Autumn in Japan: The celebration of Koyo

Fall is upon us in the Northern hemisphere of the globe. There is a cool breeze in the air, and the leaves are starting to change. It is arguably one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. Most of us appreciate this time of beauty and transition, but have never put a name to it. However, in Japanese culture they refer to this phenomenon as Koyo (紅葉).

Koyo is used to describe the autumn colors, as the leaves of the maple tree start to turn red and fall off, coating the streets with beautiful red and orange leaves. Most people are familiar with the phenomenon of the sakura blossoms of the spring, but the Koyo leaves of the fall are not as well known to the rest of the world. From early September through to early December, the country is transformed into a breathtaking canvas of fiery reds, brilliant scarlets and regal gold by the Japanese maple and ginkgo tree.

Like sakura, koyo is connected to Japan’s history, and is an important part of the culture and identity. Since the eighth century, Japanese people have embarked on the annual pilgrimage to mountains, gorges, and temples to enjoy the multi-colored spectacle in autumn. George Inaki Root, CEO and Creative Director of Milamore, speaks on the autumns he spent in Japan during his adolescence saying:

“Koyo is my favorite season of the year. There is no same color tone when it comes to Koyo. Every single day, there is different shade of red and yellow and it’s very dynamic to me. I even have a tattoo or my left arm because I wanted to capture the beautiful moment of Koyo.”

– George Inaki Root

George’s tattoo of Koyo leaves, capturing his favorite season

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