The Japanese love to observe the changes of the seasons. Witness the many events surrounding cherry blossom viewing at the beginning of spring, and the festivals enjoyed under the summer heat. For autumn, there is the momiji-gari, or autumn-leaf viewing. Momiji stands for all of the deciduous trees whose leaves changes color, including maples, gingkos, and the Japanese lacquer tree, and has now traditionally represented fall in Japan. The gari means hunting, and friends and families gather together for a trip to the mountains, where the leaves are brightest. Momiji-gari is still so popular that short travel packages are offered to temples and gardens located in Kyoto and Tokyo that are famous for their trees. Once there, visitors can relax under the trees with their lunch boxes and drinks, write poetry about the season, or simply enjoy the leaves’ beauty against the deep blue skies. It is a quieter, reflective time, different from the rowdiness associated with cherry blossom viewing.
The changing autumn hues last from late September until early December. It often begins in the high reaches of Hokkaido, spreading down to the other regions. The mountains are sprinkled with red and yellow foliage that contrast with the dull green of conifers. The brilliant colors of autumn leaves are to autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. They represent how fleeting life is, and how everything must change. Spring’s cherry blossoms are short-lived and glorious, while autumn’s falling red leaves are reminders of mortality. The momiji-gari finally ends with the first snowfall and the trees are left bare. That is until the next spring and the cycle begins once again.
[tags]momiji-gari, autumn, japan[/tags]