Experience a multi-sensory autumn foliage season in Japan with Hoshino Resorts

August 27, 2019 | Hoshino Resorts

Hoshino Resorts

Hoshino Resorts, a leading Japan-based hospitality brand with a contemporary take on the traditional Japanese ryokan (inn), offers myriad opportunities for avid leaf (koyo) peepers this autumn.

From mid-September to early November, as the weather cools – starting from the northernmost island of Hokkaido all the way down to the southernmost islands – red maples, Japanese maples, larch and other deciduous trees are ablaze with myriad shades of red, orange and yellow.

Searching for colourful leaves (an activity known as momijigari) has been a popular pastime in Japan since the Heian period (794-1195) and, for Buddhists, is an important spiritual metaphor symbolising the ephemeral nature of life. Leaf hunting features heavily in classical poetry and literature – and maple leaf design is found on pottery, kimonos and cakes, with the leaves themselves eaten as tempura accompanied by Japanese tea. Autumn leaf fall has had such a huge influence on Japanese culture that there are various leaf-based expressions in common parlance, such as “like maple leaves and a deer” – meaning two things that together work well – and “scatter autumn leaves” – meaning to be red-faced with embarrassment.

Hoshino Resorts offers a wealth of options for viewing the changing leaves across the country, from bathing in an onsen with views of vibrantly-hued trees and enjoying a terrace breakfast with a view of red and orange carpeted mountains, to eating maple-flavoured confectionery and drinking apple-flavoured tea.

Choose from these interesting ideas and experiences…

Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel, Towada, Aomori Prefecture
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: mid-October to early November
The only hotel situated beside the Oirase Mountain Stream, the location of this property is outstanding for observing the changing autumn leaves of Towada Hachimantai National Park. Based on the concept of “Keiryu slow living”, the hotel offers a tranquil stay: take breakfast on the terrace in the fresh morning air, enjoy mountain and stream views from the traditional Japanese-style guest rooms and take in the beautiful natural world throughout the surrounding countryside.

The hotel also has a Forest College building hosting lectures by nature guides, who introduce guests to the seasonal plants and animals of Oirase.

Located three hours by bullet train from Tokyo or 90 minutes by bus from Aomori Airport. Stay at Oirase Keiryu Hotel from £292 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). Free shuttle from Hachinohe Station, Aomori Station, and Aomori Airport (except for winter. Requires reservation). To book: +81 176 51 1113 / www.oirase-keiryuu.jp/en/.

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Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya, Misawa, Aomori Prefecture
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: late October to mid-November
Aomori, the northernmost prefecture of the main island of Japan, is well known as a top spot for koyo (red leaf) hunting. Sites such as Lake Towada, Oirase Stream, Hirosaki Castle and Botanical Garden, Mount Hakkoda and Jogakura Bridge provide wonderful views of the vibrant fall colours.

Hoshino Resorts Aomoriya is an elegant hot spring ryokan themed around Aomoriya culture, with its many festivals and distinct dialect. Experience the traditional festivals year-round at its Michinoku Matsuriya restaurant, bathe in the expansive outdoor ‘Ukiyu’ hot spring baths and take in the autumn colours on leisurely walks in the surrounding countryside.

Located three hours by bullet train from Tokyo or 20 minutes by bus from Misawa Airport. Free shuttle from Hachinohe Station, Misawa Airport, and Aomori Airport (except for winter). Stay at Aomoriya from £268 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). To book: +81 176 51 1113 / www.noresoreaomoriya.jp/en/.

KAI Tsugaru, Owani Hot Springs, Aomori Prefecture
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: mid-October to early November
KAI Tsugaru, a luxurious hot spring ryokan in the Owani hot springs area, offers a unique “Autumn Apple” themed stay this fall. Aomori is the country’s largest producer of apples, and in celebration the programme offers guests a wide variety of experiences.

Witness autumn foliage from the cypress-wood bathhouse, where apples float on the hot spring waters and bathing is accompanied by the aroma of apples. Enjoy views from the terrace over the Tsugaru Seasonal Water Garden, where Tsugaru-nuri apples grow. Taste apple-flavoured confectionery and cakes. Listen to traditional Ringobushi folk music in the lobby every evening. Finally, retire to one of the hotel’s signature Japanese-style rooms decorated with beautiful local Tsugaru needlework pieces.

Located three hours by bullet train from Tokyo or 50 minutes by train from Aomori Airport. Stay at KAI Tsugaru from £346 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). To book: +81 50 3786 1144 / www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/tsugaru/.

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KAI Sengokuhara, near Hakone, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: early November to late November
Two hours by train from Tokyo, in the vast natural setting of Hakone, the world’s first art-themed hot spring ryokan, KAI Sengokuhara, is surrounded by rolling forested hills which, in autumn, glow in a blaze of fiery colours. Take in panoramic views from the bedroom’s terrace (or even from a private in-room onsen) and enjoy seasonally-inspired artwork created by local artists which adorns the hotel’s hallways and rooms. Nearby, explore the excellent sculpture gardens and botanical parks displaying the autumn colours in all their glory.

Stay at KAI Sengokuhara from £582 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). To book: +81 050 3786 1144 / www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/sengokuhara/.

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KAI Nikko, Chuzenji Onsen, Tochigi Prefecture
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: early October to mid-November
Three hours by train from Tokyo, the hot spring ryokan KAI Nikko is situated alongside serene Lake Chuzenji. Semi-private dining booths and cedar-lined baths are among the comforts that guests enjoy at this palatial ryokan. Many of the 33 traditional Japanese rooms offer breath-taking views of the lake and of Mount Nantai, which showcases fiery autumnal colours during this spectacular season.

In the mountainous Togichi region, maple and ash leaves turn red and yellow, starting from the mountain peaks, and spreading slowly down the slopes. Centuries-old gingko trees stand in beautiful contrast to ancient temples, and around 50 magnificent waterfalls provide a beautiful backdrop to the fall foliage. Many of these temples and waterfalls are within easy reach of KAI Nikko.

Stay at KAI Nikko from £346 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). To book: +81 50 3786 1144 / www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/nikko/.

KAI Kinugawa, Kinugawa Onsen, Tochigi Prefecture
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: early October to mid-November
Get back to nature at KAI Kinugawa, a luxury hilltop ryokan overlooking the Kinugawa River, with onsen fed by the famous Kinugawa Hot Spring. The region is host to several autumn festivals which thank the gods for a good harvest, such as the Kanuma Buttsuke Autumn Festival, recognised for its parade of colourful floats, and the Nasuno Makigari Festival, which re-enacts a Kamakura shogunate-era hunting ceremony from the 12th century by serving a traditional wild boar and miso pot dish to hungry spectators.

The hotel’s 48 bedrooms have been designed to allow guests to fully enjoy the surrounding natural world, with terraces constructed from local Oya stone showcasing a lavishly forested panorama. Inside, huge windows from the ryokan’s dining room offer scenic forest views from indoors, vividly reflecting the autumn colours outside, and encouraging guests to explore the grounds. Both indoor and outdoor hot spring baths offer expansive views of theforests and gardens. Seasonality is also reflected in the restaurant’s menu of Tochigi cuisine.

Two hours by train from Tokyo, stay at KAI Kinugawa from £314 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). To book: +81 50 3786 1144 / www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/kinugawa/.

KAI Alps, Nagano, Hakuba Valley
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: mid-October to mid-November
A three-hour bullet train journey from Tokyo, in Japan’s Hakuba Valley, the luxurious hot spring ryokan KAI Alps greets guests with magnificent mountain views. This autumn, the hotel will provide a very special fall foliage experience – soak in the Shinshu autumn – in which guests can savour the Shinshu countryside through all five senses.

Smell a fragrant “Bath of Fallen Leaves” in the courtyard, with the ground covered in fallen maple, mountain maple, and ginkgo leaves, enveloping guests in their aroma; taste “Autumn Leaves oyaki” (stuffed dumplings coloured in red and yellow) by the flickering warmth of the fireside; view autumn colours around the resort by day and by night, when the foliage is illuminated, along with the stream flowing through the courtyard; listen to the relaxing rustle of swaying leaves while bathing in the open-air bath surrounded by larch trees and vistas of the Japanese Alps; feel the texture of autumn leaves while stepping through a walkway of vibrant ginkgo trees, with a special map to help not only to find the best spots for foliage viewing but also to find where best to forage for nuts.

The hotel’s 48 bedrooms are designed in beautiful Japanese style, with glowing paper lanterns adorning bedsides, and mountain-inspired woodwork and local materials used throughout. Take a restorative soak in the outdoor onsen, with views of the Alps and the glowing autumnal larch forest, before dining on a traditional Japanese meal and enjoying sake and games around the rural sunken hearth (iori).

Stay at KAI Alps from £346 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). To book: +81 50 3786 1144 / www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/alps/.

KAI Kawaji, Nikko, Tochigi prefecture
Peak autumn foliage viewing season: early October to mid-November
Reset to the pace of a rural village at KAI Kawaji, a riverside hot spring ryokan just two-and-a-half hours by train from Tokyo. The ryokan pays homage to pastoral Japanese scenery, with traditional row-house architecture and an on-site watermill. The hotel’s huge windows offer views of scenic hillsides covered with hues of red, yellow and orange, while the outdoor onsen baths look out to the river flowing past. Each of the 54 bedrooms features a custom-built sofa inviting guests to lie back and enjoy the autumnal views which fill their  windows much like a private art display. In the evening, traditional multi-course kaiseki meals using seasonal produce are served in the hotel’s semi-private dining booths.

Stay at KAI Kawaji from £314 per room per night (two sharing; dinner and breakfast included). To book: +81 50 3786 1144 /www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/kawaji/.

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