Autumn is the most vivid season in Japan. Beautiful reds and yellows are used to color the mountains. Golden ginkgo trees cover the tree-lined pathways, while maple trees turn a fiery crimson. Simply going around and seeing the hues of the trees will allow you to experience autumn in full depth.

The name of this custom is momijigari, or “autumn-leaf hunting”. The word “gari” directly translates as “hunting” but you won’t be chopping off branches and bringing them home. Simply taking in and admiring nature’s beauty is part of this hunt. Japan is claimed to have 1,200 different species of trees. Each of the four seasons causes a noticeable shift in their appearance. Mountain trees, which are typically green in the summer, display their own distinctive colors in the fall. As they enjoy the warm red and yellow trees before the gloomy, icy winter, many Japanese people cherish the unique ritual of momijigari. The higher north you go, the more famous sites for fall leaves in Japan you will find. And the colder the area gets, the more brilliant the leaves get. The color of the leaf is typically at its most vibrant where it is exposed to the sun, while the shaded portions normally undergo color change later. In general, early November to early December in Japan is when you can see the most autumnal foliage.

Momijigari, or the quest for autumn leaves itself, is a Japanese custom that values the environment. Experience the distinct fragility of Japan’s seasons as the fall leaves change, and take in the colors of the mountains and trees. Why not go leaf-hunting for yourself this fall?