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10 Gorgeous Autumn Foliage Spots In And Near Tokyo

It’s almost time to put on your koyo (autumn foliage) caps and embrace another change in season. But where to go? Kyoto and Hokkaido offer splendid autumn sights, but if you can’t travel that far, there are several unique spots right here in the heart of the capital, or such at just an hour or so train ride from central Tokyo. This list guides you to some rather well-known, highly frequented, classic spots—but also to some semi-secret, uncharted locales that you may not have enjoyed the colorful season at before.


1. Rikugien Gardens


Located a short walk (or skip if you’re excited) from Komagome station, these gardens — well known as a top cherry blossom viewing spot, too — don’t skip out on the koyo. In addition to beautiful bridges, colorful trees, and old Edo vibes, Rikugien Gardens is known for its autumn illumination. This year’s illumination is from November 17th to December 9th beginning at 4:30 p.m. and finishing at 9 p.m. Don’t miss those colors.

When to go: Mid-November through early December
Getting there: A 10-min walk from Komagome station (Yamanote and Namboku likes) or Sengoku station on the Mita line. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ¥300 entrance fee for adults.


2. Tonogayato Teien Gardens


© Photo by TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋)

Worth a trip to Kokubunji? Yes. A thousand times. Type the name of this garden into Google images and you’ll see why. Complete with garden tunnels, secluded pathways, bamboo forests, and a lovely koi pond, Tonogayato Garden is only a 20-minute Chuo rapid line ride away from the fast-paced, concrete jungle of Shinjuku. An escape if there ever was one.

When to go: Late November through early December
Getting there: 2-min walk from Kokubinji station on the JR Chuo line. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ¥150 entrance fee for adults.


3. Icho Namiki (Ginkgo Avenue)


If yellow is your color, especially after all the reds you’ll see from maples elsewhere, Icho Namiki, otherwise known as Ginkgo Avenue, is a must-see, must-go-to koyo location. Icho Namiki is not a park or a garden, but a street lined with tall ginkgo trees on either side. Located nearby both Gaienmae and Aoyama-Itchome stations, this spot is easy to find and has been crowning the No.1 koyo spot in Tokyo and Japan according to a local autumn foliage website for years. The annual Icho Namiki festival is also a must see — it runs from November 17 through December 3. If you work in central Tokyo, most probably you’ll just happen to catch the sight of it during your autumn morning commute. Breathe in that yellow! 

When to go: Mid-November through early December
Getting there: 2-chome Kitaaoyama, Minato-ku. A few minutes walk from Aoyama-itchome and Gaienmae stations.


4. Yoyogi Park


© Photo by Alexandra Homma

The best place to chill year round? Yoyogi Park. Bring a group of friends, a french bulldog, some blankets, a six-pack of cider and pop a squat for some momijigari (autumn leaves viewing). Of the places in Tokyo to see foliage, this is a place where you can kick back and take it all in at your own pace. Yoyogi Park, for those of you not in the know, is about a five-minute walk from Harajuku station. Keep a day or two open this fall for an impromptu koyo sesh.

When to go: Late November through early December
Getting there: A few minutes walk from Harajuku, Yoyogi koen and Yoyogi-hachiman stations. Open year round. No entrance fee.


5. Koishikawa Korakuen


This Tokyo Dome peaceful neighbor is worth visiting any time of the year, but it’s really the autumn that brings out the most splendid sights of it. Created in the early Edo Period, the garden has a number of manmade hills, ponds, bridges, paths, and viewing points, highlighting the golden yellow leaves of its gingko trees, along with the varied shades of orange and red on the maple trees. A wonderful destination for a romantic autumn walk or a day out with the whole family.

When to go: Mid-November through early December
Getting there: A few minutes walk from Iidabashi station on the Oedo, JR lines and Tokyo subway or Korakuen station. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ¥300 entrance fee for adults.


6. Showa Kinen Park


Tachikawa’s Showa Memorial Park is heaven for family outings at any given time of the year: there’s flower viewing, picnicking, playing sports, barbecuing, water play, and so much more. But when autumn kicks in, the park turns into a breathtaking location for an afternoon walk through splendid colors of all forms and kinds. Enjoy the autumn by renting a bike and cycling around some of the park’s 14 kilometers of paths, or rent a paddleboat and watch the yellow, red and orange trees from its lake. One of Tokyo’s best-kept secrets, this park will never disappoint. Especially in autumn.

When to go: Early November through late November
Getting there: A few minutes walk from Nishi Tachikawa station on the JR Ome line. Open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ¥410 entrance fee for adults.


7. Sankeien Garden


© Photo by shuzo serikawa

Think bridges, maples, ponds, historic buildings, and a Kyoto vibe. This traditional Japanese garden in Yokohama is beautiful in any season but especially vibrant in autumn. The inside of the houses are open to the public, so you can feel free to take a peak and submerge yourself into the historic site. Accessible by bus from JR Yokohama station, and JR Negishi station, this location is perfect for those in need of some happy, Edo inspiration.

When to go: Mid-November through Mid-December
Getting there: At Yokohama station, take bus Route No.8 or 148 at bus platform No.2. Get off at Sankeien-iriguchi (about 35 minutes ride), and then walk to the garden (5 minutes). Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ¥700 entrance fee for adults.


8. Chichibu Tama-Kai National Park


A lot of trees. A lot of autumn leaves. The folks in Saitama know the spoils of this lovely national park. For those in Tokyo, this is a simple day trip away. Because this park is huge, there is a lot to do—even nearby mountains to hike such as Mt. Mitsumine, and Mount Mitake—both of which have beautiful shrines at their summits. Also in the area is the Nagatoro Valley, a beautiful locale famous for its foliage reflections in the Arakawa River. If boats are your thing, you can even drift downstream in one.

P.S. Beware of cute bears!

When to go: Mid-November through early December
Getting there: A bit of a walk from Chichibu, Okutama or Enzan stations.


9. Shinjuku Gyoen


 

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A popular destination for locals and tourists despite the season, Shinjuku Gyoen is a breathtaking vast garden that, in our modest opinion, is most splendid when colored in red. Take a stroll through the park’s endless alleys, have a rest on a bench and enjoy this vivid natural scene that is beyond gorgeous. Though Shinjuku Gyoen has three different gardens — an English, French and Japanese — the autumn leaves are particularly stunning in the Japanese garden and Momijiyama (maple mountain) on the park’s eastern side.

When to go: Mid-November to mid-December
Getting there: Shinjuku gyoen or Shinjuku stations


10. Gora (Hakone) 


 

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Hakone claims to have the best autumn colors in Japan, and while we thought the glorious spot belonged to Kyoto, a walk through Gora is enough to persuade you that they’re not joking. Start your autumn journey at Lake Ashinoko, then stop by at Sengokuhara where you can enjoy the colors as you play golf or relax in an onsen, then head to Gora and Kowakudani, the natural hot springs resort. The ultimate autumn view, however, is at Gora’s Hakone Museum of Art, where the leaves are reflected in every object, pond and bamboo trees at the museum’s vast garden. If that’s not enough, find your way toward the nearby Hakone Gora Park, a spot where you can enjoy the autumn colors while sipping a traditionally brewed cup of hot green tea.

When to go: Mid-November to late November
Getting there: From Hakone Yumoto station, take the Hakone Tozan Railway to Gora station. Find more information on each location here.

Koyo doesn’t last forever, so be sure to catch it before it “leaves!”

For best autumn foliage spots in other parts of Japan, see this article.

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