Autumn is a magical time in Japan. In my opinion, even better than the cherry blossom season. Japan’s parks and forests turn into a sea of red, yellow and brown with the maple and ginkgo trees changing colors. There are so many beautiful gardens in and around Tokyo where you can witness beautiful ‘koyo’ or the phenomenon of leaves changing colors. Every year I go to several paces, and therefore, I thought I will share three of my top favorite places to see autumn in Japan and perhaps take a photo or two!

Show Memorial Park, Tachikawa 昭和記念公園, 立川市

Showa Memorial Park in Tachikawa is one of the most popular destinations for autumn color viewing or just any time of the year. The park was originally built in 1983 to commemorate 50 years of the Showa Emperor – Hirohito’s reign. The Showa Memorial Park is huge with an area of nearly 2 square kilometers. The leaves in the park usually change color around mid-November, typically a couple of weeks earlier than the trees in central Tokyo. The park’s best place for autumn colors is the ginkgo tree-lined canal “kana-ru ichou namiki” or the golden tunnel in the southeast corner going towards Tachikawa station. 106 ginkgo trees line the 300-meter stretch with trees that are over twenty meters high! In autumn, the bright yellow leaves fall to the ground and create a spectacular golden carpet. There is a fountain which also gives a great view. It is beautiful to see the trees reflecting on the water between them. You can also pay a visit to the traditional Japanese garden. It gets even more beautiful in autumn with the numerous maple trees and is a good spot to take pictures.

Admission – 450 yen

Access – It is 2 minutes on foot from JR Nishi-Tachikawa Station and 10 minutes on foot from JR Tachikawa Station

You can see more photos from the park, here

Photos by Culture and Clutter

小石川後楽園 Koishikawa Korakuen, Iidabashi

Koishikawa Korakuen is one of Tokyo’s oldest gardens and was built by the Tokugawa lord of the Mito domain in the early Edo period. This circular-style garden consists of 67 scenic objects and scenery including ponds, stones, trees bridges, and a hill. Japanese maple, wax trees, Japanese Zelkova, and the many ginkgo trees change color from late November to early December. It’s considered as one of the most spectacular Japanese gardens that exist today. There are many viewing spots inside the garden such as the Oigawa River which was created to resemble Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. The other is a bridge called Togetsukyo, that is the icon of Koishikawa Korakuen. The bright red bridge looks exquisite surrounded by red maple leaves and offers great views of the autumn foliage. You can also take photos around the Large Pond & Maruya Hut where several trees change into yellow and red. The garden exudes classical charm as it makes you feel like you have been transported back to the Edo Period! Another noticeable point is the presence of several modern constructions in the background of the maple trees as Koishikawa Korakuen is located in central Tokyo. An oasis in the middle of a concrete jungle, indeed!

Admission fee – 300 yen

Access – It is a 3-minute walk from Iidabashi Station on the Toei Oedo Line or 8-minute walk from Iidabashi Station on the JR Line and on the Tozai, Yurakucho, Namboku subway lines or
8-minute walk from Korakuen Station on the Marunouchi and Namboku subway lines

Mount Takao 高尾山

Mount Takao is located just an hour from Central Tokyo and is a famous sightseeing and outdoor spot. Particularly in fall, between mid-November – mid-December Takao is full of locals and tourists. From the 599 meters high summit to the valley, the entire mountain is covered in spectacular reds and yellows. You can enjoy this beautiful scenery from the cable car as it’ll seem like you’re traveling through a tunnel of autumn leaves! Or you can hike up to the top (like I did) which will take about 90 minutes. A network of numbered hiking trails lead up the slopes of Takaosan. I used trail number 1, which is broad, mostly paved and passes all of the major sites and leads to Yakuo-in, an eye-catching temple, near the mountain’s summit. Yakuo-in is dedicated to Shinto-Buddhist mountain gods of good fortune. Statues of the God – Tengu, the one with a long nose and one with a crow beak, can be found at the temple and also other spots around the mountain. There are also shopping streets and restaurants (especially serving soba) located on the mountain – where you can stop and relax absorbing the beautiful autumn views. Mount Fuji also can be seen from here on a clear bright day!

Admission – 480 yen (one way), 930 yen (round trip) by cable car and chairlift or you can hike

Access – 10 mins walk from Takaosanguchi Station on Keio Takao line

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