Autumn is the season of gorgeous fall foliage, traditional festivals, and delicious food. It’s the most comfortable season in Japan with the average temperature ranging from around 52°F (13°C) to 73°F (22°C).
Many cities hold festivals at local shrines to give thanks to deities for plentiful harvests. People are dressing more elegantly. Not to mention the fall’s striking scenery countrywide, distinguishing the season as the leaves begin to change colors, building a breathtaking view. Here are the top 5 best things to do in Japan in October based on my own experience as a permanent resident for many years in that country.
Tokyo’s Fukuro Festival
In 1968 on the west side of Ikebukuro Station, The Fukuro Festival started off as an event promoting shopping.
Afterward, it has grown into one of the largest events in the area, with the two-part festival taking place in the entire neighborhood of Ikebukuro in a festive atmosphere. The first part of the event is the Owl Festival, held on the 28th and 29th of September. The second half is the Tokyo Yosakoi Festival held on the 12th and 13th of October.
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You can get to see people playing Hayashi music, Taiko drums, and performing lion dances, Yosakoi dance, or wearing traditional Mikoshi, portable shoulder-borne shrines.
Fujisawa Enoshima Fireworks Festival
Also known as Fujisawa Hanabi Taikai, it happens in Tokyo during autumn. Fujisawa City is a popular getaway for Tokyo residents at the seaside.
Located in neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, it is a bit more than one hour away from downtown Tokyo. It’s a popular point for surfers and beachgoers. Katase-Enoshima Station is the nearest station and is a bridge that connects the mainland to Enoshima. A small island which boasts a modern and beautiful lighthouse, aquarium, multiple shrines, delicious seafood, and on the far side, sea caves and tidal pools to explore.
Enoshima Island is quite popular for its natural beauty among both locals and tourists. Now just hope for a crisp, clear autumn evening, greeting the 3,000 exploding projectiles and the tens of thousands of spectators on the beachfront at Katase Enoshima. Gatherings for viewing the sunset start by 6 pm, earlier than during the summer events.
Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto
No one visits Japan without riding the Shinkansen (Japanese Bullet Train) all the way from Tokyo to Kansai. And Kiyomizudera (Pure Water Temple) is a must-see!
Kiyomizudera was founded in 778, but the current buildings were built in 1633 by Tokugawa Iemitsu. It was built by and named after the Otowa Waterfall. Once listed as part of the Hosso sect, one of the oldest Japanese Buddhism schools, later forming the Kita Hosso sect in 1965. In 1994, the temple was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
A wooden stage located outside the main hall as you reach the temple offers the view of the city of Kyoto, the colorful foliage and maple trees located in the hillside. Behind the main hall is the Jishu Shrine. The shrine is dedicated to the deity of love and matchmaking. One of the attractions of the area are these two stones placed 18 meters apart. It is said that if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed then you will have luck in finding love. If someone helps you reach the stone then it is said that you will need the help to find love.
The Otowa Waterfall is right by the main hall. The water is divided into three separate streams and you can also drink from it with cups that are placed by the falls. It is said that each stream has different benefits, which are longevity, success in studies, and love. You can also visit other structures like the Okunoin Hall and Koyasu Pagoda. The Okunoin Hall looks like the main hall, but on a small scale.
There are halls nearby that are dedicated to the Shaka Buddha, Amida Buddha, and Jizo. The Koyasu Pagoda is three stories tall and is located on the southern end of the temple grounds. It is said that those who visit the site will have an easy and safe childbirth.
Osaka Castle or Osaka-jo was built by the military commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Although it is located in the center of the city, the gates and stone walls remain well- preserved and the vast grounds have become a park.
People practice all kinds of activities within its walls from running to picnics. The Nishinomaru Garden is a famous cherry blossom spot. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery every season. The night view is a must-see nowadays and there are fancy restaurants by the Osaka-jo Hall. Many foreign bands perform at Osaka-jo Hall all year long.
One of the features of Osaka Castle is that huge stones are used everywhere in the castle walls. As with many other castles in Japan, the inside of the main castle tower serves as a history museum. A modern glassy elevator was built a few years ago in order to give an optional access to the castle. You can also enjoy a great view of Osaka from the top of the castle as well as from the outside of the castle by the walls. Major entertainment events such as Red Bull Fighters has taken place at Osaka-jo.
Sone Tenmangu Shrine Autumn Annual Festival
Some Tennman-gu Shrine Autumn is the biggest event held at Sone Tenmangu, with a wide array of ceremonies taking place day and night.
Portable shrines with roofs made from layers of futon mattresses will be paraded on their owner’s shoulders in the afternoons and in the evenings. At night, decorative lights are used to light up the event giving it more colors. Sone Tenmangu shrine’s biggest event Akirei-Taisai (Autumn great ritual festival) is held on October 13th to 14th every year.
Each town parade together with their own Futon Yatai, nearly 2,000 kg of portable shrines with gorgeously decorated Futon (Japanese style mattress). Hitotsumono-Shinji Shinto ceremony also takes place on October 13th to 14th. It’s going to be a great month to travel, as there will be so much to see and experience in Japan.
This ceremony is designated as Hyogo prefecture’s important cultural asset. In addition to that, other ceremonies are held as well, such as Takewari (Bamboo Smashing Festival), Omenkake and Hounou Sumo. Food trucks decorated with lights offer a wide variety of food for those willing to appreciate the festival.
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Most important events are broadcasted on local or national live television as it happens in real-time throughout the day or night, or during a live newscast. You’ll find a lot more places and activities from Okinawa to Hokkaido as you attend local events. From garden visitation and modern artificial beaches to nightlife and sports events like baseball post-season games of the Nippon Professional Baseball league.
I could write a journal about the best things to do in Japan in October so you could do a few of them every time you visit this amazing country with such a unique culture. But for now, these are the best 5 things to do in Japan in October for you to know. Thanks for reading it! See you soon!