Compared to other regions in Japan, Tokyo‘s autumn arrives slightly later. So for us Singaporeans with children who can only travel during the school holidays from late November till end of the year, Tokyo is the perfect destination for autumn foliage viewing.
When planning for our Japan trip in early December last year, I searched for autumn foliage spots in Tokyo and decided to visit Shinjuku Gyoen – which was right smack in town and walkable from our apartment in Shinjuku. I particularly wanted to visit Shinjuku Gyoen because its location would allow us to view autumn foliage in the midst of the skyscrapers of Tokyo.
We planned to visit Shinjuku Gyoen and Tokyo Fire Museum in the same day as they were within walking distance of each other. Since it was raining in the morning, we started with Tokyo Fire Museum before walking over to Shinjuku Gyoen after the rain stopped.
As we entered the gate of Shinjuku Gyoen, we were greeted by some bare trees and wondered if we were too late for autumn foliage.
As we walked further into the park, we found a patch of Gingko trees that were a gorgeous shade of golden!
We were thrilled because when we tried to visit the row of golden Gingko trees in Hokkaido University during our Hokkaido autumn trip, we were there too early and the trees were mostly still green. But this time round, our timing was PERFECT!
We also spotted some interesting orange bushes. They weren’t the deep red maple trees we expected to find when we thought of autumn foliage, but they were beautiful in their own way.
I couldn’t leave without taking a photo with the orange bushes (and forcing the kid to take a photo with me). Check out MY’s ‘Mom, let go of me, this is embarrassing’ expression. LOL…
After I was satisfied with having a photo, I let the kid run loose. Living in Singapore, we seldom get huge open spaces where the boys can run around freely with nobody else within range that the boys would end up disturbing.
Considering Tokyo has a reputation of being insanely crowded and busy, and Shinjuku being synonym with the world’s busiest train station (we are talking about 1,260,000,000 commuters passing through Shinjuku Station a year on average – info source), you may find it hard to believe that this serene park was actually in Shinjuku.
Seeing how much fun MY was having running around the empty field, I decided to join in the fun.
Before you go off thinking we were the only people at the park, we actually weren’t. There were small groups of locals strolling around the park, admiring the autumn foliage.
I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the autumn foliage and the skyscraper behind.
We continued walking and found a lane that reminded me of the Korean drama, Winter Sonata. Mentioning this drama kind of reveals my age, but it’s okay. You may already have noticed my wrinkles in one of the earlier photos.
We were a bit late for the autumn leaves at this part of the park unfortunately. There went my Winter Sonata re-enactment moment. It didn’t spoil the kids’ moods though, as they were super amused by how HUGE the leaves were.
Moving on, we came to a Japanese Garden and the boys started shouting, “Beautiful red trees!” and they dashed towards the pond which was surrounded by classic momiji autumn leaves.
MF was like, “Take a photo of me and the beautiful red trees!” MF, by the way, is super selective about what he wants to take photos with. He seldom requests to take photos with something. Unless it’s something to do with his latest fad, like Pokemon for now. Or Avengers before that. Or Transfomers before that. Or Thomas before that. You get the idea. So I was pleasantly surprised by his enthusiasm towards ‘beautiful red trees’.
And surprisingly, I got one decent shot with BOTH boys. In case you haven’t noticed, I hardly have any photos of myself with my boys on this blog (despite the average photo spam of like 50 photos per post). It’s SO hard to make my boys take photos with me. This was a particularly good day. Something was putting them in an extremely good mood. Probably the ‘beautiful red trees’.
And just to keep up with my habit of photo spamming, here you go with the ‘beautiful red trees’.
Shinjuku Gyoen was not exactly what I would consider a kids-friendly attraction in Tokyo – I didn’t even see a playground whatsoever in the whole park. But surprisingly, the boys enjoyed the walk around the park a lot. I highly recommend visiting Shinjuku Gyoen if you are visiting Tokyo in late November – early December for its autumn foliage.
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Information on Shinjuku Gyoen:
Getting there: Take Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line to Shinjuku Gyoen Mae station. (Note: When using Hyperdia to search for train routes, key in ‘SHINJUKU-GYOEMMAE’ as your destination.)
- Tuesdays – Sundays: 0900 – 1600
- Closed on Mondays (If Monday is a public holiday, then closed the following day or the weekday after in case of consecutive holidays.)
- Adults 200 yen
- Elementary and junior high school students 50 yen
- Free for children below elementary school age
Map Code: 670 170 (what is this?)
Official Website: Homepage
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