One of Tohoku's greatest draw-cards is its intense autumn foliage. There are many areas that exemplify the beauty of the season in Iwate Prefecture alone but let's condense it down to what you can see here in Ichinoseki. Peak foliage generally starts around mid to late October (depending on altitude). Please check the Ichinoseki Foliage Map to get the best idea on when to see the foliage (scroll mid-way on the linked site to view the map. Pink/red indicates peak foliage).
Without further adieu, I will rank my favourite autumn spots in Ichinoseki.
An easy walk from Ichinoseki Station, and the best place to get a view of the city. The vibrant maples leaves are lit up at night during peak foliage (Nov 3rd-10th 2019 from 4pm to 9pm).
Genbikei's vivid emerald green waters contrast spectacularly with the autumn foliage. Kakko-ya (the flying dango shop) also has a charming outdoor setting (bright red umbrellas and tables) that goes well with the colors of the season.
Although a spectacle all year round, autumn is a highly recommended season to experience Geibikei Gorge. In addition to the rock faces being colored in autumn splendor, the leaves that flutter down onto the water add sprinkles of color to the Satetsu River.
3) Kurikoma Yakeishi Hotline 栗駒焼石ほっとライン:
A newly constructed road that bridges Ichinoseki and Oshu City. Indulge in some incredible views of mountains and forests, speckled in vibrant reds to greens in the comfort of your car! A recommended spot en route is Isawa Dam; when the water is still it reflects the foliage perfectly.
2) Matsurube Oohashi 祭畤大橋:
A relatively unknown spot with an astonishing view of the remnants of a bridge that collapsed in the Iwate/Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake of 2008. As you walk a certain way up the damaged bridge, you get a nauseating sense of the horrors of the great earthquake.
Said to be one of the best places in all of Japan for autumn foliage, every step hiking up Mount Kurikoma is a dynamic experience and the view from the summit is unbe-leaf-able! Different stages of multicolored foliage can be experienced from early October (closer to the summit) through to mid-October (further down the mountain). Once you are done climbing, take a refreshing dip in a hot spring.
- Roads are now closed off (from Nov 5th onward to about March) in case of snowfall - so keep Mt. Kurikoma in mind for next year! - Lake Showa to the summit has been closed off, there is an alternative path to the summit.
*In the case of Mt. Kurikoma, make sure to see if any volcano warnings are in place.