A year passes by too quickly. Recently I have been waiting patiently for some good weather days to go out and appreciate this colorful season, as late Fall in Tokyo is my second favorite season (right after Summer). Every year, from end of September, the steamy weather starts to cool down, the humid air dries up little by little, and the sunset starts to look milder than in Summer, and, eventually, the city starts to get colors warming you up in the colder days from November to middle of December, when people in Japan go out to appreciate the colors of the Fall, which you probably knew already, is to see the Momiji, or Kouyou (紅葉) in different spots (名所).
I got to appreciate the leaves in different spots in and near Tokyo this year. Some are famous spots, while the others may be a little out of the box. But, they are all so beautiful and I can’t wait to share some pictures with you just in time of this beautiful season in Japan.
- Lake Kawaguchi-ko (河口湖), Yamanashi prefecture (山梨県)
Lake Kawaguchi-ko is one of the hot spots for appreciating the leaves. It is popular, because you do not only see the beautiful mountain leaves around the Lake, but also since Mount Fuji is very close, on a clear day you would see it so close as if the Lake were by its foot.
Getting there is easy, but quite a long trip from Tokyo. I spent a good 3 hours trip just by train. When finally arrive there, you can take a tour bus to get to different spots along the lake, or just like what I have done, you can literally walk around. After all, Japan is not a huge country, so is its small towns, not to mention you don’t have to walk too much to get to the views as there is a bridge across the lake which is a perfect spot for taking panorama pictures of the great views surrounding you.
In the mountains, it is known that the leaves turn earlier than in the cities. So, if you are interested to go, go early in around mid to late November. (But also be prepared for the crowds 🙂 )
- Chichibu (秩父), Saitama prefecture (埼玉県)
Chichibu area is huge! I never got to see enough of it to be able to provide a good review. But I was assured it was a great place for appreciating the leaves, for its rural beauty in the embrace of the mountains in the back of Saitama, combined with the vivid countryside life images everywhere, and of a nostalgic Showa (昭和) touch as in the good old time.
This year I went to a place called Mitsumineguchi (三峰口), a small town at the end of Chichibu Railway, disconnected from the center of Chichibu. Well, if you are tired of the people mountain people sea in other famous spots, here you will be surprised to see very few people, so few that it is kind of lonely, however the leaves don’t care about people anyway, which is good.
Another thing you can experience when go to Chichibu is taking the classic SL train. Not sure how many of you are clueless of what SL trains are until actual seeing one… But it is actually less fun when being inside it, except that you will get envious looking from those outside the train window, standing along the rails waiting to wave at you and take pictures of you with the train. Just be prepared to be photographed.
- Shosenkyo (昇仙峡) – Chichibu Tama Kai National Park (秩父多摩甲斐国立公園), Kofu Yamanashi prefecture (山梨県甲府)
This place I went last year, but it is quite close to above two places, so I just listed here to make my list complete. Actually, last year when I went there, it was a little too late as the leaves had started to fall. It was late November. I bet every year it varies in terms of the best timing to go; you just need to plan neatly and look up closely the information provided by the weather forecast program on TV.
- Rikugien Garden (六義園), Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo (東京都文京区)
Rikugien Garden is one of my favorite places for autumn leaves in town. It is located in the quiet and academic area of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, very close to its most famous university, the University of Tokyo, and it is also a frequented place of the seniors living nearby.
It used to be a private garden of a lord in old Japan, and now turned into a beautiful garden open to the public. It is unlike the typical Japanese gardens you probably know a lot from visiting Kyoto or Nara, in that it is more natural and colorful, and was built with a sense of natural landscape in mind, which is quite rare and considered by myself a luxury since land in Tokyo is always in scarcity.
I like the way it is colored layer by layer, and from each angle it shows a different painting, all beautifully organized. It somehow reminds me of classic Chinese gardens.
- the University of Tokyo (東京大学), Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo (東京都文京区)
It is on the bottom of my list, because I am hesitant to share it with others. Not that it is not worth it, but rather the opposite: it is too perfect – Todai (東大, short for the University of Tokyo) main campus is rich of history, and such a tranquil haven in the luminescent city of Tokyo. The beautiful Ginkgo trees lining up along the road covered with fallen leaves to its main auditorium, and around every corner of the campus, there will be a picture of such warm colors.
On a good day, it is perfect for a walk with family and pet, or a date with your beloved one. Perfect for pictures as well.
And such a happy girl 🙂
There are surely other famous spots as well. Some I have been to and found not so worthy of it, while others I shall explore more before sharing – probably next year when it is the season again.