Osaka in fall is unique - it’s just what happens when you take an already slightly eccentric, food and festival obsessed city and add beautiful fall foliage and even more festivals. Visiting between September and November means you’ll get mild weather - Osaka weather at this time has temperatures ranging between 18 and 29 degrees - and also get to witness the truly breathtaking fall foliage in Osaka. Japan fall season typically starts in late September and runs until late November, but if your trip falls either side of this, you could still get lucky and be around for some fall events. Aside from the popular things do to in Osaka in September, October and November, there are dozens of hidden gems, and of course several autumn-centric events and festivals. These are the best things to do in Osaka in the fall, from viewing the best foliage to participating in annual events to mark the occasion - because, in Japan’s friendliest city, it would be impossible not to get involved!
See the foliage during Osaka fall season
If there’s one thing to do in Japan in the fall, it’s to seek out the best fall foliage. Luckily for you, Osaka in fall is particularly rewarding in this area, and there are several places you can visit in and around the city to see the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. Among these are the city’s natural parks, including Daisen Park, Minoo Park, and Osaka Castle Park. But many of the temples are also set among stunning trees, whose leaves change color over this time. And if you want to combine adrenaline with fall foliage, head to Hoshi no Buranko in Hoshida Park. This aerial suspension bridge that hovers among incredible multi-colored trees is one of the most popular things to do in Osaka in the fall.
Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine Autumn Festival
The Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine is one of Osaka’s most important Shinto shrines, but since it’s a little outside of the city centre, it’s slightly off the main tourist radar. There are festivals held here to mark all seasonal changes, but it’s the moon viewing festival held during the fall which is really special. Unsurprisingly, it takes place over the autumn moon, which in 2019 will be on Friday 13 September. It’s at this time that the moon is brightest, and the celebrations on the ground at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine match the spectacle taking place in the skies above. This moon viewing festival is particularly spectacular because the performances, like poetry read by the shrine’s priest, take place on the startlingly curved, and burned orange - ubiquitous to Japan’s Shinto shrines - bridge, which leads the way to the shrine.
Yao Kawachi Ondo Festival
Yao Kawachi Ondo is an annual festival that takes place in Yao. Yao is said to be the birthplace of the popular Osaka dance Kawachi Ondo, which serves as an offering to the dead. The festival pays tribute to this long history with a vibrant one day event that centers around the famous dance. Aside from an epic dance competition, there are also several stalls selling traditional food and drink - which in a city as obsessed with food as Osaka is means the seasonal dishes you’ll find here are not to be missed. Don’t miss trying satsumaimo, a Japanese sweet potato which is simply grilled to release its sweetness, and kuri gohan, a sweet rice cake filled with chestnut paste. In 2019, the festival - now in its 42nd year - is taking place on Sunday September 8th.
Hiraoka-jinja is a historic shrine which is said predates Japan’s first emperor taking the throne, and its fall festival is one of the biggest and most celebrated, making it one of the most popular things to do in Osaka in October. It’s the shrine’s largest annual festival, and it centers around giving thanks for the autumn harvest. During the festival you’ll witness dozens of futon taiko, round floats that carry Japanese drums. There are also stalls are located around the shrine, which set the tone for an enticing atmosphere. It’s one of the most vibrant and engaging autumn festivals, and well worth seeking out if you’re in town in mid-October. To reach the shrine, take the Kintetsu Nara Line to Hiraoka Station.
If you’re in Japan in the fall, “matsuri” is a word you’ll hear a lot, as it’s the Japanese word for festival. Sakai is actually a town located in the Osaka prefecture, but if you’re in Osaka in the fall, making the short trip to witness this festival will be an experience to remember. Sakai Matsuri is a popular festival held on the third Saturday and Sunday of October each year. It’s been taking place since the mid-1970s, and these days the main parade attracts upwards of 7,000 participants. Most of the action centers around Oshoji Symbol Road, and involves participants dressing up in beautifully detailed costumes that draw on Sakai’s long and fascinating history, including traditional folk dancing and a Grand Tea Ceremony. There are also market stalls set up throughout the area, and sideline events that keep the atmosphere buzzing well into the afternoon.
Osaka Castle is worthy of a visit at any time of the year, but during the fall months it takes on a brand new look and feel. That’s because the grounds in which it’s situated are full of incredible trees that turn all of the warming fall colors as the season takes hold. The castle itself dates back to the 16th century, and was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi - a famous Japanese figure, but it’s the unique fall foliage which makes it even more spectacular. As well as the burned oranges and dramatic reds, the castle grounds are home to many species of tree whose leaves turn a brilliant yellow, framing the castle in gold.If you’ve deliberately timed your trip to see the fall foliage in Osaka, then this spot should be at the very top of your list
Ramen Girls Festival
With such a curious name, you might be wondering what this festival is all about, but don’t worry, it is open to all genders. Whilst for a western audience, the reason may seem unusual, the idea behind the festival was to dismantle the idea of ramen being a macho dish, and to encourage girls to go out to eat ramen alone too! For any visitor, the festival offers an intriguing - and hands on - insight into the often male-dominated world of ramen. This famous Japanese dish is an unmissable food to try while in the country, and there are few better places to do this than at a national festival, so get ready to do some serious eating! Ramen Girls Festival takes place from late September to early October, and is split over two parts each featuring new vendors. Entry is free, but if you want to purchase dishes you’ll have to do so on a cash basis.
If you want to get out of town for a change of scenery, head to the mountains just north of Osaka. Many believe the region called Mino brings good luck to those who visit it, but even for the non-superstitious there are several reasons to visit, especially in the fall. The temple holds a variety of traditional daruma dolls, and outside surrounding the temple are beautiful gardens. They’re worth visiting at any time of the year, but from September, they take on the changing colors synonymous with Japan in the fall. There’s even an entire tunnel of fall foliage, making this one of the most popular things to do in Osaka in November, when the colors are almost guaranteed.
Higan-e Autumn Ceremony
Higan-e Ceremony is an event that takes place twice a year - once on the spring equinox, and once on the autumn equinox. It is a festival that involves all of the Buddist temples in Osaka, each offering their own take on the day with specific food stands, events, and traditional ceremonies. It’s one of the best ways to experience autumn in Osaka, and with festivities often lasting up to one week in mid-September, focused around the dates of the 21st to the 23rd.
Shitennoji Wasso Festival
In early November each year, thousands of traditionally clothed people take to the streets of Hoenzaka in Osaka for one very unique reason. If you weren’t prepared, you might be startled by the number of people shouting “wasso!”, but it’s part of a long tradition. “Wasso” is Korean for “I came”, and it’s shouted as a tribute to those who have come to Japan from across the continent. The outfits are the main spectacle at this event - they’re intricately made and represent some of the finest Japanese clothing traditions. But there’s also plenty of other festivities to get involved with, including drumming, singing, and dancing. And since Osakans are proud of their reputation as Japan’s friendliest city, make the most of the atmosphere and let yourself be swept away in the festivities!
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