Japan’s islands have a long list of places famous for red, yellow and orange foliage. As an urban center, Tokyo might not leap out as a top viewing spot.
However, the nation’s capital has plenty of fantastic places to check out autumn atmosphere, both in the city center and farther afield.
Here’s a roundup of Tokyo’s most magnificent autumn viewing destinations, which are usually at their best in mid- to late-November:
Icho Namiki Avenue
One of Tokyo’s best spots to take in autumn leaves is right in the city’s downtown area.
Sandwiched between bustling business districts, Icho Namiki Avenue is home to a stretch of gingko trees that are especially breathtaking from late November to early December, when the leaves turn a bold yellow.
The avenue is great for a walk, but you can take a seat at the Royal Garden Cafe to enjoy the leaves as well as the snacks baked in the shop.
From November 14 to December 6, a festival celebrates the season, with goods for sale from across Japan and street performers.
How to get there: A five-minute walk from Aoyama-Itchome Station or six-minute walk from Gaienmae Station.
Built in the early 1700s for the shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, Rikugien is one of Tokyo’s oldest parks.
It remains one of the capital’s most beautiful spots, especially in late autumn.
It takes about an an hour to do a full tour of the sprawling park, with the best views on the northwest side, particularly around Togetsukyo Bridge.
Rikugien also houses the famous Tsutsuji no Chaya teahouse, located near some of the most picturesque spots.
How to get there: It’s a seven-minute walk from Komagome Station to the park’s main entrance.
Rikugien is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., although during the autumn leaves season the hours are extended to 9 p.m.
Admission ¥300 yen ($2.50), or ¥150 yen for 65 and over.
Located 50 minutes’ drive from the city center, Mount Takao is a popular weekend escape for Tokyoites in search of nature.
It gets especially busy in November, when autumn colors burst into view. The attention is well-deserved.
There are lots of chances to capture the fall tones from the mountain’s numerous hiking trails and peaks. The leaves are most widespread at the top.
Getting up the hill requires a 90-minute trek, but it’s worth it – particularly on a clear day, when you can see Mount Fuji. A cable car will take you halfway up the mountain.
How to get there: From Shinjuku Station, take the Keio Line to Takaosanguchi Station, which is right next to Mount Takao.
Koishikawa Korakuen Garden
It’s hard to believe that right next to the hyper-modern Tokyo Dome City complex is the centuries-old Koishikawa Korakuen Garden.
It’s like stepping into wilderness without leaving the metropolis. Maple trees around Koishikawa Korakuen’s trio of ponds turn red and orange. The vivid scene makes for one of the best walks anywhere in Tokyo.
In the southeast corner of the gardens lies a patch of gingko trees, which turn yellow during late November and look dazzling in the afternoon light.
How to get there: A five-minute walk from Iidabashi Station or a five-minute walk from Suidobashi Station. The garden is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is ¥300.
Showa Kinen Park
It’s best to set aside a full day for visiting this park, because there’s a lot to see.
Located in Tachikawa, a 30-minute train ride from central Tokyo, Showa Kinen Park has plenty of lakes, playgrounds and attractions.
In November, red-leaved trees can be found in almost every corner of the park. The signature spot for beautiful foliage, however, is beside the main entrance.
A few steps in, and you’ll find a road surrounded by golden gingko trees, which makes for a great welcome.
Shops and food trucks gathered outside the entrance are worth checking out.
How to get there: A 15-minute walk from Tachikawa Station or Musashi-Sunagawa Station or a brief walk from Nishi-Tachikawa Station.
This is the farthest destination from Tokyo on the list, but the views found along the mountainside more than justify the 75-minute train ride.
Part of the massive Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, Mount Mitake features several hiking trails and Musashi-Mitake Shrine, a beautiful building that serves as the center of worship on the mountain. The hike up the mountain in late October features a gorgeous autumn canvas, made all the more memorable by various natural waterfalls.
There’s a quaint traditional Japanese village on Mount Mitake, with food and souvenirs on sale.
How to get there: Head to Ome Station, about 75 minutes from Shinjuku Station, via the JR Chuo Line. Then transfer to the orange JR Ome Line, getting off at Mitake Station. Finally, take the Nishi Tokyo bus from Mitake Station to the end of the line, then hop on the cable car to Mitakesan Station.
Patrick St. Michel is a freelance journalist living in Tokyo, Japan.