You know those 10 days of Autumn where all the leaves change into bright colours right before they fall off? Well Japan has a special name just for that season: koyo. Koyo falls around the end of November, and, every year on the 28th it’s Good Garden Day (somehow the numbers 11 and 28 in Japanese resemble closely enough to ‘good’ and ‘gardens’ to celebrate the play on words… kind of like May the 4th Be With You). Naturally, I took this as the perfect excuse to explore!
Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens
I started at the oldest garden in Tokyo: Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. It is a Special Historic Site AND a Special Scenic Beauty (a rare official combination), yet looks like hardly anything from the outside with such a tiny gate. But, for just 300¥ entry past the noise of nearby theme park, it is easy to forget you’re in Tokyo city at all.
A classic example of a Japanese stroll-garden, complete the web of circuits to view all kinds of trees, plants, ponds, constructions, and even traces of ruins left behind from World War II.
Make sure you wear good shoes – the entire gardens are just under 71,000m2 (which is actually only one quarter of their original size!) and either gravel or cobblestone path.
What most tourists don’t know however, is that during koyo the Japanese also light up their gardens at night with special autumn exhibits of digital art!
Once the sun set on my day (which it does at about 5:00pm this time of year), I headed to Higo-Hosokawa Garden. Only 300¥ entry also, this garden’s gate opens up to a lake as still as glass and reflective as a mirror and, tonight, decorated with lanterns and huge Christmas tree installations. The prefecture of this garden was hit with a pretty big earthquake only a couple years ago, so you’ll see a whole bunch of lanterns decorated by the local primary school students in prayer too. Circuit around to take in the sights.
Chances are your eyes are going to see this one way better than your camera can capture! Be sure to put the device down for a while and breathe in the night air.
This blog post was written by our intern visiting from Australia, Meagan Kupke.
See what else she has been getting up to during her time in Japan here.