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Autumn Evening Illumination at Rikugien

Every year, the trees at Rikugien are lit up for the public from the early evening to 9 pm.  If you are in Tokyo, but have never seen it, you should go because it is really beautiful.  I've been a few times and enjoy it but, at the same time it is a little crazy because Rikugien just never sees such huge crowds on a weekday.  And on top of that everything is under lights, casting a surreal light over everything.  

Both gates to the park are open for the event and they both have long lines in front of them.  If you enter from the main gate, there is one huge tree, which looks fantastic with its brilliant red leaves but it is surrounded by a huge crowd of people trying to get their photos.  So you either need to gently push your way through, or patiently wait for your turn for a picture.  Luckily though as the night wears on and the temperature drops that crowd does too.

The people who live near Rikugien must love autumn

The pond area is more of the same, on an average day it would only take you a minute to get to, but not during the Autumn Light Up.  When the crowd is at its peak, I think it takes a minimum of five minutes, and that is being conservative.  It is so thick with people.  Some people taking pictures, or just enjoying the view, very little movement - the human equivalent of a traffic jam.  The security guys with their loudspeakers tell everyone to keep moving, but there are just so many people that movement is at a snail's pace.  It's quite understandable though, as the trees with their leaves in autumn colours look really beautiful under the lights.

One thing I did learn though is that for photography at this type of event, is that my Pentax K3 camera isn't really suitable for it without a tripod.  It is a very nice camera, but not for low-light usage.  To shoot a K3 under the mixed and poor lighting conditions found at Rikugien handheld in the evening needs quite high ISO and the image quality suffers quite badly even when using noise reduction software like Topaz.  Next year I think I'll be making the jump to either Sony (a6500) or Fujifilm (X-T2).

Anyway, considering how crowded Rikugien was for this year's Autumn Evening Illumination, it was still very enjoyable.  The only suggestion I would make is for the paths to be wider for it, which would make crowd control much easier.  I'm not sure if that would be possible though as the park is quite small.  The other thing is that security needs to be a little firmer with some people.  The reason for this is that even though they keep telling people to move on (practically nonstop), people still stop in the middle of the little stone bridges to take their pictures, which blocks up the flow of traffic.

If you want to see more pictures of the park you can check out my article on it here.  The website for Rikugien Gardens can be found here.

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