If you want to experience the beauty of fall within the big city, this is the place!
As we approach the end of October and the cold weather sets in, so, too, do the leaves of trees across the country transition from the bright green of summer to the bold reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn. And if you’re in the city, there’s no better place to check out the fall foliage than a park or garden, and one of the best places for that in Tokyo is Happo-en.
Happo-en is a garden and event venue located near the center of the city, just a few minutes’ walk from Shirokanedai Station on the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line and not far from Shinagawa Station. It’s known as a prime spot for enjoying fall scenery with its over 100 maple trees and old Edo-era architecture. And every year, it holds a highly popular fall festival that highlights the stunning changes of the seasons.
This year’s festival, called the Tokyo Red Garden Autumn Festival, is scheduled to begin on November 18 and continue until December 11, though, of course, the actual changing of the leaves will depend on nature. Every night throughout the duration of the festival, the changing maple trees will be accentuated by illuminations to give the 400-year-old garden a gorgeous, mystical feel.
Happo-en will also host several events throughout the period, where you can enjoy food and drinks while you gaze upon the scenery. On November 23, for example, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., they’ll be hosting “Sui-Night”, the festival’s signature opening event, which hasn’t happened for three years. DJ Shuya Okino will curate music for the scene, which will also feature alcoholic drinks and food from Happo-en’s Thrush Cafe, making it a night of celebration and fun.
November 23 also happens to be Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan, so it’s a national holiday. Tickets for Sui-Night range from 1,500 yen (US$10.01) for entry and one drink (presale price) to 5,000 yen for admission and a “Moët & Chandon free-flow” ticket–which presumably offers bottomless champagne–at the door. The Hamburger Plate from Thrush Cafe will be 2,000 yen.
On weekends and holidays, a pop-up bar will be serving fall-inspired red cocktails and delicious red and rosé wines to complement the season. Regional bar snacks will also be available for sampling. Entry to the Garden Bar is free, but of course, you have to pay for your drinks, starting at 500 per drink (soft drinks included).
On weekends and holidays starting on November 3 until the end of the festival period, Thrush Cafe will be offering a Shirogane Aperitif Night, featuring sustainable meals of roast beef and other delicious fare served together with Moët & Chandon champagne and over 28 different kinds of drinks, including original cocktails.
Reservations are required for this limited-time-only meal plan, with a minimum party size of two people and a two-hour seating between between 4 p.m. and closing. The meal costs 8,800 yen per person, and terrace seating will cost an extra 500 yen. Reservations can be made here.
Lastly, Happo-en’s traditional Japanese restaurant Kochuan will open up the Moon Bar, a moon-themed bar serving drinks produced by liquor distillery Ethical Spirits. They’ll be serving Ethical Spirits’ original gin as well as Seasonal Balls, which are a food designed to look like rice flour dumplings that let you enjoy the flavors of the four seasons. This will be open on December 9, 10, and 11 only, and tickets, which include entry and one drink or food item, will cost 4,000 yen for adults and 3,000 for children.
If you simply want to enjoy the beauty of Happo-en’s garden’s fall leaves, you can go any time. While the festival is ongoing, admittance to the garden is free for all visitors. If you want to get the best view of autumn, keep an eye on the park’s social media accounts for updates on the status of the changing of the leaves.
Of course, if you’re willing and able to travel outside of Tokyo, there are plenty of beautiful places to enjoy the changing of the leaves all across Japan. In Kyoto for example, there is a train that travels through what’s known as a “maple tunnel”, which is well worth the trip. Fall is a beautiful season in Japan, so don’t miss the chance to see the world painted in rich reds, yellows, and oranges!
Source, images: PR Times
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