One of my favorite times of year in Niigata's snow country is autumn. Aside from being the last hurrah before the full force of winter sets in, it's a season where there is plenty of color to enjoy.
There are numerous places to check out seasonal flowers, and some of the local highlights at this time of year include lilies at Uonuma's Tsukioka Park, cosmos at the Iwappara Cosmos Park, and chrysanthemums at the Urasa Chrysanthemum Festival held at Bishamondo Temple. However, you don't necessarily need to visit a dedicated flower park or flower event to appreciate the best of fall's blooms – you'll often find them growing wild or planted in people's yards.
Yairo no Mori Park is a great place to soak up the changing leaves, and there are paved pathways around the park which are perfect if you have stroller-aged children – the park is exceptionally family-friendly, and you'll often see other parents out with their little ones here. Across from Urasa Station there is a row of ginkgo trees lining the road, and their vibrant yellow shade adds a dose of cheer to the season.
Another sign of autumn in snow country are the numerous rice fields turning their trademark golden hue. Niigata is revered for its high-quality rice, and in the Uonuma and Minamiuonuma areas you'll see fields upon fields of koshihikari ready for harvest at this time of year. Depending on the time in autumn that you visit, you may see fields that have already been harvested.
These pictures were mainly taken around the Urasa area of Niigata Prefecture.
The travel time from Tokyo Station to Urasa Station is about 1 hour and 30 minutes via the Joetsu Shinkansen. The station is also served by the Joetsu local line.