The concept of autumn leaves is something of a wonder to a boy born in tropical North Queensland and having lived most of my life in sub-tropical Brisbane, Australia. But having had two trips to Japan during the November/December period in the past two years, I have been fortunate to time my travel with this wondrous of natural events. Further, I am traveling to Wanaka, New Zealand in mid April and hope to arrive at the tail end of the autumn leaf season.
In 2011 I was lucky enough to arrive, by coincidence, in Kyoto with my good friend Hideharu Matsuhisa-san, on what was the perfect day for viewing autumn leaves. As with the viewing of cherry blossoms (Hanami), the arrival of autumn leaves is widely advertised in the Japanese media. TV stations indicate on a map the day-by-day arrival of both cherry blossoms (Sakura) and autumn leaves during the weather reports; and newspapers publish stories every year on the same subject.
My arrival in Kyoto in 2011, co-incided with the arrival of tens of thousands of Japanese tourists who were armed with the media advice that indicated that this was the day of days.
It was difficult to get images that did not include tourists; but nevertheless I was awestruck by the colours of the leaves which just added yet another layer on the Japanese jewel that is Kyoto.
The Philosopher’s Path (哲学の道, Tetsugaku no michi) is a pleasant stone path through the northern part of Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. The path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees. Usually in early April these trees explode with color, making this one of the city’s most popular hanami (cherry blossom viewing) spots; and in November it provides another show with the autumn leaves.
Approximately two kilometers long, the path begins around Ginkakuji (Silver Pavilion) and ends in the neighborhood of Nanzenji. The path gets its name due to Nishida Kitaro, one of Japan’s most famous philosophers, who was said to practice meditation while walking this route on his daily commute to Kyoto University.
I am sure that my coming trip to New Zealand will provide it’s own interpretation on the Colours of Autumn.