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Tokyo: Approaching Peak

Tokyo's Showa Kinen Koen at peak color

As this year's autumn color season is finally wrapping up in the north and central mountainous areas of Japan, western Japan and the country's urban coastal areas are now starting to reach their peak color, including none other than fall color hot-spot Tokyo.

The nation's capital usually finds the trees around its many city parks and avenues changing color throughout November, usually peaking around the end of the month, later than much of the rest of the country.

After Raina's last early report from a mostly still-green Tokyo two weeks ago, I was greeted by a koyo (autumn color) wonderland today in several of the city's best fall color spots.

Aoyama Icho Namiki

Approaching Peak

My first stop for today was to one of Tokyo's most iconic autumn color spots, ginkgo tree-lined Aoyama Icho Namiki. Located just a couple minutes' walk from Aoyama-Itchome Station, the picturesque avenue's rows of trees were nearing there peak color today, much developed since our last report here. The ginkgo's foliage was mostly yellowed, with its last holdout leaves likely turning this week.

Expect this street to be super colorful by next week, as well as super crowded, as the annual Jingugaien Ginkgo Festival (November 18 to December 5, held in the field at the end of the avenue) will help bring in throngs leaf watchers.

Aoyama Icho Namiki
Nearing peak color
The soft greens will quickly be turning golden yellow
Well-groomed ginkgo
Green and yellow twist
Koyo police?
Get that shot. No matter what.

Shinjuku Gyoen

Approaching Peak

After a 15-minute walk from Icho Namiki, I found myself at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, one of Tokyo's largest and most popular public parks. The garden was sporting some beautiful autumn colors today, especially in the French formal garden on the east side of the park and around the sprawling English lawn garden. The Japanese garden—a perennial koyo favorite—was approaching its peak as well, as the garden's momiji (Japanese maple) trees were beginning to show some of flashes of bright red.

Shinjuku Gyoen showing some lovely autumn color today
Shinjuku Gyoen's formal French garden, lined with giant-leaved trees just turning colors now
Leafer parade
Sharp tamukayama kaede leaves
The Japanese style garden at Shinjuku Gyoen was starting to show some nice color
Many of the momiji (Japanese maple) trees were changing color today
A slightly dull but still pretty red color developing on the momiji here
The garden's annual chrysanthemum festival is also underway this month

Showa Kinen Koen

Peak Color

My next destination for the day was to what is arguably one of Tokyo's most impressive and spacious autumn color spots. Showa Kinen Koen, located about a 30-minute train ride west from Shinjuku Station, directly next to Nishi-Tachikawa Station, is a 160-hectacre park featuring a variety of garden types, biking paths, and no shortage of color-changing trees.

Today, the park was on fire with autumn color, ahead of much of the rest of Tokyo. Two of the best spots at Showa Kinen Koen to enjoy the leaves at their best are the park's very own icho namiki ("ginkgo avenue"), in its southeast corner, and the Japanese style garden in the center. Both were stunning today, and should remain around peak at least through the end of this week.

For those visiting the park, the most efficient (and perhaps the most fun) way to get around the huge grounds is by renting a bicycle, which cost 510 yen for three hours for adults and are available near the entrances.

Beautiful autumn colors at Showa Kinen Koen
Biking: the best way to get around here
The icho namiki at Showa Kinen Koen looking stately
Peak autumn color here
Golden tunnels of ginkgo leaves are pretty hard to beat
Enough yellow for you?
Yellow wall
The Japanese style garden at Showa Kinen Koen was also at peak color today
Much momiji, so autumn
Swirling colors on the pond
Amazing views everywhere you turned
The momiji here were incredible today
Dripping fire
The pavilion on the pond
The colors around the park should still be quite lovely through the rest of the week and weekend
This scene raised some eyebrows

Imperial East Gardens

Peak Color

My last stop for the day was back in the center of Tokyo at the the Imperial Palace's East Gardens. A popular Tokyo cherry blossom viewing spot, the large grounds of the palace also have a few patches of trees that change color in the fall as well.

The foliage around the palace grounds today was a bit mixed, with some trees seeming to be approaching their peak, some still quite green (momiji trees in particular), and still others (largely the early-changing cherry trees) were already leafless.

Some autumn color around the Imperial East Gardens
The best color today at the Ninomaru East Gardens
While some trees were looking great, others were past peak
Possibly the most colorful thing in the garden today
Like a swirl of cigarette smoke in the water
Some nicely colored trees surrounding the large open lawn at the palace