Category Archives: Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves, autumn foliage, autumn colours, autumn landscape, autumn scenery, fall colors, fall leaves, fall scenery, fall foliage in Saitama Japan. Kawagoe, Kawajima, Sakado, Sayama, Shinrin National Park

Mt Takao with children (includes New Years data) | HACHIOJI 【TOKYO】

The first time I went to Mt Takao with my 4 kids, they were all under 7 at the time. The youngest had just turned one.  I did the trip sans husband, but thankfully with my best friend, Japanese food writer Fiona Uyema, and her 2 children. I had chosen to take Fiona there, who was visiting from Ireland, after reading a very good write up about the Autumn Leaves in the area. I was very glad we made the trip and was pleasantly surprised at how easy the trip was to manage, even with small children.

When we visited it was bang smack in the middle of prime Autumn Leaf season. I didn’t know it at the time, but the day we chose to go had been reported the previous evening as to be the best day to view the Autumn Leaves in their prime. I think half of Tokyo got in their cars and made the journey to witness the leaves in their prime. The area was extremely busy, we even had to queue to take the exit of the highway. However, it was worth it.

Image from SONY JAPAN

There are a number of different trails you can do, so you can plan according to your children’s ages. 599 Museum supplies good information in English on the trails. Despite being a mountain area, the top of Mt Takao is actually quite easy to navigate with a stroller / buggy. However, if you want to hike the mountain trail, a buggy / stroller is  not advisable.  Also, there are places at the top of the mountain that you will need to park your stroller if you want to explore further. The easiest way (and most fun for the kids) to get up the mountain is the cable car. Even if it is very crowded, they don’t ask you to fold up your buggy, or at least they didn’t ask me – they told me to leave it open. It maybe that they took pity on me trying to flock my herd, fold a buggy and hold a one year old simultaneously! For older children you can also use the chair lifts.

There are two things that I would point out as potential difficulties with small children. One is that as you are on top of a mountain with a steep decline on one side and limited barriers at the side of the pavement, it can be quite unnerving if the kids walk close to the edge. Obviously, I told them not to, but… well they’re kids, even if they do listen, they forget and they can’t quite sense danger like a Mother can. Two; you have to queue for everything if you go at one of the prime visiting times; tickets, trains, toilets, food… everything. On the way back down if you want to get the last cable car, which goes around 5.30 pm, you need to start queuing up to an hour in advance. Also, another thing to take note off is that it is a couple of degrees colder at 599 meters. When we visited in November we needed winter jackets as the sun started to go down.

Despite the crowds and the potential danger, I think Mt Takao is an ideal place to bring young children, even babies, for a mountain visit. It is also a great place to introduce young children to hiking. There is a lot to do in the area, especially close to the cable car and train stations. At the bottom, near Kiyotaki Cable Car Station there is the relatively new 599 Museum, nearby and very close to Keio Takao Line Takaosanguchi station there is Keio Takao Hot Springs and a Trick Art Museum. Up the top, near the Takaosan cable car station there is a monkey park.

There are also lots of eateries, power spots and view points near this station.  Near the Takaosan cable car station at the top of the mountain is Kasumi, a popular spot with hikers for a quick bite to eat. They have 2 popular traditional type Japanese treats; Mifuku dango and Tenguyaki. Mifuku dango is a type of charcoaled dango, cooked in a circle around an open charcoal grill (pictured). One dango costs 310 yen. The Tenguyaki is a type of waffle with sweetened black soybean paste inside. A tengu is a legendary long nose goblin that is an intricate part of Japanese religion.  One tenguyaki costs 140 yen.  They sell ice-cream here too, including a Fly Honeysuckle flavoured ice-cream (pictured).

Takao-san is popular all year round, but it has boom periods which are mainly New Year’s, Cherry Blossom season, peak of summer (to escape the heat) and Autumn leaves season. Another thing that draws people to Mt Takao is that sometimes you can see Diamond Fuji from the Momiji viewing deck of Mt Takao, an opportunity is coming up this month in fact.  Diamond Fuji is estimated to be viewable around 4.15 pm on December 17th and possibly a day or two either side of that.

ZOOM IN: NEW YEAR’S DAY

Regarding New Years, it is hard to believe, but people hike up Mt Takao (or take the cable car) on New Year’s eve or very early New Year’s morning in the dark and bitter cold.  Accordingly, the cable car runs through the night.  In fact the cable car runs from 8 am on December 31st until 6.30 pm on January 1st to accommodate the throes of visitors on one of the popular New Year’s pilgrimages in the Greater Tokyo area.

There are three main incentives to do this:

  1.  to see the first sunrise of the year, which is generally around 6.48 am
  2.  to see Mt Fuji for the first time in the year (weather permitting of course) and
  3. to participate in Yakuo-in Temple‘s New Year welcoming rituals including “the festival to welcome the light”.

This temple also follows the traditional custom of gonging the Temples Gong 108 times to dispel evil. The Keio Takao San hot spring is open over New Year’s, but from January 1st to 3rd they charge an extra 200 yen, so 1,200 yen per person.

Mt Takao is very accessible by car from Saitama and Tokyo, if you are on the Ken-O expressway. From Tokyo it is quite convenient by train, but unfortunately from Saitama the train is a bit more tricky. By both car and train it takes less than an hour to get to Mt Takao from Tokyo. From Western Saitama it takes about an hour by car or train. The station you use to access Mt Takao is Takaosanguchi on the Keio Takao Line. On weekends and holidays two trains on the Toei Shinjuku Line also continue on to Takaosanguchi station. The exit on the Ken-O expressway is Takaosan. The Mt Takao cable car website has full information on how to access Mt Takao.


埼玉県の圏央道の近くに住んでいれば、高尾山は結構近いです。いつでも綺麗ですが、客様が多いときあります。お正月、花見、夏と紅葉の時期です。

 

去年、紅葉のときに行ってきました。先に知りませんでしたけど、天気方法によって、高尾山の紅葉の一番綺麗の日の発表あったそうです。ですから、ものすごく混んでいました。圏央道の高尾山インターチェンジから混みました。しかし、行って良かったです。

2015 Autumn Leaves at Edo Castle remains| Kitain Temple

On the grounds of Kitain Temple there is a very special building, which is home to some important national treasures. The house protects the only remains of the Edo Castle living quarters, which was once located at the site of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. The rooms where moved from the Edo Castle on the order of Shogun Iemitsu, including the room he was born in.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the castle was later destroyed by natural disasters.

The building is a museum of sorts, and you have to pay to enter. The ticket also grants you access to the 500 statues of Rakan. A bonus to the museum building is that the gardens are absolutely magnificent, particularly in Autumn. You can’t enter the gardens, but you can enjoy the view from the terrace of the historic house.  With just a smart phone as a camera, you can’t quite see the beautiful red bridge, but in person the view is truly breathtaking.  Red bridges have always been synonmous with Japan for me, but it is actually quite rare to see one. If you are in Kawagoe in Autumn, I would recommend paying in to see the gardens and the imperial rooms of the Edo castle.

For those with children, there is a small playground on the temple grounds and lots of places for the children to explore. There is also rest areas, a toilet, vending machines, a little restaurant and a small shop. To the best of my knowledge none of the toilets have nappy changing facilities, but nobody has ever taken exception to me changing babies on a bench or in their buggy! Visitors from home always enjoy a trip to Kitain, particularly when the leaves have changed colour in the first or second week of November.

 

Kitain Temple is less than an hour from Tokyo. It is a 20 minute walk from Kawagoe Station on the Tobu Tojo Line or 15 minutes from the Seibu Shinjuku Line HonKawagoe Station. You can also get a local bus from either of these stations. By car it is 20 minutes from either the Kawagoe Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway or from the Kawajima Interchange of the Metropolitan Intercity (Ken-O) Expressway. Parking is available at 500 yen for the day. Car park closes at 16.00.

Access from Kawagoe Station

Koedo Kawagoe bus one day pass allows you unlimited travel on the Koedo Kawagoe buses. It costs 300 yen. In the bus they have a monitor with sightseeing information.  Some tourist places give discounts on souvenirs or entrance tickets to people with a one day pass.
Koedo Kawagoe Loop Bus

Koedo Meguri (Loop) Bus from Kawagoe station. You can buy a one day pass that allows you unlimited travel on the Meguri Bus. It stops at 16 different locations. 104 different shops, offer discount services such as souvenirs, food, and entrance fees to facilities for holders of this day pass. There are announcements in English and Chinese as well as Japanese so foreigners can feel at ease.

More information here:
http://www.new-wing.co.jp/koedo/index_e.html

Kawagoe Access by train from Tokyo and Omiya

  • 31 minutes from Ikebukuro on a express train on the Tobu Tojo Line. 470 yen
  • 44 minutes from Seibu Shinjuku on a Red Arrow Limited Express. 420 yen for the express ticket, plus base fare.
  • 66 minutes from Shinjuku or 62 minutes from Takadanobaba on Seibu Shinjuku Line.  You can buy one round trip ticket for 700 yen for either of those stations.
  • 54 minutes from JR Shinjuku on a rapid train of the Saikyo/Kawagoe line. 760 yen.
  • 28 minutes on a regular train from Omiya on the Saikyo/Kawagoe Line or 22 minutes on the rapid train.
  • The Fukutoshin and Yurakucho subways connect to the Tobu Tojo line at Wako-shi. Some of them go all the way to Kawagoe (and beyond) too.

Access by Car

About 21 kilometres from Nerima to Kawagoe using the Kanetsu Expressway. The toll for the expressway is about 840 yen.

About 40 kilometres from Hinode using the Ken-o highway. The toll is about 1400 yen.

For more information about Kitain Temple and all it has to offer:

In English: http://www.kawagoe.com/kitain/english/

In Japanese: http://www.kawagoe.com/kitain/

On this blog in English:

http://insaitama.com/cherry-blossom-festival-at-kitain-temple/

http://insaitama.com/autumn-leaves-at-kitain-temple-kawagoe/

Kitain New Year’s event: Daruma market on January 3rd. 

Kitain Temple Daruma Festival | KAWAGOE

Fave Foto Friday… on a Monday

This is part of Sandy (of Scribbles and Musings) #FavFotoFriday challenge. I am not a photographer, nor am I aspiring to be one. I just like taking photos. The #FavFotoFriday is a WordPress Daily Post approved challenge. It’s simple; pick a favourite photo you took in the last week, share it, pingback to Sandy and use the tag.

 

This photo was taken in the public part of the Imperial Palace Gardens, Sunday November 29th. It has not been edited in anyway. The autumn leaves are stunning and thanks to the blue sky the reflection in the pond is picture perfect.  More to come on the gardens later in the week.

 

This is my 30th post for #NaBloPoMo meaning that I passed the challenge to post every single day during November.  Party over here!

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Gingko Trees at Ukishima Inari Shrine | Kawagoe

Ukishima Inari Shrine is a little shrine you pass on the walking route from Miyoshino Shrine and Kitain Temple.

 

2 Ukushima 1

The grounds of the shrine have a beautiful water feature and old stone bridge, which unfortunately have been blemished with a vulgar white fence.

Ukushimainari 1
2 Ukushima 2

I have passed it a few times in other seasons and just took a mental note of a playground on the grounds.

KIMG4901

KIMG4886

2 Ukushima

 

However, on passing it on my most recent Kawagoe walking tour, the resplendent Gingko Trees brandished their Autumn glory sparking an interest in this rarely mentioned shrine.

Ukushimainari 2

#NaBloPoMo Post #29

 

Mount Takao – TAKAO 599 MUSEUM & TAKAO HOTSPRING

This week’s Tokyo Thursday introduces the very popular mountain area of Takao. The mountain draws thousands each weekend, due to the scenery, the hiking trails, the monkeys, the accessibility and its proximity to Tokyo. I recommend it as a top spot to witness some of the resplendent autumn scenery in the Tokyo area. It is also a good place to enjoy hiking in the Tokyo area.  However, whenever possible, I suggest you avoid visiting on the weekends as it gets incredibly busy.

If you’ve been to Mt Takao recently, you’ll know that the train station had a make-over earlier in the year, and that there are some new attractions at 599 metres. The 2 new facilities have been kept fairly low key, but they are a wonderful addition to the area. In August, the 599 museum opened. It is a beautiful modern, minimalist building, fresh with lots of natural light and airy spaces.  Apart from the wonderful exhibitions it has lots of other things to offer, including a very comfortable space in the 599 cafe. For me as a parent I am very grateful for the play space they created . The museum is only 4 minutes from Takaosanguchi station.They have a very detailed, very enjoyable, informative website completely in English, take a tour for yourself to see all it has to offer:

http://www.takao599museum.jp/?lang=en


The other addition to the area of Mt Takao has only just been opened this past week.  The Takaosanguchi Onsen (Hotsprings) are now open for business and are running a campaign this week to mark the opening. The first 500 visitors (before November 8th) will receive a special commemorative present. They also have a special menu for this opening week. The onsen is open daily from 8am to 11pm. The off season price is 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children between 4 and 12 years old. During “kouyou” autumn leaves, Golden Week and other holidays the price is 1,200 yen for adults and 600 yen for children. This onsen is also right beside Takaosanguchi station.

Just two more reasons to visit Mount Takao in Hachioji, Tokyo, this Autumn. Of course, not that Mt Takao needs anymore reasons, given the spectacular scenery that draws millions every year. For more and full detailed information in English on Mt Takao please see the Mt Takao official website:

http://www.takaotozan.co.jp/

Featured image from SONY JAPAN

http://www.sony.jp/otona/4k/k201411.html

Access – information from the official Takao 599 Museum


Source: About the museum | TAKAO 599 MUSEUM

Some more images from the Takao 599 Museum official site

 

 

Source: About the museum | TAKAO 599 MUSEUM

 


Autumn leaves for FavFotoFriday

This is part of  Sandy (of Scribbles and Musings) #FavFotoFriday challenge. I am not a photographer, nor am I aspiring to be one. I just like taking photos. 🙂

The #FavFotoFriday is a WordPress Daily Post approved challenge. It’s simple; pick a favourite photo you took in the last week, share it, pingback to Sandy and use the tag.

I knew when I was taking this photo that it would be my favourite photo for this week.  It was taken yesterday, Thursday morning Japan time, when we broke up a cycle at a playground on temple grounds. The leaves are starting to change colour, everything looks so beautiful in Autumnal colours.

For those in the Northern Hemisphere – are you seeing any changes in the trees at the moment? Please do comment, if you have the time.

Thanks for joining in our Friday fun.

Autumn leaves in Saitama

Crunching colourful leaves at a Shinto Shrine

Saitama is abundant with free playgrounds. You can find them in the most random of places. Some are huge play jungles with elaborate equipment and others are small minimalist nooks with basic equipment. On our cycle today, we found the latter.

A lot of shrines and temples in rural Saitama have some sort of community facility attached to them. The one we visited today, has both a community centre and a playground. The community centre is locked up, as this type normally are, and only opened for special occasions. It is probably used mostly for the local summer festival.  I often think its such a waste, that it would be great, if they could be used more openly. The playgrounds at shrines and temples, thankfully, tend to be open 24 hours as they have no gated fences around them.

Today, the trees greeted us with the first hints of the splendidness that is to come with the changing of the leaf colours. There were also more leaves carpeting the ground than I had expected. The kids delighted (and I’ll ‘fess up; I did too) in crunching through the green, red and orange leaves decorating the sacred grounds.  It’s been a while since I did a snippet of life type post, so to speak, and with the trees so beautiful today, I was inspired to share!

The Autumn leaves in Japan are absolutely magnificent. 紅葉 ・kouyou Autumn leaves are tracked, reported on and celebrated up and down the country. I never truly appreciated the beauty of Autumn colours, until I had spent a couple of Autumns experiencing their beauty here in Japan.  Have you any recommendations of places to enjoy the splendid colours of Autumn? Please do share in the comments below.

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to share or comment. 🙂

Choice of play at Shinrin Park | NAMEGAWA

Shinrin park (also known as Musashi Kyuryo National Goverment Park) is vast, 304 hectares to be precise. To put that in perspective; 65 times the size of Tokyo Dome! There is an entrance fee for children over the age of 6 and parking is charged, but it is well worth the money as there are lots of things to do and see for people of all ages. They also host special events most weekends and during holidays, which often cost extra money.

Pirates ship at Shinrin Park 森林公園

Due to the size of the park there are different exits, each with their own parking lot. The adventure playground, giant ball play area and the musashi kids dome are close to each other and accessed from the West entrance. They are all walkable from the entrance and from each other. In the summer, there is a splash pool which is near the adventure playground. The West entrance adminisitration building at that entrance has a shop, seating area, nursing room, nappy changing area, microwave and toilets including a wheelchair accessible toilet. The “ponpoko mountain”, Japan’s largest trampoline, is at least a 20 minute walk away. That, the botanical gardens, restaurant and seasonal illumination are accessible from the Central Gate. The popular tree climbing event is close to this entrance too.  The plum blossom and cherry blossom groves are closest to the South Entrance. The Dog Run is closest to the North Entrance.

The adventure playground has 23 different pieces of equipment,  including the very popular pirates ship pictured above.  There is a long roller slide with sacks you can borrow to sit on. There are also lots of climbing and balance equipment and even a tightrope bridge over the river.

The Musashi Kids Dome is a colorful play area for kids of all ages. The park is worth paying into for just this playground alone. There are quirky slides, climbing chambers, a ball pool, spring rides and much more. There is also a rest area in this section with toilets and vending machines.

Giant Ball play area

Giant Ball play area

Giant balls are put out on a fine day. They are beside the Musashi Kids dome and close to the athletic / adventure playground. They are free to use.

Ponpoko Mountain
Ponpoko Mountain

Japan’s largest outdoor mountain trampoline is quite a walk from any entrance, but the central gate is probably the closest. Kids must be over 3 years old to play on the main trampoline, but they have a smaller one beside it that even smaller kids can play on.

The walk between entrances is quite long, so if you prefer to use an easier mode of transport, the park has some on offer. You can’t bring your own bikes into the park, but you can rent a bike. It is 410 yen to rent an adult bike or mamachari for 3 hours, 200 yen for children. They have designated cycling courses.  The easiest is the park bus that goes between the gates of the park and stops at popular spots en route. It costs 210 yen for an adult per ride or you can buy a day pass for 400 yen.  Small buggies / strollers are available to borrow for free. They have segway tours too, but you have to be over 16 to use them and must use them in a tour group.

During the summer there is a 2500m2 paddling and wading pool as well as mist and fountains. The water depth ranges from 5 to 30cm.  You can enjoy as early as April and they run to mid October. They close the water play area some Tuesdays and Wednesdays for cleaning. They have lockers, but no changing rooms. Nappies (diapers) are allowed, but the pool type, water nappies, are not. There is a tuck shop beside the wading pools, that sells ice cream and kaki-kori. There is a separate wading river half way between the West and South exits.

This park is beautiful all year round, but especially during cherry blossom and autumn foliage seasons.

There are many activities and attractions on offer all year round as well as seasonal attractions and events. During January the park closes the 3rd and 4th Monday. Opening hours are 9.30-17.30. The phone number is 0493-57-2111. Please visit their website, for further information in English about access and entrance and parking fees; http://www.shinrinkoen.jp/english/

 

Check the plum blossom and cherry blossom schedule and find some events in Shinrin Park in this schedule of events for Saitama.

 

紅葉 Autumn leaves at Kawagoe Water Park

I love the way in Saitama there is no shortage of places to try out. I’ve known that the Kawagoe Water (/Aquatic) Park, 川越水上公園、is near my house for sometime, but today is the first time I ventured there. I thought the water park was only accessible to paying customers of their summer pools and water slides, but there is a large part of the park that is free to use all year round.

The free parking for the public park is just as you enter the facility under the banner arch. There are no lines to mark out parking spots and much to my surprise (and horror) its parallel parking. Parallel parking is not very common in Japan, especially at a public park. The playground is a bit of a walk, but the scenery is quite pleasant as you pass the lake. The lake has pedal boats and row boats. However, they are not available for hire during winter, from December 1st to March 1st. There are quite a lot of hungry ducks on the lake. Thankfully, I had bread in the baby’s bag, just in case. My kids enjoyed feeding them.

The play area is quite small, but there is enough to keep young children (preschoolers and infants) entertained. The playground equipment can be seen in the gallery, with the few autumn foliage photos I was able to get.

**The park is worth visiting for locals, but it is not worth making the trip from afar in my personal opinion**


Kawagoe Aquatic Park
Address: 880 Oaza-ikenobe, Kawagoe-shi, Saitama
Tel: 049 241 2241
Nearest station: Nishi-Kawagoe station on the Kawagoe Line (JR East)

Kawagoe Sports Park | KAWAGOE

Written in 2013, updated in 2017.

The first time I visited Kawagoe Sports park (川越運動公園)I wasn’t all that enamored with it.  From the point of view of a parent, there is little to entertain older children and it is most suited to a small child.  However, they have recently upgraded the playground and so I have upgraded the park from a 2 star rating to a 3 star rating! Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy this colourful playground.

The main combination unit of the playground has three slides. One is a tunnel windy one and two are bumpy ones.  There is also a climbing net, a climbing wall and stairs.  There is a smaller combination unit for toddlers. It has some small climbing activities and two colourful slides. There is a giraffe statue in the centre. There is climbing net activity for all ages beside it with fish statues on the top of the poles that support the nets. On the right of the playground is a flying fox type activity.  There is another play area right beside this playground, but they are separated by fencing. It is where the sandpit and spring rides are. There are also some fun audio aural play equipment in the sand pit area.

The park is officially a sports park. It is home to a sports hall with a number of facilities. There is also an athletic track in the park. There are plenty of benches and seats in the park and some picnic tables too. The park boasts a mini bell tower, a symbol of Kawagoe. There are some cherry blossom trees in the park. In the summer they have a very small wading river.

The official hours of the park are 9 am to 9 pm. Parking is free and abundant. However, when there is a big sports event on you may have to use one of the overflow car parks which are a bit of a walk away. There is a bus terminus there, one of the buses goes to Kawagoe station. There are toilets and vending machines.

 

Nearby Attractions

 

Cherry Blossoms at Isanuma Park | Kawagoe

Isanuma park in Kawagoe is a popular spot to enjoy Hanami for locals. There are cherry blossoms along the river at the playground as well as cherry blossoms lining the street that separates the lak…

Source: insaitama.com/cherry-blossoms-at-isanuma-park-kawagoe/

 

Play areas at Shinto Shrines

Shinto shrines are plentiful in Japan, almost every village, town or city has one. There are usually amenities available at popular shrines, including toilets, baby feeding rooms, vending machines …

Source: insaitama.com/play-areas-at-shinto-shrines/

 

Best of Saitama | Maruyama Park, AGEO

Maruyama park is frequently listed in Saitama’s top 3 list of parks. It is personally one of my favourites.  I love that although the park isn’t massive, there is so much to do and see …

Source: insaitama.com/maruyama-park-ageo-city/

New Ice-cream Shop at Enomoto Farm on Popular Cycle course

Enomoto Farm in Ageo is frequently mentioned in guide books to Saitama with small children, due to the selection of bikes and push along toys kids can play with for free.  In more recent years, it …

Source: insaitama.com/new-ice-cream-shop-at-enomoto-farm-on-popular-cycle-course/