The Kiyosato Kogen Highlands rise to the southern foot of the Yatsugatake volcanic mountains in Yamanashi prefecture, near the border with Nagano. Yamanashi is most famous, of course, as home to Mount Fuji, and on a clear day you can see Fujisan rising solitary behind a screen of mountains from the Southern Alps and Chichibu ranges.
Kiyosato had its heyday as a resort area back in the ’80s. Even now, however, and despite competition from upstart Karuizawa, people make the two-and-a-half-hour trip from Tokyo to get into the countryside and catch the autumn foliage at elevation – 1300 meters, or 3,900 feet.
By chance, I’ve been to Kiyosato twice: last autumn, and this. in 2013, R. and I spent a weekend taking pictures of the turned leaves and hiking to Utsukushi Mori, “Beautiful Forest.” We meant to walk all the way to the Kiyosato KEEP organic farm to try their famous soft ice cream, made from organic milk, but the trails had been flooded from typhoon activity.
This year, as luck would have it, I was assigned to accompany the Grade 7s on their annual Excursion… to Kiyosato KEEP!
We arrived in early October – too soon for autumn colours in full blaze. I did, however, get a chance to visit the farm. In fact, we stayed there! Turns out, KEEP stands for Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project: an experiential education program for schoolkids.
I brought an Olympus Micro Four Thirds Pen camera on both trips, along with the usual assortment of my most-used lenses: the Lumix 7 – 14, m.Zuiko 25 and 45, and my new m.Zuiko 17 1.8. Also as usual, I shot in RAW + jpeg, the latter using the Grainy Film Art Filter setting.