Have you visited Japan in the autumn? It is one of the best times of the year to visit Tokyo. The colors of Japan's autumn leaves are breathtakingly beautiful and the leaves are best seen at traditional Japanese gardens and temples. In Japanese, the word koyo (紅葉) means red autumn leaves. Koyo has been appreciated by Japanese people since ancient times.
When is the best time to see the fall foliage in Tokyo?
The leaves usually start changing in mid-October and the peak of the fall foliage is sometime in late-November. The autumn leaves can be seen around Tokyo until mid-December. Some of the nicest weather can be experienced during this time. The average temperature in the autumn ranges from a high of 19℃ (66°F) and a low of 12℃ (54°F) in the Tokyo area.
Whether you are looking to take some scenic photography or experience the stunning beauty of autumn in Japan, our guide has you covered. So, read on!
Have you heard of the maneki neko or the beckoning cat? It is the small cat doll and lucky charm that can be seen in front of Japanese restaurants and stores. The story of Gotoku-ji and maneki neko dates back to the Edo period, early 1600s. According to legends, Gotoku-ji was re-built by a feudal lord out of gratitude to thank a white cat that led him inside the temple just before a terrible thunderstorm. The white cat who had brought good fortune to the temple was honored and statues, maneki neko, were made in its likeness.
For access: it is about a 5-minute walk from Miyanosaka Station on the Setagaya line. Admission is free.
Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens
Koishikawa Kōrakuen Gardens is a wonderful traditional Japanese garden with artificial hills and ponds that dates back to 1629. Construction was started during the early Edo Period by Tokugawa Yorifusa who was the feudal lord of the Mito clan. It was completed by his successor, Tokugawa Mitsukuni. "Kōraku" means enjoying afterwards and "en" means garden. The idea of "enjoying afterwords" refers to a Chinese teaching that, a governor should worry about the people first and his needs after taking care of the people.
The park hours are: 9 am to 5 pm (entry until 4:30 pm)
For access: the nearest stations are Iidabashi Station or Kōrakuen Station. It is about an 8-minute walk. General admission is 300 yen.
Showa Kinen Park
Showa Kinen (Memorial) Park is a national park in Tachikawa that requires a full day to fully explore. The park was established in 1983 as part of the 50th anniversary for Emperor Hirohito. Showa Kinen Park has several themed gardens which include a Japanese garden. There are recreational activities and you can rent a rowboat or paddle boat. There are extensive cycling trails and bikes can be the rented at the cycle centers. There is shuttle bus that can be used to get around the park
The park hours are: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm (until October 31 the park is open until 5:00 pm)
For access to the park: it’s a 10-minute walk from Tachikawa Station or a 3-minute walk from Nishi-Tachikawa Station. General admission is 410 yen.
Rikugien is one of Tokyo's most beautiful Japanese landscape gardens and it dates back to the Edo period. The story is that Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu created these gardens on land that was given to him by the fifth shogun, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi. The meaning of Rikugien is "Garden of the Six Principles of Poetry" and rather interestingly poetry inspired scenery was created in the miniature landscape.
The park hours are: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (entry until 4:30 pm)
For access: it is about a 10-minute walk from Komagome Station. General admission is 300 yen to enter.
Otaguro Park is a best-kept secret that can be found in Suginami City. The house and the grounds belonged to Motoo Otaguro who was a famous music critic. After his passing, his family donated the property to Suginami City. Otaguro's house includes a Japanese-style garden, a teahouse and a pond with a small stream. During the fall foliage, the park is light up at night and there are concerts with traditional music.
For access: it’s a 15-minute walk from Ogikubo Station. Admission is free.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen dates back to the Edo period and the original garden was completed in 1772. It was created on the grounds of a private mansion belonging to Kiyonari Naito who was a daimyō (feudal lord of Japan). After the Meiji Restoration, Shinjuku Gyoen was converted into an experimental agricultural center and later became a botanical garden. In 1879, it became an imperial garden and the current design of the garden was completed in 1906. The garden was open to the public in 1949 after World War II. Shinjuku Gyoen has three distinct garden styles, French Formal Garden, English Landscape Garden and Japanese Traditional Garden. The park closes at 4:30 PM so get there early!
The park hours are: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm (entry until 4:00 pm)
For access: it is about a 10-minute walk from Shinjuku Station, New South Exit or a 5-minute walk from Shinjuku-Gyoenmae Station. There is a fee of 200 yen to enter.
Taishakuten Daikyo Temple
Taishakuten Daikyo Temple is a beautiful Buddhist temple founded in 1629 during the Kan-ei period. Some of the highlights are the Japanese garden around the back and the incredibly detailed wooden carvings along the walls of the temple's outer prayer hall. Shibamata station is only 23 minutes from Asakusa so Taishakuten Daikyo Temple can be visited on the same day as Sensoji Temple. It’s well worth the trip and the town of Shibamata is an interesting historical place to see.
For access: it is a 3-minute walk from Shibamata Station. Admission is free. The garden and wooden carvings can be viewed together for a fee of 400 yen.
We hope you found this guide to be helpful and that you have a great time visiting Japan!
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