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Why autumn is the perfect season to experience Japan's beauty

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Why autumn is the perfect season to experience Japan's beauty
To many, Japan conjures images of cherry blossoms in spring or snow-topped mountains in winter. However, for those in the know, it's the autumnal months that truly showcase the Land of the Rising Sun in all its grandeur.
Warm hues envelop the landscapes, festivals are aplenty, and the climate strikes a harmonious balance. Below, we dig into why autumn is Japan's best-kept secret and the ultimate time for a visit.

Bold, breath-taking koyo (autumn leaves)

The poetic allure of koyo – the spectacular transformation of Japan's foliage in the fall – is an experience that deeply resonates with both locals and tourists. From late September to early December, this dazzling display of nature paints the country in shades of crimson, amber, and golden yellow. Fall foliage viewing around the county is the perfect excuse to tour Japan by train.
Kyoto, with its ancient temples set against a backdrop of flaming maples, becomes a haven for photographers. The Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, surrounded by lush woods, offers a serene ambiance as ginkgo trees turn brilliant yellow.
Places like the Japanese Alps and Hokkaido also provide expansive landscapes where entire mountainsides glow with autumnal splendor. While cherry blossoms get worldwide acclaim, many argue that the quiet, lingering beauty of koyo offers a deeper, more contemplative appreciation of Japan's natural beauty.

The pleasures of comfort food

When the cool autumn breezes start to blow, Japanese kitchens come alive with the aroma of comfort foods that warm the soul. Seasonal ingredients take centre stage, introducing unique flavors to the palate. The crispy and fatty texture of freshly grilled seasonal fish sanma. Persimmons, with their bright orange hue, often enjoyed raw or dried. But the true highlight for many is the aromatic matsutake mushroom, which is both a taste sensation and a symbol of autumn. The cozy communal experience of sharing a nabe hot pot, where seasonal vegetables are cooked alongside meat in a flavorful broth, epitomizes the heartwarming essence of autumn.

Festivals and cultural Immersion

Autumn is a season of celebration in Japan, marked by numerous festivals that honor age-old traditions and the bounties of nature. The ethereal beauty of Tsukimi, the Moon Viewing Festival (mid-late September), sees families come together to admire the luminous harvest moon. Decorations made from susuki (pampas grass) are hung up, and a common tradition is the crafting of delicate rice dumplings called Tsukimi dango.
The Takayama Autumn Festival in Gifu Prefecture (mid October) is another spectacle not to be missed. Drawing visitors from across the globe, this vibrant harvest festival showcases elaborately designed floats and intricate puppet shows, all set against the backdrop of charming old-town streets. Hundreds of locals don traditional costumes to participate, and the event culminates in a lively nighttime celebration.

A cornucopia of traditional activities

Autumn sets the stage for a myriad of traditional activities that allow visitors to immerse themselves in Japan's rich cultural heritage. As the last of the fall foliage falls, traditional tea houses host serene tea ceremonies. Here, every movement is deliberate and every sip of matcha tea is a celebration of the season.
For art aficionados, traditional crafts like kintsugi (the art of repairing broken pottery with gold) and ikebana (flower arranging) workshops become especially popular during the season. Engaging in these activities, framed by the hues of autumn, offers a profound connection to the rhythms and rituals that define Japanese culture.

The perfect climate

Autumn's climate in Japan is a traveller's dream - devoid of the erratic spring showers and the stifling summer heat. The temperatures are mild, making it ideal for exploring cities on foot or hiking up the scenic trails. It's comfortable, clear, and crisply invigorating.

Off-peak travel advantages

Autumn, often overlooked by the masses flocking to Japan during spring or snow-clad winter months, presents a unique set of advantages for the discerning traveller. For one, the dip in tourist numbers means many of the country's iconic spots can be enjoyed without the usual throngs of people. Imagine taking leisurely strolls through the gardens of Kanazawa or capturing uninterrupted shots of Osaka Castle surrounded by a blaze of fall colors.
With fewer tourists, accommodation becomes both easier to find and more affordable. Whether you're eyeing a boutique hotel in Tokyo or a traditional ryokan in the countryside, the chances of snagging a good deal rise significantly. Additionally, public transport, especially the Shinkansen (bullet train), has more availability, providing a more comfortable and pleasant journey.
In essence, visiting Japan during the off-peak autumn season not only optimizes your travel budget but also ensures a more immersive and authentic Japanese experience.
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