I've discovered a new Best Spot for autumn leaves: Hondoji (本土寺) near Kita-Kogane Station in Chiba. I've been there several times, but always in summer to look at the Japanese iris garden. I had no intention of visiting it in autumn, but a friend (who loves gardens as much as I do) invited me, and off we went. Oh my giddy aunt. You've never in your life seen a red as red as the red at Hondoji.
|Fiery red maples at Hondoji in Chiba|
|Click on the photos to see bigger versions.|
|The leaves are redder than the pagoda behind them.|
It was the worst possible weather for photos – gray, completely overcast, no sun to highlight colours – yet the Japanese maples were …
Look, you're going to have to excuse me. My vocabulary isn't up to this task. It's unoriginal to say the trees were burning like flames in the dark-green forest, but that's what they were doing! It's the kind of spectacle that stops you in your tracks, jaw dropping to navel level, brain scrambling to process colours that just shouldn't be on trees. I even forgot about my camera. I just stumbled along, gaping at the glory above me.
|Explosion in a paint box|
|It doesn't look real, does it?|
I've written about this temple before, so I'm not going to repeat the facts and figures. Just a quick reminder how to get there: take the Jōban Line from Ueno and get off at Kita-Kogane. If you're on an express train, you'll have to change to a local train at Matsudo. The train ride is about 40 minutes, and the temple is a 10-minute walk from the station's north exit.
The temple is superb in all seasons: cherry blossoms in spring, iris and hydrangea in summer, maples in autumn, snow in winter and plum blossoms in late winter. Go. Today.
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|I love the contrast between the red leaves and the green moss.|
|The moss garden reminds me so much of Kyoto.|