4 Reasons To Visit Japan Next Autumn
We’re sooooo ready to start planning our 2021 trips….
With Japanese art and culture intimately connected to the seasons, autumn is arguably one of the most inspiring and picturesque times to visit the island country lying off the east coast of Asia. While the season’s foliage creates natural landscapes exploding with deep red and auburn hues, the culinary scene also bursts with autumnal flavours, whether it’s the abundant agricultural produce, seafood and forest foods that are freshly harvested or at their best during these specific months.
Here are a number of destinations and attractions the Japan National Tourism Organization have highlighted, which make autumn the best time to visit.
1. Shiga Prefecature’s Miho Museum
As well as its private collection of over 2,000 pieces of Asian and Western antiques, the mountain-enveloped Miho Museum boasts exquisite autumnal landscapes and impeccable architecture. The special museum was designed by globally renowned architect I.M. Pei, the architectural mastermind behind the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. The excitement starts even before arriving to the museum as visitors need to cross a mountain tunnel and a suspension bridge before entering the museum proper. What’s more, three-quarters of the museum is actually located underground inside a mountain. The setting is so spectacular that is was chosen as the venue for presenting Louis Vuitton's 2018 cruise collection. It was the first cruise show by the French luxury brand to be held in Asia. Just a short one hour and 15 minutes away from Kyoto, a visit to the stunning museum makes for a great day out to appreciate beauty in all its natural, architectural and antiquity forms.
Top Tip: Kongorinji Temple can be found a mere hour away from Miho Museum. The garden, which was established in AD 741, is officially registered as a Place of Scenic Beauty. The striking red maple leaves are in their full glory during autumn, making it the ultimate season to visit the sanctuary.
2. Osaka’s Culinary Delights
Osaka is widely regarded as an exceptional foodie destination, especially when it comes to street food. It’s not just on food lovers’ maps for street food though, the charming and relaxed large port city is home to 99 Michelin-starred restaurants. And the whopping number of restaurants are known for creating special autumnal menus to showcase the season's bounty.
One of these restaurants is Fujiya 1935, a 2 Michelin-star restaurant headed by Chef Tetsuya Fujiwara, who is the fourth generation of Fujiwaras to helm the family restaurant. The restaurant named with a reference to the year it opened is known for churning out innovative menus curated to create dining experiences that evoke tasty memories of the season, and it especially takes pride in its autumn menu. It features matsutake mushrooms, chestnuts and ayu (sweet fish), which actually has a unique taste and texture during the season, compared to other times of the year. The bread with air bubbles with truffle is also a special treat by the restaurant that’s steeped in history.
Top Tip: Dotonbori district is Osaka’s capital for street food, casual dining and entertainment. This is where visitors can enjoy street food favorites such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki and ramen at any hour. The numerous neon signs that line the river are also an iconic Osaka view, and a must-stop for photos.
3. Saga Prefecture’s Porcelain and Pottery
A lot of people travelling to Japan will undoubtedly fall in love with its magnificent porcelain and pottery offerings. And the finest of these are produced in Saga Prefecture’s Imari and the adjoining Arita. The artisanal industry was first started in the region in the early 17th century. Over the years, the pieces created here have captivated connoisseurs and were extremely influential in defining luxury design and demand, even as far away as Europe. The signature blue and white designs of Imari porcelain were so popular in Europe that many copied it on tin-glazed earthenware, giving rise to whole new industry centres, with the most note-worthy being Delft in the Netherlands.
A visit to Imari and Arita’s artisanal studios is a must for fans of exquisite porcelain and porcelain making heritage. Sightseers have the chance to see first-hand how the works of art are created, as well as pick up a bargain or two at their gift shops.
Top Tip: Mifuneyama Rakeun, originally the villa compound for the local daimyo (feudal lord), is a 30-minute car ride from Arita or Imari. The historical Japanese garden dates back to 1845 and is particularly famous for its Autumn Leaves Festival. The garden is beautifully illuminated as it gets dark during the festival, which is held from November 10 - December 6.
4. Fukui Prefecture’s Echizen Ono Castle
If luck is on your side, you’ll get to see Echizen Ono Castle, situated in Fukui Prefecture, as if it’s floating above clouds. This phenomenon usually occurs between the months of October and April, however going in November is your best bet to witness the scene. And going at sunrise or after a day of rain will boost your chances even more. The best place to view and photograph this spectacle is from nearby Inuyama mountain and getting there involves a pleasant 20-minute hike up the mountain, which is luckily kind to beginners. Nevertheless, wearing trekking shoes and appropriate sportswear is recommended, so is taking a jacket should the weather turn bad. The castle itself was built in 1968 as a faithful replica of what stood at the same site before it and is open to the public between the months of April through to the end of November each year.
Top Tip: Echizen crab is one of Japan’s most coveted delicacies, however it can only be fished from the local waters between early November and late March. The crabs, an absolute culinary must when visiting Fukui Prefecture, are best eaten either as grilled, simmered in a hot pot or enjoyed as fresh sashimi.