Enjoy the eclectic city of Tokyo surrounded by beautiful views thanks to the reddish and yellow tones of autumn along with various activities and seasonal cuisine. Don't miss these 10 ideal activities to do in this autumn Tokyo.
There is truly a lot to see and do in Tokyo, so if you are planning to visit the capital of Japan, you will find that autumn is one of the best seasons to do so. The city begins to bid farewell to the sweltering summer as it is covered in the distinctive ochre color of the leaves of the maples and ginkgos. Join me on this tour of one of the most interesting cities in the world.
1. Enjoy the ginkgo festival in Meiji Jingu Gaien Park
Visit the beautiful Meiji Jingu Gaien Park, located in the Shinjuku district, west of Tokyo, near the Meiji Jingu Shrine.
The park is very famous for its 300-meter avenue lined with Ginkgo trees, which in autumn turn their leaves to a golden color. This natural phenomenon is so precious in Japanese culture that it has its own name: Kōyō or momiji.
During the month of November, the Jingu Gaien Ginkgo festival is held, which is very popular to photograph the leaves of the trees and spend the day with the family or simply taste dishes based on Ginkgo in the more than 300 stalls located for the occasion. Although if you are left wanting to try Japanese dishes, you can always take one of the best gastronomic tours in Tokyo. In addition, while the festival lasts the park remains open at night to enjoy the illuminated trees.
If you are interested in art, in the same park you can visit the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, built in 1925 and made up of paintings of the life of this ancient period.
2. Enjoy the Chestnut Festival at Okunitama-jinja Shrine
Okunitama-jinja is one of the oldest shrines in the city, about 2000 years old and is located in the city of Fuchū, west of Tokyo.
On September 27 and 28 takes place the Okunitama-Jinja Autumn Festival also known as the Chestnut Festival, a food highly valued since ancient times for its easy cultivation in the area. During these two days, the grounds are illuminated with nearly 200 paper lanterns while enjoying the traditional parade of floats and the Noh theater group of musicians from Fuchū.
Okunitama-Jinja Shrine can be reached by train. It is a 5-minute walk from the Keio Line and a 5-minute walk from Fuchu Honmachi Station on the JR Musashino Line of the Nambu Line.
3. Visit Rikugien Garden
The Rikugien Garden is located in the Bunkyo district, north of Tokyo, and was designed by Yoshiyasu Yanagisawa in 1702. The design was made considering scenes from famous poems of the time. It was later donated to the city of Tokyo and is now considered a special place of scenic beauty under the law for the protection of cultural property with high artistic and ornamental value.
Autumn is one of the best seasons to visit, as you can observe the main pond surrounded by maples and keyakis with the characteristic colors of the season or the panoramic view of the entire garden from the artificial hill. It is a very popular destination at this time of the year, which is why visiting Rikugien Garden is one of the top 10 things to see and do in Tokyo in November.
In mid-November through early December, the garden extends its opening hours through Momiji thanks to the nighttime view of the illuminated trees until dusk. The walking trails do not take long, which is ideal if you are in the vicinity of Ueno Park or Nezu-Jinja Shrine or from Tokyo Station on the Yamanote line to Ueno to Komagome Station.
4. Enjoy Momiji on a 1-day excursion at Mount Mitake
Mount Mitake, 929 meters high, is located 90 minutes from Tokyo. It is the second busiest mountain after Mount Takao for hiking and Momiji observation. You can reach the summit with the Mitake Tozan Railway. The views of this route will give you a magical experience as if it were a fairy tale.
At the top is the Musashi-Mitake shrine. To reach it we must cross a small village of old houses and a small shopping area of restaurants and souvenir stores. Crossing the shrine you can access a path that leads to the Rock Garden. On this path there are also two waterfalls Nanayo no taki Ayahiro no taki.
Another of the things you cannot miss in this place is the Sawanoi Sake distillery, which is located very close to Mitakesan.
The access to Mount Mitake can be done from Shinjuku Station or Tokyo Station with the JR chuo line to Ome Station, then change to the Ome Line train to Mitake Station. There you must take the bus company Nishi Tokyo Bus that will leave you at the base of the funicular of the Mount.
5. Autumn colors and the kōyō festival at Showa Kinen Park
Showa Kinen Park was built in 1983 to commemorate the 50th birthday of Emperor Hirohito. It is located just 30 minutes from central Tokyo from Nishi-Tachikawa Station on the JR Ome Line.
It is ideal for cycling thanks to its area of 180 hectares. If you do not have your own bicycle, you can rent one at the various stands around the park for a small fee. Another rental option is to rent canoes on the pond.
During the month of November, the park is one of the best places to see the colorful foliage of the trees at its peak. From the entrance through the main gate you will be greeted by a golden tunnel of Gingko and in the evening, the kōyō Festival is held where you can enjoy the illuminated trees. Unlike the cherry blossom tree blossom festival, which is usually very brief, the kōyō Festival can extend over several weeks, even more than a month. You will be able to see the colors of autumn in full bloom.
In addition, a picnic area and barbecue area is offered, if you prefer to buy food there instead you can do so at the stalls and restaurants in the area.
6. Visit Mount Takao and the surrounding area
Mount Takao is about 599 meters high and is a good choice if you want to rest from the city without going too far. It is located in the city of Hachioji, west of central Tokyo. You can take the Semi Limited Express train of the private Keio line from Shinjuku station to Takaosanguchi station. You can also see more JR Pass proposals or simply take one of the Tokyo Bullet Train tours.
If you enjoy hiking, the mountain has several paths of different levels of difficulty for the ascent. On the other hand, if you prefer not to walk, you can climb to the top via a funicular or a cable car that is located 5 minutes from Takaosanguchi Station. You may feel watched at times, but don't worry, it's probably just a Tengu watching you.
Mount Takao is very crowded during autumn for the Kōyō or Momiji, where you can enjoy the beautiful colors of the foliage. From the cable car you can enjoy the view of Tokyo and you can even view Mount Fuji if the weather permits. It is definitely one of the best places for photography. And if photography is your thing, you should not miss one of the best photo tours in Tokyo.
As for food, around the Mount as at the top there are some local restaurants or teahouses. Also at its base you can enjoy the Takaosan-Onsen.
7. Halloween and the red carpet of cinema together in Roppongi!
If you are a film buff you can't miss the Tokyo International Film Festival. This event takes place every year during the months of October and November. At the festival you can enjoy open-air screenings of films of various international and national genres at different locations in Roppongi Hills. In addition to the screenings, there are several exhibitions and lectures related to the seventh art.
Although Halloween is not a celebration specific to Japan, in recent years it has become very popular and has slowly adapted to each audience. At the end of October the Roppongi Hills Halloween is organized where more than 2000 children participate with their costumes, while adults have their chance at night with parades and festivities in the streets, bars and nightclubs.
Roppongi Hills can be reached from Shibuya and Shinjuku. From Shibuya take the Yamanote line to Ebisu station and from Shinjuku take the Oedo subway line. If you travel from Tokyo station you have to take the Marunouchi line to Kasumigaseki and combine with the Hibiya Line to Roppongi.
8. Luck and prosperity in business: Tori no Ichi Festival in Asakuza
If you are passing through Tokyo in autumn, you cannot miss the Tori no Ichi festival. This traditional celebration is held in November at temples and shrines that are related to the day of the rooster and is intended to pray for the success of business. The most important is the one held at the Otori temple in Asakusa.
During the three days of the festival you can see and buy Kumades, finely decorated rake-shaped amulets that are a symbol of prosperity and good luck. Here, you can also enjoy the typical food stalls, while enjoying the dance performances, especially the Otori Mai, which has been performed to scare away evil spirits since the Edo period.
Asakusa Temple can be reached by the Hibiya line of the Tokyo subway.
9. Witness a traditional sumo wrestling match in Tokyo
Would you like to watch a sumo match? Sumo is the national sport of Japan, currently there are 6 national tournaments a year, one of them is the Aki Basho Tournament, which is held in September at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium in Ryogoku, just 13 minutes from Tokyo Station.
The Ryogoku Kokugikan stadium can be visited even on non-tournament days, which is ideal for taking pictures. If you want to see a live bout, it is recommended that you book tickets in advance at authorized booths or on the Nihon Sumo kyokai website.
Near the stadium is the Sumo Museum where you can explore the history of this historic sport. And if we are talking about history, in Ryogoku you will find the Edo-Tokyo Museum made up of models that represent the life of Tokyo from its beginnings to the present. Also, if you return through Ryogoku Station, don't forget to visit the Ryogoku Edo Noren, an old Edo street with period restaurants and a sumo ring.
10. Enjoy the Todoroki Valley just 20 minutes from Tokyo
Stroll through one of the most charming natural places in Japan. Todoroki Valley is located in the city of Setagaya, southwest of Tokyo. It is the only valley entirely designed by nature itself and not by man, as is the case with the gardens and parks found in the city.
The valley can be explored on foot along the towpath along the Yazawa River, a tributary of the Tamagawa. For its 1.2 km you can enjoy the bamboo forest, small waterfalls and the amazing colors of autumn in its vegetation. If you are interested in the history of the region, there are archaeological excavations of very old tombs in the form of tunnels, probably belonging to the Kofun or Nara period, for this discovery the valley was declared a place of historical interest.
Visiting this place in autumn has the extra attraction of the wonderful spectacle of its shades, here you can definitely enjoy the Momiji in all its splendor. If you still have some time left you can visit the Gotokuji temple. This temple is famous for its lucky maneki-neko cats. It is said that the temple of the legend of the lucky cats is Gotokuji. The shrine has several halls, some with figures of these cute kittens.
From Todoroki Valley to Gokuji Temple you can take the Setagaya streetcar line. The trip takes no more than 20 minutes and you can take the opportunity to see certain points of interest in the neighborhood.