Autumn in Tokyo: 3 Best Japanese Gardens to Catch the Fall Leaves
by Alicia Joy
Every autumn, Tokyo celebrates the beauty of the koyo or fall foliage. Many public gardens stay open late into the evening and put on spectacular light-ups that rival even the most beautiful sakura.
Take a tour with us of the season’s most gorgeous Tokyo gardens!
1. Imperial Palace East Garden
The Imperial Palace’s East Garden is open to the public year-round. There is no fee to enter. This area was once the main line of defence for the castle, known as the honmaru (main circle) and ninomaru (secondary circle). Today, only a few structures of the original Edo Castle remain, including the moat, walls and entry gates.
In late November, autumn colors transform the area into amazing display of nature’s palette. The traditional Japanese garden is one of the highlights, but the entire East Garden is worth exploring as it’s dotted with golden ginko, colorful mulberry trees and stoic evergreens.
How to get to the Imperial Palace East Garden
Name in Japanese: 皇居東御苑 (Kōkyo Higashi Gyoen)
Address: 1-1 Chiyoda, Tokyo
Open: 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, closed Mondays and Friday. More details here.
Transport: Minutes from Otemachi station on the Chiyoda, Marunouchi and Hanzomon lines.
2. Showa Memorial Park
The Showa Memorial Park opened to the public in 1983 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Showa Emperor’s reign. This park was designed with both European and Japanese garden aesthetics in mind. Also known as the Showa Commemorative National Government Park, this public green space is popular with cyclists and bicycles can be rented at the park for a small fee.
The large trees at Tokyo’s Showa Memorial Park are a spectacular sight in the fall. The highlights are the red maples in the Japanese garden and the gingko-lined canal in the southeast corner of the park. The Showa Memorial Park charges a 410 yen entry fee.
How to get to Showa Memorial Park
Name in Japanese: 昭和記念公園 (Kokuei Shōwa Kinen Kōen)
Address: 3173 Midoricho, Tachikawa, Tokyo
Open: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM daily. More details here.
Transport: Located outside Nishi-Tachikawa Station or a 20-minute walk from Tachikawa station on the Chuo line.
What if it's getting late in the day to appreciate the colors? Don't worry, we've got you:
Nearly one million square feet in area, Rikugien is one of the largest gardens in Tokyo. It is also one of few surviving gardens of the Edo Period. This traditional Japanese strolling garden’s landscape includes moss-covered bridges, ponds, carefully manicured trees and flowering shrubs.
Beginning in mid-November, the park invites visitors to take in the illuminations. Brilliant red maples and orange zelkova trees are set off by the evergreens and reflected into the calm surface of the ponds. Rikugien’s autumn light-up is their most popular annual attraction. There is a 300-yen entrance fee. Be sure to stop by one of the park’s two teahouses for a warming cup of matcha.