With this being our second year in Japan, we’re trying to catch up on as many events that we missed last year, as possible. One of them being: attending an autumn leaves festival. There are actually quite a number of parks and gardens in Tokyo that open late in the evening with the trees lit up. It’s definitely a special atmosphere, but having experienced one now, I’ve kind of had enough for another year (you will find out later why).
Walking through the crowds, we realised quickly: we’re not the only ones who’ve come to see the bright yellow and orange-red autumn colours at Showa Kinen Park. In fact, seeing the autumn foliage is a huge event in Japan, almost as big as seeing the cherry blossoms in March/April. I love it how important the season changes are in Japan and how every plant in bloom is celebrated, but on the downside, every tree in bloom is surrounded by a crowd of people trying to take either a photo of the tree or of themselves in front of it. I remember those days when I still lived in Leeds and took lots of photos of the autumn foliage on my way to uni while other people were like “Meh. Why do you need photos of that? It happens every year…”
When the clock struck 5 p.m., the lights went on, and people politely flocked together to take photos of the bright yellow ginkgo alleys.
Three areas of the park were lit up, and we actually only made it to two, as the park is so widespread and we had already walked thousands of steps that day. Our last stop was this traditional tea house that served matcha tea in the evening (which is very unusual in Japan, they usually close by 4 p.m.). We enjoyed the matcha and cosy atmosphere in the tea house, but not what followed afterwards: as most of the park was closed due to this event, we were forced to pay for a bus that took us back to the nearest station from where we needed to take a train to get to the train station that would bring us back home… waiting for the bus and that train added on so much time, that it took almost three hours to get from Showa Kinen Park back to Kannai station.
I think Showa Kinen Park is perfect for a day out for families and dog owners, or for a group of friends to have a picnic under the trees. Personally, I’m done with autumn festivals now and ready to move on to Christmas light ups in Yokohama and Tokyo!
Have you been to Showa Kinen Park? What was your experience?