Parks in the capital city of Japan offer unforgettable scenic views, writes Hanna Hussein
JAPAN isreally beautiful in spring when the sakura trees blossom in every corner but I am quite surprised autumn is similarly picturesque. Bright-hued leaves colour the landscape. Walkways under trees are thickly covered with the fallen golden leaves. Oh, it’s such a scenic sight.
I have two nights in Tokyo before I head back to Malaysia, and all I want to is do is go on an autumn trail sightseeing.
What better way to kick it off by visiting one of the largest parks in the city, Yoyogi Park.
Located in Shibuya, the park is relatively near to the buzzing Harajuku – the popular art and fashion scene. Perfect! I can do a morning walk and then straight for the shopping tour.
Geared up with Wiyo portable WiFi and my smartphone, I search Google Map apps for the best walking route to Yoyogi Park from my Homeaway apartment (Read thereview of the Wiyo device on Page 10).
As luck would have it, my stay is located not too far away – just less than half an hour walk.
In this crisp autumn air, I don’t mind if the walk is much longer.
Leisurely, I stroll towards one of the park gates. The park has a number of giant tori gates (leading to the entrance) and Google Map helps to figure out the nearest one.
You need a few hours to explore the park because it’s huge! The 54-hectare Yoyogi Park features wide lawns, ponds and ginko tree forest, which turns intensely golden in autumn.
Visitors are free to jog, rent a bike, picnic and relax on the lawn in the park. On Sundays, you may catch street art and music performances.
Within the park, there’s also the Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken – the first emperor of modern Japan.
Eight years after their passing, the shrine was constructed in 1915 using primarily Japanese cypress and copper, a traditional nagare-zukuri style.
It’s a basic shrine with a spacious panoramic open yard. It’s interesting to see the details of the wooden construction.
For a more spectacular autumn experience in the evening, I head to Rikugien in Bunkyo-ku. It is located 45 minutes away from my HomeAway stay, but it’s worth to travel to see it.
To go there, you can either take the JR Yamanote Line or Namboku Subway Line, stopping at Komagome Station. It then takes another 10 minutes to walk to the park.
It opens in the evening only during autumn, so of course I can’t miss my chance to visit it. Go before sunset so you can catch a different feel of the park during the day and night.
Admission is 300 yen (RM11). It’s a reasonable price considering that it’s a huge park and may take more than an hour to cover it.
During the Edo period, the garden was called Mukusa-no-sono, but it changed to Rikugien which is derived fromWaka Poetry following the six classifications ofChinese poems.
Constructed in 1702 by the Lord of Kawagoe domain, the garden is a kaiyu-style daimyo garden with manmade hills and a pond that reflects tastes and flavuor of the world of Waka poetry. It reflects 88 scenes that appear in the Chinese classics as well as the Wakanoura in Japanese classical literature.
The garden isas beautiful as the history itself. In the evening, the park is lit up so that visitors can enjoy the autumn view. It’s really stunning!
This is whereprofessional photographers gather to get night shots in autumn. I am no professional but I can still get a good shot – of course with a little bit of patience and steady hands.
The 87,810sq m park is divided into few parts. From the entrance, just follow the path, and you’ll see the highlight of the park – a stunning islet surrounded by a huge lake. The route will take you along the lake and you’ll be amazed by the different autumn sights.
My favourite trees here are the maple, bambooas well as the weeping cherry.
If you want to see some night autumn views but Rikugien is too far,head to Icho Namiki, a popular, ginkgo lined avenue in Meiji Jingu Gaien Park near Akasaka.
In the evening, the trees light up and illuminate a walkway. Gorgeous!
However, it is a much plainer view compared to Rikugien. It offers a unique line of trimmed bright golden gingko trees during autumn. The 300m street has 146 trees planted side by side along it.
Since it is located within the city, the park is crowded all the time. Getting a photo without being photobombed is unlikely.
It’s quite a short stroll here, so later perhaps you can cafe-hop or enjoy some retail therapy.
Another public city park that is worth a visit is Hibiya Park. Located in Chiyoda area, this 16ha public park borders the southern moat of the Imperial Palace.
It used to be the grounds of feudal lords during the Shogunate, and became a military parade ground during the early years of Japan's modernisation in the late 19th century.
In the morning, the park is teeming with nannies with huge strollers that can fit four babies, retired locals having their routine walk as well as business-like city dwellers in smart suits with a cuppa and a suitcase in their hands, probably heading to work.
Hibiya Park is rather modern, and the view, well, it’s colourful vibrant trees but with high-rise buildings in the background.
It has two large Western-style flower gardens, one of mainly tulips (with a large fountain) and the other of roses. There are several restaurants in the park, and a few stores selling refreshments.
Access to the park is free and the nearest subway stop is Hibiya Station.