JapanGuide Tokyo

Ginkgos Avenue – Icho Namiki

“Icho Namiki” (銀杏並木) avenue is the main way to enter the Meiji Jingu Gaien gardens (not to be confused with the Meiji Jingu temple). “Icho” means Ginkgo and “Namiki” means “tree line”.

The yellow of the ginkgo leaves is fascinating during this time. It is one of the most visited places at the end of October and beginning of November. Don’t miss the chance to visit it if you are around during that time in Tokyo. The start of the avenue can be seen just outside “Aoyama 1-chome” station (Ginza or Hanzomon line).

The other day, my friend Xavier Verdaguer, came to visit Japan, and asked me: Why does it smell so bad when you are near the ginkgos? It turns out that the ginkgo fruits, called ginnan, fall on the street, are smashed by pedestrians and smell quite bad. The funny thing is that when they are grilled they smell very good and are delicious.


Gingko avenue

Gingko avenue


1 reply on “Ginkgos Avenue – Icho Namiki”

When I lived in New York City, where there are a lot of ginkgo trees, I used to go to Central Park and collect ginkgo nuts once a year. I’d wear big rubber gloves (so as to not stink up/stain my hands) and squeeze the shells into a plastic bag, disposing of the stinky fruit outside on the ground. It really did smell like sewage.

Then I would go home and wash the shells off thoroughly, and then put them on a pan and put them in the oven to bake for a few minutes, to make the shells easier to break. Then I’d take them out again, let them cool, and individually shell each of them. Finally, I’d take the nuts and roast them in a pan with olive oil and salt. (As you roast them, the thin brown layer rolls off of them easily.)

Served in a bowl and eaten with chopsticks, they taste delicious, and don’t really smell at all. The taste is kind of like edamame!

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