I'm really torn between fall and spring as the most beautiful season here. I might love summer best, but when you want your normal walk to school to be transformed into a natural wonderland, spring and fall reign. While spring is ethereal, with slow warming days covered in pink and white wisps of flower petals, fall is that last colorful burst of life before it all fades into darkness. Every fall I love it best, but every time I see a cherry blossom tree about to burst open, I feel my heart fill with gladness.
I really thought this might be our last year in Japan, so I made as many trips as I could to see the leaves. When the local AJET group took a trip up to Minoh in November we decided to join, even though we had been there the year before. On arrival I was startled by the massive crowds. I knew it would be busy but it seemed like twice the amount of people than the year before. I immediately grabbed a Minoh beer and a yuzu croquette even though it was only 1 p.m. One thing I love about Minoh is the yuzu flavored everything they sell. They have yuzu ice cream, yuzu pudding, and even yuzu sausages. Can you tell how much I love yuzu? The other great thing about Minoh is that the entire path is lined with food stalls selling things like sugared yam fries, sasebo burgers, and grilled mochi. Come hungry if you decide to visit.
While still gorgeous, it was hard for me to enjoy the beauty of it all like I had last year. Going with a big group of people changed the dynamic a bit, so it was harder to stop for pictures, or just to absorb it all when trying to keep up in conversation. I think this was also the first time I realized I don't enjoy crowds much anymore. It's incredibly hard to appreciate anything when you're being jostled by hundreds of people all trying to see the same sights and capture the same moments that you are. I've always been aware of the zoo that popular places in Japan become, but the artificiality of it all is starting to wear on me. I did enjoy myself and I hope you still go to Minoh if you ever get the chance, but it might be nicer to enjoy it off season. I imagine the waterfall, the forest, and the small shops are lovely no matter what time of year.