Every country has its own quirks regarding the seasons, Japan is no exception. Here are some activities that almost every Japanese person loves to do when the leaves turn color.
1 ) Tsukimi (moon viewing)
Dating back to the Heian era (794 - 1185), the concept of moon-viewing has evolved with time and adapted to modern customs. Instead of lavish banquets people love to gaze at the moon with a small snack. Officially Tsukimi is somewhere around mid-September, but you can celebrate the full moon on your own anytime you like. Read our article about how to celebrate Tsukimi for more information.
2 ) Gathering Chestnuts
Go wherever the chestnuts may fall and, if allowed, bring a portable barbeque. The smell of roasted chestnuts on an open fire immediately means autumn. Invite some friends for a chestnut hunt and share the delicious harvest. Semboku city in Akita prefecture has the largest breed of chestnuts in all of Japan. One of its annual champion chestnuts weighed an impressive 66gr!
3 ) Harvest Rice
Now is the time for to come off the fields. Whether its done manually or by machine, rice harvesting is hard labour requiring lots of man-hours. If you live in the countryside and see someone with a rice field, just ask if you can help them. They will be very grateful and you can get one step closer to understanding Japanese rice culture. Read more about traditional rice harvesting in our article here.
4 ) Grill some Sanma
Sanma or "Pacific Saury" is a typical autumn fish. In early autumn this fish is at its most delicious and is often grilled until crisp on a small fire. At one point this fish smelled so good that it caught the emperor's attention.
5 ) Take an autumn walk
Nothing beats admiring the falling leaves than doing so up close. Japanese people are very active and love taking walks in parks or the countryside. Instead of a regular walk, why not go autumn leaf hunting? The creative Japanese loves crafts and will gather the most beautiful fallen leaves to press and conserve. If you need inspiration, here are Wattention's top 3 leaf viewing spots in Japan.
6 ) Eat some Satsuma Imo (roasted sweet potato)
It may sound like a simple sweet, but roasted sweet potato can be a godsend on a cold day. You can find potato sellers with their carts near parks, outside the city and even in your regular convenience store. Holding this steamy snack will warm up your hands and your body.
7 ) Attend a school's sports festival
Chances are you're over the age to participate in one, but those still attending school have their annual sports festival this season. Many parents go see their children compete in various events and love to film it to preserve for future generations.
Most festivals usually start around 8:30 am with a parade showing all the different participating teams divided by either neighbourhood, class, geographical area, or school. It's basically like a mini-Olympics.