Cheapo Weekend November 17/18: Autumn Leaves, Another Illumination and Early Snow in Yoyogi Park

Greg Lane

Icho Namiki in Jingugaien by Yuichi Sakuraba used under a Creative Commons license.

Just as the cherry blossom front traverses Japan from south to North each Spring, the Koyo (changing Autumn Leaves) front comes at us from the opposite direction each Autumn.  This weekend and the  next will see the front descending on Tokyo with leaves at their peak and a patchwork of greens, yellows, oranges and deep reds on display in some of the prime viewing spots around the capital.

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The most well known (and consequently crowded) spots for enjoying the autumn leaves in the city are the tree lined streets and paths of Omotesando, Meiji JIngu Gaien and Yasukuni Shrine as well as the major parks such as Shinjuku Gyoen, Yoyogi Park, Ueno Park, Hibiya Park and Shiba Park. Venturing outside the metro area, the best spots are Mount Takao – which also affords views of Mount Fuji from the summit – as well as the Okutama area in west Tokyo and Hakone in Kanagawa. If you were planning an overnight trip to any of these places then you’ll probably be out of luck as hotels and ryokan are especially busy at this time of year.

Christmas continues it’s November roll-out with Midtown Christmas 2012 (link in Japanese) beginning at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi/Akasaka. The most eagerly anticipated part of this is the Christmas Illumination which begins today (November 15th) and runs through until December 25th.  The Christmas light-up covers the whole of the grass square area behind Tokyo Midtown with 280,000 computer controlled LED bulbs bathing the area in blue light.  The lights are switched on at 5pm and off at 11pm each day. Expect enormous crowds of people – especially on the weekend. The closest stations are Roppongi on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya and Toei Oedo Lines and Nogizaka Station on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line.

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In the event square at Yoyogi Park this Sunday, you’ll find Snow Bank Pay it Forward 2012 (link in Japanese).  Snow will be trucked in and a slope with a rail down the middle for snowboarders constructed.  The event apparently has the dual purposes of increasing interest in snowboarding and raising awareness of becoming a bone marrow donor.  The event runs from 8:30am until 3:50pm. Closest stations are Harajuku/Meijijingumae on the JR, Chiyoda and Fukutoshin lines and Yoyogi Koen on the Chiyoda Line.

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