JOETSU AREA~Autmn in Myoko(By Chuta Kooanantkul)~


One of Japan's snowiest prefectures, Niigata, is frequently referred to as "The Snow Country". However, the beauty of Niigata is not limited to the wintertime. Niigata also has beautiful scenery, with the Japanese Sea on one side and the Japanese Alps on the other, making Niigata suitable for a visit during other seasons too.

Particularly enjoyable might be a visit during the autumn, when the leaves turn golden and scarlet colors and the weather is mild. The average temperature in Niigata Prefecture during autumn is around 18° Celsius and the sky is usually clear, which is considered rare. Moreover, the gentle breeze coming from the Japanese Sea makes it even more pleasant for one particular activity that can only be done during autumn, “Momijigari”.

Autumn in Myoko, Niigata. Such blue sky is considered rare in Niigata.

Momijigari (紅葉狩り), also known as "autumn leaf hunting," has been a popular activity in Japan dating back to the 8th century. Nowadays, people from all over the country, both locals and tourists, make a point to seek out and appreciate the fall foliage wherever they visit. Niigata Prefecture also has some worthwhile locations to visit in order to enjoy some stunning fall foliage views. The following are some suggested places in Myoko City, Niigata Prefecture.

Aka-Ike Pond, Myoko, Niigata. One of the starting points of the Shin-etsu trail.

Myoko is a city located in the southern part of Niigata Prefecture and is surrounded by a range of mountains known as the Five Mountains of Northern Shinshu (北信五岳; Hokushingogaku). Hence, Myoko is unsurprisingly one of the must-visit areas for the “Momijigari”. Here you can hike the Shin-etsu trail, a 110-km-long trail that runs through the mountains along the boundary of Niigata and Nagano prefectures. A section of the Shin-etsu trail can be hiked by starting from the Aka-Ike pond and finishing at Nozomi Lake. This section is considered beginner-friendly. It has a gentle slope and is well-maintained; even children can hike in this area.

In addition to that, you can also take in the scenery of Aka-Ike Pond and Nozomi lake. During autumn, you will be able to see the vibrant colors of the golden leaves as well as a wide variety of trees and flowers along the path. The trail is also covered with a golden carpet of leaves. The evening sun shining on the autumn leaves makes the scenery even more beautiful. So, it is a must-visit destination for all hikers, whether a hiking lover or just a beginner.

Shin-etsu trail, Myoko, Niigata. The evening sun shining on the autumn leaves made the scenery even more beautiful.

If hiking is not your thing, another location in Myoko that you can visit is the Naena waterfall. With “the earthquake waterfall” as its nickname, the thundering sound that echoes in the neighboring forest and the scene of water falling from a height of 55 meters and coming into contact with beautiful rocks, are so gorgeous that it is considered one of the top 100 most famous waterfalls in Japan. Especially during autumn, when the brilliant leaves only serve to accentuate the already stunning natural beauty of the waterfall. It is probably the most beautiful season to visit Naena waterfall.
The waterfall is easy to reach since most of the way has been well-prepared. On the way, there are two hanging bridges and a dam, which also are good spots to take a short break and some photos of the Seki River. At the end of the route, there is a resting area where you can absorb the majestic scenery of the waterfall. For those who need more excitement, there are less-developed short hikes that offer varied views of the waterfall.

Naena waterfall, Myoko, Niigata. The color of the leaves and the sound of the waterfall make the scenery unforgettable.

These places are just two examples of the beauty of Niigata Prefecture during autumn. There are still many interesting places waiting for you to explore!

Naena waterfall, Myoko, Niigata. Another view from the resting point.


Although Chuta is originally from Thailand, he has recently lived aboard. He previously lived in Birmingham, UK, before moving to Japan in 2021 to enroll in a Ph.D. program at Niigata University. He enjoys photographing landscapes and cityscapes. He has been photographing for over ten years.