Autumn's last hurrah in Tokyo — and Aoyama's "Ginkgo Avenue" is aglow.
Because the trees are past their peak, the pavements aren't too crowded now. But I'm certainly not alone there: this short, ceremonial avenue, which leads from Aoyama-dori to the Meiji Memorial Picture Gallery, is one of Tokyo's most popular sights in the fall.
While most people out there have their cameras pointed at the trees, a few of us — especially the children — prefer to look at what's underfoot.
Some people bring their kids; others their dogs.
Of course a snack is called for, to help with the appreciation of nature's colours. This is the stall that catches my eye, selling roasted sweet potatoes (from ¥500).
Or, more specifically, they are selling a type called annou-imo, which are grown on Tanegashima, an island to the south of Kyushu (it's part of Kagoshima, and better known as the base for Japan's space program).
They're roasted till their skins are nice and crisp, almost charred in places, and the golden-yellow flesh inside is delectably soft and sweet. And hot enough that they warm your fingers nicely as you hold them.
"Melting natural sweetness" says the sign. And that's not far from the truth.
* Factoid about ginkgo trees and their fuit/nuts: the Japanese word for the trees is ichō [いちょう]; and the nuts are called ginnan [ぎんなん]. The name of the tree comes from the Chinese characters 鴨脚 meaning "duck foot" — obviously from the shape of the leaf. The name of the fruit comes from the alternative (and more usual) characters 銀杏, which can be read as gin (= silver) + an (= apricot). It is thought that the name in English comes from a variant reading of this second character, which can also be read as kyo.
There's a great discussion of this issue on Brian Chandler's excellent blog, The Imaginatorium here…