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

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2015/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo

Japanese garden Rikugien is just reaching its peak color now

As this year's autumn color season is coming into its final stretch, around two of the country's biggest cities, many spots are just reaching their best color this week. Both Tokyo and Kyoto, two of Japan's best places for enjoying fall color in late November and early December, have several great spots that are filled with late-changing momiji (Japanese maple) trees which are just now starting to show their best color.

This week, we'll be bringing you late-season coverage from both cities, starting today with some of Tokyo's best-loved autumn color spots.

I started my day at Jingu Gaien's Icho Namiki, or "Avenue of Gingko," just a 2-minute walk from Aoyama-Ichome Station.Last week, as raina reported, the gingko trees here were still showing green mixed in with the still-changing yellow, but today, despite the gloomy, rainy weather, the trees were looking bright and almost fully yellow. It was safe to say the rows of trees here finally reached their peak color, and look like they will deepen even a bit further over the next two weeks.

Jingu Gaien's Icho Namiki has just reached its peak color
Enjoying the tunnel of leaves on a rainy day
Tokyoite getting artsy
The gingko trees here have just reached peak color and even have a little room for improvement over the next week or so
A gorgeous autumn setting, even in the rain
Gold, emerald and aluminium adorning this bringer of incredibly long lines
Poking around the Shake Shack for greasy hamburger morsels
A little wet for a sit today

My next destination today was the lovely Japanese garden Koishikawa Korakuen. I was excited to find that the colors have developed quite a bit since I was last here two weeks ago, and have just reached their peak color (with even a bit of room for improvement left here, too). The momiji (Japanese maple) were definitely the highlight, lighting up several groves around the garden with brilliant reds and orangy yellows.

Many of Koishikawa Korakuen's momiji (Japanese maple trees) were just reaching peak color today
A fiery lone momiji tree
Autumn has finally come to Tokyo
Three workers set up a traditional tree dressing for the coming winter season
Brilliant reds all around
A small, almost hidden grove around a pond in the southeast corner of the park
A cascade of red and yellow
The great color here is just beginning; the momiji will continue to redden over the next week or so
Even on a rainy day, the colors didn't disappoint

Just a couple kilometers north of Koishikawa Korakuen lies another autumn color spot that partially bears the same name. The Koishikawa Botanical Garden features a large wooded grounds that includes several color-changing trees, including a maple grove that was, like many places around the city, also reaching its peak color today. Several gingko trees scattered around the garden were also showing some very nice color.

While the garden is slightly more well-known as a cherry blossom viewing spot, its fall color is also worth a mention. A bonus is that, thanks to its relatively out-of-the-way location (a 10-15-minute walk from either Myogadani Station or Hakusan Station), it doesn't get nearly as crowded as some of the other koyo (autumn color) hot spots around Tokyo.

View of the Koishikawa Botanical Garden from a Tokyo University annex museum on the west side of the grounds
A maple tunnel in the botanical garden showing great color today
Photographers trying to capture the colors at the maple tunnel
Dripping maple leavs
The maple tunnel here has just started to peak, but should develop even better color over the next week
Carpet of leaves
Golden carp to match the gingko trees around the park

My last stop today was at the autumn color favorite Rikugien Garden. Like Koishikawa Korakuen, the maple trees around the garden were just hitting their stride today, and showing some beautiful reds and yellows. Scattered throughout the park, the momiji should also continue improving for the next couple weeks, and can also be enjoyed at night during a special nighttime illumination (which ends this Sunday, Dec. 6).

The view from Rikugien's Fujishirotoge viewpoint today
The maple trees have finally started changing color!
More color around the garden, bringing in lots of visitors
The small momiji-lined stream at the north corner of the garden are starting to show some beautiful color
Bridge crossing a rainbow
Finally a bit of sun shining through the leaves in the afternoon
Everywhere you turn here is like looking at a painting
The colors should be great around the garden for the next couple weeks—expect even better colors around this bridge soon!

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List of Posts:
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