As we head into the middle of November, the lower half of Japan is starting to develop its fall foliage. If you're looking for fall colors at their best this week though, I would recommend visiting the Fuji Five Lakes region as Raina reported it to be at its peak five days ago. Sam reported this Tuesday that Nagatoro, located in Saitama prefecture, was approaching peak colors and would be worth a visit as well.
Last week Friday Charles visited Tokyo and reported that the autumn colors were just starting to appear there. The leaves in Tokyo don't usually reach their peak brillance until late November though so I wasn't surprised to find when I visited today that the colors are still developing. If you are in the city though, I found the Icho Namiki, which is a ginko avenue, to be one of the nicest spots I visited. With night time temperatures dropping, I expect the leaves to begin changing color more rapidly and visitors should find Tokyo approaching its peak next week.
The Icho Namiki, also known as the ginko avenue, was my first stop of the day. Located in Meiji Jingu Gaien, one block from the Aoyama-Itchome Subway Station, the avenue is lined with uniquely shaped ginko trees that light the street up in yellow each fall. I found the left side of the avenue, as you face Meiji Jingu Gaien, to be approaching peak colors and it was a popular spot for visitors even first thing in the morning. In stark contrast though the right side, which is still mostly green, felt a little lonely.
Next, I took the Oedo subway line one stop to nearby Shinjuku Gyoen, one of Tokyo's largest gardens. There are actually three different garden styles in Shinjuku Gyoen, Japanese, English, and French, but I was most interested in visiting the Japanese garden where the best autumn leaf viewing spots are. Just as Charles reported last week though, it seems the colors are only beginning to emerge. However, there are beautiful chrysanthemum displays throughout the park from November 1 to 15. Since this is the 150th anniversary of the Meiji Restoration, the garden also has special displays in the Chrysanthemum Cultivation Field which is not usually open to the public.
My next stop was Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, a traditional Japanese landscape garden that is one of the best places to enjoy the fall colors in Japan. The maple trees around the main pond were a mix of greens and oranges. The trees around the west half of the garden were equally pleasing and I suspect they'll be approaching their peak colors next week.
My final stop of the day was to Rikugien, another traditional Japanese landscape garden with great autumn colors. I was eager to see the view from the Fujishirotoge viewpoint and although the colors have yet to reach their peak, it was still a wonderful lookout. The maple trees throughout the garden are still mostly green however there are several large Japanese wax trees that are supplying the garden with beautiful red tones. I predict it will be another two weeks before the maple trees join in with their colors.