The maple trees at Honkomagome


Maple branches from the trunks are crossing each other like in the original composition depicted by Hiroshige. As temperatures dip after the scorching summer, the colors of the leaves change into vibrant shades of orange, red, yellow, and brown. This fall foliage is a magnificent sight that has inspired artists and poets for centuries. This scene from inside Rikugi-en Garden in central Tokyo is the testimony of how strong the bond between nature and the city still is.


The word Momijigari refers to the activity of viewing the red-and-yellow painted trees while strolling around fields through the crisp autumn air. Many believe the custom spread amongst aristocrats of the Heian Period at the end of the 8th century, during the time of the Samurai, until the Muromachi Period of the 14th century, where people held banquets and wrote waka poems while admiring the autumn leaves. Momijigari extended to the common people in the middle of the Edo Period in the 18th century. This was a time of peace in Japan after a long period of conflict. Visits to Ise and pilgrimages to Kumano became popular amongst the common people.