Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.
Yes, fall in Japan is mostly about fallen leaves.
After the scorching summer heat, when the weather gets cooler and the whole country turns into a picturesque warm fairyland with breathtaking vistas of vibrant red, orange, and yellow foliage, it feels nothing less than blessings to be there.
With this stunning view, mild weather, lovely foliage, traditional festivals and events, and some mouthwatering dishes, you can make your best travel memory during this time.
Sounds alluring! Right?
To give air to this sail of your enthusiasm, I am right here with some fun and intriguing things to do in Japan in fall.
Now, fasten your seat belt and be ready to experience an amazing ride with me.
Best 18 Things to Do in Japan in Autumn: Make the Most Out of Your Travel
Firstly, let me inform you about the time and temperature range of this season.
Autumn in Japan lasts from September to November. The temperature tends to be 18°C to 21°C (64°F to 70°F) in the morning and night.
In the afternoon, it rises to around 23°C to 28°C (73°F to 82°F).
Now, let’s get to the main point.
Check out the most popular autumn activities and make your Japan autumn trip the most enjoyable and memorable one.
1. Make Your Eyes Blessed with the Colorful Autumn Leaves
It is said that autumn is the second spring, and here every leaf is a flower.
And seeing the spectacular view of these flowers is a must-try fall activity in Japan.
When you are visiting Japan in the fall, one of the first things you probably wonder about is the best autumn foliage spots in Japan.
From natural places to historical sites such as Kyoto, there are a number of amazing spots for autumn leaves viewing in this country.
If you are near Tokyo, Koishikawa Korakuen Garden, Rikugien Garden, Showa Memorial Park, Mt. Takao will be the best places for you.
Apart from these places in Tokyo, some other best places to see autumn leaves in Japan are Enkoji Temple, Rurikoin Temple, Kodaiji Temple, Gioji Temple in Kyoto, Minoo Falls in Osaka, Mt.Asahi in Hokkaido, Lake Kawaguchi in Yamanashi, Kurobe Gorge in Toyama, and Seiryu-Ji Tokugen-in Temple in Shiga.
You will also get to enjoy various autumn leaves festivals and events in some of these places.
I can’t help but mention Tokyo’s most popular annual autumn leaves event, Meiji Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival, which lasts for two weeks and draws around 1.8 million visitors.
So, pick some spots that are adjacent to your hotel and enjoy the gorgeous autumn colors.
2. Stare at the Harvest Moon
Moon viewing parties or Otsukimi is a long continuous annual tradition in Japan that dates back to the Heian period.
The full moon celebration typically takes place between mid-September and early October.
Families and friends arrange a get together under the full moon on this night.
While enjoying the beauty of a moonlit night, they also prepare various traditional foods to add some more engross to the party.
The most traditional Japanese food associated with this Otsukimi party is Dango, which is small white dumplings made of rice.
Along with their meal, the moon viewers are also offered special grass, susuki, and other seasonal items.
From shops to individual homes, you will see this kind of activity all around Japan during this season.
It has been continued for hundreds of years that mainly originates from the thanksgiving event for the harvest.
Particularly, Sankeien Garden in Yokohama holds a moon-viewing event in the evenings during mid-September.
So, you can take part in such events if you want something unique to experience the fall.
3. Observe the Floral Display in Cosmo Field
You can enjoy different floral displays in different seasons in Japan.
Autumn is not an exception.
Speaking about the flowers that bloom during fall in Japan, I must mention cosmo flowers.
The stunning contrast that these beautiful bright-colored flowers create with the cloudless blue sky is something like a treat to our eyes.
To observe this magnificent view, I will suggest you go to Tokyo’s Showa Kinen Park, a large-scale flower field with a 15,000 square-meter field area.
You can head to see its colorful fields during the event Cosmos Matsuri, which is held from September 14 to October 27.
This festival features three flower-filled areas with vibrant yellow and pink and cosmos.
4. Hike Like a Local
Among the best things to do in Japan in autumn, hiking is the most popular one, as gorgeous fall colors are displayed everywhere in nature.
Japan has a number of unique spots to hike, such as Nagano, Hokkaido.
And if you are looking for places where you can easily access from Tokyo, Mt Takao, Hakone, and Mt Oyama will be ideal for you.
Well, from these three, I will always prefer to go to Mount Takao in Hachioji, western Tokyo.
Autumn hiking in Japan mostly means hiking Mt. Takao, which is considered the world’s most climbed mountain with more than 2.5 million annual visitors.
When the temperature falls, and the leaves change colors around mid to late November, it turns into a gorgeous hike.
Here you can choose your desired one among multiple trails that varies in difficulty.
There are also options for riding a cable car or ropeway.
And after reaching the mountain crest, you can see foods like dango (skewered mochi) and refreshing drinks await at the top, along with a beautiful Mount Fuji view as well.
5. Explore Nikko on a Day Trip
Nikko is a treasure trove of cultural, historical, and outdoor activities, one of the ideal places to visit in Japan during fall.
Three World Heritage Sites Rinnoji Temple, Toshogu Shrine, and Futarasan Shrine, along with Lake Chuzenji and many hiking areas, Nikko can offer you a great weekend trip from the Tokyo area.
Nikko appears to be most beautiful during the fall season with colorful fluttering leaves, especially by creating a seasonal rainbow.
Try to go there between mid-October to mid-November to relish the vibrant colors.
And after immersing yourself in nature, don’t forget to soak in the hot springs (onsen) of Yumoto or Kinugawa for a truly relaxing experience.
6. Enjoy Puppet Show in Takayama Fall festival
Now, I have come with a float (omikoshi) festival, unique for its doll show and stunning mikoshi floats.
You can enjoy this autumn festival on October 9 and 10.
The town of Takayama is particularly renowned for its master carpenters.
Hence, the beautifully crafted magnificent mikoshi floats are considered an Important Tangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.
The main highlight of this festival is karakuri mechanical doll shows that are performed by professional puppeteers on the floats!
Seeing their movement, at first, I mistook these dolls as alive!
The show usually lasts for around 50 minutes.
7. Relish the Bright Red Kochia Shrubs
Another best place to visit in Japan during autumn is Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture.
It is well-known for its hills of bright pink Kochia that you can walk through and experience an unworldly beauty.
Kochia is a unique type of autumn leaves that blooms on the ground. This Kochia is planted on Miharashi Hill at this park.
This plant changes color throughout the year, covering the tremendous field of 350 ha in striking reddish pink during fall.
Once you start strolling through these plants, they will seem never-ending on the rolling hills of the park.
Besides, the Kochia Carnival that takes place in this park is one of the most popular seasonal events in Japan in autumn.
There are also cosmos flowers and an impressive rose garden to see.
So, this place will be ideal for you to make a day trip in autumn.
8. Join the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival
Another Japanese autumn festival is the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival.
This festival is a celebration of the autumn harvest, which was started over 350 years ago.
It takes place at the start of October.
What makes this festival exceptional from the other ones is it has been greatly influenced by European and Chinese culture over the centuries.
You will witness the processions of mikoshi floats, some Dutch-inspired rituals, and Chinese-influenced dragon dances in this feast.
Besides, fifty-nine neighborhood teams perform once every seven years, meaning that this festival will be full of variations each year.
So, to experience a vibrant festival with different cultures, this is a must-try event for you.
9. Explore Hakone & Lose Yourself in the Pampas Grass
Located around two hours from Shinjuku, Hakone is an ideal destination for a day or weekend trip from Tokyo.
With high-quality hot springs (onsen), and the best views of Mount Fuji, Hakone has a lot to offer you.
However, they also have their unique mountain geography, pirate ships, art museums, and bountiful history.
To observe the scenic landscape that comes alive with color during autumn, you can even consider taking a ropeway ride.
Another highlight of Hakone is pampas grass (susuki) in the Sengokuhara area, one of the best autumn spots in japan.
The fields of this wild grass turn into a silvery-golden shade in fall, creating a splendid sparkling view in the sun.
Observing this splendor with my own eyes was really one of a kind experience!
If you also want to experience this breathtaking beauty, try exploring the fields between late September and early November to capture great memories.
10. Celebrate Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto
This festival actually dates back to the Heian Period, when Kyoto was the capital of Japan.
The residents of Kyoto commemorate it later in October, which is one of the city’s most significant festivals.
The festival glorifies the return of the emperor to power during the Meiji Restoration and features traditional music performances, a long procession of portable mikoshi shrines, and samurai-clad locals.
And the parade ends at Heian-Jingu Shrine, where the merriment continues.
11. Watch Pink Sakura Leaves
Sakura (cherry blossoms) in autumn? Yes, you heard it right!
Most people think that they can see the beauty of the sakura only in spring!
Well, spring is indeed the best time to enjoy its beauty as the whole country is covered with a pink blanket during this time, but what if I say that you can also see real cherry blossoms in full bloom in autumn?
The Obara region in Aichi Prefecture is renowned for a particular cherry tree known as Shikizakura. They blossom twice every year, not once, giving you the rare opportunity to enjoy the stunning beauty even in fall.
About 10,000 sakura trees create a spectacular view at Obara Fureai Park in this season.
If you want to witness the best view, go there from mid-November to early December.
Don’t deprive yourself of viewing the famous and stunning cherry blossom while traveling Japan, even in autumn.
12. Take Part in the Hand Clapping of Tori No Ichi
If you are searching for a festival in Tokyo, head to Asakusa to witness Tori No Ichi.
It is traditional for businesses in Japan to purchase a decorative bamboo rake with lucky charms and symbols at the end of the year.
These are sold at the shrines on the days of the rooster in November, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar.
The customers bargain for their rakes, and when a deal is finalized, a hand Clapping ritual is performed.
You can join this childish yet joyful hand clapping to make your fall days a little better.
13. Experience a Japan Kinda Halloween
Halloween is gaining popularity with time in this country.
From plain school festivities to a thrilling gala at Tokyo Disneyland, numerous Halloween events are held across the country.
Nowadays, Halloween in this country has become a day for young adults to party.
If you are interested in zombies, you should head to Universal Studios Japan, which arranges Halloween Horror Nights.
You will have an opportunity to witness a zombie-filled world in the evening.
The most popular and exciting of all the events is the giant Shibuya Halloween in downtown Tokyo.
It attracts thousands of people in costume near the major shopping areas and Scramble Crossing.
Osaka’s Amemura area is also packed with locals and tourists dressed up.
You can also try Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea for daytime amusement if you love to appear dressed in your favorite Disney characters.
The parks are also adorned with a seasonal theme, offer special food and souvenirs, and host Halloween-themed shows.
To add some more fun to these events, the convenience stores and supermarkets sell limited-edition Halloween sweets on this day.
14. Enjoy Some Glittering illuminations
If you are in the Japanese capital, things to do in Tokyo during autumn must include enjoying several fall illuminations that attract thousands of couples and families for a pleasant evening walk.
If you are also interested in enjoying this beauty, one of the must see places in japan autumn is Rikugien Gardens, which is famous for its evening illuminations.
Numerous lights are lit up here to let you enjoy the most serene views of the red maples and autumnal trees. Be sure to go there in mid-November to relish this luminous splendor.
Another glittering fall illumination takes place in the Dutch-Themed Huis Ten Bosch theme park on the southern island of Kyushu.
With the marvelous display of 10 million lights, you will feel like entering the Kingdom of Lights. This festival is held from early November through early May.
Anyway, if you are a foodie at heart, I have got some good news for you.
Autumn is the best time to try different seasonal foods as it is the new harvest season in Japan.
You may even come across the phrase Autumn Appetite, which describes it as the best season for eating.
Let’s see what is waiting for us in this season.
15. Warm up with Hot Pot Dishes
To suit the colder fall temperature, you can try many hearty dishes and savory flavors in Japan.
Some hot pot dishes such as shabu-shabu, sukiyaki, and nabe are the highlight of autumn dishes.
All three dishes are almost similar—fresh vegetables, proteins, and noodles are cooked in the broth together.
You need to dip them in sesame sauce or egg before eating.
I can name some major restaurants such as Nabezo and Onyasai, where you have all-you-can-eat options, and they are highly recommended.
Oden is another traditional fall dish found at food stalls, restaurants, and convenience stores.
Fish, vegetables, and tofu are the main ingredients in this slowly-stewed dish.
So, get ready and bring your appetite to try these satisfying seasonal flavors.
16. Try Japanese Roasted Sweet Potato
Another joy from the fall harvest is the luscious sweet potato.
Japanese sweet potato is famous for its rich nutritional content and delicious, creamy flavors.
Many different sweets are made from these potatoes, but the simplest one is yakiimo, a basic roasted sweet potato.
You can get it all across the country in various flavors during fall; supermarkets sell them, traveling vans and street stalls offer them freshly roasted.
And an annual festival is even organized in Tokyo dedicated to the sweet spud.
I will recommend a specialty store, Fuji, in western Tokyo, where you can get eight varieties of roasted sweet potato.
So, don’t forget to take part in Japan’s love for this healthy vegetable and try one for yourself.
Apart from this, purple sweet potatoes have become quite popular recently. They are processed to make varieties of sweets, from cakes and chocolates to ice creams!
17. Munch on Mochi and Other Japanese Desserts
Fall is one of the perfect times to try wagashi, traditional Japanese sweets, or other traditional treats, including mochi-based sweets.
As wagashi is very seasonal, you can try different seasonal flavors like chestnut, sweet potato, persimmon, and apple.
The locals especially like sweets made from chestnuts.
The most popular and traditional one is Mont Blanc cake or monburan, where mashed chestnuts are laid out in chewy layers over whipped cream and sponge cake, topped with a chestnut. A real delight!
To taste high-quality sweets, you should head to a Japanese cafe.
If you ask for any suggestions, I will mention the name of Toraya, a famous Japanese confectionery.
Undoubtedly, you will be impressed by the detail and precision paid to the appearance and flavor.
18. Attend the Tokyo Ramen Show
As this season is described as Autumn’s Appetite, several food events are held in Japan during this time.
Some of the must-visit food events are Hokkaido Food Festival and Tokyo Wagyu Show.
And not to mention Tokyo Ramen Show, the biggest one which features several great ramen stores from all around Japan.
Therefore, if you love ramen, you will have a great opportunity to taste a number of great bowls of ramen in one place! This event lasts for ten days, from late November to early December.
Well, I guess the question ‘what to do in japan in autumn’ is not wandering in your mind anymore.
Hence, I have nothing more to inform you. Let’s end it here.
I have included the top 18 things to do in Japan in fall to present you with a memorable and never-forgetting trip.
I know it’s difficult to try all the things at once.
However, you can try a few of them in your Japan autumn tour to leave the country with full satisfaction.
Lastly, happy traveling.