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Autumn in Japan – When to go and things to do

Autumn in Japan is when history, culture and nature collaborate best to show off the sheer beauty you will never forget. Autumn starts in northern Japan and rolls south as the year progresses. This presents so many more opportunities to experience this natural beauty and to select what pleases you best.

Because each region of Japan offers variations in culture and history, in this post, I wanted to offer up a way for you to get a basic grasp the relationship between timing, locations and things to do and see. during Japan’s Autumn.

Check out these small group Autumn tours of Japan, they are individually timed to match the autumn colours across Japan

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When To Go to Japan for the Autumn Season

Autumn is without doubt one of the very best times to see Japan. So, when is the Autumn in Japan? It runs from late September in the very north to mid-December in the south.

Often people consider earlier in the year may be warmer, however, as you know, fortunately the colours are driven by the temperature, and so it is about the location (north to south) not about the time of the year.

The Autumn colours at any location tend to show for quite a while. This makes it easier to judge (than say cherry blossom in spring) and so you are under less time pressure too.

One last thought about the Autumn colours in Japan is the type of Foliage. If you go too far north you will see much less Autumn colour because the trees are pines (not deciduous) and they don’t drop their leaves. Thus, travelling beyond northern Honshu (often called Tohoku) to Hokkaido in autumn is a marvelous experience but you will not see swags of autumn colours.

This map of Japan shows when to visit the various areas of Japan and is based on historical average dates. It is an easy way to help you figure out where you would like see the amazing autumn colours in Japan

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Things to Do in Autumn in Japan

If you like nature, the countryside and the wow views then autumn is an amazing time to see the surprisingly pristine Japan. For those that enjoy short walks then you can’t go wrong especially if you combine some of the ancient history, temples and shrines.

Many of the temples have gardens that are beautiful, however in Autumn the flutter of the Autumn colours against the man made temples is not to be missed. Better yet, plan to see the light-ups at night when the temples are silhouetted against the backdrop of the coloured leaves, it is almost spiritual.

Japanese enjoy festivals and there are some extra good festivals in autumn. The traditional costumes, the floats and the atmosphere are unique and well worth the time. Remember though, the crowds are enormous too at the festivals.

Some Autumn Specific Ideas

In Tohoku (Northern Japan Japan) you can see artisans at work including the very fine containers and holders made from cherry tree bark, but in autumn you must see the lakes and walk along streams with the amazing colors. Somehow the colours seem more vibrant in Tohoku

The Autumn Somo tournament is on and this is something worth experiencing (book early).

Food is a significant part of Japanese culture. The autumn season food specialities are just so nice. try to may your autumn trip to Japan a bit of a food expedition too.

Be sure to see some of the autumn light-ups. Don a coat after dinner and go walking it is a wonderful way to see the fall

Why not check out a Japan Autumn Tour with Journey to the East now?