Viewing Meiji Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Trees in Tokyo
When you think of autumn, what do you think of?
I think of boots, scarves, cool breeze, and of course the beautiful foliage. In Japan the Japanese Maple and the ginkgo trees turning shades of yellows and reds are a sight not to be missed. There’s something magical and absolutely stunning about these trees. Maybe it’s the uniqueness of the trees and shape of the leaves but it’s a sight that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world.
One of the best spots to enjoy the ginkgo trees changing colors and shedding their leaves is at Meiji Jingu Gaien (明治神宮外苑). Meiji Jingu Gaien means the Meiji era Shinto outer gardens and is a large park/area with restaurants, fountains, a stadium, a golf range, ice skating rink, and plenty of other venues to enjoy.
How to get there
There are a few ways you can get to Meiji Jingu Gaien. If you take the JR Chuo or Sobu line you can get off at Shinonamachi Station or Sendagaya Station, for the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line stop at Gaienmae Station or Aoyama-icchome Station, for the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line Toei Subway Oedo Line get off at Aoyama-icchome Station, and for the Toei Subway Oedo Line stay on the subway until the National Stadium Station.
From the station it’ll take anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes to get to Meiji Jingu Gaien depending on which station you walk from (and on how fast of a walker you are). Within Meiji Jingu Gaien, if you enter from the Aoyama Street entrance you will be at the Ginkgo lined street.
This is the famous street where people gather in late fall to enjoy the changing colors or the ginkgo leaves. This 300 meter street leading to the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery is lined with 146 ginkgo trees over the age of 100!
During the walk up and down the street, if you want to get a few photos in the sea of yellow leaves, there are plenty of benches located underneath the trees which would be a perfect spot to capture a shot. If you want to throw some leaves in the air and get some candids, those make great photos too!
Taking a snack break
After walking around, if you need a little snack, meal, or drink and a little break for your legs, then why not try one of the cafes/restaurants that’s located right on the Ginkgo lined street?
This way you can still enjoy the ginkgo leaves while taking a little break. My first recommendation would be Royal Garden Cafe. They are located right at the entrance of Meiji Jingu Gaien on Ginkgo lined street. Not only is their location ideal, they are also striving for a “Sustainable Community.”
They continue to try to take part in the community and be a environmentally friendly and sustainable restaurant. They are open from 11:00am to 11:00pm and are open year around. Their lunch menu is around ￥1,000 (about $8.50) and they also have a bakery that has delicious pastries and breads. If you need a little sit down it would be a great spot to stop at with indoor and outdoor seating as well as an outside area!
Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival
Every year from mid November to the beginning of December there is the annual Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival. This year it will be held from Saturday November 14th to Sunday December 6th.
The festival attracts vendors who set up stalls along the Ginkgo lined street in Meiji Jingu Gaien and sell regional specialty dishes. Along with the food vendors, there are also street performers who will keep you entertained while you enjoy the ginkgo’s golden foliage! The bonus to coming to the Meiji Jingu Gaien during the festival believe it or not, is it’s free!You can enjoy nature’s gift without spending a penny!
But I would encourage you to try some of the regional dishes that the vendors are selling at the festival especially if you are planning on staying in Tokyo and have no plans of seeing the rest of Japan. Even though Japan is a small country, each region has it’s very specific culture and foods.
This festival will allow you to take part in that! So whether you’re going to be in Tokyo during the festival or not, ginkgo trees are a very special part of Japan so go enjoy nature’s gift to Japan.