Tokyobling's Blog

Autumn Leaves of Gingko – Meijijingu Gaien

Posted in Nature, Places by tokyobling on November 21, 2013

Us busy bees in central Tokyo don’t get too many chances to experience the changing of the seasons, between futon and office desk, apart from the changing in temperatures, but one early morning I passed through one of Tokyo’s premier spots for autumn color watching, the Icho Namiki, a gingko tree lined avenue through Meijijingu Gaien. In 2007 all the urban gingko trees in Japan were counted and it turns out that there are 570 000 of these living fossils spread out over the country, the Icho Namiki being on of the most famous spots, mirrored in Osaka by the central Midosuji Boulevard. As most people who have been around gingko trees in the fall, when their fruit starts falling, it can be a very smelly place indeed. To avoid the problem of smell officials selected only male trees which bear no fruit for these special avenues and boulevards. Female trees are scattered all over Tokyo though, and much more popular than you’d think as the fruit can be harvested and turned into delicious snacks with the proper know-how. The gingko leaves are unique in that they are fan shaped, and have not changed in the 270 million years we have have managed to track them, at that time, the Permian, the ancestors to dinosaurs and mammals were probably munching on gingko leaves and fruit, making it one of the few food stuff that humans share with dinosaurs!

Right now in Tokyo the weather is fantastic, crisp cold air, brilliant sunshine and vivid colors. Even the last of the noisy summer insects have given up for the season and so the evenings are quiet again for the first time in many months. Many tourists visit Tokyo in the spring to enjoy the sakura. Why the wonderful yellow autumns aren’t more popular I have no idea! The Icho Namiki is easily accessible from Aoyama Ichome station, Gaienmae Station or the JR Shinanomachi station and it is yet to peak. Expect lots of people in the weekends.













15 Responses

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  1. Manu Kurup said, on November 21, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Brilliant. 🙂


  2. Lilichan06 said, on November 21, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Oh it’s wonderful !!
    In the sun it looks like gold 🙂


  3. C said, on November 21, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Woo-hoo! My timing will be impeccable for once! I’ve either been too early or too late this fall, depending on location 😛

    There’s something about #9 (almost all yellow, with branches) that’s very compelling. It’s like looking at clouds and guessing shapes, but I see two fairies dancing around a tree…or a giant yellow afro 🙂


    • tokyobling said, on November 22, 2013 at 4:16 am

      Haha… yes there is a certain rorschach test-like quality to it! (^-^)


      • C said, on November 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm

        So I went today and wonder how early you had to be to get no people on the boulevard. OMG every tour bus for miles around was there, with every kind of photographer and loads of mothers with strollers. Insane! It took a while to find photos that were different from the rest. At least my Instagram followers liked them, I think 🙂

        The sidewalk is all yellow now, but the trees still haven’t peaked (Not that I’m complaining, with this nice weather…) — thanks for posting this, I would have never known to go there!


        • tokyobling said, on November 29, 2013 at 12:52 am

          Glad you enjoyed it! I was there between 0800 and 0830 on a weekday morning. Right now it is slightly more crowded even that early the morning. There’s also a couple of shooting crews doing commercials or TV dramas every morning, so you’ll have to dodge the cameras!


  4. Marie said, on November 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

    So beautiful! It keeps you in awe of nature!


    • tokyobling said, on November 22, 2013 at 4:16 am

      It sure does! And that is always very helpful. I wish you had gingko trees over at your place too! (^-^)


      • Marie said, on November 24, 2013 at 9:57 am

        At least male ones 🙂 But maybe I’ll have a pond!


  5. pk1154 said, on November 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    The ginkgo leaf is a common motif in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements. Its shape has inspired architects and artists. The leaves not only have that amazingly vibrant autumn color but also great substance so the show lasts.

    Gingko nuts are one of the ingredients for my most extravagant recipe and used to be hard for me to get, but with Internet shopping that’s not a problem anymore. Getting the ambition for all the hard work is the only hurdle now. (And yes, the falling fruit smells really bad–like a fully loaded diaper pail, is my best description. I think the tree would be more popular but for that.)


    • tokyobling said, on November 25, 2013 at 2:26 am

      Personally I like the fact that it smells, somehow living the most comfortable of lives in one of the most comfortable cities on Earth makes me yearn for the small unpleasantries of nature. Having to hold your breath while dodging through minefield of dropped gingko fruit is one small price to pay for being reminded that we do live in a phyical natural world. At least some of the time. I totally agree that preparing the fruit for eating is a total pain in the nuts though. (^-^)


  6. yoshizen said, on November 22, 2013 at 1:17 am

    kasumi-gaseki, off Tokyo station has lots of female Ginko tree
    and the people picking their fruits. (with efforts 🙂 )
    I know some big Ginko tree in London which produce fruits though,
    I don’t think people here is keen to pick up them and eat.


    • tokyobling said, on November 22, 2013 at 4:18 am

      Haha… yes, I used to live on an avenue in Tokyo with only female trees. It could be quite tiring walking home in the rain over the mushed pulp of the fruits… (^-^;)


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