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Meiji Jingu Gaien Gingko Festival (Tokyo) - Bumble Bee Mum

When it comes to koyo (autumn foliage) in Japan, it is not all about the classic red momiji (acer / maple tree).  Another popular type of autumn foliage you can find in Japan is the ichou (gingko tree) which turns golden in autumn.

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You don’t actually have to go to specific locations to see ichou, I have found them along random stretches of roads when we were in Tokyo in early December.  We also found a cluster of them at Shinjuku Gyoen.

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However, if you want to see them at their best, which is when they are lined up together in neat rows along pathways where you can walk under them amidst falling golden leaves, you need to head to popular ichou viewing spots.

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One very popular spot for viewing ichou is at Hokkaido University in, well, Hokkaido.  But if you are visiting Tokyo, not to fret.  Tokyo also has two popular ichou sites: One at Meiji Gingu Gaien and one at Tokyo University (What’s up with growing gingko trees at Universities??).

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Finding the Gingko Trees at Meiji Jingu Gaien

But before you start going down to Meiji Jingu Gaien, you may want to know where exactly this avenue of gingko trees is.  Because Meiji Jingu Gaien is HUGE.  The avenue of gingko trees (called Jingu Gaien Ichou Namiki 神宮外苑いちょう並木, in case you need to ask for directions) is near Aoyama-itchome Station and you can click here for the exact google map location.

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Meiji Jingu Gaien Festival

Due to the popularity of the gingko trees at Meiji Jingu Gaien, an annual Meiji Jingu Gaien Festival (神宮外苑いちょう祭り) is held at the end of the avenue of gingko trees.  To get to the festival, just follow the row of gingko trees after exiting Aoyama-itchome station.  Click here for direction on Google Map.

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At the festival, you would find stalls set up to sell stuff ranging from clothing.

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To local produce.

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And of course food! You will not want to miss out the food stalls when you visit Japanese festivals.

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You can find all the typical Japanese festival food like takoyaki, yakitori, teppanyaki etc.

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And not-so-typical food like this uni (sea urchin).

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And the greatest delight in visiting food stalls at a Japanese festival is watching how they prepare the food right before you.

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But okay, let me say this: Please manage your expectations for the food when you visit Japan festivals.  They are usually more fun to look at than to eat.  The food at festivals usually don’t taste as good as at specialty restaurants – which I think is to be expected. So don’t go to a Japanese festival and expect the wagyu beef there to taste like the wagyu beef you get at teppanyaki restaurants.

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The son agrees.  Check out his disgusted face.  Can’t remember what he ate, but he washed it down with a can of hot chocolate. LOL…

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End of the day, you want to be there more for the atmosphere than anything.  There were tables and chairs set up on the lawn where you can sit and dine.  It’s always fun to sit together and mingle with the locals at festivals, regardless of the taste of the food.

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The kids were disappointed that there were no game stalls at the festival.  One of the things they looked forward to when visiting Japanese festivals was playing traditional festival games, like they did at the Hokkaido Shrine Festival.  Sadly they didn’t have those games here.

However if you are here with babies, you would be glad to know that there was a tent set up for baby care.  How thoughtful!

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And on a random note, while we were walking back to Aoyama-itchome station via the avenue of gingko trees, we passed by a burger joint called ‘Shake Shack‘ with an insanely long queue.

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Seems that it isn’t just us Singaporeans who love queuing up for food.  Apparently the Japanese have the same hobby.  The queue was pretty insane!  I couldn’t even take in the whole queue with my camera‘s panorama function.

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If you ever do decide to join the queue to dine there, can you come back to tell me if it’s any good? I’m REALLY curious.  But I’m not prepared to spend my Japan vacation standing in line for burgers.

Cancellation of Meiji Jingu Gaien Festival in 2016

Before you start planning to visit this festival if you are going to be in Tokyo this holidays, I have some bad news for you.  The festival has been cancelled this year.  The announcement was made on their website and Facebook page, but there was no specific reason given.  Oh well… Let’s hope they bring it back next year!

Nevertheless, even without the festival, the row of gingko trees will still be there for you to view and enjoy.  You can continue to visit their Facebook page for updates on the colours of the gingko trees at Meiji Jingu Gaien.

Visiting together with Shinjuku Gyoen

Meiji Jingu Gaien is actually pretty near Shinjuku Gyoen – another popular spot for viewing autumn foliage in Tokyo.  So if you are in Tokyo during autumn, I do recommend visiting these two attractions together.

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Momiji at Shinjuku Gyoen

We started our visit to Shinjuku Gyoen at the end of the park near Shinjukugyoen-mae station and walked through the park, exiting at the end near Sendagaya station.  From Sendagaya station, we cut through Meiji Jingu Gaien, passing by a stadium before arriving at the festival site.  Click here for Google Map route from Shinjuku Gyoen to Meiji Jingu Gaien Gingko Festival.

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The walk from the exit of Shinjuku Gyoen to the festival site took us almost half an hour (with the kids).  It was pretty scenic when we just exited Shinjuku Gyoen as there were some gingko trees lining the road near Sendagaya station.  But after we entered Meiji Jingu Gaien, it was a bit boring.

If you prefer to use the train, you can take the Toei Subway Oedo line from Kokuritsu-Kyogijo station to Aoyama-Itchome station (one stop).  It would get you there in 2 minutes. Personally I didn’t think the one stop warranted paying ¥180 per pax in train fare, so we just walked.  But if you are rushing for time, or you have a pass which covers rides on Toei lines (like the Toei one day pass or Toei & Tokyo Metro common one day ticket), then you should consider taking the subway.

Information on Meiji Jingu Gaien Festival:

Date: Late Nov – Early Dec (check official website for exact dates each year)

Venue: Meiji Jingu Gaien

Map: Click here for google map location

Getting There: 10 min walk from Aoyama-Itchome Station

Official Websites: Homepage | Facebook Page

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30Comments

  1. Lolo says:

    Wow those Gingko trees are incredibly unique looking! I love them! #CityTripping

  2. Natalie says:

    Beautiful photos! Now I’m confused as to which is the best time of the year to visit Japan! I’m so glad I’ve found your Japan blog section to save for that trip one day when I do visit :) #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Haha.. Anytime is a good time to visit Japan. It is very different in the various seasons. So for the same place, I can go there in Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and have a very different experience. Which is why I’ve been to Japan more than 10 times and still feel like I’ve barely explored the country. I haven’t even seen cherry blossoms before. >_<

  3. Notmyyearoff says:

    It looks like a really interesting festival and I think my most favourite thing about it would be the food!

  4. very interesting! nice trees:) #citytripping

  5. I love reading your posts, and The Meiji Jingu Festival looks awesome. I love all your photos of the food too – I would love to try some! Thanks for sharing. #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      I cannot resist a bit of everything at the various food stalls whenever I visit a festival in Japan, even though I know they are unlikely going to taste amazing. But it’s more for the fun factor. 😀

  6. I just love all those beautiful autumnal colours. You have definitely made me look at Japan in autumn. Now regarding Shake Shack…it has just come to the UK (a US export). My hubby has sampled the burgers in America and gave them the thumbs up. I seem to remember there being a bit of a queue at the one in Chicago but nothing like the one you describe! I’m sure it will come to Singapore…especially as you like queuing for food so much! Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Hahaha.. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have Shake Shack in Singapore eventually! I bet the queue would be super long when it does come. But I would rather queue for it in Singapore than in Tokyo. Time is too precious to be spent queuing for burgers when on vacation!

  7. Rachael says:

    I finally tried Shake Shack when I was in the USA last month and it was delicious! Much better than I was expecting and I had heard it was delicious!

  8. May says:

    I knew it! As long as I follow every single post of yours about Japan, I would have already GONE to Japan! Hahahaha

    Wow and hot chocolate comes in a can too? Glad you captured that moment. #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      That hot chocolate is the boys’ favourite drink every time we’re in Japan. We buy them from vending machines that dispense the can piping hot. Super shiok to hold it in our hands or put it against our body in winter. Lol…

  9. Ruth says:

    Love, love your photos. I like everything about the Gingko tree , especially its particular shape. Tokyo seems to be a city for all seasons. By the way, I like your website redesign. #citytripping

    • bumblebeemum says:

      Thanks! Japan in general is interesting in the way it changes throughout the different seasons. Which is why most people who have been to Japan would say they need to go back again.

  10. Katy Clarke says:

    What a beautiful autumn scene. The festival looks great, and right up my alley, but I think I would have to visit just for the stunning foliage. Love making new discoveries like these. Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

  11. What a great idea to combine seeing the gorgeous colours of the gingko trees with a food festival. Thanks for sharing your great tips and photos with us on #FarawayFiles

  12. Ahila says:

    Love your autumn photos of maple and gingko trees. #CityTripping

  13. Your photos are so pretty!!!! I never made it to Meiji Jingu Gaien or Shinjuku Garden last fall, so definitely planning to visit this year to see these beautifully-shaped yellow gingko trees. xoxo, nano | http://www.travelwithnanob.com

  14. Trees changing colour in Autumn is my favourite thing. And those Ichou trees are so cool! Even the shape of them is so different to anything here in Scotland! Love your pictures:) #farawayfiles

  15. Those trees are gorgeous. I love finding special places where the colors are the most prominent – we had a gorgeous fall for that here in Denmark this year! Thank you so much for sharing – cheers from Copenhagen! #FarawayFiles

  16. What a shame the festival has been cancelled. It looked the perfect way to enjoy the Autumn colours whilst indulging in some local food.

  17. […] Gingko Festival | Toyko ny Bumble Bee Mum Net […]

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