Rikugien Garden’s Autumn Night Light Festival 2016 in photos

Every autumn, Rikugien Gardens light up. The grounds become hauntingly beautiful. It is a must-see event for photographers. I’ve been a few times and love it.  Unfortunately, so does everyone else in Tokyo. You’ll be there with 1000s of people. Luckily, the pictures make it worthwhile.

crowd waits for Rikugien Gardens fall light up in 2016-Enhanced-NR
The crowd waits for the lights to go on.

I went for the first time in 2016. The night scene knocked me off my feet. While it wasn’t on the same level as Mount Takao, it was impressive. Whoever organized the lights did an excellent job. The trees and pond came alive with colors and reflections.

It was a pity about the crowd because it was so big. You needed to decide to wait for your turn for pictures or move on and miss a photo opportunity. But, there is another alternative. It can pay to get there later in the night. As the temperature drops, the numbers of people do too. That can be a good tactic!

Anyway, the pond area was the worst. Usually, it takes a minute to get to it from the entrance on an average day.  Not for this event. When the crowd was at its peak, it took about five minutes, which was conservative.

The grounds were so thick with people. With so many stopping to take pictures or enjoy the view, minimal movement occurred. It was a human traffic jam. The security guys told everyone to keep moving, but that didn’t happen. It was understandable. Everyone wanted to enjoy the autumn leaves under the lights leisurely.

man making Japanese dango
Making dango for guests.

On this occasion, I learned something. For this type of event, a tripod was necessary. My Pentax K-3 was a nice camera, but not for low-light usage. It was tough shooting handheld under mixed and poor lighting conditions. I had to use a very high ISO, which resulted in a lot of noise. At home, even Topaz noise reduction software didn’t help.

Considering how crowded the Rikugien Gardens light-up was, I shouldn’t complain too much. I would like to see wider paths, though. They might make the flow of people better. I’m not sure if that would be possible as the park is small.

Overall, I had a good time. It wasn’t the perfect night, but I got some pictures. By the way, I have a complete article about Rikugien, if you want to learn more. Please leave your questions and comments below.