Coming from Canada, I am quite familiar with the natural beauty that autumn brings. However, autumn in Japan offers a special twist. Imagine the most beautiful collection of Japanese maples lining the river banks of a deep gorge and you will be dreaming of Shosen-kyo. If you are lucky enough to visit Shosen-kyo in mid-November, you will be treated to a dazzling display of delicate golden and fire-red leaves.
Of course Shosen-kyo is beautiful at any time of year, but autumn is without a doubt the time to visit. You can walk, cycle or drive, but the final 15 minutes of the course cannot be accessed by car.
Walking the entire course can take a couple hours (return trip). Before you start the stage of the course that cannot be accessed by car, there is a restaurant (Kinkeikan) which has a fantastic view of the gorge. Once you have climbed the stairs above the falls, you will find a wine bar with a unique view of the crest of the falls.
I may have misunderstood, but I seem to remember the gentleman at the wine bar saying that the wine tasting is free. However, the expectation must be that you won’t be leaving the bar without a bottle or two. If you do want to purchase a bottle, I can highly recommend the Rubáiyát Kōshū Sur Lie (dry white wine).