Nov 09 2020

Catch the Fall Colors Without the Crowds

As we find new ways to travel in the era of COVID-19 (coronavirus), travelers are seeking an escape from crowded cities and tourist sites. Nara offers the ideal getaway to enjoy the fall colors, far from the crowds. Take the opportunity to explore some of Nara’s lesser-known treasures, from elegant temples to wild mountain trails.

Nara’s hotels and inns are applying extra measures including deep cleaning, masks and social distancing, to ensure the safety of their guests. Most museums and temples are open to visitors. Please wear a mask inside, use the hand-disinfectant supplied, and keep a distance from other visitors.

Nara Park is a must-see, renowned for its adorable free-roaming deer and world-famous temples. The park covers 660 hectares, so it is easy to enjoy the colorful leaves without crowds.

Shoryakuji Temple, a short drive from Nara’s city center, could be considered the birthplace of modern sake, pioneering filtering techniques that are still in use today. The best time to visit is autumn, when the beautiful temple buildings are framed by vivid red maple leaves.

In the mountains between Nara and Osaka, Shigisan Chogosonshi-ji Temple is known as the “tiger temple” for its many tiger figures. The temple complex stretches out in several directions, with many sub-temples and Shukubo, temple lodgings, where you can stay overnight. You can spend a pleasant hour or two exploring and enjoying the fall colors, without crowds.

Head south to the Mitarai Valley near Dorogawa Onsen, to see spectacular gold and orange leaves against the emerald green waters. Enjoy quiet hiking paths past rivers and waterfalls, and suspension bridges, which offer views across the valley.

The Odaigahara area offers some of the most spectacular views in the region. The panoramic view from the summit of Mt. Odaigahara is often compared to the movie Avatar, for its otherworldly beauty. There’s an easy hiking trail to an observatory deck, through forests bursting with the rich color of turning leaves.