November in Japan brings out fresh air, bright & gorgeous autumn foliage, and clear skies, making it one of the most appropriate months to travel in Japan.
Several locations like Tokyo and Kyoto come to their full glory. Each morning and evening comes with a chilly vibe, creating perfect weather to soak in the hot onsen.
There are a bunch of fun & exciting things to do in Japan in November that I can’t explain in one line.
So, if you plan to visit Japan in November and don’t know where to begin, here I will tell you exactly what to see and do with the necessary information.
What Things to Do in Japan in November? Find Your Tranquility Here
While planning for a holiday trip, we often get puzzled about what to include in our list and what not. As you want to use your every bit of time fully, you need to find which one satisfies your interest the most.
That’s why I suggest you explore each thing that I will mention today so that you won’t miss out on anything.
Okay, let’s begin.
1. Visit Kyoto to See All of its Attractions
While talking about one of the best November vacation spots, Kyoto comes first to my mind. This city is the cultural heart of Japan that attracts millions of travelers from all around the world.
Kyoto seems exceptionally beautiful in November with golden foliage and fresh weather. And, thanks to this city’s wooden traditional buildings, temples, pagodas, and shrines, that will make you fall in love with the attractions.
As this place has loads of things to offer, I will explain dividing them into small sections.
Walk on the Philosopher’s Path
A picturesque path from beginning to end, that’s what the Philosopher’s Path represents.
Your journey will start from the Nanzenji Temple and then follow a small canal lined with hundreds of trees, shrines & temples like Eikan do Zenrin-ji, Honen-in, and Otoya Shrine.
And the path ends around Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion.
Stroll through Pontocho Alley & Gion district after the dark
One of Kyoto’s must-go places is the historic Pontocho Alley, where you can enjoy the authentic Japanese traditional aesthetic.
I recommend you stroll through this alley on a November evening after the darkness.
One thing is sure that you are going to have a pleasurable experience here. And you will end up thanking me for suggesting you such a magical place.
Another equally breathtaking spot is the Gion side of the Kamo river. It is the most exclusive geisha district of Japan, full of charm and history.
I will say you shouldn’t miss these two famous locations of Kyoto anyway or at any cost.
See the Golden Pavilion of Kyoto
The moment you see the Golden Pavilion of Kyoto, your heart will be captured by the beauty of its top two stories covered in gold leaf.
In November, the charm of this temple doubles with autumn leaves surrounding the building.
As this temple is one of the most visited places in Kyoto and also a designated world heritage site, you should place it on your traveling spots list.
Go to the Kiyomizu-Dera Temple
A beautiful site that glitters at night!
Kiyomizu-Dera is a well-known historical site of Kyoto, which is famous for its amazing view.
And, luckily November is the perfect time to catch the glittering light-up events of this temple.
The red & golden leaves around it look even more magical at night when the lights make them shinier.
Witness the autumn attraction of Arashiyama
Arashiyama is another scenic district of Kyoto where nature sings the sweet melody in the fall season.
This district has the most famous bamboo grove in Japan, which feels more special with autumn color in November.
Even the surrounding spots are gonna satisfy your longing for natural panorama.
Taste the delicacies of Kyoto’s Kitchen
When your cravings for food rise, you may head to Nishiki Market, also known as Kyoto’s Kitchen.
It is a narrow 5-block street market where you will find over 100 small shops selling different types of street foods.
Stay at a traditional ryokan
Whether you are coming to Japan with your family or partner, you should at least experience the ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) service of Kyoto once.
Most of these ryokans have a romantic atmosphere, so you can consider spending honeymoon days here. Some even have private onsen facilities that are well suited for relaxing on a hectic day.
However, remember that Kyoto is one of the best places to visit in Japan in November, so visitors will rise in numbers.
Therefore, you need to book your accommodation beforehand, especially for the famous ryokans.
Okay, besides the above things, there are countless other spots and attractions available in Kyoto that you may consider dropping by too.
And, I hope you will definitely come to Kyoto this upcoming November.
2. Watch The Craze of Karatsu Kunchi Festival
Wanna dance to the music of Taiko drums?
Then, what are you waiting for? Just join the Karatsu Kunchi Festival!
Nestled in Saga Prefecture, Karatsu city has been organizing an autumn feast to celebrate bountiful harvests for over 400 years.
It features a massive three-day procession of floats at the beginning of November (usually from November 2nd to 4th).
You will see different types of float decoration, including samurai helmets, dragons, sea breams, and other fabulous creatures, all built from wood, furnishings, and other materials.
Generally, 14 floats are being pulled through the town from Karatsu Shrine to Nishino Beach. Each of them is drawn by teams selected from fourteen traditional regions of Karatsu.
They chant “En-ya!” and the drums and flute music lift up the feast mood even more.
On the night of 2nd November, a float is illuminated by lanterns that show a fantastic figure.
As the feast draws nearly 150,000 to 500,000 people every year, you may guess its popularity.
So, I suggest you not take your kids nearby the parade because of the huge crowds. And, you can see the festivity from a little distance to keep them safe.
But, if you are alone, there is nothing to be worried about. You can dance and even join the teams chanting En-ya! En-ya!
I will say, this is indeed one of the best festivals in Japan in November that simply can’t be missed.
3. Catch The View of Gorgeous Autumn Foliage
The Autumn season is like the second spring in Japan when every leaf is a flower.
Just like the famous cherry blossoms, autumn leaves have become popular in Japan and are even associated with a phrase like Momiji-gari means “red leaf hunting.”
Although you can see these leaves in October, November is indeed the best time to see them in peak glory.
There are numerous places in Japan where you can catch a glimpse of these leaves, such as Nikko, Arashiyama, Nara, Mount Nasu-Dake, and Kawaguchiko.
Among these places, Kawaguchiko has an exceptional view. As it is located in the “Fuji Five Lakes” region, you can witness mind-blowing autumn colors with Mount Fuji at the backdrop.
Even a feast called “Kawaguchiko Autumn Festival” takes place from early to late November to celebrate its beauty.
This region also has its own maple festival, “Momiji Matsuri,” that includes evening light-up events.
While talking about Nikko, it is home to numerous historical temples that feature charming autumn foliage. You may visit Chuzenji Lake, Irohazaka slope, and Nikko Toshogu Shrine to witness these colorful leaves.
Now, if you wish to see both autumn foliage and wild deer side by side, Nara should be your destination.
Here, you can take some cute photos with the adorable deers in vivid nature.
But, all of these spots are famous among foreigners and get flooded with crowds.
Hmm, then what to do when you want a less crowded place!!
Well, in such a case, I have a great off the beaten path recommendation for you!
It’s the charming Mount Nasu-Dake which is well-known among Japanese tourists but less discovered by foreign visitors.
You can enjoy tranquil hiking as well as soothe your eyes by watching awesome foliages all around here.
This area features a suspension bridge and cable car that goes partway up the mountain. From there, you need to hike for 45 minutes to reach the mountain peak.
Alright, till now, you learned about the autumn leaves viewing spots from across the whole of Japan.
But, what if you don’t want to leave the capital city and only look for things to do in Tokyo in November.
In that situation, my next section is your way out.
4. Attend Tokyo’s Most Famous Autumn Leaves Festival
Meiji Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Feast is the most popular autumn leaves event in Tokyo. It is organized annually from mid-November to early December in the Aoyama area, which can be accessed from Shibuya, Harajuku, and the Roppongi area.
You will see approximately 150 Ginkgo trees on this avenue lined up about 300 m with two lanes.
Although you can come here in early November, you are gonna miss the festive mood.
And that’s why I always head to this place in mid to late November when the feast begins. Also, during this time, golden leaves fall down and create a natural golden carpet.
So, what do you think? Don’t you wanna take an instagrammable picture with these autumn foliages?
Of course, right?
Anyway, the festival food is another fact that attracts me even more. Hence, if you are a foodie like me, just grab the opportunity to taste the greatest regional dishes from all over Japan.
When I attended this feast last time, I ordered Niku Sushi, Hakata style Takoyaki (Octopus balls), and roasted Miyazaki Beef Donburi.
Dude, the Octopus balls’ taste was out of the world!
I am really proud of myself to this date that I chose the right dishes.
Well, as I ate these items, it doesn’t mean the other ones were not good enough.
Therefore, you can choose whatever you want. But, at least try as many dishes as possible because these vendors are found only during the fiesta.
5. Go to The Charming Shirakawago Village
A village where nature sings a sweet and calm song, surrounded by mountains, vivid leaves, and golden brown rice fields.
You know what, I can’t even describe the true beauty of Shirakawago Village in words. You have to go to this beautiful town to witness its natural elegance.
Shirakawago is divided into two areas: Shirakawago in Gifu prefecture and Gokayama in Toyama prefecture. Both areas have traditional Gassho-zukuri houses, which are rare to see somewhere else.
This house style is likely to have been built in the late 17th century, and this old type structure made them famous among travelers.
Both of the areas have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1995. And they are considered two of the best things in Japan that represent traditional aspects.
You may pay a visit to this place any time of the year because it shows the different glamor of four seasons: green rice fields in summer, cherry blossoms in spring, autumn leaves in fall, and snow in winter.
As your trip plan is in November, you can enjoy the autumn colors and fresh nature.
Another interesting fact is, there are accommodation facilities available, so you can even spend your night here.
You May Read:
6. Attend Tori No Ichi Festival
Tori no Ichi is a traditional fiesta that has been celebrated in Tokyo since the late part of the Edo era.
This fair is the sign that winter is right around the corner. It is organized to pray for good fortune and wealth for the year ahead.
The celebration is held in November on the days of the rooster (usually 2 or 3 days in a typical year).
Although it originated at Asakusa’s Otori Shrine and neighboring Juzaisan Chokokuji Temple, now it is held at rooster-related temples & shrines all over Tokyo.
Traditional decorations, ornaments, and food are sold at the fair site, which you may consider buying.
Hence, if you are in Tokyo in November, you can attend two feasts at once: Tori no Ichi Festival and Meiji Shrine Autumn Festival that I already mentioned above.
7. Witness The Glittering Winter Illuminations
Are you confused by the winter illumination!!
Well, although November is the fall season, we Japanese people love the winter illumination and every sort of light-up event. That’s why even before the cold season arrives, you will see many illumination events all over the country starting from November.
Some of the places where you may catch the winter light-up events in Tokyo are Roppongi Hills Christmas (from early November), Marunouchi Illumination (from mid-November), Nihonbashi Illumination (from early November), Tokyo Midtown Hibiya (from mid-November), and Odaiba Illumination (from late November).
Now, tell me, did you see illuminated rice paddies before?
Maybe or maybe not!!
But, when you are in Japan in November, you have an excellent opportunity to see such a rare scene.
Here I am talking about Shiroyone Senmaida’s illumination event that takes place at rice paddies in Wajima City on the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture.
You will catch the phenomenal scene of rice paddies beside the ocean lit by about 21,000 pink LEDs that twinkle at night.
Anyway, some other remarkable events all over the country are Sapporo White Illumination, Ashikaga Flower Park, Sagamiko Illumilion, Nabana no Sato, and Hiroshima Dreamination.
8. See A Fire Festival in Fushimi Inari Shrine
You already know that there is lots of stuff to do in Kyoto, and a fire fest can lift your excitement even more!!
So, to give your enthusiasm a fiery touch, head to Fushimi Inari Shrine to participate in the Ohitaki Fire Festival.
The first part of the celebration begins in the main halls of this shrine with food offerings and a sacred kagura dance performance for the gods.
After that, everyone moves to the place where 3 bonfires have been set up and are being simultaneously lit. Then, priests start throwing prayer sticks in the bonfire along with the wishes of shrine visitors.
Right after, the priests begin cleansing rituals by using water, salt, Sakaki leaves, and dances carrying golden bells until the last piece of the stick is thrown into the fire.
Now, if this type of traditional activity seems interesting to you, then be prepared to attend it on 8th November.
9. Eat Some Seasonal Foods
In Japan, every season has its own delicious cuisine. In autumn, nuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables convey the color of fall.
Chestnuts (or Kuri) symbolize the season and are popular for their rich texture and aroma. They are consumed with rice in a dish named “Kuri gohan”, and are often found in street markets.
If you are a fruit lover, then persimmon and Asian pear are gonna satisfy your yearning. You may also try out some autumn desserts such as ice cream and Momiji Manju (maple leaf-shaped buns).
Evening, when the temperature will be a little cool, is the perfect time to slurp on some oden and ramen.
So, don’t forget to sizzle your body with some hot! hot! Ramen or Oden (Japanese fish cake stew).
10. Take off The Chill Feel By Soaking in Hot Onsen
A hot bath with romantic music and soft smells of candles. And after that, a night of relaxing sleep with sweet dreams!
Doesn’t it sound tempting to you?
Well, if you want to experience such a soothing bath, Japanese hot springs are waiting for you.
As onsen water comes from heated volcanos, they are more available in rural regions.
But, you will find lots of indoor bathhouses in big cities with heated water. Also, common hot onsens are available all over the country.
Even most of the hotels and ryokans have up-to-the-mark facilities.
In Tokyo, Asakusa, Ogikubo, and Chofu districts have several onsens that you may check out.
Alright, I have finished talking about things to see and do in Japan in November.
Yet, you need to be fully prepared before coming to our country, and that’s why you gotta know some other essential facts.
Hence, keep going…..
Japan in November: Weather Details
The month of November falls in the autumn season in Japan. That’s why the weather is generally crisp and cool.
Here is the average temperature data for this month.
As you can see, the major cities of Honshu and Kyushu (Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Fukuoka) have mild temperatures in November.
However, Sapporo (capital of Hokkaido) has a totally different scenario with an average low near 0° C. And, you may see some snowfall in November in the Hokkaido region.
On the other hand, the temperature of Okinawa island remains quite warm.
Rainfall stays quite low across the whole country, and average sunshine hours are high.
Packing List That Goes Well With November Weather in Japan
Here is a list of clothes that is suitable for November:
1. A light-weight waterproof jacket: Although the rainfall in November is quite low, a light-weighted and packable waterproof jacket is recommended. So that you will be prepared in case it rains.
2. High-quality walking shoes: As you are going to walk in most of the exploring locations, a pair of well-worn walking shoes will be great. It’s because there is nothing worse than getting blisters while trying to enjoy walking tours.
3. Lightweight wool Layers: Cardigan, high wool neck wraps.
4. Long pants: They should be comfy enough to walk around.
5. Socks and gloves: Pack light and heavy ones both.
6. Some light outfits: For relatively warm daytime.
7. Few mid-heavy outfits: For chilly morning and night weather.
8. Heavy jacket: It’s an essential item if you go to the northern region like Hokkaido.
9. A mid-sized backpack: To carry your necessary travel items.
10. Hiking shoes: If you have a plan of taking part in hiking tours.
11. Don’t forget these items too: Travel documents, skincare products, toothbrush, mobile charger, power bank, camera, and a mini first aid kit.
Expected Costs & Crowds
November is a peak tourist season in most of the southern part of Japan, including Tokyo, Hiroshima, and the island of Kyushu.
Foreigners travel to Japan in November because the weather is appropriate for both indoor and outdoor activities.
Although there are no major Japanese holidays in November, you will find many local people enjoying the changing colors of leaves in gardens, parks, and temples.
The fall season is considered a joyful occasion in Japan because we love the autumn leaves as much as the spring blossoms.
Therefore, while traveling to Japan in November, try to book accommodation and long-distance train tickets in advance.
Now, if you are going to visit some of the iconic locations in Japan like Kyoto, Nara, Mount Fuji, Miyajima island, Nikko, you may expect crowds.
And, of course, Kyoto receives a lot of tourists this month, so hotel prices are likely to increase.
Anyway, I think you have a complete guide for your holiday in Japan by now.
Hence, let’s move to the conclusion.
After going through the whole discussion, I hope you have found the answer to what things to do in Japan in November.
I had a great time sharing the beauty and attractions of our country with you.
It’s always a pleasure to represent Japan to the world, and I hope you will definitely come here to spend your next vacation.
Lastly, have a good day.