Yellow Ginko Leaves Fall On Shinjuku

December 6, 2008 · Print This Article

A majority of Shinjuku’s ginko trees’ leaves have finally turned yellow and begun their annual descent back to the earth, as all things do in time.  I just happened to be walking around with my trusty D80, and had enough time before an unwelcome downpour arrived, to take a few random shots of a rare thing that actually beautifies Shinjuku.  

I’ve been other places, like Chichibu, where the ginko trees long have since turned yellow, and I guess Shinjuku’s, in their protected alleyways made warm by the maze of train tunnels just below their roots, are some of the last to turn yellow in the Kanto area.  

I learned from a student that there are actually male and female ginko trees.  This tree produces a nut that Japanese like to eat, although while the nuts are uncooked they smell like rotting food.  Hence, male and female trees are usually not planted next to each other in cities as to prevent the street they line from smelling like a garbage dump.  

Well, there was some tree fornicating going on in Shinjuku as I occasionally did catch a nose-ful of the pungent aroma of ginko nut.  However, knowing it was a natural smell of life and not death, I didn’t mind it.  

I watched some ojisan use an ancient Japanese-style broom to sweep up decent sized piles of ginko leaves on the side of the street (photo in gallery).  Even though I think using a bunch of straws tied together on a too-short handle to sweep up things is crazy in 2008, I have to admit I do like watching such a broom be wielded.  It’s like seeing some relic from the past still being used, despite more modern tools existing for the job.

Modern Tokyo, Ancient Broom Traffic ambles under the yellow ginko leaves A line of ginko leaves in the gutter
Standing on ginko leaves photographing ginko leaves Like royalty, he rides on petals There were surprisingly large piles on various Nishi-Shinjuku side streets
It seems weird to see touches of autumn in the heart of the city I wasn't the only one pausing to look at the ginko leaves This dude took no notice of the ginko leaves
A ginko tree challenges Cocoon Tower Will Linus come and jump in this pile with a wet sucker?  


5 Responses to “Yellow Ginko Leaves Fall On Shinjuku”

  1. on December 6th, 2008 6:50 AM

    I always wondered why they used those old style brooms.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    I guess for things like leaves on pavement, those old style brooms are pretty effective. They have gripping power. Modern brooms would have trouble sweeping the somewhat sticky leaves I think, and a rake would make that uncomfortable grinding noise when used on pavement.

    No leaf blowers in Japan either.


  2. on December 10th, 2008 6:33 PM

    For something that smells so bad, ginko nuts are just great – a bit of salt, a jug of Asahi, nothing better.

    There’s an art to preparing them. First of all, you’ve got to mash off most of the pulp in a big sieve. This is the worst bit. Then you get rid of the pulp that is left sticking to the nuts by grinding them in a tray of sand or gravel. Then stick the cleaned nuts into a hot pan and pop the shells like popcorn. Then you’ve got fresh, emerald green kernels, still warm and delicious.


    Jason Collin Reply:

    That does sound like quite a long process to make the nuts edible! If I have a chance to eat some before I leave Japan, I will.

    When I was in Chichibu last night quite a few people were out searching for the nuts, not even afraid of going into other people’s yards to get some!


  3. on December 24th, 2008 7:23 AM

    […] There are some great pictures of the Ginkgo trees in Tokyo here. […]

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