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

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2014/11/18 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo

Golden ginkgos along Tokyo's Icho Namiki (Gingko Avenue)

Continuing our coverage of this year's autumn color season in Tokyo, I headed back to the city today check on a few of the city's most impressive spots to see koyo (the Japanese word for autumn leaves changing color).

It's around this time every year (mid to late November) that Tokyo's foliage begins to show color, and compared to my visits to the inner city's hot spots two weeks ago and last week, the autumn color around the city was only slightly more advanced today. Despite an earlier-than-average koyo season in the north of Japan, in Tokyo and Kyoto (check out Raina's fall color reporting from Kyoto this week) the color front is more on its usual late-November schedule.

For my first stop today, I headed back to Icho Namiki (roughly "Ginkgo Avenue") in western Tokyo just a short walk from Aoyama-Itochome Station. The ginkgo-lined street was approaching its peak color today with the foliage a beautiful blend of yellow and light green. In another week (perhaps even by this weekend), this spot will definitely be at its peak with all the trees a full yellow.

Icho Namiki very close to reaching its peak color
Green and gold ginkgo leaves

At nearby Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo's most popular public parks, the scene was a bit less impressive than at Icho Namiki. Most of the park is still pre-peak, most notably in the Japanese garden, but there were nonetheless some nice colors finally showing around the park. The park's cherry blossom trees, which usually lose their leaves earlier than most deciduous trees in Japan produced a nice carpet of fallen leaves in the southern part of the park. And in the east part of the park, the rows of trees flanking the French formal garden were arguably at their peak today, producing some lovely autumnal scenes.

Shinjuku Gyoen's Japanese garden was still mostly green today
The cherry trees, however, have mostly lost their leaves
A park bench amongst fallen cherry leaves
Elementary school students on a fall field trip in the park
The symmetrical avenues of trees surrounding the French formal garden area had beautiful autumn color today
French-inspired beauty making the world more colorful
Fall leaves in front of the NTT Docomo building

Over in central Tokyo, another well-loved Japanese garden that is especially popular in autumn color is Koishikawa Korakuen. One of Tokyo's oldest gardens, built in the early Edo Period, it attempts to reproduce several landscapes in miniature, including a beautiful pond, which is surrounded by momiji and other color-changing trees.

On my visit today, the leaves around the garden were still a mostly green, maybe another week or so from changing color fully. Also, I noticed a lot of ongoing construction work being done in the garden, which is scheduled to continue through next year and possibly beyond. The construction work unfortunately mars a few views around the park, especially by the Sawawatari walking path that crosses over the pond and by the Engetsukyo Bridge, though much of the garden was very still enjoyable nonetheless.

Visitors enjoying the view at Koishikawa Korakuen
Construction projects throughout the park killed a few of the views around the pond
A crane-like bird wading through the water
Some color was showing around the pond
Most of the garden's momiji (Japanese maple) trees, though, are still another week or two from reaching their peak color
More construction around the park
A pleasant day for a stroll

My last stop today was at the Imperial Palace's East Gardens at the very center of Tokyo. While the sprawling grounds are more famous for their cherry blossoms in the spring, it also sports a bit of autumn color as well, though today was still a bit early to appreciate it at its best here.

The main entrance gate to the Imperial Palace's East Gardens is also currently under construction
A regally ornamented lamp post
The Ninomaru Japanese garden in the East Gardens was still rather green today
A red momiji behind a traditional lantern
Koi in the garden pond
Visitors resting under the trees
A couple resting on the wide Honmaru lawn
An intruder breaching the palace wall

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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