Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Just as how the Japanese enjoy viewing cherry blossoms in the spring, the changing colour of the Autumn leaves, known as Koyo, is an event that draws crowds all across Japan. Today we’re in Kyushu’s least touristy prefecture, Saga, at Kunenan, a historical Japanese residence that only opens it’s doors to the public for 9 days in November, to allow visitors to enjoy the autumn foliage. The Kunen-an residence was originally owned by a wealthy business man in the early 1900s, and gets it’s name from the fact that it took 9 years to build the majestic garden that draws visitors, even to this day. Now, Saga Prefecture owns and preserves the land, citing it an important cultural asset to Saga Prefecture. Visitors are welcome to roam the garden of the residence, and take a look inside the traditional structure, admiring the sturdy construction of the straw thatched roof, the mud walls, and the bamboo lattices. All while enjoying the rich natural colours of the autumn garden. The site is so well preserved that walking through it, you almost feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, or you’re on a movie set of some kind. Either way, it feels absolutely surreal to be there in person. The tradition of autumn leaf viewing dates back to the Heian period, over 1000 years ago, when the nobles would go on excursions to the mountains, and gather coloured leaves. Now, autumn leaf viewing is an event enjoyed by families, friends, and couples, with popular sites often holding fall festivals to coincide with the changing colours. Shrines and temples are often popular places to visit as well, the beautiful nature is often interpreted as a sign that the gods at the shrine are showing their presence. I always took the autumn leaves for granted when I lived in Canada, funny considering our flag is the red maple leaf. One of the things I love about Japan is their sensitivity to the changing seasons, and their appreciation for nature. Learning to appreciate nature’s beauty helped me recognise the natural beauty in my home country as well. Another popular way to enjoy the changing autumn leaves in Japan, is by illumination after dark. During the peak color-changing season, some shrines and temples will light up the autumn leaves, creating allowing them to glow vividly against the night sky. We decided to visit Daikouzenji, in Saga Prefecture, a shrine where visitors can light spiritual candles and pray for safety of their home and loved ones. Daikouzenji is built on a hill, making it a prime spot for autumn leaf viewing. It’s also home to a luscious botanical garden, all of which is illuminated by bright lights after sundown, creating a romantic and whimsical atmosphere that’s very popular with couples. A popular fall festival dish, and one I wholeheartedly recommend, is zenzai. A sweet red bean soup, with chewy balls of mochi rice cake in it. Fall is not a busy season for tourism in Japan, so flights are usually much cheaper during this time of year, but if you time your trip right, you will be rewarded with some of the most gorgeous scenery Japan has to offer.