Autumn is a wonderful season to visit Japan. Temperatures have cooled and the season is full of pleasant sunny days and mild yet invigorating nights. Here are five reasons to love autumn in and around Tokyo –
The Best Weather for Walking Around Town
Autumn in Tokyo brings a welcome respite from the summer heat. Average daytime temperatures dip to a comfortable low 70s (Fahrenheit) during the daytime and the high 50s at night. No matter your interest, the city of Tokyo is at your beck and call. Fashionistas rejoice as this is ideal weather for exploring the shopping districts of Ginza and Shinjuku and wandering the funky backstreets of Harajuku. Fall styles are on full display all around the city, providing ample inspiration to find your perfect souvenir. Pop culture enthusiasts can comfortably explore the anime and manga emporiums of Akihabara and Nakano Broadway for hours. And for those who love culture and tradition, feel free to leisurely take it all in by exploring the temples and souvenir shops of Asakusa, or experience the homey downtown charm of Yanaka or Nezu. A myriad of Tokyo neighborhoods await you during this ideal season for walking.
A Break from the Summer Crowds
Summer is over and school is back in session. Families taking their traditional August breaks are back into their routines, making it possible for autumn travelers to fully enjoy the amenities Tokyo. Popular districts like the open and airy waterfront area of Odaiba and neon-infused, youthful Shibuya are a little more navigable, especially during the week when teenagers are in school. Lines for popular attractions like the Tokyo Water Bus, the museums of Ueno and even the popular Tokyo SkyTree are smaller, making it easy to make the most of your time in Tokyo.
An Autumn-Themed Trip to Hakone
While Tokyo offers the best in cosmopolitan amenities, traditional Japanese nature is just a short trip away. Hakone, less than two hours from Tokyo, offers numerous ways to enjoy the season while taking in famous views of Mount Fuji framed in autumn foliage. The Hakone Tozan Railway takes you deep into the heart of nature on a train line that features the steepest grade of any in Japan, climbing and descending the mountainous terrain. Enjoy majestic views from the sky on the Hakone Ropeway, or on water from the colorful tall ships that traverse Lake Ashi as part of the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. Finally, let your stress melt away in one of Hakone’s famous hot springs – a source of relaxation for weary travelers since the 17th century! You can enjoy the hot springs at a public bath house or ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). The various hot spring resorts offer different styles and amenities including rotemburo, or outdoor baths, that really let you relish the autumn season!
Foliage Amidst Japanese Culture
Nature is an unmistakable part of traditional Japanese culture. Even in modern Tokyo, several places of cultural and historical significance offer the ideal atmosphere to enjoy the colors of the season. Meiji Jingu Gaien, outside Meiji-jingu Shrine, offers the iconic ‘Avenue of the Gingko Trees’ alight in hues of red, orange and yellow at their peak of fall brilliance. Koisikawa Korakuen, one of Tokyo’s oldest and most prestigious Japanese gardens, offers a pond surrounded by brilliantly hued Maple trees. And the Imperial Palace East Gardens offer views of Gingko and several other trees set amidst a vast lawn right in central Tokyo.
Hearty Autumn Eating
Autumn is a season of hearty eating in Japan. Matsutake mushrooms are in season and make for a wonderful main ingredient in soups or a delicious addition to simmered dishes such as nikudofu, a beef and tofu dish. Sanma, also known as Pacific saury, is a sleek silver fish that is best enjoyed grilled with salt. The first harvested rice of the season, known as shinmai, is known to be distinctively moister and sweeter. It is often served steamed with gingko nuts as an autumn treat. And for dessert, domestic pears, persimmons, apples and Mandarin oranges are all in season for a refreshingly sweet ending to any autumn meal.