I know what you are thinking right now, Christmas season is in full swing and here I am writing about fall. But the thing is, we have been well ahead of nature this year and the trees were still in their prime green lushness when I started seeing Christmas decorations everywhere. Why the hurry? Anyway, it so happens that foliage is in pick season in Tokyo right now and it would have been a pity not to feature this gorgeous sighting! Tokyo is home to countless big and beautiful gardens which act as the city’s lungs, creating pleasant pockets of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. I have seen quite a few already, and each of them is uniquely beautiful.
Here is a lively Yoyogi Park… It is a very vibrant place, a perfect spot to have a picnic on a sunny day and people-watch.
Imperial East Garden on the other hand strikes with its tranquility and meticulously manicured grounds. (I must confess it is my personal favorite and would encourage everyone to make it a must-see during their visit!) Besides gorgeous setting, the Garden also houses the Museum of the Imperial Collection which features rotating exhibits of imperial household treasures.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden boasts with the abundance of gorgeous themed gardens… Make sure to check out a lovely Taiwan Pavilion and go inside to look out of the second-story windows. If you have more time on your hands, you can even attend a tea ceremony at the Rakuu-Tei Tea House (extra fee of 700 yen applies). I cannot wait to get back in spring during sakura season as the park has 1500 cherry trees!
Even though they were all stunning, sadly my visits were a bit premature and green dominated the color palate. I couldn’t quiet satisfy my thirst for those saturated autumn hues so this weekend I headed out to view foliage in all its glory at a little hidden gem located next to Tokyo Dome – Koishikawa Koraguen Garden. It was built in the early Edo Period (1600-1867) at the Tokyo residence of the Mito branch of the ruling Tokugawa family. The garden was named Korakuen after a poem encouraging a ruler to enjoy pleasure only after achieving happiness for his people. Like any classic Edo-period garden it features famous landscapes in miniature, using ponds, stones, trees and manmade hills to replicate both Japanese and Chinese scenery. A network of walking trails leads around to viewpoints which provide great vantage point of the grounds for the visitors. Despite the relatively unobtrusive modern backdrop of Tokyo Dome and other buildings in the distance it remains a beautiful natural escape from urban Tokyo. Dozens of maple trees are planted around the garden’s three ponds which turn vibrant shades of orange and red during the peak of the autumn season. There is also a small, almost hidden grove of ginkgo trees near the southeast corner of the gardens that turn a golden yellow during autumn. Called koyo or momiji-gari in Japanese the tradition of viewing of autumn leaves has existed in Japan for centuries and is a popular pastime. In contrast with cherry blossoms, autumn colors start from the north. They can be seen first at the beginning of September in Daisetsuzan, a picturesque spot for the viewing of colorful autumn foliage in Hokkaido, and then they move southward and arrive in Kyushu where the best season is at the beginning of December. I was fascinated and a bit stunned to learn that Japanese even publish forecast with an outline of when is the best time to view this beautiful sighting. Depending on the temperature each year the timing of the viewing of the autumn leaves can vary by a few days to a few weeks from year to year. Unfortunately, the recent warm weather and lack of sunshine this November has delayed the autumn colors in Tokyo.
There is one more garden which provides very interesting spin on foliage viewing to its visitors. Rikugien Garden lights up its trees thus creating a magical nighttime atmosphere.
Sadly, I haven’t had a chance to go there yet, but if you happen to be in Tokyo soon and will have some time on your hands you should definitely head out there. Make sure to grab a decent camera!
I must confess I was never keen fall season as it always associated with gloomy rainy weather and a quickly approaching winter (which I despised even more!). However, Japan has totally turned my heart around with its sunny warm days even in November and stunning hues of red, yellow and orange.
Which is YOUR favorite season? Why? Where was the most beautiful fall season you have seen?
Information About Parks:
- Address: 2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
- Station: Harajuku Station (Yamanote line), Omotesando exit; Yoyogi-Koen Station (Chiyoda line), exit 3; Yoyogi-Hachiman Station (Odakyu line)
Imperial East Garden
- Address: Chiyoda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
- Station: Takebashi Station (Tozai line), Otemachi Station (Chiyoda, Marunouchi, Tozai, Mita, Hanzomon lines) and others
Shinjuku Gyoen National Park
- Address: 11 Naitomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
- Station: Sendagaya Gate: Sendagaya Station (Sobu line); Kokuritsu-Kyogijyo Station (Oedo line). Shinjuku Gate: Shinjuku Gyoen-mae Station (Marunouchi line). Okido Gate: Shinjuku Gyoen-mae Station (Marunouchi line)
Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
- Entrance fee: 300 yen
- English Guided tours available.
- Address: 1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
- Station: Iidabashi Station (Namboku, Oedo lines), exit C3 or Korakuen Station (Marunouchi line), exit 2
- Address: 6-16-3 Honkomagome, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
- Station: Komagome Station (Yamanote, Nanboku lines)