Autumn in Tokyo – Top 10 Things to Do in Tokyo in Autumn
Arriving to Tokyo this autumn? You're in luck, Tokyo in the autumn is overflowing with things to do. Have a look at our ultimate guide to Tokyo in autumn.
The seasons are well-respected in Japan, governing not only the weather but what people are getting up to. With each season, different festivities are put on and different foods eaten. Autumn is particularly special; as the unbearable summer heat vanishes and the leaves begin to change, being outside for long periods becomes less of a daunting prospect and people are happy to take advantage of the fact.
We’ve put together a complete guide to making the most of autumn in the Japanese capital. From festivals and food to sumo and gaming, don’t miss out on any of it.
1) Autumn Festivals
Japan holds several spiritual festivals throughout the year, usually characterized by their colorful processions though the streets, folk dancing and general good vibes. Communities unite around these festivals but they are more than welcoming to tourists looking for an insight into some traditional Japanese culture or just a fun day out. They are usually all day events, replete with food stalls and all kinds of side activities and games. Autumn festivals represent new beginnings and proliferate across Tokyo. Find out more about a few of the best below:
When: 18th September
When: Late September
When: 27th – 28th September
2) Autumn Leaves
In autumn, Japan watches the leaves change color. Crowds are drawn to popular parks with their bento boxes and drinks to revel in the coming of autumn. Tokyo has many spots for such occasions, though some are more beautiful than others. Check out our guides to find out more:
3) Autumn Food
Seasonal foods are commonplace in Japan and autumn is considered particularly bountiful. In fact, there is an old saying in Japan, 食欲の秋 (shokuyoku no aki), translating as ‘autumn is the season for eating’. Below are the three most popular dishes eaten during the autumn in Japan:
Matsutake Mushroom Soup
Served in a clay teapot, this soup consists of vegetables, chicken or shrimp and aromatic matsutake mushrooms. Hearty and nourishing Japanese comfort food.
This Japanese sweet potato is harvested during the autumn and is therefore the best time of the year to enjoy it. High in nutrition, this vegetable is very popular in Japan and can be turned into a sweet or savoury snack.
It’s not autumn in Japan without sanma (pacific saury). Translating into English as Autumn Sword Fish, it is typically eaten alongside rice and miso soup and is not to be missed.
4) Chestnut Picking
Hot, roasted chestnuts can be found all over Tokyo during the autumn and there are a number of chestnut farms just outside the city for the ultimate chestnut experience. Pay a small fee and gather chestnuts to your hearts content. An autumn experience not to be missed and some all round family fun all at once. One of the best chestnut farms is located just west of Tokyo in Saitama – find out more below.
In the land of cosplay, anime and manga, Halloween is a big deal. Head to Shibuya on Halloween evening and be surrounded by elaborately dressed revellers of all kinds; from genuinly terrifying zombies to ‘kawaii’ Pokemon outfits, it’s all there. Halloween is a real spectacle in Tokyo and one of the biggest dates on the calender for the city’s youth. Don’t miss out.
Perhaps surprisingly, Tokyo is an excellent spot for hiking enthusiasts. With the city’s unbeatable public transport, you’re never too far from the calm of a mountain trail or forest path. What’s more, autumn is probably the best time of year to indulge in a spot of hiking. The weather is at a perfect equlibrium and the trails shouldn’t be too busy. Get out there! Find a few of the best spots below:
7) Tokyo Game Show
Held every autumn and drawing a global crowd, this is the event for all serious gamers. Developers and players come together to showcase developments, trial new games and show off their skills. Open to the general public, highly interactive and inclusionary, even non-hardcore gamers will find some entertainment here.
When: 15th September–18th September
Website:Tokyo Game Show
Can’t make it? Head to one of Tokyo’s best arcades instead: The 10 Best Japanese Arcades in Tokyo
8) Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony
Tea ceremonies are a uniquely Japanese experience and the autumn Grand Tea Ceremony is the pinnacle of it all. Whether a tea enthusiast or simply curious, this event welcomes all. Honed over hundereds of years, tea ceremonies are a display of theatricality, elegeance and tradtion. To see it up close head to Hamarikyu Gardens in October – you won’t be dissappointed.
When: 15th October–16th October
Website: Tokyo Grand Tea Ceremony
For more info on Tokyo teahouses and cafes: The Best Tea Houses for Tea Ceremonies in Tokyo
9) Tokyo International Film Festival
One of the biggest and most star-studded film festivals in Asia, the Tokyo International Film Festival is the jewel in the crown of Asia’s cinema scene. Premiering work from all over the world as well as local output, the festival is your chance to check-out some of the best up and coming directorial talent. Many showings are open to the public though tickets are unsurprisingly limited. Act early to avoid disappointment.
When: 25th October–3rd November
Website: Tokyo International Film Festival
10) Sumo Autumn Basho
Sumo is one of the best ways to mainline on uniquely Japanese culture. Though dwindling in popularity in recent years, it still offers spectators a spectacle like no other. A display of ceremony and theatrics as much as brute force and discipline, sports fans and those more interested in culture will be kept happy. Only two tournements take place in the capital each year so don’t miss out.
For ticket information, check out out guide to sports in Japan: Your Guide to Japanese Sports
When: 11th September–25th September
Website: Autumn Sumo Basho