(See page 2 for the German version)
If you have ever lived in Japan, you will probably know that the four seasons are something everyone talks about all the time. In spring people are looking forward to cherry blossoms and “hanami” (literally: “flower viewing”, but it actually means having a picnic under the cherry blossom trees together), in autumn you can get excited about the colorful “momiji” – maple leaves, in summer everyone speaks about the high humidity and you get warned about heat strokes daily, while in winter you will most likely talk about the cold a lot, as houses are so poorly insolated here. So, while summer and winter are not really enjoyable, you can so much more look forward to spring and autumn. Obviously, Japan is very famous for its cherry blossom in spring, however, in Japan my highlight of the year definitely is autumn.
When I think about all the autumn seasons I spent in Germany, I mostly remember dull days with depressing rainy weather or at least sadly-looking grey clouds in the sky. Of course I have also some fond memories of sunny walks in the forests and diligently collecting chestnuts, but these days with clear skies are definitely quite rare. In Japan, however, there are lots of beautiful golden autumn days that you don`t want to spent staying in your apartment. On top of that you can see many great autumn leaves, like fiery red momiji leaves or gingko leaves with their vivid yellow colors. It seems like, wherever you go, nature comes to life again before its long winter sleep starts. No wonder that there are proper “autumn leaves forecasts” that let you know, where the leaves are just about to start changing color or where their time is already over and there can be found more leaves on the ground than in the trees.
I, too, am one of the many people that visit Tokyo`s parks in autumn in order to admire the autumn foliage in all its finery. One of these parks is the Showa Memorial Park (国 営 昭和 記念 公園) in Tachikawa, in the west of Tokyo. For an entrance fee of 410 yen you can experience the wonders of autumn there at least until the end of November. The park is about 1.8 square kilometers large, and say you would, like me, stop at every tree, amazed by the vibrant color variety of the leaves, to take pictures, you would need more than 3 hours in order to be able to explore the whole place. Besides the many momiji, gingko and other trees, you can also find a lake, several smaller ponds, a Japanese garden (that even had a bonsai exhibition at the time we visited) and many green areas where, depending on your age, you can either play and run around or just take a rest. The only drawback is that the park is really popular, and thus many many people come here on the weekends and public holidays.
But despite the amount of people I’m glad that I was able to enjoy the last days of autumn in Japan like this some time ago. Now, winter has already started, and as I am currently spending my free time under my kotatsu (which is the warmest place in my apartment right now), I can only hope that spring will begin early next year.