1. 秋の夜散歩
    Photo: Ryo TajimaShowa Kinen Park – Japanese Garden
  2. Showa Kinen Park
    Photo: Structuresxx/Shutterstock
  3. Marunouchi Gyoko-dori
    Photo: Chiyoda City Tourism Association
  4. Sankeien Garden
    Photo: 9187092/PixabaySankeien Garden, Yokohama
  5. Icho Namiki Street
    Photo: Cowardlion/DreamstimeMeiji Jingu Gaien's Icho Namiki-dori
  6. Mejiro Teien Autumn Light-up
    Photo: Seibu Landscape CoMejiro Teien Autumn Light-up 2018

Where to see the autumn leaves in Tokyo

From yellow ginkgo trees to red maple leaves – see the seasonal beauty at Tokyo's gardens and parks

Tabea Greuner
Written by
Time Out Tokyo Editors
&
Tabea Greuner
Advertising

Every year from October to December, hordes of Tokyoites make the exodus out of town to classic autumn-leaf destinations like Kamakura, Nikko, Hakone and even Kyoto.

However, if you prefer not to travel, there are still plenty of gardens and parks right here in the city to catch the brilliant autumn colours from mid-to-late November. Here are our top picks of historic retreats, lush parks and lesser-known viewing locations, all in or close to Tokyo. For the particularly energetic folks, we recommend these scenic bike routes and hikes.

BEFORE YOU GO: The 2022 autumn leaves forecast for Tokyo and Japan

Top autumn attractions in Tokyo

  • Things to do
  • Shinanomachi

Enjoy the perfectly shaped, sunset-yellow ginkgo trees that form a 300m-long boulevard between Gaienmae and Aoyama-Itchome stations. This is Tokyo’s quintessential autumn scenery, which has graced countless Instagram accounts. The best time to visit is between November 26 and December 4 when the leaves have turned fully yellow and are lit up in the evening.

The light up takes place daily between 4.30pm and 7.30pm.

  • Things to do
  • Ome

Located to the west of Tokyo, the area surrounding Mitake Gorge is a particularly popular destination with hikers between mid-October and late-November. Get off at Mitake Station on the JR Ome Line and stick to the walking trails along the river banks. Postcard views of vivid red maple leaves and yellow ginkgo trees await, and for the perfect shot, make sure you have in your frame the majestic bridge that presides over the crystal clear Tama River. Do visit the nearby Gyokudo Art Museum for classic Japanese paintings before making the trip back to town.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Takaosan

Mt Takao is one of the best locations for Tokyoites to enjoy the autumn leaves. Especially scenic is a ride in the cable car, which brings you closer to the mountain’s Yakuoin temple. Here you can sample shojin ryori, a traditional vegetarian Buddhist meal. The seasonal Momiji-zen (¥2,900) includes a variety of small dishes made with ingredients typical for autumn. It’s served on weekdays until December 9 between 11am and 2pm.

Throughout November and the beginning of December, you can also look forward to a number of free events being held at Kiyotaki Station, the cable car stop at the base of Mt Takao. There are hula dance performances on November 3 and December 3 at 1pm and 3pm, music performances on November 20 at 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3.30pm, a cheerleading performance on November 23 at 11am and 12 noon, and much more. For the full schedule, see here.

It’s expected to be very crowded at the base of Mt Takao throughout the festival period, so taking public transportation is recommended.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Komazawa-Daigaku

This Setagaya park served as a secondary venue for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and is home to a distinctive Kenzo Tange-designed tower that looks more like a Jenga set. The facilities are still used for sporting competitions today, as well as less physically challenging events such as flea markets. Come autumn, the park's avenue of zelkova trees is as picturesque as the one in Meiji Jingu Gaien, but much less crowded, giving you plenty of space to capture that perfect Instagram shot.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Marunouchi

This ginkgo tree-lined avenue stretches from the central exit of Tokyo Station to the Imperial Palace's Wadakura gate. It’s most picturesque during autumn, when the mustard-yellow trees set a beautiful contrast against the blue sky and the area’s towering high-rise buildings. 

  • Things to do
  • Suidobashi

From November 18 until December 4, the tranquil Koishikawa Korakuen garden is celebrating its annual autumn festival daily from 9am to 5pm. Aside from being able to admire the beautiful autumn leaves, including red maple trees, you can enjoy a number of events throughout the festival period. Listen to a free koto and shakuhachi flute performance on November 11 at 11.30am and 1.30pm, or catch a free Noh play on November 23 at 11.30am and 1.30pm. 

On November 17, you can even learn how the garden’s trees are protected from the snow through a traditional technique called yukizuri, where ropes are placed around the trees in the shape of a cone to prevent the branches from breaking under the snow’s weight. The event takes place twice a day from 10.30am and 1pm. In case of rain, it will be moved to November 18.

If you feel peckish, pick up a small snack at the food stall near the Matsubara area, open from 10am to 4pm.

Advertising
Happo-en Tokyo Red Garden Autumn Festival
  • Things to do
  • Shirokanedai

The spacious Japanese garden at Shirokanedai's Happo-en stays open until 9pm during the autumn foliage season. The 100 fiery red momiji maple trees are lit up during evening hours and are reflected off the surface of the garden pond. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, you can admire the beautiful view while sipping on cocktails (from ¥500) sold at the on-site Garden Bar near the waterfall.

Make sure to also mark November 23 in your calendar – that's when you can enjoy the tunes of DJ Shuya Okino in the beautiful autumnal landscape. The event starts at 6pm at the garden’s main building and tickets can be purchased online in advance (from ¥1,500).

Between December 9 to 11, you can also enter the garden of Happo-en’s Japanese restaurant Kochuan, which will be decked out with illuminations resembling moonlight. The entry fee of ¥4,000 includes one cocktail and a box of five seasonal onigiri. Reservations to visit the restaurant’s outdoor Moon Bar can be made from November 18. See the website for more information.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Kichijoji

Inokashira Park in Kichijoji is a year-round hit with families, thanks to an abundance of playground facilities and the small zoo on-site – kids will love the guineapigs at the petting area. In autumn, however, the star attraction is the colourful foliage, best admired from aboard one of the swan-shaped pedal boats on the lake. You’ll find the best views between the end of November and early-December.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Mejirodai

In the morning hours during spring and autumn, Japan’s more mountainous regions are renowned for their beautiful cloud formations. Thanks to Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, you don’t need to leave the capital to enjoy those spectacular misty views. You can experience the ‘Sea of Clouds’ several times a day in the hotel’s large, traditional Japanese garden, with the first show taking place from 6am.

Until November 10, the garden is hosting a special version of its Sea of Clouds show to celebrate the hotel’s 70th anniversary. Six times a day (11.10am, 2.10pm and every hour between 7.30pm to 10.30pm), you can enjoy the show enhanced with the hotel's original scent, called ‘Healing Garden’. Then, from November 11, you can experience the show’s winter programme during evening hours, complete with beautiful aurora lights.

The evening slots even include a stunning light-up event, with 1,000 LEDs illuminating the garden, the waterfall and the 600-year-old three-storey pagoda. The event takes place all year round, but is most picturesque in autumn when the foliage really sets off your photos.

For the full schedule, make sure to check the website.

Note that you'll need to visit one of the hotel's restaurants or stay for a night to be able to attend this event (it's free for diners and hotel guests).

  • Things to do
  • Shinjuku-Sanchome

Shinjuku, with its bustling station and popular nightlife district Kabukicho, is also home to one of the most beautiful parks in the city. Scenic all year round, the sprawling Shinjuku Gyoen features three distinct gardens, including a landscape garden and a traditional Japanese garden complete with a quaint little tea house serving matcha and wagashi (traditional Japanese confectionery). Autumn colours are found throughout the park, but make a beeline for the Maple Hill for the best photo op.

Note: drinking alcohol as well as playing sports and musical instruments are prohibited in the garden.

Advertising
Rikugien Garden autumn leaves light-up
  • Things to do
  • Komagome

Rikugien Garden is one of the best Tokyo spots to surround yourself with beautiful Japanese landscapes. While it’s worth visiting year round, the garden is especially picturesque during autumn, when the leaves take on different shades of red and yellow.

From November 23 to December 4, Rikugien stays open until 8.30pm for its annual light-up event. The garden’s trees are illuminated with golden lights so that the brilliant colours of the changing leaves stand out even more, providing stunning views.

Aside from admiring the autumn foliage, don’t forget to drop by the garden’s dozo storehouse. Its earthen walls will serve as the canvas for a beautiful projection show between 6pm and 8.30pm. Feeling peckish? Head over to the garden’s tea houses for light meals as well as matcha and wagashi (Japanese confectionery) sets.

You’ll need to purchase a ticket online in advance to enter the park during evening hours. There will be 2,500 tickets available per day and entry is ¥1,000 per person.

The booking website will be announced closer to the event period.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Hibiya

Established in 1903 as Tokyo’s first Western-style park, Hibiya Park is one of the best spots in the city centre to admire koyo (autumn foliage). Blazing red maple trees and mustard-yellow ginkgo leaves can be found around the Kumogata-ike pond, which features a beautiful fountain inspired by the crane, the Japanese symbol for good luck. The reflection of the colourful leaves on the water set against a backdrop of gleaming skyscrapers is the perfect combination for some postcard-perfect photo ops. Next to the on-site restaurant Hibiya Matsumotoro, you’ll even find a 20m tall ginkgo tree that’s almost 500 years old.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Yokohama

Yokohama's spacious Sankeien is home to several priceless structures, including a three-storey pagoda from Kyoto, historical teahouses and a feudal lord’s residence. Several of these treasures will be opened to the public over a few autumn weeks, coinciding with the stunning red and yellow autumn foliage. It should make for a nice opportunity to experience the season in a traditional way. Visit during the evening hours on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays for the special light-up between 6pm and 7.30pm.

  • Things to do
  • Takaosan

Easily accessible from Shinjuku Station, Mt Takao is a popular weekend getaway for stressed-out Tokyoites looking to recharge their batteries surrounded by nature. From mid-November to early-December, the nearly 600m-tall elevation attracts hordes of cheerful hikers looking to admire the warm yellow and blazing red hues of the forest. The autumn foliage is best viewed from the cable car, which brings you up to the first observation deck, from where you’ll also be treated to a breathtaking panorama of the city. You can pick up souvenirs and snacks here, too.

Make the most of autumn

Advertising
Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising