Aug 29, 2018
The best season in Japan (in my opinion!) is autumn, and thankfully it’s just around the corner. The oppressive heat of summer dies off, the weather is pleasant, and most of us aren't dealing with allergies like we do in the springtime. It's the perfect time to get out and enjoy the weather before winter kicks in. There are plenty of ways to plan for a fantastic fall, and here are three of my recommendations on how to enjoy this time of year.
Plan your koyo spots in advance (and know when the peak is!)
All of the iconic shots of Japan in autumn tend to be of the blazing reds, oranges and yellows of the changing leaves, or koyo as they’re often known as. If you want to get in on the koyo action yourself, it’s best to scope out potential spots in your region - and once you’ve narrowed down a spot you want to visit, it's important to find out when the leaves are going to be at their best. Go too early, and the colors aren’t going to be as vibrant...go too late, and you’ll be looking at leaves on the ground rather than trees.
If you’re unsure about a good spot to check out the leaves, local parks are usually a safe bet - in Tokyo we used to really enjoy Showa Kinen Park and their famous ginkgo trees. If you’re wanting to head more off the beaten path, check your prefecture’s tourism site for tips! My home prefecture of Niigata has a tourism website that allows you to search and filter what’s on by the seasons - it’s quite helpful for finding beautiful autumn leaf locations.
Appreciate not just the changing leaves, but the seasonal flowers!
It’s not just the leaves on the trees showing off their color - there are plenty of blooms that are in season at this time of the year too. Three of the best are cosmos, chrysanthemums (Japan’s national flower) and Kochia (which is more of a bush than a flower, but beautiful nonetheless). My town has a chrysanthemum festival, and there are fields of cosmos flowers not too far away, but if you’re wondering where you can find them close to you, check your prefectural tourism site - they’re usually a wealth of information when it comes to seasonal events and festivals. For instance, here’s Ibaraki’s Tourism Page, which has a whole section dedicated to Autumn, including the kochia at Hitachi Seaside Park.
Enjoy the autumnal eats
One of the best things about this time of year has to be the foods that come back in season. Persimmons, chestnuts, sweet potato and kabocha are all at their peak during the fall months, and they’re often not just in their “fresh” variety but incorporated into many other tasty variations, including chestnut lattes at Starbucks through to Pumpkin Pudding Haagen Dazs ice cream bars and more. Sure, it might not be the pumpkin spice lattes that some of us miss from autumns back home, but there are still plenty of delicious things to sink your teeth into!
What are your best tips for having an awesome Autumn in Japan?
After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!