Autumn foliage

Four Seasons of Beauty in Tokyo

03 Feb 2017

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Every season Tokyo blossoms with a different kind of beauty. Japan’s capital is a charismatic contrast of parklands, ancient temples and ultra-modern delights that enchants tourists at all times of year, each unforgettable in its own way. 

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Cherry blossoms Tokyo
Both cherry and plum blossoms can be found in abundance during Tokyo springtime

Spring

Tokyo’s natural reserves bloom into a pink-hued dreamscape of cherry blossoms from about the last week in March and the first two weeks of April. A stroll through the cherry blossoms boulevard of Ueno Park is like walking through the setting of a romantic fairytale, where over 1000 cherry trees put forth their delicate flowers in a whimsical natural show.

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Takikomi gohan rice and bamboo
The dish of steamed bamboo and rice is known as takikomi gohan

Farm-fresh produce suddenly appears on menus all over the city, with takenoko bamboo shoots a favourite, and tempura-battered fukinoto (butterbur buds) not far behind.

Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated in early April at the picturesque Senso-ji Temple, where a giant white elephant is paraded by cheerful kindergarten children.

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Japanese fireworks
Fireworks are ubiquitous in Japanese summer, but not often used to celebrate New Year's Eve

Summer

Traditionally used to ward off evil spirits, fireworks, or hanabi, have a special place in Japanese history and are an integral part of summer celebrations. The Sumida River Fireworks Festival has been held every year since 1978, and today it is one of the most famous fireworks festivals in Tokyo. Thousands flock to the banks of the Sumida River to gaze in awe at the captivating explosions of light.

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Yosakoi dancers Tokyo
Yosakoi dancers must incorporate the use of naruko; small wooden clappers that are held by each dancer

Summer festivals offer more than just fireworks; join the crowds at the Samba Carnival, take part in the huge water fight that is Fukagawa Hachiman Festival, or check out the Harajuku Omotesando Genki Matsuri Super Yosakoi - a vibrant dance competition where hundreds of troupes perform modern adaptations of traditional dance.

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Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is one of Tokyo's autumnal hotspots

Autumn

Koyo is the Japanese word for autumnal foliage, which transforms the trees of Tokyo with rich red and golds usually between late November and early December. Rikugien Gardens is a landscaped masterpiece from the Edo Period, filled with scenes of exceptional beauty that echo verses of ancient Japanese poetry.  The Tsutsuji Tea House is an exquisite traditional building that is hard to tear your eyes from, especially when it is enhanced by the vivid autumnal colours of the surrounding maple trees.


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Marunouchi Naka-dori
Marunouchi Naka-dori has luxury shopping options as well as the world's most eco-friendly illumination

Winter

Winter nights are filled with the countless sparkles of fairy lights, which set the trees, buildings and landmarks of Tokyo aglow. Marunouchi Naka-dori is one of the most popular spots to enjoy the dazzle, and this year’s display has the added distinction of ‘eco illumination’; - each bulb now consumes 30% less energy, ensuring it is the world’s most environmentally conscious illumination display.

Of course, the chill of winter is the perfect excuse to slip into an onsen, or traditional Japanese hot spring. These mineral baths have a wealth of health benefits, and soaking in the piping hot water is a joy that will keep you warm for the rest of the day.  

Emma Lee

Emma is a travel writer and blogger living in Brisbane, Australia. She followed the snow around the world for many years, and still considers Lake Louise her happy place. Emma's other passion is food; a love that has led her down many sketchy looking alleys in Asia, South America and Europe.