Autumn Beauty in Tokyo Area

Japan is a country filled with beautiful nature. Next to the cherry blossoms in spring, especially autumn is a great season to see the autumn foliage. Many trees turn yellow, orange and red and the views can be breathtaking. But what happens when your travel time or budget only allow you to stay inside the city limits of Toyko? Here I have various spots inside Tokyo to enjoy the autumn beauty.

1) Tokyo Street Views

Even though Tokyo is a metropolitan city you can find some streets and avenues where trees are lining up. When it becomes autumn the trees change their colors and make these streets very popular. 
Probably most popular in Tokyo is the Icho Namiki (銀杏並木), also called Ginkgo Avenue, which is around Meiji Jingu Gaien Park. You can take a stroll along the 300-meter long beautiful area with around 150 Ginkgo trees or just relax under the yellow trees sitting on a bench. There are also a few cafés you can enjoy the view from. Even an annual event is held there, the Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival, including food stalls and more. In 2017 it is taking place from 17th November until 3rd December.
But that is not all. There are nice spots all over the city and you just need to walk around to find them. If you get a bit out of the inner city of Tokyo and drive to Hachioji in the Western part of the metropolitan prefecture. Along the Koshu Highway around 770 Ginkgo trees have been planted on 4km length in Showa time which all turn yellow in autumn. A festival is celebrated on 18th & 19th November in 2017 including not only food, but also including a classic car parade, yosakoi dance performances and much more. 

2) Japanese Gardens

The Tokyo area is filled with many Japanese gardens. For sure, most of these turn into real paradises of autumn foliage and as soon as the night falls down some even have a beautiful light up. I picked up five of these you shouldn’t miss to visit. 
  • Rikugien

    The Rikugien (六義園) is often called Tokyo’s most beautiful Japanese garden and when it comes to autumn colors it is definitelya must-see. It was already built back in around 1700 and reminds of the Edo period. Around a big pond you find several walking paths which all gives a nice photo spot, especially with the tea house. From November 18th to 6th December 2017 the garden is illuminated after sunset and opening time prolongened until 9pm. 

    Admission: 300 yen 
  •  Koishikawa Korakuen

    Going along with the most beautiful gardens in Tokyo is the Koshikawa Korakuen (小石川後楽園). Built in the early Edo period this Japanese landscape garden consists of several ponds, while the main one is surrounded by maple trees, bringing a stunning red color in autumn. Also yellow ginkgo trees can be found there making a nice contrast. 

    Admission: 300 yen
  • Shinjuku Gyoen

    The Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑) is actually a park, especially famous while cherry blossom time. But if it comes to autumn foliage you should take a look to the Japanese landscape garden inside. Also here, you find several large ponds which make up a wonderful view with the trees around. Especially the Momijiyama (Maple Mountain) is stunning. Furthermore you find a lot of different trees in the park which all have their own autumn beauty.

    Admission: 200 yen
  • Imperial Palace East Garden

    Always worth a visit is the Imperial Palace East Garden (皇居東御苑) just a view minutes away from Tokyo station. The Ninomaru Japanese garden is a nice place to see autumn colors in traditional environment. There are several benches to sit down and enjoy the view. Ginkgo trees and others are planted around the castle area, too.

    Admission: free

3) Parks

Coming from Japanese gardens to parks. There you can many around the Tokyo area and because all are filled with with trees, you can find autumn colors at all of these. Let me just mention the biggest ones like Ueno Park, Yoyogi Park, Hibiya Park, Inokashira Park and so on. Hibiya Park as an example has around 3,100 trees of 51 species, so it is a nice place to see different kinds of leaves. Together with the Shinji Pond it gives a great photo spot.
However, probably the most famous park in Tokyo area for autumn colors is the Showa Kinen Koen (昭和記念公園). For this one you have to go to the Western area again, because the park is located at Tachikawa. Here you find an amazing area with gingko trees just close to the entrance. Furthermore, the park has a Japanese garden with beautiful autumn colors and a lot more spots to see.
The admission to most of the parks is free, however, you have to pay 410 yen for Showa Kinen Koen. 

4) Up on the mountains

Thinking of Tokyo some people forget that it is not only a city but a huge prefecture also including a lot of nature. In the Western area you find Mount Mitake (御岳山) and Mount Takao (高尾山) which are both must-see spots if you want to go out in the autumn nature inside the limits of Tokyo. On the mountains you find temples and shrines, cable cars, hiking trails, waterfalls and more. And for sure you can enjoy the amazing view from about surrounded by the colorful leaves. So if you like hiking and want to get out of the city, this is also an alternative for autumn time. 

When is the best time to see the autumn color in Tokyo?

The last question what is left is about the best timing. Normally in Tokyo the autumn foliage starts around mid-November with the peak at the end of this month. For sure this varies every year depending on the weather, so it can be earlier starting already at the end of October, too, or even later. 
If you are planning your trip, I lately often check instagram pictures from these places one or two days before. A nice way to see the actual situation. Also some pages over autumn color reports, so you can stay informed.
Stay ready, that especially at famous places it will be very crowded. You can try to avoid it by going early in the morning right after sunrise or, for parks and gardens with opening times, just when they open. Also try to avoid weekends and public holidays.
And now enjoy your autumn time in Tokyo!

Claudia Mitsubori