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.
2015/11/04 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
The autumn colors around the northern parts of the country seem to be coming to a close a bit faster than in a typical year, leaving us with a bit of a gap before we would normally start covering central and eastern Japan. Regardless, over the past few days we've turned our sights towards some of Japan's most popular koyo viewing spots in our earliest coverage ever from Tokyo and Kyoto
Last week Joe made this year's first koyo report from Kyoto where the leaves were expectedly still green. And today I followed up with my own early trip to Tokyo. Keep in mind, the peak colors are likely still weeks away (and possibly later in Tokyo due to this year's relatively warm temperatures there) so we don't really expect much can be seen around central Tokyo just yet. As a result, the majority of today's reporting was focused on areas outside of the city center that are known to have early colors.
My first stop this morning was a quick visit to the Icho Namiki in central Tokyo to get bearing on the state of the colors in the city. The popular row of ginkgo trees line the approach to the National Stadium at Meiji Jingu Gaien Park, just a short walk from Aoyama-Itchome Station. As expected the trees were still very green and probably still weeks away from their best colors.
The next stop on the itinerary was Showa Kinen Koen, a huge city park out in Tachikawa (about 30 minutes from Shinjuku Station along the JR Chuo Line) that was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Showa. The season around Showa Kinen Koen begins about 1-2 weeks earlier than the rest of Tokyo and lasts quite long due in part to the large variety of trees that can be found around the park.
In particular are the 100 or so gingko trees that line the fountains inside the Tachikawa Guchi entrance. While still a bit before the peak, there were some nice colors and vibrant yellow-greens on display. Hopefully it won't be much longer before the trees here reach their peak.
The other autumn highlight of Showa Kinen Koen is the large Japanese-style garden at the northern end of the park. The Japanese garden includes a large central pond with a tea house and several smaller rest houses around it. Dozens of maple trees are planted around the pond and provided some of the best colors of the day. But it was still rather early in the season and the maples looked like they will improve quite a bit more as they peak over the next few weeks.
My final stop today was to Mount Takao (Takaosan), a 599 meter high mountain west of the city center, yet still within metropolitan Tokyo. One of the closest and easiest natural recreation areas to the city, Mount Takao is a popular hiking spot and is often crowded with leaf hunters during koyo season. The colors on Takaosan tend to be slightly ahead of the rest of Tokyo, but it is early in the season and green was still the predominant color all along the mountain today. Regardless, it was nice to get out and do some hiking and Takaosan is a good place to combine that with some leaf viewing. Just try to go on the weekdays when it isn't so crowded.