There are two signs of fall where changing colors let you know you are entering into the colder seasons in Japan. One is Ko–yo (pronounced ko-u yo-u,紅葉), the glorious changing colors of the fall leaves; and the other is the changing of the colors on the Ji-do-han-bai-ki （自動販売機）, the ubiquitous vending machines which are now announcing the addition of hot drinks.
The former can be seen subtly as the famous leaf-peeping areas from Hokkaido to Kyushuu are anywhere from zero to 100 percent at their peak. The latter are not tracked on television news so it is not clear what percent of the vending machines have already changed, but certainly by now they too are at their peak– you should be able to see the red strips which say either “attatakai” or “HOT” taking over the amount of blue “tsumetai” or “COLD” strips on most machines.
The leaves changing color can seem to happen overnight. One day the leaves are green and the next you notice autumn reds, oranges and rusty browns. In the case of the drink machines, it truly must happen overnight. I mean, have you ever seen the strips being changed? One day the cans are all cold, marked by blue strips and then suddenly, just as the first chill sets in, there are the strips of red, letting us know that from now there will be hot drinks to warm our hands and our hearts. Until, of course, spring approaches and of course the two signs of spring in Japan are…
You guessed it– pink cherry blossoms, and the abundance of blue coming back to the ji-do-han-bai-ki.