waterfalls, the sight of the water plunging dramatically from the stone cliff is breathtaking. When the autumn leaves are on show, the red maples lining the top of the cliff are covered in spray from the waterfall, sparkling in the sun, and the contrast between the white water, the red leaves, and the blue sky makes for a truly colorful scene.

Information

Naena Falls
Location: Suginosawa, Myoko City
Leaves peak: Mid to late October
Inquiries: 0255-86-3911 (Myoko City Tourism Association)

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A grand panorama of autumn leaves that allows
visitors to sense the true nature of Sado

 

Osado Skyline

The Osado Skyline links the 30-kilometer distance between Kanai and Aikawa, traversing the Osado Range, which boasts the highest peak in Sado, Mt. Kinpoku. From the Hakuundai teahouse at the summit you can look out over a majestic panorama that takes in everything from Mano Bay in the distance to the Kuninaka Plain and out to the Kosato Range, giving you a very real sense of how Sado is a single island. The changing expressions throughout the four seasons on Sado, with its swathes of untouched nature, are particularly spectacular in autumn, when the leaves are at their peak. The blues of the Sea of Japan and the colors of the autumn leaves rising up from the foot of the mountains allow you to enjoy the contrast to the full.

Information

Osado Skyline
Location: Between the Kanai and Aikawa districts, Sado City
Leaves peak: Mid to late October
Inquiries: 0259-27-5000 (Sado Tourism Association)

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