Whenever I start writing an article in this series, I spontaneously laugh and think, “Just five?”. Then I also think that I am writing those articles to give an overview, or ideas that can then be deepened. If you happen to come to Japan in the near future, do not miss these small things that you can do only in Autumn!
1. Watch the colors of the leaves
It seems predictable, but it’s one of the things I like the most about Autumn. Since childhood, this was the period when school had just started, I had to wake up early, the weather started to cool and I missed the summer.
Thinking about it as I grew, the autumn didn’t look so bad: hot foods, friends you see after a while, different bright colors, the yellows, oranges, reds … It’s when I began to appreciate Autumn gardens, to look up between the branches of the trees, or sometimes down at the already fallen leaves, which form that beautiful colored and slippery mat.
You don’t have to look for particular gardens if you wish: the parks and gardens usually popular also among tourists, the gardens of the imperial palace in Tōkyō, Odaiba kaihinkōen, or a park near your hotel. If you like climbing, look for paths immersed in nature: for example in Kamakura, the Ten-en path leads you to the middle of multicolored foliage. The trail is accessible from the Kencho-ji temple.
photo credit: Christian Kaden Entokuin, sub-temple of Kodaiji, Kyoto via photopin (license)
2. Attend a matsuri (festival)
This may also seem to be predictable, but, depending on where you are, you’ll make little effort with this too, because some festivals are held close to venues marked on the guides. Usually the most popular festivals among tourists are the ones held in Summer, better if there are fireworks. However, there are lots of stuffs all year long, interesting to see.
The Jidai Matsuri (festival of the ages) at the Heian Shrine in Kyōto, where the inhabitants wear historical costumes parading in a procession on the streets of the city, celebrating the foundation of Kyōto.
Tori no ichi in Tōkyō, near the Otori Shrine in Asakusa and the Hanazono Shrine in Shinjuku, with street celebrations and stalls, in addition to the sale of kumade (golden rake), good wishes for earnings for the new year.
Daimyo Gyoretsu in Hakone, where a procession of a feudal lord is rebuilt along the Tokaido, the road that originally connected Kyoto to Edo (Tōkyō).
And of course there are many other festivals, search to find!
3. Autumn food
It is true that different products are now available throughout the year, but one thing I’ve always liked about Japan is the seasonal use of the crop.
Autumn … something to warm you … two things come to mind: chestnuts and sweet potatoes. They are on stalls in the street, at festivals, they are typical of this season and make you at peace with the world. Ah, the smell of roast chestnuts in the air as you go home after school or shop … a small bag and go! And if you have a sweet tooth, try some roll cake with chestnuts in some patisserie or cafe! If you don’t like chestnuts, why not try a nice roasted sweet potato?
Also look for seasonal meals in restaurants and konbini!!
Whether you love to dress up or not, if you like Halloween festivities, take a trip to Shibuya at night to get some inspiration or simply admire the costumes.
During those days it’s all about Halloween: in schools of every order and degree, in homes, shops, on the street. Why not go to a mall and buy Halloween biscuits and donuts in the shape of pumpkins, ghosts and bats?
To immerse yourself in the celebrations, join the parade at Shibuya, if you are in Tōkyō; other rather important parades are held in various areas of Japan, the most famous is the one held in Kawasaki.
Warning: do not confuse and mix Halloween and cosplay – they are two different things!
5. Tōkyō Game Show
For all game enthusiasts, it’s the perfect place to find the latest news. Japanese and international developers participate, part of the show is dedicated to schools, part to children, cosplay, merchandise, demo, the list is long. The public opening for this year is marked for September 23 and 24. If you are not in Japan, you can search for sites with live updates, but surely you know more about me, so I’m done here.