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Unmissable Autumn Leaf-viewing spots in Japan
- Spring is one of the most popular sightseeing seasons in Japan, with the blooming of the cherry blossoms. But autumn is another attractive season in which colorful leaves attract tourists from near and far. Generally, the green leaves transform into reddish hues from late September to early December, but it all depends on where you go in Japan. We’ve outlined a list of the best spots around the country and their peak seasons so you can start planning your autumn Japan trip. Kyoto:The most unmissable city There are many reasons why Kyoto's autumn leaves are among Japan’s most beautiful. The mountains and rivers that surround the city create wide temperature variations between the morning and night, as well as providing adequate moisture. As there aren't many tall buildings in the city, the trees also receive a significant amount of sunlight to help them grow. Together with the blessing of abundant temples and shrines, the ancient city's autumn season is particularly alluring for visitors.Read moreThe best autumn color spots in Kyoto for 2019 ・Tenryuji Temple A 15-minute walk from Arashiyama Station takes you to the Tenryuji Temple, where the dynamic landscape of Mount Arashiyama and its spacious garden will steal your breath. The temple grounds open at 7:30 am between November 10 and December 2, so early-risers should seize the opportunity if they wish to capture this tranquil garden view. Tenryuji Temple ・Enkoji Temple Originally chosen as the site of a school to nurture priests, artists and writers, the Enkoji Temple was built by Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1601. It’s renowned for its moss garden, Jyu-gyu no Niwa, which contrasts dramatically with the deep-red fallen leaves. Enkoji Temple ・Tofukuji Temple Founded in 1236 by Kujo Michiie, the great statesman of the Kamakura period, the Tofukuji Temple is one of the oldest and largest temples in Kyoto. The temple grounds are planted with around 2,000 maple trees, which are best viewed from the Tsutenkyo Bridge. Tofukuji Temple Kamakura:A beautiful combination of changing leaves and traditional temples ・Meigetsuin Temple The Meigetsuin Temple is famed for the mystical view of its garden from the circular window of the main hall. It’s particularly attractive during the fall foliage season, as well as during June when tourists flock to see its colorful collection of hydrangeas. Meigetsuin Temple ・Zuisenji Temple Slightly off the beaten track, the Zuisenji Temple is nestled in a valley near Kamakura. Owing to its mountainous setting, visitors can see the autumn leaves from early to late December. The temple grounds are planted with various trees and shrubs, such as plum, winter cherry, and wisteria, which entertain visitors throughout the year. Zuisenji Temple ・Hase Temple Nighttime illumination events aren’t as common in Kyoto as in Kamakura, but at the Hase Temple, you can enjoy the radiant maple trees illuminated after dark. If you’re visiting during the day, the spacious temple grounds feature an observatory offering panoramic views of Yuigahama Beach, as well as a 9.18-meter-tall wooden Kannon statue and a Kannon Museum. Hase Temple Hiroshima:Maple is the signature tree ・Sandankyo Gorge Sandankyo Gorge is around 16-kilometers long and boasts a number of breathtaking attractions, such as waterfalls, boulders, and deep pools, which can be explored on boat tours and along the hiking trails. The gorge is one of the most popular maple leaf spots in Hiroshima, and visitors can refresh themselves in this abundant natural setting. Sandankyo Gorge ©NAVITIME JAPAN. 旅行ガイド 楽しい旅をサポートする、便利なお役立ち情報をお届けします。
- 23. October. 2019
Top 10 of the Best Matsuri in Japan
- Fireworks, food, dancing, music and the quirky attraction here and there, there’s nothing quite like Japan’s matsuri festivals. Throughout the year different cities across the nation hold their own unique celebrations of good luck, gratitude, traditional culture and community. If you’re just visiting Japan for a short time, heading along to a matsuri is one of the best ways to experience authentic Japanese culture, here are some suggestions. Chichibu Yomatsuri Chichibu Yomatsuri Chichibu in western Saitama Prefecture, roughly two hours from central Tokyo is a town that’s humble in size but really loves to party. Many festivals take place here throughout the year, but the most famous is the Chichibu Yomatsuri (night festival). Held on annually between December 2nd and 3rd, celebrations, see massive illuminated floats make their way down the main street, and up an elevated slope overlooking the city hall. The event finishes with huge fireworks for more than two hours display on the last night. Shujo Onie Shujo Onie For those not afraid to detour off the well-trodden path, the unique Shujo Onie in Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita is well worth the effort. Held every February at Tennen-ji Shrine, it’s said this celebration has a history that goes back over 1,000 years. A way to pray for a good harvest in the new year, the event’s rituals feature freezing river swimming and a giant bonfire. The final part of the celebration is the most thrilling; two demons make their way around the city's main shrine, banging fire and spreading the burning ashes. A little more dangerous than most other festivals, if you survive, you’re bound to have a good year. Kawagoe Matsuri Kawagoe Matsuri Kawagoe, also known as 'Koedo' (little Edo, Tokyo’s former name), is only a 30-minute train ride from Ikebukuro in Tokyo, but it feels centuries away from the neon lights and towering skyscrapers of the city. It’s known for being the home of many traditional Japanese sweets and historical warehouses, but it’s also home to one of the country’s best autumn celebrations. Held every year on the third Saturday and Sunday of October, the Kawagoe Matsuri dates back to the mid-1600s. Today, it’s an extravagant affair with traffic-stopping floats, live drumming shows and endless rows of food stalls. Narita Gionsai Narita Gionsai An area known mainly just for its airport, Narita City also hosts one of the nation’s most impressive celebrations, the Narita-san Gion Matsuri. Held in annually on the three days nearest to the 7th, 8th, and the 9th of July, heading into the weekend, the event signals the beginning of summer and features endless dancing, mikoshi floats and plenty of incredible street food. The 300-year old event draws an estimated 450,000 visitors and is an excellent way to really appreciate another side of the often overlooked Narita City. Fukushima Waraji Matsuri Fukushima Waraji Matsuri One of the more interesting celebrations held in Japan is the Fukushima Waraji Matsuri also known as Straw Sandal Festival. Waraji is the Japanese name for the traditional straw sandals that were once an everyday outfit staple. Held over the first Friday and Saturday of every August in Fukushima City, since 1970, the celebration is split in two. The first half is a traditional style festival where a giant sandal is carried through the main street. The second half of the night is dedicated to the Dancing Soda Night show, where dozens of dressed up teams perform different modern style dances to the same song, think hip-hop, belly dancing, breakdancing and everything in between. Aomori Nebuta Festival Aomori Nebuta Festival Taking over the Aomori city from August 2nd to 7th is the most colorful of all festivals, the Aomori Nebuta Festival a massive parade that attracts roughly three million visitors every year. The centerpieces of this 300-year old summer celebration are the towering paper floats that make their way through the town.Looking like gigantic paintings come to life the floats are handmade by local artisans and volunteers, some of whom dedicate months to creating these behemoth paper sculptures known as Nebuta. It looks incredible in photos, but seeing these pieces in the flesh is an entirely different experience altogether. Gujo Odori Gujo Odori An odori matsuri is a common traditional bon dance festival held throughout the country, but one of the best is the Gujo Odori held in Gujo, Gifu. During the rest of the year Gujo is a sleepy town, but between August 13th to 16th it transforms into a dance extravaganza, featuring teams in colorful costumes who dance throughout the day and night in celebration of summer, social cohesion, and to pay respect to those who have passed. Mid-August is the main event, but technically the party lasts thirty-three nights, running from the middle of July to early September, so there’s no excuse not to go and see it. Asakusa Sanja Matsuri Asakusa Sanja Matsuri Sensoji, Tokyo’s most famous temple is home to an inner-city festival quite unlike any other. Known as one of the ‘3 great Shinto festivals in Tokyo’ alongside the Kanda and Sanno festivals, it takes place during the third weekend of May. The celebrations feature around one hundred mikoshi (portable shrines) and attract roughly one and a half million visitors between Friday to Sunday. The festival climax is on the last night when the temple’s own mikoshi is taken around the neighborhood before being welcomed back home, guided by a wave of glowing orange lanterns and live dancing, music, and singing. Akita Kanto Matsuri Akita Kanto Matsuri Held over four days in early August every year, the Akita Kanto Matsuri is without a doubt one of the most spectacular summer events in northern Japan. Part of the nation's Tanabata celebrations, the festival’s main drawcards are the giant bamboo poles that are decorated with dozens of candle-lit paper lanterns and balanced precariously on the bodies of masterful local performers. While the gravity-defying acts of the performers are the main show, there’s plenty to be seen around the festival grounds too, with countless food stalls selling delicious local festival snacks. Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri Known as the crown jewel of Nagahama City, the Hikiyama Matsuri is an annual mid-April celebration of spring, theatre, and traditional Japanese culture. During the festival, meticulously decorated floats known as hikiyama, become portable moving theaters, adorned with lanterns, animal sculptures, and tapestries unique to each group performing on the stage. The feature of the celebration is the child-actors who take part kabuki plays traditionally reserved for adults. These prodigies dedicate months of their young lives to practicing and perfecting their shows before performing to the adoring crowds. ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
- 2. August. 2019
How to celebrate Japan’s local festivals
- Matsuri is the catch-all term for the year-round local festivals that can take place in any corner of the city. The term matsuri can refer to secular events but is most often attached to the festivals centered around local shrines and temples. Matsuri combine ancient traditions and streetside festivities. Summer is the best season to experience the matsuri. Many of the city’s larger festivals take place in May and June, including Asakusa Shrine’s Sanja Matsuri, Hie Shrine's Sanno Matsuri, and Kanda Myojin's Kanda Matsuri, but there are festivals large and small all year round. For shrine festivals, the most popular type, the lanes around the shrine are full of street food vendors, carnival games and local residents in traditional garb. The highlight of the shrine festival is the procession of the mikoshi, the portable shrine. Catch the mikoshi Catch the mikoshi The mikoshi is a chariot of sorts, carrying the kami spirits on a tour of the neighborhood before they are returned to the matsuri’s organizing shrine. The mikoshi, often ornate and ancient, comes down the block borne on the shoulders of local residents with cries of “Wasshoi, wasshoi! (Heave-ho!)” as they shake the shrine to the the accompaniment of drums. At some matsuri, the mikoshi will be carried to the riverside or the beach where water will be splashed and scooped in a ceremony known as hama-ori. Stroll the yatai Stroll the yatai Stroll the yatai Nothing goes better than street drinking a can of Asahi or a plastic cup of chu-hi than a sloppy paper plate of yakisoba, okonomiyaki, or takoyaki from a matsuri yatai. For those with a sweet tooth, there are just as many options: chocolate-covered bananas, taiyaki, and all manners of sweet treats on sticks. Just like the carnival midway, there are new innovations in calorie-packed treats every year. None of the usual matsuri offerings will fit anybody’s diet plan, but a festival is a good excuse to cut loose. The kids have just as much fun, racing between carnival games (ring toss and shooting galleries, for example) and the goldfish scooping station, brandishing a toy gun in one hand and a waffle-on-a-stick in the other. Blend in Blend in The matsuri is a great excuse to get dressed up in traditional clothing. For many young people, it’s one of the few times of the year when they put on a kimono or yukata. Tokyo has many places that rent traditional outfits, and wandering around the festive streets adds something special to the experience. Another reminder: taking pictures of revelers in traditional garb can be tempting but remember to be respectful and ask for permission. Take part in Bon Odori Take part in Bon Odori Obon, a Japanese Buddhist tradition held in late summer (the date varies according to region, but it is held around around the 15th of July in Tokyo). The customary rites of Obon are somber and meant to honor ancestral spirits, but also include a street festival that includes the Bon Odori (Bon dance). Locals come out dressed in traditional garb and dance to regional folk songs (again, this differs greatly by region). One of the most famous Bon Odori celebrations on the summer matsuri calendar in Tokyo is the huge carnival that occupies the streets around Ebisu Station and welcomes folk dancers and musicians onto the yagura stage. Soak up the sacred Soak up the sacred The religious aspect of matsuri is often forgotten while enjoying the yakisoba and street drinking, but most matsuri go back to shrine festivals connected to prayers for a good harvest or planting. As the day goes on and the mikoshi’s procession has finished, ceremonies take place at the organizing shrine or temple. The best bet is to go with the flow: watch the local crowd and take your cues from them. ©NAVITIME JAPAN. Travel Info Check out our travel tips to make your trip better!
- 18. June. 2018
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Oita Main Areas
A trip to Oita is tantamount to a long soak in the Beppu baths. The mountainous, coastal prefecture of Oita is renowned for having more onsen than any other prefecture in Japan, most of which lie in the city of Beppu on the west coast of Kyushu, recognizable by its pungent sulphuric aroma and the clouds of steam that puff up across the hillside. Away from the Beppu hot springs await mountains, waterfalls, and temples, so don't hesitate to explore Oita a little further.
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