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.
Wheelchair access is limited. Nevertheless, in my recent visits, I have always seen elderly and disabled users in wheelchairs albeit with someone assisting.
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.
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.)
The tea house at Rikugien may be rented for groups.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Top 5 Spots for Autumn Colors Around Tokyo
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Author: Earl H Kinmonth
Photographs by EH Kinmonth. Find other stories about Tokyo and nearby areas by Dr Kinmonth on JAPAN Forward