Momoji and autumn leaves at Monomiyama Park, Higashimatsuyama. Every year I embrace the month of November. There is a multitude of incentives to get out and about in the crisp fresh air and sunshine, not least to enjoy the epheremal vibrant colours and all Autumn has to offer.
Autumn leaves Higashimatsuyama
When my older two children were toddlers I tended to bring them to children orientated locations to enjoy the autumn leaves. However, with my younger two I began to chose locations known for their scenery and tweak our visit to entertain them too. One of our favourite adventures in this quest, was to the Iwadono area of Higashimatsuyama.
The area of Iwadono comprises a large area, but we concentrated on the area around Monomiyama Park. It holds a special place in my heart as it is the first place that my youngest child hiked entirely by herself as a toddler, as part of a larger hiking course.
Monomiyama was initially a viewpoint. They developed a park around it in recent years. It is also part of a larger (4,638 hectares!) park, the “Prefectural Hiki Nature Park” or what we might call a nature reserve in English. Some of the park’s flora and fauna is newly planted, but they also worked with a lot of the nature that has been in existence for hundreds of years. The result: a park that has made a mark for its scenery.
Fewer places have such vibrant rustic colours. The park is particularly known for its momoji and their majestic reds. If you time it right, and the weather and other conditions permit, you can see red, orange, yellow, green and brown, even purple, all at the same time. By the end of November the paths and tracks are blanketed with a soft and crunchy carpet of coloured autumn leaves.
The park has little in it in way of attractions. There is no playground equipment and no sporting facilities. However, there are some tunnels made from flower rows, that children enjoy exploring. There are water features in the base of the valley of the park, which are very picturesque and in summer you can see children wading through the river.
There are plenty of places where you can sit and enjoy the view dotted throughout the park. And it is a spectacular view.
On two sides you can look out for miles on various towns and cities of Saitama. On another side you have a view of Higashimatsuyama and the valley of the park. And behind you is the Peace Museum’s tower hugged by vibrant mature trees.
The park also has toilets and a vending machine on the lower entrance beside a Udon shop (see map below) and there are some bike stands there too. As much as the area is popular with hikers, it is popular with cyclists.
The park is very picturesque at other times of the year too. The park is well known for its “Tsutsuji” or Azalea flowers that bloom in April to May. There are a few cherry blossoms in the park too that typically bloom end of March to early April. The hydrangea in the park typically bloom in June.
Other attractions in the area
You can extend a hike in the area by visiting the nearby Shoboji Temple and its legendary Gingko tree:
Always a favourite with children, the Saitama Children’s zoo is only 5 minutes away by car:
Monomiyama Park Information
Hours: The viewpoint is open 24 hours
Charge: FREE access and free parking
Autumn leaves access
By public transport you can get a bus from Takasaka Station on the Tobu Tojo Line. Take a bus for Daito Bunka University and alight at the university and walk to the park. It is a ten minute walk uphill, but double that if you are pushing a buggy or have children walking with you.
By car: the park is on the same road that the main entrance to the zoo is on, route 212. You pass the zoo and Daito Bunka University if you are coming from the direction of downtown Higashimatsuyama going toward Hatoyama. By highway you can use either the Higashimatsuyama or Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange exits on the Kanetsu expressway. Please note that you must have an ETC card to use the latter, Sakado Nishi Smart Interchange, exit.
The main car park is actually on the far side of the road to the viewpoint and park. It is free. You can also park in the very small parking area for Shoboji Temple. Also on the opposite side of the road, but there is a zebra crossing right at this car park.