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Foliage, Meals and Festivals: Japan in Autumn

Japan’s location between mainland Asia and the Pacific brings with it distinctive seasonal adjustments. Essentially the most well-known being springtime with its well-known cherry blossoms and their famend delicate pink hues. 

Nonetheless, as summer season provides strategy to autumn, the transition brings with it a brand new and equally spectacular palette of vivid reds, golds and oranges. Starting in Hokkaido in late September, the cooling climate and shorter days immediate the turning of the leaves throughout Japan’s deciduous timber. By mid-November, the vivid show reaches Kyoto and Tokyo earlier than persevering with south into early December. 

This vibrant spectacle can be extra predictable, and fewer fleeting, than cherry blossom season. The show lasts round two months and could be seen throughout all the nation.


Tofuku-ji, Kyoto in autumn

In Japan, the arrival of autumn additionally signifies that it’s time for momijigari, which interprets as ‘maple leaf searching’. This custom normally entails strolling with household and associates by way of the forests and fields, trying to find probably the most placing autumn colors.

Though the phrase ‘momiji’ refers to maple leaves, there are numerous extra tree species concerned on this cataclysm of color. Over 70% of Japan’s forests are made up of deciduous timber, together with Japanese maple timber, wax timber, rowan, burning bush, Japanese sumac and plenty of extra. There are additionally the aki no nanakusa, or the seven recognized flowers and grasses that herald the season’s arrival. All of this cumulates in a spectacular show of heat and vibrant autumn colors unfold over mountains, throughout forests and thru tree-lined streets.

How one can momijigari like a neighborhood

It’s one factor to admire the gorgeous autumn leaves in passing, and one other to essentially immerse your self within the spirit of momijigari. It goes with out saying that getting out in nature is basically the one strategy to actually expertise the vivid colors of the season. However what actually makes the distinction is the tempo of your exploration. 

Throughout momijigari, you’re inspired to decelerate and look intently. Take time to essentially observe the fragile tracery of traces on a mottled cherry blossom leaf or the distinction of the pink maple leaves which have fallen on yellowing moss under.

Autumnal meals

kuri - Japanese chestnuts

Because the Japanese say goodbye to lighter summer season meals, shokuyoku, or ‘the season of hearty appetites’ is welcomed in. With the fish having been fattened up over the summer season, autumn seafood is now at its finest. A candy, fatty fish generally known as sanma, which interprets as ‘autumn knife fish’, is now in season and able to be loved dipped in salt and smoked over a barbeque.

Many conventional vegatables and fruits are additionally harvested in autumn, together with daikon. It is a lengthy white vegetable that comes from the identical household because the radish and could be present in salads or pickled as a condiment. Mushrooms, candy potatoes and the vivid orange persimmon are additionally common elements at the moment of 12 months. 

Arguably probably the most conventional autumnal meals is kuri (contemporary chestnuts). A Japanese favorite since prehistoric occasions, they’re normally loved roasted or pureed as a candy filling. Kuri rice is a well-liked savoury dish throughout autumn.

Autumn festivals and occasions

The darker evenings and funky climate at the moment of 12 months make autumn an excellent time for conventional festivals and occasions. No matter the place you’re travelling, you’re positive to come across quite a few festivals showcasing centuries of wealthy historical past and traditions.


japan harvest moon

The Japanese contemplate the harvest moon probably the most lovely lunar look of the 12 months. Historically the pastime of tsukimi was a method of expressing gratitude for a superb harvest and inspiring profitable yields within the following years. At the moment folks will congregate in parks, temples and riverbanks to admire the brightest moon of the 12 months. Small white dumplings of rice flour, known as tsukimi dango are served as choices to the moon and eaten afterwards.

Winter illuminations

Sapporo illuminations

As the times grow to be shorter, dazzling illuminations could be seen popping up in cities and cities throughout Japan. They do get busier in direction of the Christmas and New Yr season, with most of the much less crowded occasions happening in November. Larger cities like Tokyo and Kyoto can have massive, devoted areas the place they exhibit intensive illumination shows.

Japanese Gardens

Japanese garden in autumn

Conventional Japanese gardens, discovered throughout Japan, are a few of the finest locations to benefit from the vibrant tones of autumn. The distinctive fusion of fall colors and Japanese backyard zen can solely be skilled at the moment of 12 months. Many gardens will host devoted illumination occasions within the evenings.

Seasonal recommendation 

Though you’ll discover that Japan in autumn is much less busy than visiting the cherry blossoms in spring, it’s nonetheless the second busiest time of 12 months to journey. With that in thoughts, it’s price reserving your Japan tour as far prematurely as potential to make sure that you don’t miss out on this very particular season.

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