Autumn is fast approaching Japan, so we can anticipate the season of koyo (紅葉, autumn foliage), autumn festivals and mouthwatering seasonal produce such as rice, sanma (Pacific Saury), persimmon…!
Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed the very best of autumn in Hiroshima Prefecture. It was an unforgettable experience! This autumn, you can take advantage of the direct flight between Singapore and Hiroshima to explore this beautiful city. The maple trees are expected to change their colours towards the end November, so you should start planning right now!
My favourite memory of momiji viewing is at Buttsu-ji in Mihara. Founded by Kobayakawa Haruhira in 1397, this temple is now the largest Zen Buddhist training hall in western Japan. We were lucky to visit the temple at the peak of the autumn foliage, yet it was not at all crowded!
After you’re done viewing the temple grounds, take the forest trail to reach Shoun-no-taki 昇雲の滝. Enjoy a scenic walk in the cool temperatures, as trail brings you along Buttsu-ji River, illuminated by the occasional sunlight that passes through the thick foliage.
Directions: From Hiroshima Station, take the JR Tokaido/Sanyo Shinkansen to Mihara Station. From there, take a bus bound for Buttsu-ji.
Taishaku Gorge (located in between Shobara City and Jinseji-kogen) attracts hordes of visitors each autumn. A myriad of natural and man-made wonders can be seen in this one location. This quasi-national park is divided into two parts, Kami-taishakukyo 上帝釈 area and Shinryo-ko 神龍湖 area.
Limestone is a key feature in Kami-taishakukyo, where the main attractions are Hakuun-do 白雲洞, a well-maintained limestone cave and Onbashi 雄橋, a massive natural limestone bridge. Measuring 90m x 19m x 40m, it is as tall as a ten-storey building! Hence, one should not be surprised that people in the past called it “Kami-no-hashi” (Bridge of God). Walk a little further and you’ll reach Dangyo-kei 断魚渓, and Somen-daki 素麺滝.
We took a relaxing cruise around the expansive Lake Shinryu to admire the brilliant maples forest, while other visitors walked across all three of its red bridges (Shinryubashi, Sakurabashi and Momijibashi). More adventurous visitors can opt to kayak around the lake instead [3,500 yen for 90 min].
Directions: From Hiroshima Bus Center, take a bus to Tojo. From JR Tojo Station, take a bus to ※Kami-taishakukyo [上帝釈方面] or to Shinryu-ko [神龍湖方面]. ※Does not run on weekends and national holidays.
Before driving up to Taishaku-kyo, we had lunch at this unusual restaurant called School Cafeteria 学校食堂, which was converted from an elementary school. The menu includes upgraded versions of Japan’s school lunches. However, one has to try the famous Jinseki beef, produced from the black wagyu cattle. A pony, goat, cat and dog roam the campus as visitors enjoy their sumptuous meals. Please call to make a reservation.