Hello everyone! This is A.B. reporting, ICC student staff who loves traveling and taking photos! Autumn is my favorite season because of the following three reasons: I was born during October, it is neither too cold nor too hot and I love autumn leaves. Autumn is very beautiful in my home country as well but what we don’t have compared to the Japanese autumn are maple leaves or temples and shrines. Japanese shrines with their red torii match so well with the red maple leaves, don’t you think so?
I am writing this post to introduce 5 places where you can admire the beautiful autumn leaves in Tokyo and not so far from Tokyo. Taking long walks in the nature and admiring the colorful leaves, from yellow to orange and red leaves, is one of my favorite activities these days. I hope I can convince you to visit at least one of the places below, if you haven’t already.
1. Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden 新宿御苑
One of my favorite places in Shinjuku and maybe in Tokyo in general. It is truly an oasis of serenity in the middle of the busy Shinjuku area. And besides the beautiful red maple leaves, around this time you can also find a special kind of cherry blossom tree there, the fuyuzakura 冬桜(winter cherry blossom) that blooms when it’s cold (hence the name).
Shinjuku Gyoen is also beautifully illustrated in the animation movie Kotonoha no Niwa 言の葉の庭 by director Makoto Shinkai, who also directed the famous movie Kimi no na wa 君の名は. I recommend them both for the beautiful animation style and interesting plots.
2. Rikugien Garden 六義園
Another wonderful garden in central Tokyo, where you can enjoy a few moments of peace and escape the busy city life, at least for a little bit. It might be not so well known so when I visited it, it was less crowded than other similar places, which is great if you don’t like super crowded places and are looking for a place to relax. And during the kouyou 紅葉(autumn leaves) season, they also have a special light up (illumination) session, that will last from November 17th to December 9th this year so don’t miss it!
3. Showa Kinen Park 国営昭和記念公園
A bit further away from central Tokyo, located in Tachikawa, Showa Kinen Park is a huge park where you can easily spend a whole day doing outdoor activities, having a picnic or just taking a stroll around. I visited it during all seasons because there is always something to see there (for example poppies and hydrangeas in summer, tulips and cherry blossoms in spring and so on). During autumn, there is a beautiful alley of ichou イチョウ trees (that you might have already seen inside the Waseda campus), and a vibrant yellow tunnel is formed. You can really feel autumn by walking under this tunnel. And not far from this park, there is an Ikea store with a great restaurant inside, so you might as well consider going there for a yummy lunch.
4. Okutama 奥多摩
Although Okutama is still considered part of Tokyo, it actually takes about 2 hours by train from central Tokyo and it feels so different. It is a mountainous district with rich nature, a perfect place for hiking. The hiking trail called Okutama Mukashimichi 奥多摩むかし道or Old Road of Okutama offers spectacular views of the valley framed by the beautiful autumn leaves. At the end of this hiking trail, you can find Okutama Lake. From there, it is a good idea to take the bus back to Okutama station and end the day with a dip in Moeginoyu Onsen もえぎの湯, hot spring which is believed to have a soothing effect. Onsen after a long and a bit chilly hike in the mountains is a great way to end the day.
5. Arakurayama Sengen Park 新倉山浅間公園
You might have seen the iconic postcard-like image of Japan with a red pagoda and Mt. Fuji behind. That is Chureito Pagoda and can be found in Arakurayama Sengen Park in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture. It takes 2 hours by bus from Shinjuku but it is definitely worth the long trip.
You can get this amazing view if you are lucky to go when it’s clear and Mt. Fuji is not hidden behind the clouds. Unfortunately, I visited during a rainy day so there was no sign of Mt. Fuji. However, the landscape was still beautiful and the autumn leaves there were gorgeous. I really recommend going there during autumn or spring.
So this is it, my 5 places to go for autumn leaves viewing in Tokyo and around Tokyo. I hope you liked this article and let us know if you have any recommendations as well by dropping by the ICC lounge whenever you want 🙂 Thank you for reading!
A.B (Student Staff)