Rikugien Garden 2022 was beautiful at night

On December 1, 2022, I went to Rikugien Gardens for its annual autumn light-up event. It is one of my favorite seasonal events in the city. Well, that is not quite correct as the pandemic halted it for a couple of years. But, I was back there on a weekday. I had a good time, but it wasn’t without a surprise.

There is one thing I must say. Don’t go to Rikugien Gardens expecting it to look like some typical Japanese autumn photos. It’s not that great. You won’t be faced with a sea of vibrant red leaves. It’s more like pockets of them. But the staff skilfully lit them. It was beautiful. The light brought out their best.

Takimi no chaya autumn illumination
Takimi no chaya tea house.

Rikugien under lights was surreal. Some areas looked like something out of a fairy tale. The paths around the pond were a bit dark. You just need to be aware of some dips and steps every so often.

This year, I used my new Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2.0 lens. It performed well. At times, I wondered whether I should have taken a zoom. But in the end, with its wider aperture, it returned better photos.

It would be nice to take a camera tripod to this event. But they aren’t allowed. That was something I discovered in previous years. If staff see you using one, they’ll ask you to put it away.

There are two tips I can give you if you ever go to this event. The first one is to try to go on a weekday. Weekends can be so crowded. I learned this in previous years. They are like chalk and cheese.

For my Thursday night visit, there were about two hundred people there. And they were spread out over the park. It really felt like no one was there. I could take all the time in the world with my photos. Well, not exactly as the event goes from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. That gives you two and a half hours. Anyway, it’s wonderful not bumping into people or having to wait for photos.

The other thing isn’t really a tip, but you need to know it. You need tickets for this event. They are easy to get from the Rikugien Gardens website. In 2022, you could even book them on the night which was a relief for some people who didn’t have them.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.  And, if you want to learn more about the park, you can check this article. Rikugien 2022 was definitely worth a visit, especially with a camera in hand! Don’t go without one of those.

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