Autumn is almost ready to knock on the doors of Japan and fill its landscapes with autumn leaves (koyo). Many gardens with Japanese maple trees (momiji) turn red, brightening up the whole area. If you live in the urban districts of Tokyo such as Shinjuku or Bunkyo, here are the four best places to see the maple leaf hues of autumn this 2017.
Located in the Bunkyo Ward, home of the famous Tokyo Dome, Rikugien Gardens aka the Garden of Six Poems is an Edo-period garden offering many breathtaking views of fall colors, usually starting from late November. This is a historical garden developed by daimyo (overlord) Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu of the 17th century, with many spots referring to Japanese poetry (waka) and history.
The garden consists of a huge pond in the middle with the popular Togetsukyo Bridge over it, which offers eye-catching views of koyo. There are many other viewpoints including teahouses such as Fukiage Chaya and Tsutsui Chaya, both of which serve hot tea for you to relax while enjoying the views.
The entire garden is a famous spot in Tokyo for people to hang around and to witness some amazing flowers, especially sakura and azaleas in the spring. During the koyo season, you can also see that the garden is lit up in the evenings so visitors can stroll around.
Just near Rikugien lies another famous old Japanese-style garden that attracts plenty of visitors due to its beautiful seasonal colors, namely Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. The garden is a great place to see not only koyo, but also the very attractive golden yellow ginkgo trees during autumn. You would not imagine such a beautiful garden existing in the middle of busy Tokyo.
The garden has many viewpoints from where you can observe the maple trees and their red hues. There are also a rice field and a waterfall, namely Shiroito, that will leave you impressed during your autumn stroll at the garden.
The garden is a must-visit not just during autumn, but also during spring when you can see plum and cherry blossom trees lined up along its ponds.
Located in the popular district of Shinjuku, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is also an old traditional Edo-era garden with a lot of viewpoints for visitors to watch spring and autumn colors. From mid-November onward, you can stroll around the park to find dozens of maple trees throwing their bright hues into the atmosphere.
Known among locals and foreigners alike as one of the best hanami (sakura viewing) spots in the middle of Tokyo, Shinjuku Gyoen has many viewpoints such as the Kyu Goryotei and a greenhouse featuring many shrubs and blossoms. Just before the total maple invasion, you can also find plenty of chrysanthemums in the first half of November.
Located in Shibuya district, Yoyogi Park is a mega relaxation park with literally more than a thousand trees and is open to the public throughout the year. You can sit down at one of the many benches inside the park and enjoy the beauty of autumn colors.
The park is close to Harajuku which gets lit up during the koyo season, thus making it a great gathering spot to observe all kinds of autumn events. It is also one of the best spots to witness the hues of gingko in Tokyo.
The aforementioned places in Tokyo are quite famous and can be visited not just in the autumn season but at any time of the year. The urban districts of Tokyo are usually very busy so a nice stroll in these areas will make you feel refreshed. There are also many other parks and gardens in and around Tokyo that can be visited during autumn for your maple hue fix.