Cooling winds blow through the Japanese archipelago in autumn. Under the blue sky, a host of seasonal blossoms greet their human admirers, and plants that have endured the torrid days of summer change their colors to announce the coming of the season.

Flower garden in refreshing blue

Autumn Carried by Gentian Purple


Nagano, a landlocked prefecture in Honshu, is almost entirely surrounded by soaring peaks reaching 3,000m in height. Blessed with cool weather even during the summer months, some of the most famous highland resorts in Japan are located here. The gentian, an alpine flower with beautiful purple blossoms, grows naturally in the highlands. Having been designated officially as the prefectural flower, it is also widely cultivated, and cut flowers are highly praised at international horticultural exhibitions. Japanese researchers have recently discovered that spots on gentian petals have chloroplasts, allowing the flower to photosynthesize in the same way as leaves do - a unique feature that is not found in other flowers. Signaling the change in season, the elegant purple hue readies the local residents for the advent of autumn.

Sacred blue plunge pool

Golden Lives in Clear River


In the far north of Honshu lies Ajigasawa, a town in Aomori Prefecture facing the Sea of Japan. The Akaishi River running through the town arises from sources in the heart of Shirakami-Sanchi, a mountainous area designated as a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In autumn, the vast forest of beech trees glitters in golden hues, creating spectacular scenery. The pure flowing water has always been home to ayu, a small, sweet-tasting fish that holds a special place in the hearts of Japanese people. Usually tinted with a silvery color and with a hint of blue, the ayu living in the Akaishi River, benefiting from its water quality, display a golden hue over their entire body. Their dazzling shapes vividly tell of the wealth of this wonderful river.