Fall in Japan: Top 5 Things to Do
I love fall, it is by far my favorite season! In Japan the profusion of Japanese maples and ginkgos also ensure that it is one of the most dramatic, beautiful seasons to visit.
So, here are a few ideas to thoroughly enjoy autumn in Japan:
1- Spend Time in Nature
Seriously, the foliage is stunning, so choose a park (or mountain, stream, forest, shrine...) and spend the afternoon in golden bliss. Every year japan-guide.com does useful weekly reports on the progress of the leaves, so you can make sure you will be able to see fall scenery even before you arrive!
2- Get out of Dodge
Naturally you can find lovely koyo (autumn leaves) spots in major cities (Kyoto is particularly famous for having amazing trees on temple grounds). But for truly jaw-dropping scenery, it is worth taking a trip into the countryside. From Nikko to the Korankei Gorge and the wilds of Hokkaido, there are lots of options. Fall color tours are popular, and often include a lunch of tasty regional dishes. There are several tour sites (including my own veltra.com) which make booking in English a breeze.
3- Eat, Eat, Eat!
A lot of Japanese cuisine focuses on seasonal ingredients, and fall is a total jackpot. Try the fat sanma fish, roasted over hot coals, or any of the flavourful mushrooms (matsutake are amazing!). Nabe (a hot pot of various ingredients) makes it's appearance thanks to the cooler weather, and sweets containing Japanese chestnuts and satsumaimo (sweet potato) are everywhere.
4- Onsen it up
With just enough brisk winds, especially at night, fall is the ideal time to enjoy onsen (hot springs). Not to hot and not too cold, sink into the steaming waters and relax. If you are lucky, there may even be some fall scenery to gaze upon. After getting out, you can enjoy a glass of autumn beer or sake, made from the newly harvested rice. Glorious.
5- Feel on top of the World
Clear, azure autumn skies mean that this is the best time to see panoramic vistas. Ride up to the top of the new Skytree (or Tokyo Tower), climb or take a ropeway to the top of a mountain or (my favorite) hike around Oze.