Osaka in Autumn – Things to Do in Osaka in Autumn
Osaka is a vibrant city and offers a myriad of things to do, particularly in autumn. Read on for a full guide to Osaka in autumn, bursting with top tips and recommendations.
Osaka is known throughout Japan for being the second largest city in the country after Tokyo, but having a completely different vibe. People in Osaka are more relaxed, less hurried and seem altogether warmer in character than the Tokyoites. Their “southern” nature makes them very popular among Japanese and foreigners alike and as a tourist you’re sure to find plenty of talkative locals to point you to some awesome hidden gems around the city. So don’t be shy in Osaka or you might miss an amazing adventure.
If you’re visiting Osaka in autumn, you’ve picked a perfect time to enjoy nature, seasonal foods and some great events around this pulsating Japanese city. Don’t worry if you’re not too sure about where to start – we’ve got some great options for you to try:
For the other seasons:
Momijigari – Autumn Foliage in Osaka
In autumn, Japanese folk flock to parks and temples, mountainsides and forests to enjoy the beautiful autumn colors emanating from the reddening flora. Maple trees, particularly, turn an intense red and yellow and make for an impressive natural spectacle. Should you be in Osaka in autumn, check out the following hotspots we’ve looked up for some amazing views.
1. Osaka Castle (大阪城)
This impressive white castle with its pale blue roof and golden adornments was constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the late 16th century. He is a famous figure in Japanese history for trying to unite the entire country under one rule and bring an end to the battles of the “warring states” period (Sengoku Jidai). Osaka castle is definitely worth a visit, even more so when the leaves of the surrounding park turn red, contrasting starkly with the paleness of the castle. There is also an observatory on the 8th floor of the castle that provides spectacular views of Osaka and its immediate surroundings.
2. Katsuo Temple (勝尾寺)
Katsuo-ji is a Buddhist temple in the mountains north of Osaka, in a region called Mino. It is known for the good luck it supposedly brings businesses, students, sports people and lovers (to name a few). The temple features many daruma dolls, which are a kind of good luck charm in Japan. The specific ones found at Katsuo Temple are called kachi-daruma (winning daruma). It also has beautiful gardens, which come alive with color in the autumn and attract numerous people for Momiji-gari – tourists and locals alike. The main attraction is a tunnel of autumn foliage leading to the main hall of the temple.
3. Waterfall of Mino (Mino Park Osaka 箕面公園)
The conclusion of one of Mino Park’s trails rewards trekkers with a stunning view of a waterfall nestled into the hillside, surrounded by greenery. In autumn especially it’s a beautiful spectacle of colors, texture and movement. Close to the waterfall there is a Japanese restaurant and some food stands selling snacks and drinks (and even wasabi ice cream in some cases), so you won’t have to go hungry. If the hike to the fall is too long for you there is a road snaking up to the falls which you can use as an alternative.
4. Hoshida Park and Bridge (府民の森ほしだ園地)
Another reward for taking a walk in the park is Hoshida Bridge. Spanning 280m and suspended 50m above the ground, it provides the perfect platform from which to view the surrounding mountains and hillsides. It’s particularly beautiful as the seasons change and the forest’s foliage turns a hundred shades of red, yellow, brown and green. If you’re out for some nature after city viewing this is the perfect way to switch it up. The park is called “Fumin no Mori Hoshida Enchi” (roughly: “The Locals’ Forest, Hoshida Park”), so keep a lookout at the tourist centers for leaflets about the park and bridge.
5. Banpaku Memorial Park (万博記念公園)
Ready for some great colors, but you don’t want to travel up a mountain? Look no further. The Banpuku Memorial Park in the heart of Osaka is famous for its massive “Tower of the Sun” (Taiyo no To 太陽の塔) and features many different sections for visitors to enjoy. There’s even a Japanese garden where meticulously manicured gravel sections are contrasted with pretty ponds. Autumn in the park is signaled by the characteristic reddening foliage all over, so you’ll definitely get to experience koyo if you visit this park.
Cultural Activities in Autumn
Dive into the Japanese experience and take part in some of the coolest activities in autumn. Below is a selection of events to partake in and have fun at alongside Osaka folk.
6. Chestnut gathering
Autumn is also chestnut season and – as is the case in a lot of places all over Japan – chestnut gathering is a popular activity around mid-September to late October. If you want to participate, make sure you’re dressed appropriately and prepared for capricious weather conditions. Usually, gathering chestnuts will be on an “all you can carry” basis, but some go by weight as well. Check out the website below for an idea on where to go around Osaka. Also, many of the cake shops around town will have chestnut products as a seasonal specialty, so stop by on your way back to the hotel for a sugar fix.
Try gathering chestnuts here
7. Osaka Art & Handmade Bazar
An event laid on by TV Osaka, this bazaar offers a multitude of things to enjoy. For three days in late September you can participate in workshops, window shop for some fresh new art and design creations and revel in a blast of fashion and Japanese culture. Whatever your tastes, it’s definitely worth a visit.
8. Osaka Classic (Music Week)
If you’re in the mood for some classical music you may want to check the program of the Osaka Classic music week. All over the city classical music will be performed live by professional players for your pleasure and relaxation in a week-long celebration of classical music. It’s a great event you shouldn’t miss if you’re in Osaka mid-September (strictly speaking not autumn, but we thought we’d let you know anyway, just in case you arrive early).
Osaka is known as “the kitchen of Japan”, so you should not miss tasting all that this great city has to offer. Culinary delights await! We’ve picked out a few seasonal delicacies you should try while in Osaka, but never forget that there is heaps more you should taste during your stay.
Several delicious fruits are in season in autumn, giving you the chance to buy local produce at great prices. Get down to one of the markets or supermarkets for a try (often the fruit are displayed and you can have a taste right at the store).
Nashi – Japanese Pear
Known all over East Asia, the Nashi pear is a curiously crunchy fruit with a slightly rough texture. It has great flavor and is extremely popular in Japan during autumn. The Nashi pear is used in various ways including being made into alcoholic drinks and vinegar. We suggest you get some at a supermarket or fruit shop while in Osaka and enjoy the flavor of autumn in Japan.
Kaki – Persimmon
Another popular seasonal fruit is the persimmon, also called kaki. The vibrant orange colored kaki is sold as-is, but may also be bought dried, made into jam or similar concoctions. Its sweet flavor and juicy, soft texture when fully ripe makes it a much-loved autumn fruit in all of Japan.
Mikan – Mandarin
Very popular among Japanese, mikan are akin to sweet and juicy little mandarins. They arrive in stores as early as late September, but can be bought all through the winter usually. They are a particularly great deal as you may find supermarkets or small shops selling a bag of 6 for around 250yen.
Kuri – Chestnuts (Maron)
In Osaka, as in other parts of Japan, chestnuts are an ever-popular autumn food that have many uses. Often, chestnuts are turned into vermicelli atop a cake or tart. Mont Blanc tarts are particularly popular and you shouldn’t let the opportunity slide to get some high-quality Japanese pastries in autumn.
10. Momiji no Tenpura (Maple Tempura)
Going one step further with the autumn leaf craze, Japan dips them in various kinds of batter and deep fries them. Momiji Tempura is the delicious result. They are sold at various spots across Osaka, including some temples, parks, supermarkets and food stands. Take the chance to literally ingest the Osakan autumn!
11. Satsumaimo (Sweet Potato)
Who doesn’t love sweet potato! This great food is popular for being simultaneously delicious, sustaining and healthy. There even seems to be a sweet potato diet that is popular in Japan, due to the fact that the potato has healthy carbohydrates as compared to the “unhealthy” ones in white bread, rice and plain pasta. The potatoes are sold in supermarkets from September and may be steamed, boiled or baked to perfection according to your preference. Satsumaimo is also sold ready made in supermarkets, food stands and restaurants, so if you have no kitchen, don’t worry.
12. Sanma (Pacific Saury)
Sanma (or Pacific Saury) fever grips Japan in autumn and naturally reaches the nation’s kitchen. Sanma is not just popular as a food, but in true Japanese fashion, for its looks as well. The silvery, glistening, svelte fish is often likened to a sword, and it really does seem like it could pierce right through you. Its name is also directly linked to autumn as さんま 秋刀魚 literally means “autumn sword fish.” Sanma is prepared in a multitude of equally delicious ways in Osaka.
Osaka Autumn Events
Feel like experiencing autumn in Osaka properly? Right on. Here is a list of some of the most interesting and exciting festivals going on in Osaka in autumn.
13. Sakai Festival
Sakai Festival has been held on the third Saturday and Sunday of October every year since 1974. The great thing about this festival is that you’ll really get to mix with the locals and soak up the carnival vibes. Sakai is not far from central Osaka and you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised at how seriously Japanese take their matsuri (festivals). Scores of men in traditional festival wear (you can clearly see they belong to a certain group by their color and character) carry traditional Nanbansen floats around town while food stands and other performances abound at the margins.
14. Moon Viewing Festival
This festival is held every year to pray for a good harvest. The moon viewing festivals in Osaka, depending on the shrine, may be held at the end of summer right before the official season changes to autumn, but we thought you’d definitely want to know about this one just in case. It’s particularly famous for its huge futondaikon (Japanese drum with elaborate roof and decoration) that is transported to the temple ceremoniously. The float weighs around 1-2 tons and is carried by approximately 40 people. It’s a great festival to visit in Osaka while you’re there.
15. Higan-e Autumn Ceremony
Higan-e ceremony is held in all of Japan bi-annually during the spring and autumn equinox. All temples participate, so you may want to visit multiple ones as they each hold their own little festival with food stands, ceremonies and so forth. It’s a great way to celebrate the start of autumn in Osaka as the festivals last for a week (with the middle day being the equinox) from mid to late September every year.
16. Manpaku Food Festival
If you’re down for some seriously good food, this is the one for you: the Manpaku Food Festival in Banpaku Memorial Park in the heart of Osaka. Its name already says much (if you understand it) as a combination of MANpuku (full stomach) and HAKUrankai (expo/show). This is a food festival Osaka-style with lots of local and foreign foods available besides beer, soft drinks and much more. It’s a surefire way to ensure a good time and a full stomach all at the same time
Don’t forget that there are so many autumn events going on in the city that we couldn’t possibly fit them all in one article. Check the local Osaka tourist offices or the online Osaka Info page here.
For more to do in Osaka, see our other articles: