We’re well into winter now, here in Tokyo. As if on queue, as soon as the calendar changed to December, the cold arrived. The only time I ‘love’ winter is either when I’m sipping hot chocolate with friends inside a warm cafe or when I’m on a snowboard at a ski resort. So these frosty mornings have definitely been making it hard to get out of bed!
But, late November and early December is actually peak time for the autumn leaves in Tokyo. We are one of the last places in the country to see the colours change, and it seems to happen so quickly. It’s almost like the cherry blossoms in spring – we have only 2 or 3 weeks to soak them up before they’re gone for another year.
Perhaps it’s because ichō (ginkgo) trees are more sturdy or easier to maintain than momiji (maple) trees, but I always notice a lot more yellow leaves all over Tokyo. Even in my local neighbourhood there are plenty of ginkgo trees around. For a while, it really felt like Tokyo had turned yellow! I love it. It’s such a happy and attractive colour!
One of the most famous autumn spots is Meiji-jingu Gaien’s ginkgo avenue. This park was built way back in 1923 and sees millions of visitors every November. The towering yellow trees have almost a comical shape to them. They look like either thin Christmas trees, or pointy witches hats! What do you think?
Another ginkgo spot is the more modest and relaxed avenue at Showa Memorial Park. It’s the newer park of the two, having been built in 1983. I visited the same spot last autumn, so I have plenty of photos here you can take a peak at. According to the number of entry tickets bought this year, they apparently had over 3,800,000 visitors. A little bit insane, but the crowds don’t take away from the trees thankfully. I love when the light shines through the leaves, creating a heavenly sort of feel. The warm shades of yellow are soothing and you just want to stroll through the avenue as slowly as possible to savour the experience!
Most of the autumn leaves are finished in Tokyo now. From here on in, the spotlight changes to Christmas illuminations! If you’re in town, definitely check out Naka-Meguro’s ‘Blue Cave’, Yomiuri Land, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo Midtown and Solar-town at Tokyo SkyTree!