Autumn Leaves Night, The Story of the Forest and Lights Chapter 2 is the official name of the middle of three light up events at Shinrin park every year. It follows the Halloween Night in the Forest illumination, which finished up tonight, October 29th 2023. Shinrin Park, also called Musashi Kyuryo National Government Park, is located in Namegawa Town in the Hiki District of Saitama Prefecture. It is famed for its playgrounds, its seasonal flowers and the autumn illumination in particular. Information specific to 2023 (dates, bus etc) near the bottom of the post.
Autumn Leaves Night, The Story of the Forest and the Lights
The park is huge at 304 hectares, but the light up is only in one section of the park, by the central gate. Still at that it is quite a large size with different sections along the route that is just over a kilometer round trip. The route winds it way from the central gate to the Urban Arboretum. Along the way there are all sorts of illumination and some art displays. The highlight is the park of maple trees.
The November light up of Shinrin Park coincides with “koyo” – autumn leaves or fall foliage in English. You can see some maple trees of orange and red lit up. They create a river among the trees with blue lights. They also have the rest area among the trees decorated in fairy and hanging lights.
For the kids
Since 2019, the Autumn leaf illumination has some new features that make it very appealing to kids too. For one, they have a stamp rally challenge. And we all know how much kids love stamp rallies. Secondly, they have made the exhibits more child friendly. Thirdly, they have a blackboard, that kids can right on with fluorescent chalk. Finally, they have mini automated shows especially for children. Two of them are outlined hereafter:
Captain Bubbles Castle
The Captain Bubbles castle replaced a large wooden boat designed like a pirates ship in 2023. It is on the left hand side as you come in the gate. There is a show at intervals during the night and the ship actually blows out bubbles, from a canon, accompanied by light and music.
Another key feature of the the light up at Shinrin Park since 2019 is the Talking Tree. It is located at the end point, the Urban Arboretum, where you can sit indoors for a rest or to eat or join in a craft. Like the pirate ship it is an automated show at intervals during the night. A tree comes to life and talks to the audience while changing the color of the lights around him.
Places to Eat / Drink / Take a break
There are three main areas where you can purchase food or a drink during the night illumination. At the central gate there is a little shop. It has vending machines and a food van outside it too. There are also rest areas throughout the park, such as the one pictured above. They are just sheltered places to sit though.
Just over halfway through the route you will find Maple Cafe. It used to be an udon restaurant, but since the pandemic it only opens exclusively for the illumination events, from 5 pm. It sells fluorescent candy floss. (The stick in the candy floss illuminates). At the end point there is a cafe in the Urban Arboretum. There are vending machines here too.
Each of these places have somewhere to sit outdoors and the gate shop has somewhere to sit indoors. However, during the Halloween illumination this year the arboretum cafe was not open. It would seem that the cafe has been moved entirely outdoors – order from a food truck. They also have public rest rooms. The arboretum has a small play area for toddlers, but again, in 2023 it doesn’t appear to be opening at night.
The Story of the Forest and the Lights Information 2023
The Story of the Forest and Lights is run yearly during November. It follows the Halloween light up of October. And a week after it finishes the Christmas illumination “Starlight” starts. This, the Chapter 2 autumn leaves light up, is the only one of the three light ups that you can see the light up daily (weather permitting). The others only run on weekends.
Event: Autumn Leaves Night aka The Story of the Forest and Lights Chapter 2 紅葉見ナイト
Date: Saturday November 11th to Sunday November 26th 2023.
Time: 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm, last entry 8 pm.
Cost: there is no additional fee for the light up, but adults have to pay into the park. It costs 450 yen (children go free) and 210 yen for seniors (65+). From 2023, there is no longer a discount for the parking lot at night. It costs 700 yen for parking whether you come by day or night. Also, the shuttle bus is charged too. It costs 300 yen for adults over 13 years old and 150 yen for children aged between 6 and 12 years old.
Venue: The Central Gate (ONLY) of Shinrin Park aka Musashi Kyuryo National Government Park, 1920 Yamata, Namegawa, Hiki District, Saitama 355-0802. View on Google Maps.
The Higashimatsuyama Interchange of the Kanetsu Expressway is approximately six kilometers from the central gate. Parking costs 700 yen for the night since 2023. (It used to be 300 yen for night time only). There are cheaper private car parks nearby, but they may not operate daily.
They run a night shuttle bus from Shinrinkoen station on the Tobu Tojo Line the nights the autumn leaves night event is on. Once upon a time, just like the car park (at night), it was free, but nowadays they charge for the bus. Moreover, the prices have gone up again in 2023 for the third year in a row (see cost information in the paragraph above). In the timetable the orange circle indicates that bus only operates on Saturdays and Sundays. The left hand side times in each box are from the station, right hand side from the central gate of the park:
The first post about the autumn light up in Shinrin Park was written in 2013. In 2019 this – a brand new post – replaced the 2013 version. In 2021, the blog post and the annual event post were merged into one post and republished as new. R211029. R221105