Splendid Fall Colors and a Sea of Clouds! Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo in Autumn
Fall is one of the most anticipated times of year in Japan. In the forests, gardens, and parks, the foliage turns to fiery red and bright yellow. Since there are many days with clear weather, it’s a delight to wander outdoors and marvel at the contrast between the vibrant fall foliage and the blue sky. The custom of going out for the sole purpose of viewing the fall foliage is called “momijigari” in Japanese, with momiji being the word for “fall leaves.”
In Tokyo, the foliage turns red around the end of November, peaking in early December. The garden of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo is one of the prime places to enjoy the fall leaves in the heart of the city.
A lush site carefully maintained by professional Japanese gardeners, Chinzanso Garden is also home to historical monuments whose charm is enhanced by the colors and tranquility of fall. The evening illuminations and the sea of clouds released in the garden several times a day turn the surroundings into a surreal scenery.
Fall Foliage at Chinzanso Garden
What makes the fall scenery at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo truly unique is the Tokyo Sea of Clouds, a feature introduced in October 2020. This phenomenon, which can usually only be spotted very rarely in the mountainous regions of Japan, can be enjoyed in Tokyo exclusively at Chinzanso Garden.
The colors of the fall take on a dramatic charm when the sea of clouds is released. The veil of mist hides the foliage for a few seconds, only to reveal the leaves looking even more vibrant! You’ll find yourself wanting to capture the moment when the leaves gradually reappear from the mist. Hiding your view temporarily, the sea of clouds stimulates our attention to the subtle changes that occur in nature every moment.
There are more than two hundred maple trees throughout the garden. They belong to three main varieties:
- Iroha momiji, which is loved for its small-sized, pretty leaves that turn to a fiery red; this variety can be seen all throughout the garden.
- Nomura momiji, thought to be the oldest type of maple tree in Japan, which has large, fine leaves that become transparent when red; their foliage can be enjoyed in the area near Restaurant Mokushundo and the waterwheel.
- Yama momiji, or mountain momiji, which is typical in the northern areas along the Sea of Japan. This variety has mid-sized leaves that turn to gentle hues of orange and yellow. Several trees of this type can be found near the Three-Story Pagoda.
During the fall foliage season, the maple trees are lit up after dark in a way that enhances the dramatic beauty of the season. Step through this dreamlike atmosphere and you’ll feel as if you were the protagonist of a movie!
Every corner of Chinzanso Garden will inspire you to take pictures and videos. For truly amazing photos, we suggest the areas around Yusuichi Pond and Gojo Waterfall, or Benkei Bridge. Surrounded by maple trees, it creates a tunnel of red leaves overhead.
The area around the sacred tree, located right in front of Restaurant Mokushundo, is another excellent spot to capture the beautiful fall foliage. Those who wish to go even deeper into the garden and enjoy the tranquility of a forest in fall should take a walk toward the tea house Zangetsu. The path starts right in front of Kabukimon Gate, located near the entrance to Mokushundo. Here, the evergreen hues of the moss create the ideal background for the fallen red leaves.
A Joy for the Eyes and the Palate! Fall Menus at the Restaurants of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
In addition to being a season full of color, fall is also the time of harvest; fruit, vegetables, and seafood reach the peak of their flavor. At Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, special menus are available during this time, featuring the popular delicacies of the season.
At Mokushundo, a restaurant specialized in stone-grilled cuisine, guests can enjoy seasonal ingredients grilled on the spot on lava rocks from Mt. Fuji.
The fall menu is a celebration of autumn’s bounty, showcasing beloved Japanese fall flavors in delightful dishes. Expect seasonal produce like persimmons, mushrooms, apples, and chestnuts to be infused in the dishes.
The refined autumn kaiseki cuisine course offered at Ryotei Kinsui is ideal for a truly special occasion. Each dish is a small work of art that appeals to all five senses. Scenery that is specific to fall such as the full moon, fallen leaves floating down the river, fully ripe rice ears swaying in the wind, or even the sea of clouds is recreated ingeniously on your plate using fresh seasonal ingredients.
The plates, bowls, and other vessels are carefully selected by the chefs themselves as they play an important role in conveying the atmosphere of the season. You’ll want to enjoy the kaiseki course in full by taking a good look at each dish.
Visitors dining at Mokushundo or Kinsui will have the garden right before their eyes. Relishing the colors of the garden while enjoying delightful seasonal cuisine is the best way to experience the true charm of fall in Japan.
Japanese restaurant Miyuki, Italian restaurant The Bistro, and Lobby Lounge Le Jardin also offer seasonal menus; these can be enjoyed more casually before or after a walk in the garden. See what seasonal menus were offered last year at the hotel restaurants. Information on this year’s fall menus will be posted on the website in late August. For details on the restaurants mentioned above and all the other dining facilities at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, please refer to this page.
Experience Fall Color at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo
In spite of its beauty and bounty, autumn always reminds us of the passing of time. Turn this season into a special occasion for your family or significant other by visiting Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo for dinner and a stroll through the garden to enjoy the lovely fall colors.
Higo-Hosokawa Garden, another famous spot for viewing the fall foliage in Tokyo, is located right beside Chinzanso Garden. Why not visit both on a leisurely day in the city to fully take in the beauty of fall in Japan? Visit Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo as a guest or restaurant patron and you’ll be able to experience autumn in Japan through all five senses.
*Images of courses and dishes are from previous years and are for reference only.
Updated on May 15, 2023