- Love the autumn in Japan so here our true and tested 10 Must Do Family Activities – Japan Autumn. Plan your September – November schedule to try to include as many of these as you can. I am sure you and your kids will not be disappointed. Bring on the cooler weather!
10 Must Do Family Activities – Japan Autumn
1. September marks the beginning of the season of food – Shokuyoku no Aki 食欲の秋 (しょくよくの あき) is used by the Japanese to say Autumn Apprite due the desire to eat more of the wonderful autumn bounty. Top in season foods for Japan include:
- 秋刀魚 (さんま), sanma— mackerel pike
- 栗 (くり), kuri — chestnut
- 柿 (かき), kaki — Japanese persimmon
- 梨 (なし) nashi — pear
- さつま芋 (さつまいも), satsumaiimo — sweet potato
- きのこ, kinoko— mushrooms
- 南瓜 kabucha, かぼちゃ – pumpkin
2. Celebrate Otsukimi (Moon Viewing) – Full Moon September 21st, 2021 – A sign that autumn has arrived is the celebration of Otsukimi or moon viewing. Although not as popular as cherry blossoms and fall foliage moon viewing is a popular seasonal activity to enjoy in September and early October. The best dates for 2021 will be September 19-22 2021. Japanese homes decorate a table with moon-offerings such as Tsukimi-dango (moon viewing dumplings), Autumn vegetables and Japanese pampas grass (Susuki/芒). Most people view the moon from home but schools and neighbourhood parties called Kangetsu-kai (The moon Viewing Party).
3. Sweet Potatoe Digging – Sweet potato digging is an autumn tradition that all Japanese kindergarten and early elementary kids partake in October through December. In Japanese sweet potatoes are called “satsumaimo”. Enjoy a nice autumn day outside central Tokyo and go sweet potato digging. Below are five recommended locations to go Japanese sweet potato digging. Also don’t forget to take boots and light weight
gloves for digging. Its fun, but messy.
4. Get Spooky at a Halloween Parade – Over the last 20 years Halloween in Japan has gained in popularity. Kids are starting to trick and treat in certain neighborhoods and Halloween Parades are gaining popularity. Due to COVID the to evens below are still TBD but we are hopeful with Masks on that Halloween will endure this year in Japan. Check out our recommendations on where to shop for Halloween and also a bit about Halloween etiquette.
- Roppongi Halloween Parade (Tokyo) – Great event where over 3,000 people of all ages dress up and march. This year the theme is famous movie characters, but anything goes. The route is a short 1K through Roppongi Hills and Roppongi Keyaki-zaka. Children also will get snacks after the parade.
Date: Usually last Sat in October
Time: 1:00 a.m. – 15:00 p.m. (however if you want to march in the parade you must register between 10:30 – 13:00)
Place: Roppongi Keyaki-zaka, Roppongi Hills
Who can participate: Anyone, but please register at the Roppongi Hills Arena the day of the parade
- Harujuku Halloween Parade (Tokyo) – This is a very fun to watch, the deadline for official parade marching closed October 13th. But that does not mean you can’t take your kids and enjoy the sites. . Over 1,000 children will parade down Omestando street in costumes. There are also many stores that give aways candy on the day.
Date: Usually last Sun in October
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 17:00 p.m.
Place: Omotesando – Harujuku
Who can participate: Children under 12 years
Website: http://www.harajuku-halloween.com/guidance/ (Japanese language only)
5. Walk or Bike The City Autumn Foliage – Late October through November is great foliage viewing in Tokyo and surrounding areas. Get on your bike or tie on your walking shoes for a full-day or couple hours of foliage touring. I recommend the following eight locations for foliage viewing in autumn. You can bike the entire loop in about 4-6 hours, or pick 1-2 locations for a few hours of walking or biking. If your kids are just learning to bike, rent a bike at Yoyogi Park and enjoy the outside!
6. Climb Mt. Takao – The trip to Mt. Takao took about one hour from Shinjuku station on the Keio Line. Mt. Takao has been a location of worship for more than 1,000 years. It is a nice climb anytime of the year, but the autumn foliage makes it extra special. The main temple Yakuoin is located near the summit and is a popular place for visitors to pray for Shinto-Buddist mountain gods (tengu). There are two statues of these Tengu gods at the temple; one with a very long nose and one with a crow beak. You will see many statues and references to the Tengu all over the mountain and in the omiyage (gifts to take home). After a nice hike we recommend enjoying the onsen facility at the base of Mt. Takeo.
7. 7-5-3 Celebrations (all November, but actual day Nov 15th) – November is the month of foliage in Tokyo, but also the month that girls ages 7 & 3 and boys 5 celebrate coming of age. November 15th is the actual date of 7-5-3, but families celebrate by dressing up the children and visiting shrines across Japan throughout the month of November. You can find children celebrating at most major shrines, however Meiji Jingu is one of the most popular. Also this month there is a chrysanthemum exhibit in Meji Jingu Shrine to enjoy. Check here for places to rent kimonos and temples to attend if you would like to celebrate with your children.
10. River Rafting and Grape Picking – If you are looking for a fun one day get away to enjoy the crisp air and beautiful mountain and river scenery do visit Nagatoro River and surrounding area of Chichibu in Saitama. Nagatoro means long slow river. It takes about 2-3 hours by car and a little less via train. Also a great place to pick grapes from October to November. More details here.
10 Must Do Family Activities – Japan Autumn
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If you are looking for a great Tokyo activity for the family on January 1st – 3rd, try the Minato Seven Gods Walk visiting