With Autumn well underway, and the glorious season of leaves turning into flaming reds and burning oranges just beginning, this is the perfect period to get away from the concrete nightmare of the city and escape to the calming influence of Mother Nature. Japan's autumn leaves or koyo, as it is referred to in Japanese, are some of the best that can be seen on the planet. But, the only drawback is: doesn't everybody know it. It's tough to appreciate the leaves themselves with all the admirers ambling through the woods in droves.
Fear not, there are ways to enjoy the leaves in peace and quiet, far from the maddening crowds.
The traditional ryokan, Taiseikan, is just 90 minutes away from Tokyo, nestled in a quiet secluded valley which is only accessible by private cable car. The cable car itself traverses a 300m stretch of valley, surrounded by a swirling sea of sublime apricot and vermillion colored leaves.
The hotel has a wonderful traditional Japanese garden, and a cool mountain stream flows nearby, giving off the pleasantly faint sound of running water.
Rooms are traditional Japanese-style, with tatami floors and soft, fluffy futon. Two meals are served at the inn, breakfast and dinner, which guests partake in the privacy of their own rooms. The food served is classic Japanese kaiseki-ryori, which inevitably contains a variety of food to suit all tastes. The meals are a set menu; however, in the true style of Japanese hospitality, the staff will kindly cater to individual requests as long as guests contact the inn 3-4 days in advance of check in.
Taiseikan draws its water from 4 different hot spring sources and it has a number of private or shared baths, both indoor and open-air. Guests can even enjoy the wonderful autumn leaves from a relaxing spot in a nice hot bath. The name Taiseikan can roughly be interpreted as "set against the stars", and the open-air baths available for use will really let guests understand the meaning behind the name when they take a bath under the twinkling stars, surrounded by the forest valley illuminated by pale moonlight.
The inn is currently offering a huge saving on its 8-tatami mat Japanese-style rooms. With a price reduction from 73,000 yen to just 39,000 yen with both breakfast and dinner included, this really is the perfect opportunity to experience high-quality Japanese service at an affordable price.