Autumn, where are you?

Arashiyama art illustration: bamboo forest, Sagano Romantic Train ride, Okuchi SansoI live in the tropics and don’t experience the changing of the seasons. The weather here is either sunny or rainy. And so, I enjoy the different seasons when I travel.

When I visited Japan in October, I was looking forward to experiencing autumn although I know I was a bit early for it. Spring came early in Japan this year, maybe it would be the same for autumn. It would be wonderful to see beautiful scenery with trees covered with leaves of red and gold.

Autumn was nowhere in sight when I arrived in Tokyo although the Japanese were dressed in autumn fashion. But I remained hopeful as I would be travelling to Kyoto later.

One of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Kyoto is take the Sagano Romantic Train Ride. Sagano is in the Arashiyama district, 15 minutes away from Kyoto city by train.

This 25-minute train ride follows the course of the Hozu River on a narrow track through the idyllic canyon from Arashiyama to Kameoka.

This is my second trip here. The scenery was beautiful in spring. But this time round, I was hoping for a glimpse of autumn.

The landscape were as wonderful as I remembered but autumn was nowhere in sight.

Holiday in Japan

On our way back, my travelling companions and I went for a walk through the bamboo forest. It was amazing to see how tall bamboos can grow. They looked like dark green poles reaching for the sky.

The forest was particularly attractive when there was a light wind and the tall bamboo stalks swayed gently back and forth. Local workshops use the bamboo to manufacture various products, such as baskets, cups, boxes and mats. And they have been doing so for centuries.

Along the way, we visited Okochi Sanso, a mountain villa which belonged to Okochi Denjiro (1896-1962), a popular silent movie actor.

I was expecting a nice 30-minute stroll through a pretty, manicured Japanese garden. But what I didn’t know was that Okochi Sanso is a 20-thousand square metre piece of land with lovely gardens and buildings; including a shrine, a tea house and living quarters. Although the villa can only be viewed from the outside, the gardens were magnificent. Located on the slopes of Mount Ogura, there were vantage points which gave beautiful views of Kyoto city, Mount Hiei and the Hozu River gorge.

Best of all, I found autumn when I least expect it. I was so happy.

Yes, I saw maple leaves of red and gold, cherry trees showing the early signs of autumn, azaleas, bonsai pine trees and more. I could have spent the rest of the day here.

Photo: © blackfrangipani and I design and create

photograph © blackfrangipani and I design and create 2011

Holiday in Japan Photo: © blackfrangipani and I design and create

Photo: © blackfrangipani and I design and create

Photo: © blackfrangipani and I design and create 2011We spent about two and a half hours here and ended our garden stroll at the teahouse. It was absolutely enjoyable to have matcha (green tea) and a snack; against a backdrop of bamboo.

If I were to describe Okochi Sanso with just three words, they would be: peaceful, serene and breath-taking. To top it all, I found autumn here.

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