Autumn is a great season to go out and do stuff. The weather is neither cold nor hot and there are many delicious foods to enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you live in Japan or if you are just visiting, local festivals are always a good thing to check out. Not only can you experience Japanese culture at these festivals, but it is also a good way to get to know people.
There are many festivals all year long in Japan, and autumn is no exception. If you are wondering what to do in Japan in the autumn months, you are looking in the right place. We prepared a list of autumn festivals with a wide range of themes. No matter what kinds of festivals you want to attend, we are here to help you find the right events.
One of the best ways to explore Tokyo is to visit the local areas and immerse yourself in the local culture. If you want to explore local areas, we have created scavenger hunt adventures personalised to your interests, filled with fun facts, clues and puzzles. If you’re curious, you can check out the games here!
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Autumn Festivals in Japan
Sapporo Autumn Festival
Because autumn is the harvest season, it is important to celebrate food. First being held in 2008, Sapporo Food Fest is the biggest food festival in Hokkaido and even in Japan. As a matter of fact, the city of Sapporo holds four big festivals annually, and the Food Fest is the last big one of the year. The festival is held in Odori park and is divided into different blocks. You can find varying foods in each block. For example, the east 1 block is the Oktoberfest venue. Sapporo is Munich’s sister city, so here you can find original crafted beers and native German cuisines such as Wurst (sausage). Personally, I love the 5 chome venue for its ramen collection. If you are a wine person, the 6 venue is for you. Block 10 is for meat lovers, and 11 for international cuisines. In short, there is a block for everyone!
Hachiman Matsuri (八幡祭)
Hachiman Matsuri, also known as the Autumn Takayama Matsuri, is a festival that celebrates harvest. It is held annually on October 9 and 10th. The festival features many events, which is a great taste of Japanese culture. You can watch a festival parade of thousands of people dressing up in traditional costumes. The parade lasts for two days, starting and ending in the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine. During the parade, you will also see shishimai performances (lion dance). Another big attraction of the festival is the festival floats. 11 matsuri-yatai floats will be displayed in different locations. Moreover, there will be a marionette performance, making it a good experience for both kids and adults. On the night of the 9th, Yoimatsuri takes place. You will see hundreds of lanterns lit on each float, which creates a different visual experience for its tourists.
Danjiri Matsuri are cart-pulling festivals in Japan and are held throughout the country. How the festival is celebrated varies from place to place. Among them, The Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri (岸和田だんじり祭) in Osaka is the most famous one, making it one of the main attractions of Osaka. The event is very traditional and can be traced back to the year of 1703. The highlight of it is when hundreds of men (up to a thousand) pull a danjiri float at their full speed. The float is enormous and extremely heavy, weighing more than four tons. Like Hachiman Matsuri, floats will be decorated with lanterns at night so that you can enjoy a peaceful time after watching the vibrant dayview.
The Kagurazaka Bakeneko Festival
Halloween is just around the corner! People around the world love mysteries, and Japanese people are no exception. In Japan, people believe that cats are one of the most mysterious animals. Thus, the Kagurazaka Bakeneko Festival is dedicated to cats—yes, you will have to dress like a cat!
The name of the festival sounds quite long, but let us break it down for you: Kagurazaka (神楽坂) is a historical yet fashionable neighbourhood in Tokyo. As for bakeneko, the literal meaning of the word (化け猫) is changed cat. It is a Japanese kaibyō, a supernatural cat. There are various folk tales and legends about bakeneko, and it has been featured in many literature and writings, as well as in popular cultures, such as animation and films.
Since 2010, the festival has been held annually in Kagurazaka. No need to worry if you don’t know how to look like a cat, because there will be professional make-up artists to help you.
The festival starts with a parade, and there is an hour-long lesson for Anya Odori dance (cat dance). The festival also features many cat-themed products that you can find around corners.
What other festivals did you attend? Which ones are you planning on attending? Write to us and join us to celebrate the beautiful season in Japan.
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