Four Great Places to Enjoy the Fall Leaves Close to Campus

November is officially here, and that means that 紅葉(Koyo) season is finally about to begin here in Tokyo. Even though it doesn't really come into full swing until around the middle of November, the leaves are already starting to change colour, and it can be easily enjoyed at one of the many Japanese style parks, 日本庭園 (Nihonteien), for free. Even though many might go to the more famous parks like Yoyogi Park or Shinjuku-Gyoen (新宿御苑), there are some absolutely beautiful spots within a 15 minute walk from Waseda Campus. Here are my top 4 places to go enjoying the fall leaves without getting on the train.

肥後細川公園 Higohosokawa Park (also known as 新江戸川公園 Shin-Edogawa Park)

Higohosokawa Park is a wonderful little pearl hiding in plain sight. It is just a 10 minute walk away from Waseda Campus and open to the public between 09:00 and 17:00 every day. From 11/23 to 12/2, there is a special illumination event for enjoying the fall leaves at night between 17:30 and 21:00 (last time to enter is 20:30), costing 300 yen per person. If you come during the day however, you can enjoy some traditional Japanese tea together with wagashi, Japanese sweets, for 500 yen between 10:00 and 16:00. This is a very popular spot for wedding photos, and if you are lucky you might see a couple in formal Kimono when you visit. 

甘泉園公園 Kansen-en Park

Kansen-en Park is located 7 minutes away from Waseda Campus, close to the Waseda Station on the Toden Awakawa Line. It was established as a public park in the 44th year of Showa after having been used as a private garden during the Meiji Era. It is open between 07:00 and 17:00 during the winter months and open until 19:00 between March and October. It is a wonderfully quiet little park with a lot of spaces to sit down and relax, perhaps for lunch or just reading a book. This park ​also has a light up event for people to enjoy the fall leaves at night, being held between Saturday 11/17 and Sunday 12/9 (16:00-20:00).

大熊庭園 Okuma Garden

As a student at Waseda, you might have already heard of the Okuma Garden. It is located on campus, right next to the student cafeteria and the Okuma Auditorium, and is a popular hang out spot for students and locals alike. You can usually see people just relaxing on the grass or sitting on the benches, enjoying the autumn sun. During the fall, the trees turn a spectacular red and yellow and it is the perfect spot to come to enjoy your lunch or have a cup of coffee between classes. Okuma Garden is open between 09:00 and 17:00 every day. 

ホテル椿山荘東京 Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo Garden

This is a little bit different from the other three since it is not officially a garden, but it is truly a great spot for fall leaf viewing. The garden area is open for the public between 10:00 and 21:30, and is located close to the Higohosokawa Park. This park is spread out over the hotel grounds, and includes a hill with a pagoda, a number of small creeks and bridges, and even a waterfall. Since this hotel is a popular spot for weddings it is not unusual to see a couple of bridal parties while visiting the park, but don't worry about going inside because outside guests are still welcome unless stated otherwise. If you have friends or family over, this is a particularly good spot not just because how conveniently located it is to campus, but also because there are also a number of restaurants on the hotel grounds. This includes a pretty high-class Kaiseki restaurant and a very good spot for soba, located halfway up the little hill.

Map from Google