Connect with us


Rikugien, a Brilliant Tokyo Jewel of Autumn's Best Foliage

While it is December, autumn colors are still at their peak in some of Tokyo's most beautiful parks and gardens, including Rikugien, the "Garden of Poets."



At Rikugien in Tokyo, autumn foliage contrasts against a clear blue sky on December 8, 2023. (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)

Rikugien means the "Garden expressing the six elements of [Waka] poetry."It dates from the late 17th century and is one of nine formal gardens operated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Park Association.

This garden attracts large crowds for cherry blossom viewing in the spring and for autumn colors in the fall.

Rikugien is a 7-minute walk from the Komagome Station (JR Yamanote Line and Tokyo Metro Nanboku Line). It is a 10-minute walk from the Sengoku Station (Toei Mita Line).

The entrance fee is 300 yen for adults.

Wheelchair access is limited. Nevertheless, in my recent visits, I have always seen elderly and disabled users in wheelchairs albeit with someone assisting.

Rikugien. (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)

The official autumn color viewing season and related events at the Rikugien ended on December 3. However, based on personal observation over more than a decade and predictions this year for the Tokyo area, there is still more than a week of good viewing left. As of December 8, the maple trees remained especially lovely.

Poster promoting the preservation society. (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)


There were events during the autumn colors viewing. In one, a member of a group dedicated to the preservation of Edo Period [1603-1867] busking (江戸の太神楽) demonstrated several types of juggling. He even featured a large wooden measuring box that he later used to collect donations from the entranced audience. (Including the author of this article.)

Photo (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)
Photo (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)


The tea house at Rikugien may be rented for groups.

Tea house at Rikugien (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)
Gate at Rikugien. (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)

Snack Shop

There are no restaurants in Rikugien. A small snack shop has canned drinks, sweets, and some food offerings. Benches outside the snack shop offer a good view of the garden pond and autumn colors.

(© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)
Plenty of places to enjoy sweets or snacks at Rikugien. (© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)


The garden surrounds a large pond with an island that attracts numerous birds. Among them are cormorants that seek fish in the pond. 

The changing reflections from the pond as the sun moves through the sky provide a continuing series of opportunities for photographs similar to impressionist paintings.

(© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)
(© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)


Gingo streets stand out for their vivid yellow leaves and large size.  Some stand alone. Others are mixed with maple trees and their red leaves provide a striking contrast.

(© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)


Unlike the uniformly yellow ginkgo trees, the autumn colors of maples include bright and dark reds, orange, and dark purple. Maples change color later in the season and hold their leaves longer than ginkgo trees.

(© JAPAN Forward by EH Kinmonth)


Author: Earl H Kinmonth
Photographs by EH Kinmonth. Find other stories about Tokyo and nearby areas by Dr Kinmonth on JAPAN Forward


Our Partners