Written by Ramona (GREATERTOKYO_Explorer)
Dreamlike! Tour Tokyo's Fall Foliage Spots With The Toei One-Day Pass
Some of the best fall foliage spots in Tokyo are located along the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa) Line. Use the convenient Toei One-Day Pass (700 yen) to visit stunning foliage spots such as Kishimonjindo Hall and Higo-Hosokawa Garden. The latter is beautifully illuminated for a limited time!
Explore Tokyo in the Fall
This itinerary allows you to explore temple grounds and gardens located along the Tokyo Sakura Tram Line. Each of them offers fabulous sights once the leaves change color. To keep transportation costs to a minimum, we recommend using the Toei One-Day Pass (700 yen), which allows unlimited rides on Toei buses, the Tokyo Sakura Tram (Toden Arakawa Line), Toei Subway Lines and even the Nippori-Toneri Liner for one day.
9:39 - 9:50 -- From Asakusa to Ozeki-Yokocho
The recommended departure point for this route is Asakusa. From the Toei bus Tobu Asakusa Ekimae bus stop, take a Toei bus on the 草64 line or 草63 line heading to Ikebukuro Station's East Exit.
After getting on the bus, ask the driver to give you the Toei One-Day Pass. This will be your ticket for the entire day so handle it carefully. Every time you get on a Toei bus or Tokyo Sakura Tram, you'll have to show it to the driver.
Get off at Ozeki-Yokocho bus stop. From here, cross the street and walk one to two minutes to reach the Minowabashi stop, the first station on the Tokyo Sakura Tram Line.
10:15 - 11:00 -- Visit the Minowabashi Reminiscence Hall (Toei Transportation Information Center)
Before taking the Tokyo Sakura Tram, stop for a few minutes at the Minowabashi Reminiscence Hall, the Toei Transportation Information Center. In addition to information on the Toei buses, Tokyo Sakura Tram, and Toei Subway lines, you can also purchase the Toei One-Day Pass here.
The Omoidekan has exhibitions on the history of the Tokyo Sakura Tram. This means of transportation inspires nostalgic feelings in the locals, especially the older folks who grew up seeing the trams running through the city. Goods and souvenirs inspired by the Tokyo Sakura Tram are available for sale at the Omoidekan.
11:15 - 12:05 -- Travel from Minowabashi to Kishimojinmae
Before hopping on the Tokyo Sakura Tram, you might want to stop for a minute and admire the beautiful roses that bloom around the Minowabashi stop. Roses are planted all along the route of the Tokyo Sakura Tram. They bloom in spring and fall, enhancing the retro charm of the tram lines.
Get on any Tokyo Sakura Tram that leaves from Minowabashi and get off after about 50 minutes at the Kishimojinmae stop. On the way, you'll be able to see the local side of Tokyo and citizens going about their daily businesses.
12:10 - 12:45 -- View the Fall Foliage at Kishimojindo Hall
Kishimojindo Hall is a shrine in Zoshigaya that boasts a history of over 300 years. This shrine is revered for answering the prayers of families who wish to be blessed with children.
In the fall, the ginkgo trees on the shrine grounds turn into a brilliant yellow.
The wooden architecture of the hall and the bright yellow of the ginkgo leaves create a beautiful contrast. In the fall, Kishimojindo is often visited by people who come to view the foliage.
The most impressive ginkgo tree is found near the Inari Shrine right by the entrance. This 700-year-old tree is 32.5 m high and is regarded as sacred.
The quiet shrine grounds covered in a yellow carpet of leaves is a sight that will stay with you for a while, even after you've left.
12:55 - 13:20 -- Visit Zoshigaya's Otori Shrine
Another great place to visit nearby is Otori Shrine. This shrine is very loved by the locals who visit to give prayers for prosperity. It is also well-known for being one of the venues of the Zoshigaya Handmade Market, a monthly event featuring more than two hundred artisan booths.
The dragon statue at the purification fountain (chozuya), the statue of Ebisu, the deity of prosperity, the impressive torii at the entrance, the beautiful architecture of the main hall - look around and you'll find charming details at every corner.
13:20 - 14:20 -- Lunch in Zoshigaya
The area nearby Kishimojindo and Otori Shrine is dotted with small family-owned dining places and local coffee shops. How about dropping in one of them and enjoying lunch before heading to the next fall foliage destination?
14:30 - 14:33 -- From Kishimojinmae to Omokagebashi
Take the Tokyo Sakura Tram again in the direction of Waseda and get off at Omokagebashi. You'll be on the right side of Kanda River, which is itself very picturesque in the fall when the foliage changes color. How about enjoying a short walk along the river?
15:40 - 16:15 -- View the Foliage in Okuma Garden
Okuma Garden is a public garden located on the grounds of Waseda University. The garden has a distinctive charm in the fall when the leaves of its maple trees suddenly change into a fiery red.
The garden has a pond and stone lanterns, which create a stunning contrast with the modern university buildings that surround it. It is one of the most beautiful hidden spots in Tokyo to view the fall foliage.
16:20 - 17:15 -- Coffee Break at Uni.Shop&Cafe 125
Right in front of the entrance to the Okuma Garden is Uni.Shop&Cafe 125, a cafe operated by Waseda University. If you get a window seat, you can actually glance at Okuma Garden while enjoying a warm drink.
The store also sells Waseda University-themed goods and souvenirs.
How about taking a rest with a hot drink and a dessert? The menu at Uni.Shop&Cafe 125 includes several types of coffee and tea, along with sweets and snacks. We tried their delicious Pumpkin Pudding, a seasonal dessert. It was very smooth and aromatic, and it gave us the energy for some more exploring around the city.
17:30 - 18:15 -- Foliage Light-up at Higo-Hosokawa Garden
One of the most beautiful places to see the foliage in Tokyo is Higo-Hosokawa Garden, located near the Waseda stop of the Tokyo Sakura Tram. For about ten days at the end of November, the garden is lit up in the evening, offering a dreamlike scenery that can hardly be found anywhere else.
The Higo-Hosokawa Garden was created on the grounds of the former residence of a powerful feudal clan who governed the province that is present-day Kumamoto Prefecture at the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868).
In 2019, the foliage light-up was accompanied by a breathtaking display of bamboo light art (take-akari), a craft that is representative of Kumamoto. The purpose of this display was to promote the charms of Kumamoto, as well as to support the recovery of the region after the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake.
In the Shoseikaku, the building at the entrance to the garden, visitors can enjoy matcha green tea along with delicious fall-themed confectionery. (500 yen)
The foliage light-up event is usually held for about ten days at the end of November, from 17:30 to 21:00. The entrance fee is 300 yen during the light-up event. Otherwise, the garden can be visited for free during the day.
Please note that even if you don't make it to the light-up event, the Higo-Hosokawa Garden is worth visiting at any time of the year. In the spring, the garden offers beautiful scenery of cherry blossoms in full bloom while in the summer, it mesmerizes visitors with its greenery and elegant beauty.
Take a Toei Bus to Ueno
Near Higo-Hosokawa Garden is the Sekiguchi-itchome bus stop. You can use your Toei One-Day Pass to take a Toei bus on the 上69 line from here to Ueno. Ueno offers plenty of dinner options and evening entertainment.
Enjoy Tokyo's Roses and Foliage in the Fall
There are many hidden and beautiful foliage spots in Tokyo, especially along the Tokyo Sakura Tram Line. Both the foliage and the roses make this area very charming in the fall.
The Toei One-Day Pass is a ticket that allows you to explore the city all day keeping the transportation costs to a minimum. Do consider using this convenient ticket!
To find other great places to visit along the Tokyo Sakura Tram Line, please visit this website: https://www.kotsu.metro.tokyo.jp/eng/
Asakusa (Tobu Asakusa Ekimae bus stop) → Ozeki-Yokocho bus stop → Minowabashi stop → Minowabashi Reminiscence Hall (Toei Transportation Information Center) → Kishimojinmae stop → Kishimojindo Hall → Otori Shrine → Kishimojinmae stop → Omokagebashi stop → Okuma Garden → Uni.Shop&Cafe 125 → Higo-Hosokawa Garden
Transportation: 700 yen (Toei One-Day Pass)
Lunch, coffee break, snacks: around 2,000 yen
Entrance fee to Higo-Hosokawa Garden: 300 yen
The writer visited these facilities on November 26, 2019.
Supported by Toei Transportation