According to the calendar, we already entered the beautiful month of December! So yay for the month of Christmas and presents and pretty decorations everywhere and carols and so on. But the weather in Tokyo is still on the autumn side, the autumn leaves still being at their peak, so here comes another post about beautiful autumn in Japan (Tokyo).
Although nothing can beat the gorgeous maple tree leaves when it comes to autumn in Japan, they are not the only ones worth mentioning. Today I want to present 4 places in Tokyo where you can enjoy the beautiful yellow of the ichou イチョウ or Ginkgo tree leaves.
The well-known name Ginkgo actually comes from the Japanese ginkyo “silver apricot” and ginnan means in Japanese the ginkgo seeds that you can actually consume (to my taste, they were too bitter though, but some people might like them). However, the most popular name denoting the trees in Japan nowadays is not ginkyo but ichou. I guess most of us are aware of the many properties ginkgo biloba offers but, for example, in the region where I grew up, I had no chance of seeing real ginkgo trees. Coming to Japan, I was quite surprised by their beauty (and by the unpleasant odor of the fleshy exterior of their seeds…). However, you tend to forget about the odor when you are surrounded by such beauty. I hope the photos below will convince you to visit one of these places in autumn and see the beauty of ichou yourself! Maybe you love autumn, like me, or maybe your favorite color is yellow, in which case you definitely have to check out the places below.
1. Shōwa Kinen Kōen, Tachikawa
One thing I like about ichou is that you can enjoy them during the whole month of November until the beginning of December. So, compared to other seasonal leaves/flowers, they last for quite a long time. When I visited Shōwa Kinen Kōen or Shōwa Memorial Park, it was the beginning of November so the leaves were just starting to change colors and turn from green to yellow. Although not at its peak in early November, the yellow tunnel the trees formed was still pretty impressive. The park is really huge so you might consider spending a whole day there, they also have restaurants inside (I had the best pizza in Tokyo there!). The entrance fee is a bit on the expensive side (410 yen per adult) but I think it is worth it for what they have to offer. Check out their site for more information (many seasonal events listed there, a winter event going on at the moment).
Not related to this blog post’s main theme but not far from Tachikawa station is Bubai-Gawara station, from where you can take a free shuttle bus for The Premium Malt’s Beer Factory or Suntory Musashino Brewery. A must visit if you love beer! An interesting tour of the factory and history of beer in Japan plus free sampling of three of their main beers. Really recommend it! Both the tour and sampling are free but you need to make a reservation in advance on their site (only in Japanese though 🙁 ).
2. Jingu Gaien Ichou Namiki
Not far away from Harajuku, you can find Jingu Gaien Ichou Namiki. Truly impressive because of the interesting shape the trees have. But it can get really really crowded during the weekend… I went there on a Saturday evening and it was crazy. Very difficult to take nice photos… But it was a nice view anyway so I’m happy I got to see the trees at their peak. If possible, try going early in the morning or during a weekday. I’m sure it will be more pleasant that way 🙂 (unless you like crowds…).
3. Waseda University Campus
The main campus of Waseda University also boasts a nice tunnel of ichou trees. I pass by them every day and I’m still mesmerized by their beauty. One evening this week it was raining and the yellow leaves fell and formed a nice yellow carpet. Everything was completely yellow, some Japanese students exclaimed 「真っ黄色！」makkiro which means bright yellow or total yellow. Many students stopped to take a picture (or more) after class that evening. It was truly beautiful!
4. Kishibojin Temple
This temple which is located in Zoshigaya and it is at a walking distance from the Toden-zoshigaya station (the good reason to take the Tokyo Sakura Tram for it) is famous for two things: the huge ginko (ichou) tree of 30 m and believed to be 600 years old, and the legend of the Kishibojin (a female deity who now is a protector of children but who, the legend says, used to eat other children in order to feed her own). Right in the middle of a residential area, you can find this temple that instantly takes you to Kyoto. Worth giving it a try if you have time, for the reasons mentioned above. Another plus is that it is not very popular so not very crowded, which makes it a great place to enjoy a few peaceful moments.
I tried to convince you that the red maple leaves are not the only ones worth seeing during the Japanese autumn, so what did you think about the places above? Would you visit them? Thank you for reading!