Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves dancing,

Float softly on the quickening breeze,

Tiny ribbons of scarlet and gold drift slowly down,

Rustling plaintive song of farewell.

As the stubborn limbs of the trees,

Reach for the last precious moments of warmth,

From summers fading light,

Cool tendrils and woodsmoke and mist enfold the woods…

In autumn heart we rest.


In Japan, each of the 4 seasons is distinct from one another. From the fresh green buds of spring that gives way to the lush heat of the summer. And in autumn, the forest turns red and yellow. Soon the white snow will blanket these vibrant colours as if preserving the forest for the seasons to come.

When you look at Japans autumn scenery, you cannot help but notice the astonishing huge variety of colored leaves. This has to do with Japan wide variety of vegetation. Most parts of the country belong to the Temperate Zone and there are a large number of broad leaves trees. Some of them, including camphor trees and oaks are evergreen. Others are deciduous, meaning they change colors in autumn. This includes the maples, which turn red, and gingko trees that turn yellow.


Most mountainous areas in Japan have a nice balance of evergreen and deciduous trees. It is this that creates the beautiful multi-colored autumn scenery. Since ancient times, the Japanese have come to deeply appreciate the beauty of autumn leaves. The autumn is mentioned many times in the tale of Genji in the 11th century for instance.

Back then, when the autumn rolls around, the Emperor and court aristocrats would gather in gardens to admire the maple leaves. And they would sometimes make trips to the mountains to admire the leaves. A custom known as “Momiji-Gari” (紅葉狩り) literally meaning `maple hunting` .By the 16th century , momiji-gari had spread to the common people.

It’s not just the colored leaves the Japanese enjoy but they also find beauty in the leaves fluttering down on the ground and the carpet of fallen leaves. The image of the fallen leaves has been used as motif in countless works of arts, paintings and even children songs. The monk Ryokan once wrote in a famous Haiku (Japanese poem) saying that,

Both the front and back of a maple leaf become visible as its flutters down,

And so it is when people die, everything is then revealed,

When the time comes for me to die,

I have nothing more to hide…..


Seeing the fallen leaves many Japanese are reminded of the transience of life and feel a sense of wistfulness. That’s why they have always found a special meaning, even in the fallen leaves. Beauty it may seem but the leaves is a reminder for us of our precious life. What will we be remembered when are no more? Will we be trodden upon and thus forgotten all together? Or will we be seen as a thing to remember by?

p/s: Famous sites for Momiji in Japan : Nikko (Tochigi-Ken), Kawaguchi Lake facing Mount Fuji


Author: Idris Mahzan

Grew up in the UK. Studied in Japan. Malaysian at heart.

16 thoughts on “Autumn Leaves”

  1. Salam yeh,
    For someone who has never set foot in Japan,your words truely visualizes the scenery there.
    Wish my language acquisition is as good as yours.(don`t laugh but i dont know if i used that word correctly or not.had to ask master google on that just now,but i`m not afraid to make mistakes ^_*)

  2. Reply for nbo_3,

    Salam bro. 🙂
    Did you get the chance to go and experience Momiji this year? How was it?
    Yeah, I gotta agree with u on that. Seeing all those vibrant colors and just being with mother nature really brings calmness to oneself. The natare in Hokkaido is really breathtaking. Do come here if u have the time… 🙂

  3. Reply for Sakinah Omar,

    Salam 🙂
    Its been a while since I last heard from u. How are u? Hope everything is fine.

    For someone who has never set foot in Japan,your words truely visualizes the scenery there.

    Im glad I could share the experience through writing. But its so much more wonderful if u get the chance to experience it for yourself. Maybe one day iA.

    Well, I do it sometimes, sometimes even with easy words I cant seem to spell right. I resort to Mister Google too sometimes u know. hehe.

    Its good that u arent afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes is a good teacher for us to become better. Learning through mistakes makes us learn a whole lot more than being right all the time isnt it? (^_*)

  4. Salam

    En Yeh!

    Ur poem above reminds me to a poem by Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Monsoon History ;D
    But Malaysian punya version la

    I wish I could step my foot in Japan one fine day and see the autumn leaves dancing cutely ;D.

    And nak rasa asap keluar dr mulut jugak! hehehe


  5. Salam yeh..

    I was greatly touched by your poem.
    Quite sad as this year I experienced Momiji at kosen only:(

    p/s:It’s that your latest picture??If yes,seems like you have lose your weight:P

  6. Hai.
    I`ve always wondered hows its like in Japan during autumns. Here in England we dont have that kind of watching falling leaves due to the weather here. When I was young I used to gather chestnuts during autumn.

    Thank you for sharing ur experiences.

  7. yeh, is that u in d picture? u look real skinny, even ur beggy shirt cannot hide ur bag of bones, seems you hav lost weight..I’m glad to tell u dat i’m going to Japan on this coming december!! it’s winter now, isn’t it? wish i can play with snow,the sad thing is we cannot have any trips because of money constraint, u kno, fami was sacked from his part-time job shortly after he returned to japan frm a long hols ;(, yg anta surat khaba mlm2 tuu, wut we call it? ape ntah..being an active blogger again yuh? i’m waiting for ur latest post, u kno, finally…… 🙂

  8. Salam bro, its been a while. But its always worth the wait.

    Autumn. I always like the colors of it even when we don’t have it in Msia. Maybe someday, insya Allah I’ll be there.

    We are always encouraged to ponder upon Allah’s magnificent creations and relate them to our life. Even small things like maple leaves can give us deep meaning,right.

    “In the Creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation (coming one after the other) of night and day, are indeed Signs for people of understanding — who remember ALLAH (whilst) standing, sitting and lying down, and they ponder (think deeply) in the Creation of the heavens and the earth, (and they say:) ‘Our Lord! You Have not Created all this without a purpose, all Glory is for You, Protect us from the punishment of the Fire (Hell).’”

    (Holy Quran, 3:190-191)

    thanks for the nicely written post and All the best.

  9. Reply for ♥Aisyahumaira♥

    Salam Aisyahumaira.

    Thanks for dropping by. If the poem is half as good as the poem u mentioned, then I would be more than pleased.

    I wish I could step my foot in Japan one fine day and see the autumn leaves dancing cutely ;D.

    And nak rasa asap keluar dr mulut jugak!

    Well, hopefully u`ll have that chance in the future. Autumn is really nice in Japan. Not too hot nor too cold. (If here its act a bit cold)

    Hope to hear from u again soon.

  10. Reply for ‘Atiqah Jasni,

    Salam ‘Atiqah 🙂
    The Kosen’s is quite pretty actually if u really appriciate it.U know what I like most about autumn is, when I finished class and walking and stepping above all that leaves.
    It makes a kind of “Krrr” sound. And I like hearing it all the way back to the Ryou. In Kosen there are a lot of trees with different shades of colours isnt it?

    p/s:It’s not my latest picture. Its about 2 years ago :p FYI, Im working very hard to get back in shape, and am close to being the “me” in that picture 🙂

  11. Hi Yeh.


    うらを見せ 表を見せて 散るもみじ
    人間も もみじと同じ 死ぬときは 表も裏もないのだ



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