Seasons in Japan are generally defined by memories and activities that you can only enjoy during that time. In the winter, Japanese people may warm themselves under kotatsu, heated tables with blankets to cover their legs. During spring, it’s time to have a picnic with friends and see the cherry blossoms. In summer, doing fireworks on the beach is practically a tradition. For the current autumn season though, enjoying the beautiful colors of the leaves is something you definitely should not miss. Here are places around Tokyo where you can see the best scenery of the season.
For Tokyo residents, this may be no surprise. Yoyogi Park is a great spot because it’s free to enter and easily accessible. Neighboring Shibuya and Harajuku, this park breaks up the dense city center without stranding its guests far away from restaurants and train stations. Because there are wide open grass areas and multiple pathways, it is also a great place to bring your kids or pets.
Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue
Not far from Yoyogi Park, Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue is a long, straight road in Kita-aoyama that is lined with beautiful ginkgo trees. The normally green foliage becomes a brilliant gold color during the fall season. While unfortunately cancelled this year, there is usually a festival on this avenue to celebrate the colorful scenery with street food and fun merchandise. If you are into photography or just want to take a fall-themed picture, this is often regarded as one of the best spots to enjoy autumn in Japan.
Inokashira Park sits right on the edge of Kichijoji. Although it’s not a very large park, it offers plenty of activities you can partake in. Inside the park, you will find a long walkway lined by various trees that surrounds Inokashira Lake. You can take a paddle boat out on the water or just admire the shrine in the center of the lake. You can also find Inokashira Park Zoo and the Ghibli Museum a short walk away. For anyone looking for unique ways to enjoy the autumn leaves, Inokashira Park is perhaps the best.
Showa Kinen Park
Found outside of central Tokyo in Tachikawa, this huge park is a nice escape from claustrophobic city centers and seasonal shopping booms. There are large open spaces in the 1.6 square kilometers that are connected by footpaths, rental bike paths, and even a small train that moves around the park. Like Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Avenue, Showa Kinen Park is known for its glorious ginkgo trees that turn bright yellow in the fall. There are multiple places in the park to take good photos, but you might need a day to see them all.
Mt. Takao is another popular autumn destination. Located in Hachioji, this mountain is a great natural recreation area that doesn’t require you to leave Tokyo. There are many trails with varying amounts of difficulty if you want to get some good exercise. Or there’s a cable car that will take you halfway up the mountain. There are various points of interest that you should check out on your way up, including a temple, monkey park and onsen. Once you reach the top, celebrate with a beer or some snacks at the outdoor Mt. Takao Beer Mount.
Hamarikyu Gardens is located in Chuo Ward, and is one of the most unique places you can visit to enjoy nature in the city. This location sits on the mouth of the Sumida River and is separated from the surrounding neighborhoods by a seawater moat from Tokyo Bay. There is a teahouse inside that can be accessed by two bridges that span the water. This traditional Japanese landscape together with the tall buildings in the background make for an interesting environment to view the autumn leaves.
In Tokyo this year, early to mid-November is considered to be the best time to see autumn leaves at their peak. One thing to note is that the timing of the leaves changing colors can, of course, only be estimated. A general rule of thumb is to go earlier than you think, just in case. Each of these locations has something that makes it special compared to the others, so make sure to enjoy the magnificent autumn colors while you still can.