Autumn illumination at Sogi park, Toki, Gifu

Sogi Park is located in the Toki city of Gifu prefecture. This vast park area has many small and big ponds and many varieties of trees and plants. Autumn is the festive season of Sogi park. We went to Sogi park on a Sunday evening of November 2012 to watch the Momiji Festival. During the festival, there is an entrance fee of 200 yen. Lots of small stalls will be raised up in front of the park. Most of them are food stalls selling snacks, soups etc. There will be small stalls inside the park grounds also. As Toki and surrounding areas are famous for ceramic wares, we can see many stalls selling local ceramic items.

Various maple varieties with red, orange and yellow leaves as well as the golden yellow coloured Ginko trees adorn the park. During the autumn season(October-November), there is a festival being conducted here- the Momiji Matsuri. The park will be filled with visitors by 5.30pm when the illumination starts. Private vehicles are the best option to get to this place. And obviously, the parking lots will be full by 6 pm. Unless you reach the park a bit earlier, it will be hard to find parking space near the park surroundings.

The number one attraction of this park is the illuminated maples and their upside down reflection in the clear water bodies. The ponds reflect the red and yellow hues of the trees standing aside like a glass mirror. The illumination starts at 5.30pm and lasts until 9 pm every day. The lighted up trees and their reflection in the water turn the park reddish in colour.

Small roofs with Ikebana(Japanese traditional flower arrangement) and information leaflets could be seen in various parts of the park. Information boards with data regarding the plants and flowers of the park could also be seen.

When we went there, there was a lady dressed in Japanese traditional style holding a fan and an umbrella sitting beside one of the illuminated trees. There were kids playing on the yellow leaf bed created by the Ginko trees. At one end of the park, there were shapes of some cartoon characters including Anpanman, Hello kitty etc. made using flower petals and colourful leaves. A small platform is raised in front of them for the kids to stand upon. Small boards with leaves of various varieties of maples with their name were displayed there. A man was explaining it to the visitors. Many were sitting around the biggest pond to enjoy the view. Even though it was cold, all were enjoying the season of colours.

As the peak of the autumn foliage falls around mid-November, the weather will be a little colder in the evenings. There will be a camp fire set in front of the park beside the food stalls. People can enjoy their food sitting around the fire. Nothing will go better than a bowl of hot soup during this time. Occasionally, there will be some programs conducted in between the lighted up maple trees.

There is a famous hot spring situated opposite to the Sogi park – The Baden Park Onsen. Many types of hot baths could be enjoyed here. Open air bath, herbal bath etc. are some of them. While coming for Momiji matsuri of the Sogi park, a hot spring bath will soothe your body and mind. Even though the Onsen is often visited by the people living around Toki, during the autumn foliage festival it will be really crowded time.