Ozu Maple Festival: A Celebration of Autumn's Beauty
December 15, 2016
Ozu is a small town south of Matsuyama. It and its neighboring town of Uchiko value traditional Japanese living and are not often visited by tourists. During the month of November, Ozu celebrates the changing colors of the leaves in Inariyama Park by hosting a festival and local market known as the Momiji Matsuri, or “Maple Festival.” Inariyama Park features about 3,000 maple trees and some are over 200 years old. The trees are said to have been brought over from Kyoto by a Niiya feudal lord during the Edo Period. The lord had visited Kyoto and was so in love with its autumn colors that he brought the trees’ seedlings to Ozu.
The best time to see the colors is mid-November, when the colors have changed but the leaves are still on the trees. During the festival period one can find numerous vendors selling local treats made from maple, such as cakes and cookies, and seasonal fruits such as persimmons. The park contains the Inari Shrine, eating areas, and even a play area with toys for children.
A fox at Inari Shrine
Take the train from JR Matsuyama Station and get off at Niiya. It is about an hour ride on the express train. From Niiya Station it is about a 20 minute walk up the mountain. The walk is not too strenuous but does feature stairs as well. There is a parking lot for those traveling by car.