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Leaf Spotting in Tokyo

January 25, 2016

Japan might be better known for its sakura season, but the Nippon fondness for flora branches beyond just blossoms. 

Updated in November 2018

Every autumn from October to December, Tokyoites partake in the ancient practice of viewing the Koyo (autumn leaves). Travellers wanting to do the same have no shortage of stroll-worthy surrounds to choose from, but the best foliage frolics are to be found at these seven serene spots.


The city’s maple staple. Island-dotted waterways are framed by fiery momiji and the hillocks, hidden paths and little bridges are ideal for inciting Insta envy. Keep an eye out for nightly illuminations (late Nov-early Dec).

6-16-3 Honkomagome, Bunkyō-ku. +81 3 3941 2222, gotokyo.org

Koishikawa Kōrakuen

This 350-year-old Edo era enclave might be one of Tokyo’s oldest green scenes, but red is her real colour with autumn’s arrival turning the grounds into a dramatic scarlet spectacle complete with elegant stone bridges, shrines and ethereal lily-lined streams.

1-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyō-ku. +81 3 3811 3015

Shinjuku Gyoen 

Central, crammed with colours, and spacious enough that it rarely feels crowded. Go shutterbug at the Kyu Goryotei pavilion, then take a gander round the greenhouse before you throw down a rug with the locals on the vast lawns.

11 Naitocho, Shinjuku. +81 3 3350 0151

Showa Kinen Koen 

Get your gingko on at this 163-hectare haven on the outskirts of Tokyo. The 200m canal is lined with lanes of lush gold leaves, while the pedalo lake, surrounded by a patchwork of autumnal tones, is prime for picnicking. Just hue-tiful.

3173 Midori-cho, Tachikawa City. +81 42 528 1751, showakinen-koen.jp

University of Tokyo Hongō Campus 

For a crash course in fall foliage skip straight to the UT campus near Ueno station. As the branches above turn bare the main avenue is transformed into a flaxen carpet. And don’t leave without a good look at the mirror pond.

Hongo-dori, Bunkyō-ku.

Nezu Museum Garden 

In mid-November this private woodland paradise becomes a dramatic blaze of bright shades. Pick your way around the paths and small bridges to hidden shrines and sculptures. Or, if you really want to steep in the surrounds, call ahead to book a cha ceremony in one of the rustic teahouses.

6-5-1 Minamiaoyama, Minato-ku. +81 3 3400 2536, nezu-muse.or.jp

Ukai Toriyama 

Avoid the selfie stick-wielding masses en route to the Five Lakes district and head instead to this garden situ’d grazer just 1.5 hours (by car or the Chuo line) from the capital’s centre. After you’ve strolled along the magical mossy grounds, settle inside your own dining pavilion for trad charcoal yakitori and sake served in bamboo. Want to keep it closer to town? Sister supster Shiba Tofuya Ukai by Tokyo Tower has a rock and water garden that’s smaller but just as special.

3426 Minamiasakawamachi, Hachioji. +81 42 661 0739, ukai.co.jp

Tokyo’s leaves generally turn in Nov-early Dec, but for meteologically determined dates of when they will be at their best visit japan-guide.com

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