As the temperatures begin to cool, and the nights grow longer, the last of cicadas singing their songs in solitude can only signify the beginning of autumn. But the end of summer doesn’t mean we have nothing to celebrate, in fact, autumn itself is one of the best times of year to be in Japan, as the trees and plants lining the mountain peaks turn to red, gold and brown in the crisp air.
What better place is there to witness this explosion of colours than up in the Japanese Alps?

For the most spectacular burst of colour this autumn, head up to Yuzawa Kogen Panorama Park where you’ll be greeted by fields full of red kokia plants and tree top canopies painted with shades of golden brown.

The Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway is one of the world’s largest seated ropeways, with a capacity of up to 166 passengers and a height of 1000 meters. It takes seven minutes to climb up to the plateau area from where you can see the surrounding autumn peaks tainted with hues of red, brown and green, as well as the city of Echigo Yuzawa stretching out below.

It is up here that you’ll find the ‘Alp No Sato’ plant garden, which features Japan’s largest collection of Alpine plants. From spring through to autumn, this garden showcases more than 200 species of plants, and currently features fields full of bright red Kokia juxtaposed against the surrounding greenery of the Ayame pond.
These plants signify the arrival of autumn, and are best viewed from the end of September to the middle of October.

In addition to the kokia that are currently in full bloom, the area surrounding the Ayame pond is encompassed by a sea of trees. The foliage of these trees are gradually changing from their strong summery greens into shades of gold, red and brown which reflect like a mirror image on the water of the pond.

Whilst you’re up on the plateau area, be sure to check out the ‘Monument Chair’ installation, which perfectly frames the reflected colours of the trees on the pond water for that ultimate autumn scenery instagram shot, and also doubles up as a great location for a mug of warm coffee.

For the more adventurous amongst us, Yuzawa Kogen Panorama Park has a Zipline course which will have you gliding through the autumn leaves like Tarzan.
The zipline is scheduled to remain open until the 14th of November, after which it will close for the winter season. The course includes access to five ziplines, which for 2,500 yen, you can enjoy at your own leisure for an hour.

The ropeway up to Yuzawa Kogen Panorama Park begins operations at 8:40am, and ends at 17:00pm, with the last uphill ride commencing at 16:40. A return-ticket for the ropeway costs 2,200 yen for adults and 1,100 yen for children.

To get to the park it’s best to arrive by car, which from Tokyo Nerima IC takes around 120 minutes. Alternatively the entrance for the ropeway can be reached by foot after riding the Joetsu shinkansen to Echigo Yuzawa Station.

By - Connie Sceaphierde.