Saturday, December 16, 2006

Kamakura leaves

Regular readers will know I live in Kamakura, which is a historic city just outside Yokohama. Probably most Japanese think it's a terribly busy tourist trap - which it is, from 10am to 4pm on weekends and holidays when they all visit :-) For the other 90% of the time, it's a beautiful, quiet, friendly town, packed with temples and gardens mostly dating from the Kamakura era when it was Japan's capital. There's a beach on one side and a ring of forested hills round the edge where we live.

There's a local spot called "kouyou tani" or "autumn leaf valley" near our house. I guess that is a popular rather than official name, but it is obviously well known for its colour and at this time of year there is usually a steady stream of visitors with long lenses and tripods. Wednesday morning was bright and sunny so we decided to take the day off and go for a walk up there.

From the top of the hill above our house, there is just a patch of yellow ginkgo to give a hint of the colours below. This picture is looking west towards Fuji, so the main centre of Kamakura (with beach and Pacific Ocean beyond) is just off-shot to the left.

Below the ginkgo, there's a canopy of Japanese maple, with a wonderful mix of reds, greens and oranges glowing in the morning sun.

We were there quite early in the morning, so there weren't many other people around, just one or two ultra-keen photographers. Usually when people offer to take our picture together we politely decline - I know what I look like and don't need to remind myself that I was there! But given that this guy was all set up with tripod and long lens we though we should take advantage of the offer.

As we wandered down and out of the valley, the hordes were just starting to arrive in force, and the sky was starting to cloud over...we finished the trip at one of Kamakura's other great attractions - the best Indian restaurant in Japan (whose web-site seems to have vanished for now).


Peter Hearnden said...

James, December is still late autumn this year in Japan now as well as the US and Europe?

James Annan said...


I don't think this year is particularly different from the other 5 we've had here - in fact, the first two pics were actually taken in 2003 and 2005 (early rather than mid December in each case, but the leaves were also less well advanced). What seems to matter most is how much strong wind and rain there is to knock the leaves off, otherwise they stay there for ages.

I do think it has been on the warm side so far this autumn though - no frosts at all yet.

Anonymous said...

That is a trully beautiful area. I one day hope to be able to travel away from here (Australia) and Japan/Hawai and big chunks of the pacific would be on my hit list.

Its kinda funny but hte whole cherry blosom thing in Japan almost seems calming.

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