Cheapo Weekend for November 15-16: Autumn Leaves, Winter Lights

Carey Finn

Ginkgo trees pic via Shutterstock.
Ginkgo trees pic via Shutterstock.

In Tokyo this weekend? Get out and go for a stroll! The ginkgo trees are starting to glow gold and the maples are catching fire. There are pretty colours to be seen at night too thanks to all the winter illuminations lighting up the city. Best of all? Everything is free!

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Tokyo, like most places in Japan, features streets upon streets lined with ginkgo trees. Called itcho in Japanese, these trees lend the city a brilliant golden-yellow hue (and unmistakable smell) in mid to late autumn, and an amble under them is an absolute must. The Jingugaien Itcho Festival, which opens in the outer gardens of Meiji Jingu Shrine this Saturday, is a good way to experience the trees, as well as a chance to grab some festival grub. The Hachioji Ginkgo Festival is another recommendation – in addition to the awesome foliage, you can scope out classic cars and the olden-day uses of the area. The practice of enjoying autumn leaves is known as kouyou. 

When the sun goes down (which is so early these days!), drag your loved one or a random friend for a romantic meander around the Roppongi Hills Christmas Illumination (which has some special “hidden” features this year). Alternatively, or additionally if you’re really into pretty shiny things, take in the Tokyo Midtown Christmas lights too. The Shiodome Caretta Illumination 2014 is also well worth a look. Here’s a comprehensive list of Tokyo’s winter illuminations – many of them run until early next year.

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Don’t forget that you can still catch the fancy Tokyo Metropolitan Tourism Chrysanthemum Exhibition too!

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