Exploring Japan: 16 best places for autumn colors in Tokyo

Meiji Jingu Gaien
Meiji Jingu Gaien

Exploring Japan: 16 best places for autumn colors in Tokyo

Live Japan

Autumn in Tokyo is spectacular. Its many different colors are a magnificent sight to behold. Also called 'momiji' or  'koyo' in Japanese, autumn leaf viewing is done since ancient times. This colorful scenery can be seen in Tokyo's surrounding areas and in the urban jungle of the Japanese capital itself.

In 2021, the best time for autumn leaves in Tokyo is from the end of November to early December.

We will introduce the best viewing spots in and outside the city to make sure your autumn will be a vivid one!

1. Hibiya Park: Enjoy a giant ginkgo tree in the heart of Tokyo

Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association

Hibiya Park, opened in 1903, was Tokyo’s very first Western-style park. Its flowerbeds are lush, thick, and colorful, blooming all around the year in all sorts of different colors. It’s a real oasis directly in the busy heart of Tokyo.

When it comes to autumn in Tokyo, one of the park’s highlights is the so-called “risky ginkgo.” It’s Hibiya Park’s largest ginkgo, said to be between 400 and 500 years old, and it almost fell victim to the initial creation of the park.

However, its main designer said he would relocate this tree, “even if it cost him his neck” - meaning his career. Since then, the massive, beautiful tree is known as the risky ginkgo, dominating the scenery with its many tallow leaves.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
See the tree in all its magnificence from the end of November to early December.

2. Ueno Park: A spacious grove of autumn leaves in Tokyo

Ueno Park might be best known as one of the city's favorite cherry blossom spots. But in autumn in Tokyo, its scenery is equally breathtaking.

Follow a colorful avenue lined by zelkova and ginkgo trees from the main gate of the Tokyo National Museum and enjoy deeply dyed maple leaves around Kiyomizu Kannon Temple and Saigo Takamori Statue. It’s a spectacle of red, yellow, and gold!

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
The best time to do Japanese-style autumn leaf viewing is from early November to early December.

3. Hamarikyu Gardens: Harmony between nature and high-rise buildings

Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association

The beautiful Hamarikyu Gardens once belonged to a feudal lord of the Tokugawa family. Today, the lush spot serves as a natural respite for both Tokyoites and tourists, offering calm respite in the middle of the urban jungle that is Tokyo.

In autumn, various maple trees change the park’s appearance to a splash of deep reds and golden yellows. Especially the background of modern high-rise buildings makes the scenery of Hamarikyu Gardens as beautiful as it is unreal – one of the absolute must-see spots for your Tokyo sightseeing in fall.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
For the most magnificent view, visit the garden between mid-November and early December.

4. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: Experience autumn in three unique gardens

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is famous for its three distinctive gardens combined into one beautiful park. The Japanese Garden will charm you with deep red maple leaves, while the British Garden shimmers in ginkgo gold. The French Garden evokes the romantic image of a European fall. All are popular places for foliage photographers!

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
Visit Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden between mid-October and mid-December to make the most out of the unique sceneries.

5. Meiji Jingu Gaien: 300 meters of golden ginkgo trees

ekarin / Shutterstock.com

When you see pictures about autumn in Tokyo, this avenue will immediately come up. From the Aoyama Nichome intersection to the outer gardens of the Meiji Shrine, there's a 300-meter-long avenue lined with tall ginkgo trees that is one of Tokyo's most popular autumn viewing spots for golden leaves. The entire road features a total of 146 trees making for a stunning tunnel of gold all towards the shrine gardens.

The majestic Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery in the background makes the golden leaves and blue autumn skies look like a painting.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
The ginkgo trees turn gold every year from mid-November to early December.

6. Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens: Exceptional and traditional autumn scenery

Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association

One of Tokyo's oldest gardens, Korakuen, was built by the Tokugawa lord of the Mito domain in the early Edo period as a circular-style garden, featuring both a pond and a hill surrounded by a variety of trees that turn color in fall.

There are two viewing spots inside the garden that we'd like to recommend. One is along the Oigawa River that was created to resemble Kyoto's Arashiyama. The other one is the bridge called Togetsukyo behind the Kantoku pavilion, from which the view of the vivid maple trees is breathtaking.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
Japanese maple, wax trees, Japanese zelkova, and the many ginkgo trees are dyed beautifully from late November to early December, creating a particularly traditional Japanese scenery.

7. Rikugien Gardens: A beautifully lit up Japanese garden

Photo courtesy of the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association.

It took seven years to complete this breathtakingly beautiful Japanese garden that was built for the 5th shogun of the Tokugawa clan. Rikugien is home to over 400 individual maple trees, along with many ginkgos and zelkovas.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
The vivid park will have its autumn leaves lit up in the evening from around mid-November to early December, creating an enigmatic, dreamlike scenery. Around this time, the park is open until 9:00 p.m. (the last admission is 8:30 p.m.), making it the perfect spot to enjoy a magical autumn evening.

8. Mizumoto Park: Enjoy the rare colors of the dawn redwood

Photo courtesy of the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association.

Mizumoto Park is the biggest riverside park in the entire metropolitan area of Tokyo. During autumn, its highlight is the around 1,800 dawn redwood trees, also called Metasequoia, and their beautiful autumn foliage.

Next to the park's central square is the "Metasequoia Forest," which is home to over 1,800 redwood trees, most of them larger than twenty meters in height!

The contrast between the clear blue sky and the reddish leaves is enchanting scenery. The large, colorful trees are also reflected on the surface of the nearby pond, making a stroll through Mizumoto Park one of many different sights.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
We recommend visiting between late November and early December.

9. Showa Memorial Park: A golden carpet of ginkgo leaves

The 200-meter-long "Canal Area" of Showa Kinen Park in autumn is one of the most famous foliage spots in Tokyo. Around 100 ginkgo trees lining this canal area, their vivid leaves reflecting beautifully on the water surface.

The main attraction of this park, however, is the ginkgo alley that stretches on for about 300 meters, lined with one hundred trees that are over 20 meters high! When autumn comes, the vivid leaves fall to the ground and create a stunning golden carpet of foliage.

After strolling along the golden avenue, why not visit the Japanese garden and its many maple trees?

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
The best time to see the ginkgo alley is throughout November, while the Japanese garden is the most beautiful from late October to mid-November.

10. Yoyogi Park: A colorful contrast of yellows and reds

Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association

Shibuya’s spacious Yoyogi Park is the 5th largest park in Tokyo’s 23 wards. Once, it was the athletes’ village of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, but after the games were over, the area was turned into a public park.

The Harajuku Gate of the park is framed by bright yellow ginkgo leaves, while Yoyogi Park's main fountain is surrounded by deep red – a beautiful contrast that is characteristic for autumn in Japan.

Why not rent a bicycle at one of the various rental places in the park and enjoy the clear air of autumn while cycling under the gorgeous foliage? (210 yen per hour.)

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
The prime time to admire Yoyogi Park’s momiji glory is from the end of November to mid-December.

11. Mount Takao: Ascend through a colorful tunnel

It takes just about one hour by train to reach Mount Takao from Tokyo, making the mountain a beloved sightseeing and outdoor spot for locals and tourists alike. It is a spot of lush nature, with fresh air and the song of birds and insects in the air.

Autumn dyes Mount Takao is especially spectacular colors. From the summit to the valley, the entire mountain shines in vivid red and golden yellow, stunning scenery that is best admired from the cable car running between Kiyotaki Station and Takaosan Station.

When you look out of the cable car’s windows, it’ll seem like you’re traveling through a tunnel of autumn leaves!

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
The best time to go is between the middle and the end of November.

12. Hikawa Valley: Take an autumn stroll along a clear stream

Hikawa Valley is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from Shinjuku Station and lies in the northwest of the Tokyo area: the city of Okutama. The Tama River flows through the center of this town, surrounded by numerous autumn color viewing spots, such as Okutama Lake and one of Japan's one-hundred most famous mountains, Mount Kumotori.

Starting from Okutama Station, there is a beautiful promenade of four kilometers circling the Tama and Nipparagawa Rivers, as well as Mount Atago. Stroll along this path while breathing the clear autumn air and taking in the many colorful sceneries of a mountain village.

Especially the area where the Tama and Nipparagawa Rivers meet is well worth the visit: maple trees, Japanese Judas trees, and ginkgo hang their vividly colored branches over the clear streams, making for an excellent viewing spot.

13. Hase-dera: An autumnal ancient temple tour

Photo courtesy of Kamakura City (鎌倉市観光協会)

The combination of old temples and vivid autumn leaves is an image that is usually linked to Kyoto, but stunning sceneries like that can also be found in Kamakura. Examples of these religious viewing sites include Enkaku-ji, Jochi-ji, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, Kencho-ji, Meigestu-in, as well as Hase-dera, which is the most popular.

Hase-dera is an ancient building dating back to 736 and is home to one of Japan's largest wooden sculptures: the eleven-headed Kannon statue.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
Ginkgo and Japanese maple color the temple ground beautifully around the end of November. Once the sun has set, the entire temple is lit up by numerous illuminations, shining colorfully against the night sky.

14. Kyu-Furukawa Gardens

Credit: Takashi Images / Shutterstock.com

Western-style buildings that seem to have sprung right out of a fairy-tale stand on a small hill of the Musashino Plateau - this beautiful scenery is the Kyu-Furukawa Gardens.

In the past, this stunning place served as the residence of Mutsumune Mitsu, a Foreign Minister during the Meiji era. A Western-style garden graces the slopes of the hill while a beautiful Japanese garden spreads over the lowland.

Around the mansion blossom all kinds of different roses such as First Love, Princess Michiko, and Inca - 199 roses of one-hundred different species that bloom in autumn.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
Every year in mid-October, various events take place, such as the Autumn Rose Festival or the Autumn Rose Concert.

15. Hitachi Seaside Park

The vast Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture, about two hours away from Tokyo by public transport, spreads over a total of around 200 hectares of land, filled with millions of different flowers.

Out of all the seasonsautumn might just be the most beautiful, when about two million cosmos flowers are in full bloom. Another highlight of the park is the bright red kochia that covers the entire area called Miharashi Hill, with about 32,000 plants.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
In summer, the kochia shine in a lush green and gradually change their color from late September until the entire hill is dipped in a deep, vivid red in mid-October.

16. Jindai Botanical Gardens: One of Tokyo's most beloved flower viewing spots

Credit: Carlos Huang / Shutterstock.com

Originally, the Jindai Botanical Gardens were a nursery for trees that were supposed to line Tokyo's many streets, but in 1961, it was reopened as the metropolitan area's only botanical garden. The place is actually one of Kanto's most famous and popular rose gardens and was even awarded the WFRS Award of Garden Excellence in 2009.

Inside the symmetrical sunken garden, you'll find a total of 5,000 individual roses from about 300 different species, letting the garden shine in all variations of colors, vivid and pale alike.

Best time for seeing the autumn colors:
The best period to see the flowers in full bloom is mid-October, and during that time, the entire garden is beautifully lit up, and various events and guided tours are being held throughout the entire month of October.


Via Live Japan

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