Japan in the fall is truly spectacular, and Tokyo at this time of the year is particularly beautiful. Tokyo in the fall serves up a wide selection of seasonal delights, from engaging tech expos, vibrant festivals, and, of course, the stunning seasonal foliage. The changing colors of the leaves in Tokyo’s parks present an altogether new face to the fast-paced city, and witnessing them is one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo during fall. Of course, there are several other notable things to include other than fall foliage in Tokyo. if you’re wondering what to do in Tokyo this fall, you’ll find activities ranging from eating and drinking seasonal delicacies, through to moon-viewing parties and film festivals. If you’re unsure where to begin, these are the best things to do in Tokyo during autumn.
Experience Fall Foliage in Tokyo
Japan’s fall foliage is one of the main reasons to visit the country between September and October. Japan fall season is usually between October and November, and it’s a time when the country is blanketed by yellow, orange and red leaves. There are several places to experience Tokyo in the fall, but one of the best places to start is Yoyogi Park. There you’ll find deep-red maple leaves and beautiful ginkgo trees. If you’re in Tokyo during the month of November, be sure to check out the Tokyo Autumn Festival - this celebration of fall takes place on weekends and holidays throughout the month.
Participate in a Rooster Fair
Tokyo’s Tori-no-ichi, or Rooster Fairs, have been a tradition for hundreds of years. They take place at shrines throughout the month of November, which, according to the Chinese Zodiac, is the month of the rooster. The purpose of the festival is to offer good luck and prosperity in business. You’ll find vendors selling traditional kumade, or bamboo rakes, each decorated with symbolic artworks, and visiting the shrines is one of the most popular things to do in Tokyo at night over this time. The atmosphere at this time of year is remarkable, and the November weather in Tokyo is perfect for an experience like this.
Take in the city’s best art
Tokyo has a famous art scene throughout the year, but if you’re a fan it’s particularly worth scheduling a visit there between the months of September and October. That’s because there are several intriguing festivals and events that take place over the fall months, many of which are great for experiencing as a solo traveler. Roppongi Art Night is an annual celebration of nighttime art activities, and you can expect outdoor installations, performances and events. In November is Design Festa, a weekend-long art and design festival, and the largest of its kind in Asia.
Experience a Japanese Halloween
The October weather in Tokyo might be on the cooler side, but that also means Halloween is fast approaching. Although not a traditionally celebrated festival in Japan, it’s gained significant traction in recent years, and is now a celebration which is a huge part of the fall calendar. There’s a lot on the go during Halloween in Tokyo, but the epicenter of the action is Shibuya Crossing. There you’ll find thousands of people dressed up for the event. It’s an open-air party that may not have started out as traditionally Japanese but has been interpreted with traditional flare to make it a night to remember. If you do plan on celebrating Halloween in Tokyo, make sure you look for accommodation in advance. It’s such a huge, festival-like party that people from all over Japan descend upon the city, so places to stay in Tokyo get booked up early!
Go to a moon-viewing party
There’s something special about Japan’s full moons, especially over the months of fall. Because of this, it’s common to find moon-viewing parties in the city. The official day for tsukimi, or moon viewing, is the fifteenth day of the eighth month, according to the lunar calendar. This means in 2019 it will be on Friday, 13 September. The focus of the event is in Mukojima Hyakkaen, a beautiful park that stays open after dark before and after the date, and the perfect place to take the whole family. There are lanterns, music, and a dance performance. Restaurants throughout the city also get in on the action, with special moon-centric dishes, so if you can’t make the actual event you’ll still be able to soak up the atmosphere.
Head to a popular Tokyo film festival or performance
In the last week of October each year is the Tokyo International Film Festival. This epic movie showcase features films from around the world. You’ll find a number of Hollywood blockbusters, interspersed with the best movies from Japan’s new and established filmmakers. If film is your thing, then stick around until November’s Tokyo Filmex. This event is less mainstream but equally enticing for movie lovers. The festivals are open to the public, but typically screen in Japanese - usually with English subtitles.
Dine out on fall delicacies
There are several Japanese delicacies to sample in the fall. The major delicacy at this time of year is the matsutake mushroom, which although pricey is still sought after my visitors and locals alike. You can buy them throughout the city, but they’re usually in abundance at Tsukiji Outer Market. Chestnuts are also common around this time, and they come with a traditional Japanese flavor. If your focus is on fish, then look out for sanma, or mackerel, and saba, or pacific saury, on the menus. If you find yourself out on the streets and looking for a snack then pay a visit to one of the yaki-imo trucks - they sell sweet potatoes cooked over hot coals - the perfect snack to warm up with on a chilly day!
Kichijoji Autumn Festival
The Tokyo weather in September is mild and perfect for an outdoor celebration of the upcoming fall months. That’s where Kichijoji Autumn Festival comes in - it’s a vibrant and boisterous festival with a nearly 50-year history intended to welcome Musashino Hachimangu. The main event is in the form of a mikoshi procession, which is an event filled with chants and upbeat rhythms as they march through the streets. You can expect traditional costumes, music, and street food throughout the event, and it’s a fascinating introduction into Japan in the fall.
Head to the Ramen Show
If you’re wondering what to do in Tokyo this fall that involves eating, be sure to diarize the Tokyo Ramen Show. It takes place from 23 October to 3 November this year, and is pretty much as the name suggests - a festival about all things ramen. Entrance to the main festival is free, but once inside you’ll need to purchase your ramen bowls. It’s the perfect time to sample ramen from around the country, and to compare how each region serves the dish slightly differently. The event takes place over two parts, which features different vendors, so if you’re a huge ramen fan be sure to visit each.
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