Ginkgo Festivals

Beautiful, and somewhat ‘fragrant’, gingko trees are taking the spotlight for the upcoming weeks.

It’s that time of the year again, when the leaves are changing colours and an overwhelming scent is taking over parts of the city. Some compare the smell to milk that has gone sour, rancid butter or, well, we’ll leave it at that… The gingko tree, known as ichou in Japanese, is a unique species and actually a living fossil. One of its main characteristics is hardiness – some ginkgos in Hiroshima even survived the atomic bomb.

The gingko tree has various uses, both as a food and in traditional medicine around Asia – ginkgo nuts are used in congee, and are often served at special occasions such as weddings and the Chinese New Year, and extracts of ginkgo leaves have been used pharmaceutically.

This weekend, which marks the peak of the changing leaves, you can get the chance to view rows and rows of the beautiful trees (and smell them). If you feel like getting away from the core of the city, Hachioji holds its annual gingko leaves festival, where about 4 km of the yellow trees line the road going from Hachioji to Mount Takao.

If you feel like sticking around in the city, the outer gardens of Meiji Jingu Gaien have their own golden trees to please the eye. Both festivals will feature the regular food stalls with specialty products, performances of all kinds (we hear hula and a car parade in Hachioji) and a perfect way to spend an afternoon with the family.

Let’s just hope your nose can handle it.

Hachioji Gingko Festival

When: Nov. 17-18

Where: Nishi-Hachioji, Takao Station

Gingko Festival Gaien

When: Nov. 17

Where: Meiji Jingu Gaien, Sendagaya – just round the corner from Gaienmae station.

Main image by inoc on Flickr.

Text by Vivian Morelli.

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