Autumn is a beautiful time of year in Japan. The temperature suddenly drops and you can feel the crisp bite in the air, while the trees turn into their beautiful golden and red colours. One of the most popular ways to spend autumn is by enjoying the autumn leaves, 紅葉 Koyō in Japanese.
Tokyo is famous for its autumn leaves, but just like any other place, there are certain spots that are better than others. Here are 15 of the best places to go to see the leaves change color – and maybe to enjoy some drinks and seasonal food! 5 of these gorgeous spots are secret places that not many people know about.
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Autumn Leaves in Tokyo
1. 日比谷公園 (Hibiya Park)
Hibiya Park is located in the centre of Tokyo. The row of ginkgo trees on the S-shaped garden road was designed at the time of the park opening in 1903, showing off the beautiful yellow leaves in autumn.
You can find Ungata Pond here, a pond with a crane fountain. This pond is said to be the third oldest fountain in Japan among the fountains in city parks. Cherry blossoms bloom in spring, ginkgo trees from autumn to winter, and yellow maple leaves are a sight to behold.
Until the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, Hibiya park was a daimyo residence, but in the Meiji era it became an army training ground. After that, it was planned, designed and created as an “urban park” and was born as Japan’s first modern Western-style park.
Colourful flowers of the four seasons bloom in the flowerbed all year round, and it is a place that’s popular for people working in the business district to come and go.
2. 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)
Yasukuni Shrine is a famous place for cherry blossoms in spring, but in autumn, ginkgo trees with a height up to about 20m turn golden and you can find them from the giant Torii gate to the second Torii gate.
In the first year of Reiwa, the outer garden was maintained as part of the 150th anniversary commemorative project, and the area around the ginkgo trees was beautifully arranged. Looking from the hall of worship from the giant Torii gate, you will be able to see the ginkgo trees shining on both sides.
3. 浜離宮恩賜庭園 (Hamarikyu Gardens)
Hamarikyu Gardens, which has been designated as a national special place of scenic beauty and a special historic site, is a daimyo garden that has been around since the Edo period.
From mid-November to early December, you can enjoy the yellow autumn leaves of about 260 trees in different parts of the park, such as around the Shioiri Pond and around the four teahouses.
The quaint scenery of “Matsu no Ochaya,” “Tsubame no Ochaya,” and “Hawk no Ochaya” was restored based on the materials. This makes a gorgeous scene with the autumn leaves. At the reconstructed teahouse “Nakajima no Ochaya,” you can enjoy matcha and Japanese sweets.
4. 新宿御苑 (Shinjuku Gyoen)
Shinjuku Gyoen was built as an imperial garden in 1906 and later opened to the public. The garden, which measures about 583,000 square meters and has a circumference of 3.5 km.
Shinjuku Gyoen is a beautiful combination of a well-shaped garden with Platanas trees, a landscape garden, and a Japanese garden. The trees in the park show seasonal expressions, but in the fall, the autumn leaves begin to change colour from mid-October and are in full bloom from mid-November to mid-December.
Also, the Shinjuku Gyoen Chrysanthemum Flowerbed Exhibition and the Chrysanthemum Flower Bed Illumination are usually held during the autumn leaves season.
You can find the maples at the Shinjuku Gate arching with autumn leaves to welcome visitors. You can also enjoy the Japanese garden, the former Western-style building in front of the rest house and the Central Rest House.
5. 代々木公園 (Yoyogi Park)
Yoyogi Park is probably one of the most popular parks for people to visit in Tokyo. There are about 6 species of broad-leaved trees scattered throughout the Yoyogi park, including 1000 zelkova trees, 260 ginkgo trees, and 100 maples.
Approximately 1,300 trees are colored and you can take a walk through the autumn leaves. The park is in the city center, which covers a total area of about 540,000 square meters. Yoyogi park also has a plaza, a fountain, and a lot of benches, so you can sit back and enjoy the autumn leaves all day long.
The row of ginkgo trees spreading to the right front of the Harajuku Gate is in full bloom from late November to early December every year, and the contrast with the bright red maple on the west side of the fountain pond is breathtaking.
6. 小石川後楽園 (Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens)
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens is a historic Japanese garden in Tokyo and it is an oasis in the city center. It was built in the early Edo Period and was named Korakuen after a poem that encouraged a ruler to enjoy pleasure only after achieving happiness for his people.
In autumn, Japanese maple, goby, zelkova, and other plants turn red, and Maruya and the autumnal forest become a beautiful view. In particular, the area around “Tsutembashi”, which represents Tsutenbashi at Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto Prefecture, is a spectacular viewpoint where many trees are colored.
Approximately 500 Japanese maples, which are some of the largest in the countryside in Tokyo, colour the scenery. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery of autumn leaves in the entire park, but the areas around “Oigawa Bridge”, “Autumn Leaves Forest” and “Maruya” are particularly gorgeous.
7. 光が丘公園 (Hikarigaoka Park)
Hikarigaoka Park is in the Nerima ward of Tokyo. At the end of Keyaki Square of Hikarigaoka Park between the tennis court and the bird sanctuary, you will find a row of ginkgo trees with a total length of about 200 meters. It is a symbol of Hikarigaoka Park. During the yellow leaves season, it becomes a beautiful tunnel of autumn leaves surrounding you.
All of these trees are over 130 years old, and you can also enjoy the unique scenery where 40 ginkgo trees are lined up.
8. 砧公園 (Kinuta Park)
Kinuta park, which used to be a metropolitan golf course, is famous for its spring cherry blossoms, but there are about 1000 zelkova trees, ginkgo trees, and maples in the park, and you can enjoy the autumn leaves throughout the park. The contrast between the red of the maple and the yellow of the ginkgo and the greeneries around is beautiful.
Besides the yellow color of the ginkgo tree and the red color of the maple tree in the family park, the scenery of the fallen leaves laid out like a carpet is also a highlight.
9. 等々力不動尊 (Todoroki Fudōson Temple)
Todoroki Fudōson Temple has been popular with the locals as “Todoroki’s Fudo-sama”. The contrast between the large autumn leaves in front of the main hall and the vivid red colours of the large lanterns are known to be a landscape that symbolises Todoroki Fudoson’s autumn. Standing in front of the golden ginkgo trees is a great photo spot and the maple tunnel leading to Benten-do and the broad-leaved trees of Jizo-do and the colorful scenery are also spectacular.
10. 大田黒公園 (Otaguro Park)
Otaguro Park is a Japanese garden on the site of the former residence of music critic Motoo Otaguro. This park is lined with giant trees such as zelkova, red pine, and shiinoki, as well as a tree-lined road created by 27 large ginkgo trees. The scenery where the rows of ginkgo trees are dyed yellow all at once in autumn is just a masterpiece. In addition, during the period when the autumn leaves are in full bloom, the lights are lit up at night, and you can enjoy a walk in the garden with a special atmosphere.
During the light-up period from November to December, the autumn leaves reflect on the surface of the water and colour the park and create a fantastic world.
Secret spots to view autumn leaves in Tokyo
11. 水元公園 (Mizumoto Park)
At Mizumoto Park, one of the largest water town parks in Tokyo, the trees begin to change color from early November. The scenery in the park is dyed in a bright color, making this park a great spot for autumn leaves. Different trees such as sweetgum, ginkgo, and poplar are dyed red and yellow.
The “Metasequoia Forest” is in full bloom around the beginning of December every year. The leaves are dyed in vibrant colours and make the whole area extremely beautiful. At the waterside, you can enjoy the symmetric view of the autumn leaves reflected in the water and the blue sky.
12. 国営昭和記念公園 (Showa Kinen Park)
Showa Kinen Park has two ginkgo tree areas. There is the Katarai Ginkgo Trees area with 98 trees and Tachikawaguchi “Along the Canal” with 106 trees. They are popular spots showing up as golden tunnels during the yellow leaves season. You can enjoy the spectacular scenery here and the about 300 maple trees turn red in the “Japanese garden”.
There are also broad-leaved trees such as zelkova, wigs, and Chinese tallow are colored in various parts of the park to add seasonal colors. You can enjoy the different colors of autumn leaves and yellow leaves, and you can feel autumn all around you here at Showa Kinen Park.
13. 清水谷公園 (Shimizudani Park)
Shimizudani Park is a small park located between buildings, about a 3-minute walk from Akasaka Mitsuke Station or a 5-minute walk from Nagatacho Station. Easy access from the station, it is a perfect spot for spending a relaxing time away from the hustle and bustle.
In autumn, you can see bright red maples and yellow ginkgo trees around the park. Shimizudani Park is characterised by its seasonal scenery. In spring, Yoshino cherry trees and weeping cherry trees dye the park pink. And in autumn, the autumn leaves and ginkgo trees begin to change colors.
14. 等々力渓谷 (Todoroki Ravine Park)
Todoroki Valley is a small valley located about 3 minutes on foot from Todoroki Station, one stop from Jiyugaoka. This valley is full of attractions such as promenades, gardens, and cave tombs.
It is the only valley in the 23 wards of Tokyo, and because this place doesn’t get as popular as some of the other places on this list, you can truly indulge in the peaceful and beautiful scenery. Many people are surprised at the tranquility and mysterious atmosphere here. Come to this valley to enjoy the maples that turn bright red, welcoming you in the fall.
15. 神代植物公園 (Jindai Botanical Gardens)
Jindai Botanical Gardens is Japan’s leading botanical park with about 4,800 types and 100,000 trees planted. You can enjoy the autumn leaves in different parts of the park, such as “Kaede-en” where 80 trees of about 45 species such as Japanese maple and Acer amoenum are planted. There are also Metasequoia and Bald cypress around the pond and Ginkgo beside “Hanamomo-en”.
The autumn colours begin to fall into place in different parts of the park from early November, and the autumn leaves of “Kaedeen” are in full bloom from late November to early December.
There you have it! The 15 beautiful places in and around Tokyo for you to enjoy the autumn leaves. Which is your favourite? Do you know any other unique spots in or around Tokyo that you’d like to recommend to us? Let us know in the comment section!