Japan’s Northern Alps in autumn viewed from near Ōmachi, Nagano Prefecture. Mt Fuji is well-known as Japan’s highest peak (3776 m), however, most of Japan’s highest mountains are concentrated in the Japan Alps in the central part of the island nation. Divided into Northern, Central and Southern portions, the Japan Alps soar from the lowlands to elevations exceeding 3000 m over distances of only a few kilometres, being situated in a zone of active geological uplift and volcanism related to the collision of Eurasian, North American and Philippine Sea tectonic plates. Abundant monsoonal rainfall in the warmer months and heavy winter snows nourish the dense temperate and subarctic forests cloaking the lower slopes, as well as the productive fields in the narrow valleys incised between the mountain ridges. In autumn, the mountain slopes are aglow with spectacular foliage colour—in this case, a pure stand of Japanese larch (Larix kaempferi). Photography by Takehiko Hashimoto, November 2015.
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