MOMIJIGARI / 紅葉狩り
Momijigari (紅葉狩り) is the Japanese tradition of visiting areas where leaves have turned red in the autumn. The word comes from the two Japanese words momiji (紅葉) meaning “red leaves” or “maple tree”, and kari (狩り), “hunting”. It is also called kōyō (紅葉), which is another pronunciation of the characters for momiji.
Momijigari pilgrimages in autumn are just as busy as those for sakura in spring. Mountainous regions are beautiful, but also notoriously packed, especially those that involve bus routes. This autumn I was content to search for autumn foliage in Tokyo itself, and was rewarded with quiet scenes that I probably wouldn’t have got had I went in search further afield.
Nezu Garden Museum
Take a walk out the back of Nezu Museum and you’ll find a small path leading down into a soothing garden filled with trickling water and old tea houses. One of the tea houses was specially built to watch the splendor of the purple foliage of Japanese maples. We arrived just as the museum opened, and pretty much had the place to ourselves. The sun was splitting the trees, with the red leaves swaying in the wind, and birdsong all around us.
Todoroki Fudoson Temple
Perched overlooking Todoroki Ravine Park, Todoroki Fudoson Temple is a beautiful example of how Tokyo manages to merge urban suburbia with nature. The front entrance is situated by a busy road with cars, while the back entrance leads deep down into a ravine filled with mossy crevices, quiet waterfalls, and hidden shrines. We arrived at 8am and were able to enjoy kōyō in silence.