Leaf peeping seems to get more and more popular as the years go on. And it’s no surprise why! Leaf peeping, or the act of visiting areas where leaves have turned red in autumn, is a great way to get into the fall spirit and embrace the changing of the seasons. Leaf peeping, or momijigari, is an extremely popular practice in Japan, so let’s break down everything you need to know before taking your own momijigari trip!
What is Momijigari?
Momijigari began during the Edo period when royalties started visiting certain areas of Japan with the sole intention of enjoying the autumn leaves. The word momijigari is actually a portmanteau of the words momiji, or “red leaves,” and gari, or “hunting.”
What Do You Need For Momijigari?
The best part about momijigari is that it takes no preparation necessary! Momijigari makes for the perfect fresh air outing, and can be done solo or with a large group of friends. All you need is a solid pair of sneakers or climbing shoes and you’re good to go!
Where Are the Best Places for Momijigari?
Japan has some of the most beautiful trees in the world. From sakuras to ginkgos to Japanese maple trees, leaf peeping in Japan is sure to fill you with joy, peace, and wonder. Here are a list of the best places in Japan for momijigari:
When it comes to momijigari, Tokyo is one of the main hubs. The Rikugien Gardens are located in Bunkyō-ku, a particular ward in Tokyo. The Gardens are open from 9 AM to 5 PM, but offer evening admission to enjoy the autumn illumination until 9 PM.
Yoyogi Park is one of the largest parks in Tokyo, so you can plan on spending an afternoon just wandering around the park and admiring the leaves.
Meiji Jingu Gaien
Meiji Jingu Gaien is a 300 meter-long tree-lined road in Tokyo. The street isn’t lined with just any tree, though -- it’s lined with ginkgos! Ginkgos are known for their golden transformation during the fall season, making them the ultimate tree for momijigari. Meiji Jingu Gaien is also the home of the Meiji Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival known as Icho Matsuri where Japanese residents can indulge in an abundance of food trucks and regional dishes. Icho Matsuri usually takes place from mid-November to early December -- the best time for momijigari!
Ueno Park is filled with over 8,000 trees, and has become one of the most frequently visited parks in Tokyo because of it. 8,000 trees for leaf peeping? Sign us up!
Mount Takao is a sacred mountain located in Hachiōji, Tokyo, about an hour outside of the city. Mount Takao is one of the best places to go leaf peeping in Japan because it presents a great opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo and fully reconnect with nature. Plus, the Yakuoin temple situated at the mountain’s summit allows for a spiritual recentering and a welcoming of good fortune, as well. And at 599 meters tall, you’re bound to get some killer views of some of the most gorgeous autumn leaves Japan has to offer!
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of going leaf peeping in Japan. Momijigari is a family friendly activity that can be done just about anywhere in the world that has trees -- just don’t forget your walking shoes!