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Tokyo: Starting to Change

A view of Rikugien from the Fujishirotoge hill top

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.

Aoyama Icho Namiki:
Approaching Peak

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.

The approach to the ginko avenue as you face Meiji Jingu Gaien
The left side of the avenue was approaching peak colors
Lots of yellows
Everyone was stopping to admire the fall colors
The right side is only just starting to change colors

Shinjuku Gyoen:
Starting to Change

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.

view through the Taiwan Pavilion
Some color is beginning to appear in the upper pond of the Japanese traditional garden
Posing for pictures
The Maple Hill is still green
The Chrysantheum Cultivation Field is open to the public up until tomorrow
They work to produce new chrysantheum hybrids in the garden
These chrysantheums were taller than me

Koishikawa Korakuen:
Starting to Change

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.

Koishikawa Korakuen Garden's main pond has some nice autumn colors coming in
Selfies with the fall foliage
The maple leaves are a mix of orange and green
The western side of the garden is becoming colorful too
The Tsuten-kyo bridge is not quite being matched in color by the surrounding trees

Rikugien Garden:
Starting to Change

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.

The view from the Fujishirotoge overlook
The Japanese wax trees are providing the color
The carp enjoy fall leaf viewing too
The Togetsukyo bridge is not surrounded by too many colors yet
The maple trees around the Tsutsuji-chaya teahouse are still green

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