by Joe, staff writer of japan-guide.com
2015/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
Continuing our coverage of this year's autumn color season, we're following the late-season colors as they are beginning to approach their peak color in southern Japan (check out latest report from the Chubu Region by Raina) and the country's major cities, where the color front usually arrives the latest. Today I made my way to Tokyo to track the fall colors as they should just be approaching their peak.
I started my day in the western suburb of Tachikawa at one of Tokyo's best autumn color spots, Showa Memorial Park (Showa Kinen Koen). Being a bit further from the relatively warm city center, the autumn colors here usually peak a week or two earlier than most inner city parks and gardens, and today proved no exception.
Within the sprawling public park, I first made my way to one of the most impressive leaf-watching spots here, the Icho Namiki (or "Avenue of Ginkgo Trees"). The color here was absolutely gorgeous as the aisles of ginkgo trees around the central reflecting pool were just in the midst passing their peak color today. This weekend would be a perfect chance to catch the color here while it's still mostly on the trees as the leaves are already falling and will be mostly gone in a week or two.
Elsewhere in the park, however, it was clear the colors were on their way out (just two weeks after first changing colors two weeks ago). The park's second most impressive spot for autumn color is arguably the Japanese style garden in the north part of the park (best reached by bicycle, which are a great way to explore the park at 410 yen for a 3-hour ride). The colors here, though, were well past their peak, with just a few later-changing momiji trees (Japanese maple) still showing some nice color.
After finishing at Showa Memorial Park, I hopped on the JR Chuo Line at Nishi-Tachikawa Station (just a few steps outside the front gate of the park) and took a 40-minute train ride back into the city center to my next stop: Meiji Jingu Gaien Park's very own Icho Namiki ("Ginkgo Avenue"). Compared to my last visit here last week, the trees were well on their way to peak color. Just another week or so and the tunnel of trees here will look similar to Showa Memorial Park's.
My third stop for the day was Kiyosumi Teien, a traditional Japanese garden in the eastern part of central Tokyo. Originally the residence of an Edo era merchant, the landscape garden has been open to the public since 1932 and meticulously curated. While the park doesn't highlight its autumn colors as prominently as other Tokyo gardens like Rikugien or Koishikawa Korakuen (which should both be approaching their peak colors in the next week or two), it's more understated colors still stand out in a few well-positioned spots that are truly eye-catching.
Today, the few autumn colors around the park were quite lovely and near their peak color. In addition, the pleasant weather, relatively light crowd, and many islets and green areas around the central pond have turned the garden into a virtual menagerie, with a huge variety of ducks, cranes, turtles, and other animals basking in the sun everywhere I looked.
My last stop for the day was at the very center of the city at the Imperial East Gardens. While more popular for its cherry blossom viewing in the spring, the palace grounds also sport a few nice color-changing trees that add a little color to the gardens in autumn. Today, the trees here were showing a mix of colors, with many early-changing trees (mainly cherry trees) past their peak, and a few later ones (particularly maple trees) just starting to show some color.