Japan is a country of four distinct seasons. Winter is all about skiing and hot pot (Shabu Shabu), Spring is all about the famous Cherry Blossoms and Sakura flavoured food. Summer is the season of Matsuris and firework displays, which brings me to my favourite season… Autumn. Around late October to early December the changing of the colours is highly celebrated across the country. This year I decided to visit the annual Rikugien Gardens which is lit up every year to showcase its beautiful Autumn colours.
We arrived around 5pm as the sky had turned dark and the queue was already huge. Luckily I had been pre-warned and knew the queue was going to move quickly or I would have done what every other western tourist did and decide to abandon ship. My source was indeed correct and within 10/15mins we were at the ticket office paying our 300yen entrance fee.
As we moved around the park, in true Japanese fashion we ushered around, in well mannered lines by ushers with their red glowing batons. They were necessary to keep the flow of the crowd moving but it made it difficult to take pictures. If you are an iPhone photographer, its a dream but if you hoped to use a tripod then you may want to rethink your entrance time. At the start of the route were some beautiful washi paper lanterns.
As we moved around the gardens the beautiful colours are lit up in such a way that you can almost feel the warmth of the reds and oranges in the leaves. The show case of the whole gardens are views of the lake. The water is so still that the reflections of the trees lit across the lake are so clear and perfectly mirrored.
The rope protectors on the trees to protect them from heavy snow create some of the most striking silhouettes.
In addition to walking around the gardens, there is a traditional tea house as well as food stalls to grab something hot to eat in the cold winter’s air.
It was a beautiful evening and even though it was busy, it was perfect. Interestingly as we were leaving around 6:30pm there was no queue which maybe worth noting if you are interested in visiting. Especially as the park does not close until 9pm.
How to get there:
The park is easily accessible via the Yamanote line from Tokyo station. Head towards Ueno and get off at Komagome station. It is less than a 5min walk from there.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.