Fall is a wonderful time to visit Tokyo. The days are often sunny and temperatures are mild, making it ideal weather for viewing the colorful autumn leaves. The Japanese love to celebrate the changing foliage with fall festivals. One of the best spots to experience this seasonal fun is right in the heart of the city, at Meiji Jingu Gaien.
This extensive park is famous for its gingko trees and their golden leaves. It is thought that gingko trees came to Japan from China over 1000 years ago. The sturdy trees adapted well to the Japanese climate. You will often find them growing at Shinto shrines, where they are considered to be divine trees.
The gingko trees at Meiji Jingu Gaien typically start looking their best from mid-November, when the park hosts the Jingu Gaien Gingko Festival. This year’s festival takes place from November 15th to December 1st. The trees line both sides of a 300-meter-long avenue, forming a golden canopy—and a picture-perfect photo opportunity when the sun shines through. The Jingu Gaien Gingko Festival is very popular, and visiting on a weekday will ensure you don’t have to share the trees with quite so many people.
If you can’t get enough of the leaves during the day, you might want to come back in the evening during the second week of the festival. The trees will be lit up between 4:30 to 7:30 pm each evening between November 23rd and December 1st.
A variety of food stalls add to the festival fun. This year’s line-up features 32 stalls with regional specialties from all over Japan. There are also tables and chairs for visitors to use.
On the topic of food, the seeds of the gingko tree, also sometimes called ginkgo nuts, are edible. One of the most common ways to use them is in chawanmushi, a savory egg custard. Although gingko nuts are low in fat and quite healthy, they also have a strong smell that may take some getting used to! It’s a popular side dish at many sushi restaurants. Why not give it a try?