Every year in late November, the local citizens of the Hachioji area in Tokyo gather together to celebrate and enjoy the golden glow of the many gingko trees lining the streets. The Hachioji Gingko Festival was held on November 19th and 20th on a Saturday and Sunday this year (2016). Locals enjoyed walking beneath the beautiful gingko leaves, buying local handmade crafts and foods, and watching the various parades performed at different venues.
The festival is not restricted to one area, as the gingko trees line the streets of Hachioji and stretch on for many blocks. However, the festival can be accessed most easily by going to Nishi-Hachioji Station. Once you get to the station, you will see a little desk booth with some volunteers. The festival is free admission, but you can opt to pay ¥500 for a little wooden vintage pass permit which is part of the festival highlight touring the old checking stations. The lovely volunteers will also give you a map of the festival locations, and some candy too! Once you exit the station, there are yellow festival decorations hung up everywhere along the street, so just follow those out onto the main street, and you will see the gingko trees. Once you reach the main road lined with the golden trees, you can follow the crowds and keep on walking down the street. On the edge of the sidewalks there are many stalls operated by locals that sell handmade crafts, clothes, toys and food.
The festival was very relaxed and not too crowded. There were many young families and also grandparents out and about on the streets enjoying the local festivities and games. The highlight of the festival is the very thing it celebrates - the gingko leaves were truly beautiful, and the vast amount of them lining the streets in a gorgeous line (coupled with the great sunshine that day!) made for great photos. The best thing is that there are several overpass bridges that give you a great view of the gingko trees lining the road. Definitely make sure to go up one of the overpasses to get that perfect golden shot!
The festival does span over quite a distance, so depending on how much time and energy you have, you can either go to all the spots drawn on the map, or just go to a few. On the day I went I had other plans in the afternoon, so I just went to two spots listed on the map. That was already plenty to see and enjoy, and personally I don't think you have to go to all the sites to fully experience the festival. The spots closest to Nishi-Hachioji station already provided a great local Japanese festival atmosphere. Hachioji Gingko Festival should be put onto your travel list if you are keen to experience some local Japanese festivities and enjoy some great autumn scenery!