Destination Tokyo: Hachioji Ginkgo Festival and Rikugien Gardens

As Japan’s capital and most populated city, Tokyo is no doubt one of the most desired destinations for world travelers. Meandering in the city any day of the year makes for an impressive venture, but autumn in Tokyo permits outside strolls amid crisp air and falling leaves, making it one of the best seasons for a visit. To celebrate the fall, the Hachioji Ginkgo Festival and Fall Evening Illumination at Rikugien Gardens both draw crowds while staying unique to the country’s culture.

Taking place on November 11, the Hachioji Ginkgo Fest offers a blend of sentiment and beauty as the rust-yellow leaves of ginkgo trees add to the nostalgic vibe of festivalgoers. Planted during the Showa age, the gingko trees express the expansion of Tama Goryo area. During the parade, the classic cars survived by the Showa era steal the show as they flaunt classy lines and flashy tunes.

The Fall Evening Illumination at Rikugien Gardens arrives annually in late November to early December to produce jaw-dropping revelations among thousands of visitors. Known best in the Edo Period, the beauty of the garden of feudal lord or “daimyo teien” was intended to reveal scenes from the “waka” poem “Tsukiyama-Sensui.” Its national scenic beauty has been recognized since the 1950s, contrived to bring together the blaze of autumn leaves and radiance of the gardens.

DO:

Koishikawa Korakuen is one of Japan’s oldest and most stunning gardens. Built in the Edo Period, it’s been maintained to keep its unique beauty to serve those in need of a tranquil escape from the city’s bustle. As you saunter through trails you’ll soak up spectacular replicas of famous Japanese and Chinese landscapes. While not as grand as the originals, the scenery is just as magnificent. With the changing of the leaves, the best time to visit is near the end of November and early December.

The 23 districts of Tokyo add to the varied vibrations bending through the Capital, and perhaps the most noteworthy are the Shibuya and Shinjuku. Shibuya is the liveliest and most popular district in Tokyo, drawing in younger crowds due to a thriving entertainment scene complete with supreme shopping, nonstop nightlife and lines of restaurants. Also featured in the district is the Hachiko Exit intersection, where neon lights and flashing advertisements meet to form one of the most famous crossings in Japan, and maybe even the world.

The Shinjuku district is home to the biggest railroad station in the world, making the surrounding areas just as famous. The station transports more than two million people each day. To accommodate the high volume of travelers, the nearby establishment blanketing Shinjuku Station has an array of unique shopping and delicious restaurant offerings.

STAY:

The Peninsula Hotel maintains a top-notch reputation throughout the world, and its high standards are certainly met in Japan. Dropped in the ideal district of Marunouchi, the hotel is a stone’s throw away from the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park, and deluxe room rates start at approximately $600 per night. Elegance, romance and style are just a few of the descriptive words leaving the lips of guests during their stay.

Located in the Shinjuku District, the five-star Park Hyatt Tokyo is the epitome of luxury. The hotel stretches high into the sky, allowing for some of the Capital city’s best views, including a statuesque silhouette of Mt. Fuji. Rates start at $550 per night, and the serene vibe and tentative staff make the stay as relaxing as it is stylish.

Craving a complete Japanese experience during your trip? Expend your time in a Ryokan or traditional Japanese inn. With more than 50,000 throughout the country, the Ryokan Collection is in the top 29, as it provides visitors with a unique Japanese journey. And as part of the Ryokan Collection, Yama No Chaya is situated on the mountainous outskirts of Tokyo near the town of Hakone.

EAT:

Would you like a side of “the best view in the Tokyo” with your main course? Situated atop the Park Hyatt Hotel, Kozue likes to pair contemporary Japanese cuisine with spectacular views of Mt. Fuji at no added cost. The fresh ingredients and lengthy sake list adds to the already perfect atmosphere.

Tofuya-Ukai is a traditional Japanese-style dining experience that shines on the tofu stage. The tofu-based dishes are so remarkable, you’ll be asking yourself, “What’s meat?” as you scrape your plate clean. Adjacent to the Tokyo Tower, the location is exquisite as it allows views of a 71,000-square-foot Japanese garden.

Sushi for breakfast? All the locals are doing it! Sushi Dia is the prime spot for a Japanese-inspired breakfast, setting up shop in the famously fresh Tsukiji fish market. The reasonable prices and mouthwatering fish make lining up behind eager eaters worth the wait.

DRINK:

The superb craft cocktails at Bar High Five are a product of the ridiculously skilled barkeeps. Whipping up flavors through the low-lit bar seven days a week, the bartenders performances are often more fun to watch than the patrons scattered about the cozy establishment. Enjoy both as they provide high levels of entertainment.

Super Deluxe is a top-charted underground bar with a saloon vibe and artsy spin. A wide variety of entertainment dot the calendar nightly, offering jazz performances and nightclub tendencies.

Zoetrope was designed by Atsushi Horigami, a video game creator with the goal of spotlighting American and Japanese movies and the joys of Japanese whiskey. For drinkers’ added enjoyment, old black-and-white movies and vintage animation are projected on the wall.