During autumn, you not only enjoy the brilliant colours during the day but at night too. Autumn light up events occur throughout Japan bringing new life to the gardens, temples, and parks they illuminate. Dazzling light displays transform the atmosphere as various types of maple and gingko trees glow in the night. So, to learn more about how Japan celebrates autumn keep reading for 6 enchanting autumn light up events in Japan.
1. Rikugien, Tokyo
Rikugien is one of the most beautiful gardens for autumn viewing in Tokyo. Rikugien translates to “Garden of six Poems” and portrays 88 scenes in six Japanese Poems. The elegant garden was beautifully landscaped using a method called Kaiyu-shiki Tsukiyama Sensui Teien, whereby artificial hills (Tsukiyama) and a small lake (Sensui) are featured. There are also various paths leading to different vantage points of the garden, which give amazing views.
Not only is Rikugien beautiful during the day but at night different coloured lights are projected onto the autumn leaves making the garden come alive. The garden is quite big and therefore you could spend hours strolling and appreciating the beautiful scenery, which was selected as a national scenic spot in 1952.
【Date】mid Nov – early Dec
【Time】9:00 am – 9:00 pm (last entry 8:30 pm)
【Access】From Tokyo Station take the JR Yamanote Line to Komagome Station and walk for about 8 minutes.
2. Shinrin Park, Saitama
During the spooky season of Halloween, there is a park in Saitama perfect for kids or for you to release your inner child. Enter a magical world full of illuminated Jack-o’-lanterns and 50,000 lights used for Halloween art installations. Get into the festivities by dressing in your scariest or most creative costumes and be rewarded by receiving sweets at the entrance. Additionally, enjoy some delicious pumpkin flavoured ice cream and luminous candy floss at Shinrin Park’s Momiji Tea Room. Starting from 5 pm there are craft workshops, which teach you how to make Halloween costumes and items but need to be booked in advanced.
During November when the leaves begin to change, Shinrin Park hosts another event: their ‘Autumn Leaves Light Up Event’. The brilliant red maple leaves are illuminated and lanterns can be seen lighting up a path throughout the park. The experience is magical and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into another world. There are also special activities for kids such as their light up shows, which are accompanied by music.
【Date】early Oct – early Nov (Halloween light up event), Nov (Autumn leaves light up event), on weekends and public holidays only
【Time】5 :00– 8:30 pm (October), 4:30 – 8:30 pm (Nov), last entry is 8:00 pm
【Cost】Free entry (parking: ¥300)
【Access】From Tokyo Station take the Marunouchi Line to Ikebukuro Station. From Ikebukuro Station take the Tobu-Tojo Line to Shinrinkoen Station.
3. Eikando, Kyoto
Eikando is known for being one of the most stunning gardens to visit during autumn in Japan. It was first opened in 853 and features a serene pond with koi fish. It also has over 3000 different types of maple trees, which are a spectacular site during both the day and at night. At night, when the garden is illuminated, the bridge that crosses the pond and the blazing autumn leaves are reflected in the water, creating a mesmerising sight. Additionally, during autumn seating is available where you can sit and order green tea and zenzai, which is a red bean soup containing mochi (rice cake). The soup is popular during autumn and has a sweet taste that is balanced well by the green tea, making it a great combination.
Located on the grounds is also Taho-to Pagoda, which has a beautiful view of the garden and Kyoto City and some beautiful art such as the statue of Amida Buddha, unique because his head is turned to the side. There is a legend that while a monk was praying the statue turned and spoke to him, which has caused the statue to face this way ever since.
【Date】early Nov – early Dec
【Time】9:00 am – 8:30 pm (light up starts at 5:30pm)
【Cost】¥1,000 (day time), ¥600 (night time)
【Access】From Kyoto Station take the Karasuma Line to karasuma Oike Station. Then transfer to the Tozai Subway Line and get off at Keage. Eikando is 15 minutes on foot from here.
4. Shoren-in Temple, Kyoto
Shoren-in Temple has been closely associated with the Imperial Family and until the Meiji Era only those from the Imperial or Regent Family could be Shoren-in Temple’s head priests. When the Imperial Palace burned down during the Tokugawa Era, Emperor Gosakuramachi actually resided in Shoren-in Temple temporarily. The highlights of Shoren-in Temple include it’s drawing room, which features a room full of elegant and traditional paintings, a tea house, a small bamboo forest, and a moss garden.
Shoren-in Temple holds a light up event twice a year, in spring and in autumn. During these times the temple grounds look magical as the moss garden is lit up by twinkling blue lights. The bamboo forest is also illuminated and the whole experience is best appreciated through a relaxing stroll along the pathway.
【Official website】 http://www.shorenin.com/english/
【Opening hours】9:00 am – 10:00 pm (illumination starts at 6 pm, last entry at 9:30 pm)
【Access】From Kyoto Station take the Karasuma Line to Karasume Oike Station. From Karasume Oike Station transfer to the Tozai Subway Line and get off at Higashiyama Station. Shoren-in Temple is a 10 minute walk from there.
5. Kiyomizudera, Kyoto
Kiyomizudera is one of the most iconic temples in Kyoto and was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Its name means “Pure Water Temple” and comes from the fact that Kiyomizudera is built close to Otawa Waterfall, renowned for the purity of its water. People who visit often drink its water as it is said to improve your luck in love and school or give you a long life depending on which stream you drink out of. Kiyomizudera is also known for its wooden stage, which gives an extensive view of Kyoto City and the garden below.
During autumn the temple is surrounded by maple trees that have changed to beautiful shades of orange and red. Additional, at night during the autumn light up event, the temple is transformed, giving off a different mysterious atmosphere. A blue beam of light cuts through the night sky and represents the compassion of Kannon, a deity highly revered in Japan. Furthermore, you can also enjoy the brilliant hues of the autumn foliage emphasised even more by the lights.
【Date】mid Nov – early Dec
【Time】regular hours, 6:00 am – 6:00 pm | illumination event, 5: 30 pm – 9:00 pm
【Access】From Kyoto Station take the no. 206 bus to Gojozaka and walk for 14 minutes.
6. Korankei Gorge, Aichi
Korankai Gorge is filled with around 4000 maple trees of 11 different varieties of mountain maple trees. It is said that in 1634 the head priest of Kojakuji Temple planted the first maple trees and since then it has become one of the best places to view autumn leaves in the Chubu area. At the autumn festival that is held there annually, lights illuminate the maple trees near Tomoe River. The best photo spot at the event is located at Taigetsukyo Bridge, which gives a great view of the lights and trees reflected in the river. Additionally, during this event, stalls selling street food and local products can be found as well as musical performances such as Japanese drumming. This event is one of the most festive and not only will you be treated with a beautiful view but also an unforgettable cultural experience.
【Date】early Nov -Late Nov
【Time】5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
【Access】From Toyotashi Station take the Meitetsu Bus and get off at Korankei
We hope you enjoyed these enchanting autumn light up events and learned more about Japan’s beautiful temples and gardens. Let us know which event was your favourite in the comments down below and tag us @gdayjapan with your autumn pictures.