Joe's Japan Travel Journal
by Joe, staff writer of

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2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo

Red momiji (Japanese maple) against a red torii gate within the Yakuoin Temple complex on Mount Takao

This year's autumn colors have finally begun to make their slow debut in Tokyo over the last week or two, so today I headed back to the capital to check on two more of it's most popular autumn destinations.

While the first half of this year's color front has been between a week or two earlier than most years in much of northern Japan, the fast pace seems to evening out at colder temperatures slowly make their way south. Traveling around Tokyo today, it was clear that the season is only just beginning in the city here.

My first stop today was to one of Tokyo's most popular side destinations for a touch of nature not too far from the city, Mount Takao. Located on the very westernmost edge of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area less than an hour from Shinjuku, the 599-meter-tall mountain is a pleasant getaway from the heart of the city, and in the fall and winter when the air is clear (like it fortunately was today) the views of Tokyo and even Mount Fuji can be fantastic. As for the fall color here, while some trees on the top parts of the mountain were showing some nice reds and yellows, much of the mountain's foliage was still green, maybe about week from what might be its best color.

Beginning the hike up Mount Takao's still mostly green forest paths
Hikers stopping to enjoy the view
The view over Tokyo from Mount Takao
The main gate of Mount Takao's Yakuoin Temple
The air was clear and the views of Mount Fuji were stunning today, even if the fall colors left a little to be desired
Mount Fuji from Tokyo's Mount Takao
Just beyond the summit in the Momijidai area the colors were a bit more advanced
Mount Fuji from the Momijidai area beyond Takao's summit
Jizo statues scattered around Mount Takao

My second stop today was at Rikugien, one of Tokyo's most well-loved public Japanese gardens. Originally commissioned by the 5th Tokugawa Shogun, the 300-year-old garden is a quintessential Edo Era landscape garden with walking paths through wooded areas and over bridged streams, all around a large central lake. It also features a healthy amount of momiji (Japanese maple) trees and other deciduous trees that can be beautiful at the right time of year.

Today, however, was still a bit early for great autumn colors in the garden. Most of the trees were still green around the pond, and the momiji in the back of the park had not even begun to change colors yet. In another week or two, the park will likely be quite stunning with lots of reds and yellows. Nonetheless, in the cool autumn air, walking around the peaceful garden today was still lovely.

One of Tokyo's best-loved autumn color spots, Rikugien Garden, was still mostly green today
A Japanese pine tree supported by ropes on the shore of Rikugien's pond
In a couple more weeks the momiji (Japanese maple) trees in the back of the park will all be a fiery red
A little red with the green
A couple enjoying the view on the Togetsukyo Bridge
Purple autumn berries
A magamo (mallard) and koi (carp) amongst ochiba (fallen leaves)
Great weather for a day in the garden
Susuki (pampas grass) in front of soon-to-change momiji trees

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List of Posts:
2019/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2019
2018/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2018
2017/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2017
2016/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2016
2016/03/24 - Setouchi Triennale 2016
2015/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2015
2015/12/04 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Mitake
2015/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Takao
2015/11/12 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2015/11/11 - Autumn Color Report: Fukuroda Falls
2015/10/30 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2015/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Bandai
2015/10/22 - Autumn Color Report: Northern Alps
2015/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Northern Alps
2015/10/20 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Fuji
2015/10/15 - Autumn Color Report: Hachimantai
2015/10/14 - Autumn Color Report: Towada
2015/10/13 - Autumn Color Report: Hakkoda
2015/10/08 - Autumn Color Report: Nasu
2015/10/06 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2015/04/14 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Yoshino
2015/04/13 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Miharu
2015/04/08 - Cherry Blossoms 2015: Matsumoto Report
2015/01/29 - Crabs, Peonies and Castle Cruises in Shimane

2014/12/31 - Travel Highlights 2014
2014/12/16 - Seasonal Illumination: Osaka
2014/12/15 - Seasonal Illumination: Kobe Luminarie 2014
2014/12/09 - Seasonal Illumination: Ashikaga Flower Park
2014/12/05 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Nara
2014/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/13 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2014/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Hakone
2014/10/29 - Autumn Color Report: Shima Onsen
2014/10/21 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Alpine Route
2014/10/08 - Autumn Color Report: Nasu
2014/10/07 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2014/08/20 - Kusatsu Onsen Beautification