As the brisk autumn breeze descends upon Tokyo, signaling the arrival of fall, the city undergoes a breathtaking transformation. Amidst the bustling urban landscape, Tokyo reveals its quieter, more contemplative side, as tree-lined streets and parks become ablaze with the brilliant colors of changing leaves. By following along this list of Top 5 Stunning Fall Foliage Spots, you will make the most of your autumn vacation in Tokyo, where each of these iconic locations transforms into a colorful sea of red, yellow and orange. From your base in Tokyo at THE LIVELY TOKYO AZABUJUBAN, HOTEL GRAPY NEZU or The Millennials Shibuya, you will have convenient access to these locations, which capture the seasonal splendor that unfolds every year, attracting both local residents and visitors from around the world.
Rikugien Gardens, celebrated for its classical Japanese landscape architecture, features a meticulously designed pond surrounded by strategically placed maple trees. The eminent garden stands out as a must-see location for its cultural significance and natural beauty. As one of Tokyo’s oldest landscape gardens established in 1702, Rikugien was crafted to offer visitors a delightful stroll through its expansive grounds. Built on 8.9 hectares of flat land, a hill and a manmade pond was built, with historical records noting that Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the reigning shogun, visited the park a remarkable 58 times upon its completion. The garden is adorned with a mesmerizing array of 450 Japanese maple trees, complemented by 600 variations of maples and ginkgo trees that burst into a riot of colors during the autumn season. Drawing crowds during the season when ginkgo, maple and wax trees undergo their captivating color transformation, the park features picturesque spots like Suikonoe, Sanin-bashi Bridge, Togetsukyo Bridge, Tsutsuji Teahouse and Takimi Teahouse. Rikugien transforms into a surreal dreamscape when illuminated at night, providing a magical setting during the fall foliage season. The fall foliage in Rikugien Garden graces the landscape from late November to early December, offering a captivating experience for all who venture into its timeless beauty.
Yoyogi Park, a vast expanse in Shibuya and the fifth-largest park among Tokyo’s 23 wards, holds a rich history as the former athletes’ village during the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. Post-Olympics, this space transformed into a public park, and today, it stands as a prominent green oasis in the heart of Tokyo. Adorned by bright yellow ginkgo leaves, the Harajuku Gate welcomes visitors, creating a striking contrast with the deep red hues surrounding Yoyogi Park’s main fountain—an iconic scene embodying the essence of autumn in Japan. For an immersive experience amid this seasonal spectacle, consider renting a bicycle from one of the park’s various rental points, allowing you to traverse the grounds under the vibrant foliage (priced at 210 yen per hour). A short stroll from Meiji Jingu Shrine, Yoyogi Park stands as an ideal destination to absorb Tokyo’s autumnal hues. Whether you choose to gather with friends for a relaxing picnic beneath the trees or opt for a bike ride along the designated cycling course, the crisp fall air enhances the charm of the surroundings. The optimal period to bask in Yoyogi Park’s momiji splendor spans from the end of November to mid-December, offering ample time to relish the captivating autumn foliage.
Ueno Park, renowned for its zoo, shrines and museums, transforms into a captivating canvas of autumn hues as the leaves change color. The park, adorned with thousands of trees, offers an abundance of photo opportunities, with the vibrant red leaves of the maple trees creating a stunning backdrop. An afternoon stroll through Ueno Park is a delightful experience throughout the year, but it becomes especially enchanting in autumn. The once serene greenery transforms into a lively spectacle of reds, oranges and yellows, inviting crowds to witness the vibrant festival of colors. Despite the influx of visitors, the park’s vast expanse allows for peaceful moments away from the crowds, offering a quiet sanctuary to savor the autumnal splendor. Saigo Takamori’s statue framed by the golden leaves of the ginkgo trees, is a particularly popular photo spot. Shinobazuno Pond also. becomes a popular destination for families and couples who enjoy paddling in swan boats amidst the scenic surroundings. The pond’s perimeter is adorned with colorful autumn trees, creating a picturesque setting. Additionally, a section of the pond features a mesmerizing display of lotus flowers gently floating on the water. The best time to view the leave at Ueno Park is from late November to mid-December.
Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
Spanning 70,000 square meters in the heart of Tokyo, Koishikawa Korakuen captivates visitors with its distinctive features. Notable highlights include Engetsu-kyo (Full Moon Bridge), an exquisite structure reflecting Chinese aesthetics, and the Tokujin-do Hall, where wooden figures of Boyi and Shuqi are enshrined, inspired by Chinese history. The Nobedan, a Chinese-style stone path, and Daisensui, a large pond with symbolic islands, add to the garden’s allure. Tsutenkyo Bridge, meaning ‘the bridge leading to heaven,’ enhances the autumn experience with vibrant red maple leaves against its vermilion backdrop. Koishikawa Korakuen, with its 480 maple trees, transforms into a majestic spectacle during autumn, offering miniature replicas of renowned sites like Daisensui, Togetsukyo and Oigawa. Located in Bunkyo, Tokyo, this 17th-century garden seamlessly blends the tranquility of nature with the bustling urban life surrounding it. Amidst the deep orange-red maple leaves and serene ambiance, the garden provides a much-needed escape from the stresses of metropolitan life. Despite being in the heart of Tokyo, the garden remains a hidden gem, offering a peaceful retreat for those seeking solace and rejuvenation. As autumn colors paint the landscape, Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens beckon visitors to indulge in the simple pleasures of life. The vibrant maple trees lining the lake create a surreal and captivating scene. Trails guide visitors through the intricacies of the park, unveiling hidden groves of gingko trees that turn a golden yellow during autumn. The garden’s essence lies in its ability to transport individuals from the hustle and bustle of city life to a realm of natural beauty, encouraging a pause to appreciate life’s uncomplicated joys. The best time to view the leave at Ueno Park is from mid-November to early December.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden has several sections that each offers a unique spectacle during the autumn season, with the Japanese Garden adorned in rich red maple leaves, the British Garden aglow in golden ginkgo hues and the French Garden exuding a romantic European autumn ambiance—a trifecta that captivates foliage photographers. Shinjuku Gyoen originated as the property of the Naito family, a feudal clan during the Edo period (1603-1868). Transforming into an Imperial garden in 1906, it opened its gates to the public in the 1950s. Spread across 58.3 hectares, late autumn introduces an exotic touch with lilies, plane trees and other non-native species in full bloom. Simultaneously, the Japanese garden showcases the brilliant autumn hues of maple and ginkgo trees. An autumn visit also unveils the captivating chrysanthemum flower beds, intricately connected to the Imperial Family, adding a touch of regal elegance to the seasonal splendor. For the best fall foliage viewing experience, visit Shinjuku Gyoen from mid-November to early December.
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