by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com
This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.
2013/12/03 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
Today I headed down to Tokyo to make my final autumn color (koyo) report from the city for this year. It's not the last Tokyo report of the season though, as that one is traditionally done by Schauwecker and is scheduled for next week.
Last week Sean saw some pretty nice trees around the city, and today I mostly followed up on sights that we have previously visited this season. However, my first stop this morning was a new one for our koyo reporting, and I think our first ever autumn color report from Ueno Park. Though not really well known as a koyo spot, nevertheless there was plenty of nice foliage scattered around the park. Many of the park's walkways were lined with nice maples and ginkgo trees with colors at or approaching their peaks. On the other hand, the park's famous cherry trees are not very big autumn contributors and have, for the most part, already lost their leaves.
A secondary reason to check out Ueno Park was to see how the construction was coming along on the Ueno Toshogu Shrine. One of numerous Toshogu Shrines found across the country, which includes the most famous Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Ueno's shrine has been undergoing major renovations over the past decade and has been completely covered up for as long as I can remember. So I was surprised to find that much of the shrine has already been uncovered and you can see the exteriors of the renovated structures. The work, however, will not be fully completed until the end of the year.
My next stop was to Rikugien, one of Tokyo's best gardens to see koyo. The autumn colors have progressed nicely since Sean's visit last week and are now at their best around the garden. Some of the best spots were around the garden's famous Togetsukyo Bridge and the canopy of maple trees that surround the Tsutsuji Chaya Teahouse. The colors should persist for another week or so, and should remain nice at least through the end of Rikugien's evening illuminations which will be held through December 8th.
From Rikugien I took the subways to Aoyama-Icchome station, which is close to the Ginkgo Avenue (Icho Namiki) at Meiji Jingu Gaien Park. It seems that the ginkgoes were at their best during last week's visit, and since then many of the trees have lost most or all of their leaves. Most of the trees still had enough golden foliage to offer visitors some nice views today, but it's not going to be much longer before the season comes to a close along the avenue.
Finally, I paid a visit to Shinjuku Gyoen where the season keeps chugging along and new trees continually come into color. This time the maples and the ginkgoes were the stars of the show, with plenty of reds, oranges and yellows approaching brilliance around the park. Of particular note were the trees around Maple Mountain (Momijiyama) and the Japanese Garden areas of the park which were mostly around the peak today. The ginkgoes were also great and could be found scattered around the park, but especially around the northwest parts. I even spotted a few cherry blossoms in bloom this morning. They were Jugatsuzakura, an unusual type of cherry that blooms in autumn and winter, but as the autumn color season comes to a close they are a small reminder of the sakura season just a few months off.