Saturday, September 23, 2017

Japan Autumn Forecast 2017 and How to Enjoy It?

       The leaves in Japan are starting to turn yellow… It’s officially Momijigari season! Read on to find out what to see, eat, where and how to enjoy the falls in Japan to the maximum!

WHAT is Momijigari?

       Momijigari is understood as “Autumn leaves viewing”, a popular leisure activity in Japan since the Edo period. “Momiji” means red maple leaves, but actually the leave changes on other trees such as gingko are beautiful as well… provided that you visit at the right time.

So WHEN will be the right time in 2017? 

       Look at the table to find out! However, it is good to know that the estimated viewing period depends largely on the climate of each region.

       Typically, the best time to enjoy autumn colors this year is from mid-November to Late November. In regions more to the south, beautiful red leaves usually last until December. Early December 2017 sees the peak of Autumn in all of Japan except Tohoku and Hokkaido… but if your arrival date is later than that, don’t be despair… Some leaves with high determination will hold on to the branches until mid-December (still, they will be all gone by late December). Just pray for a milder winter this year and you might get to see some. Wish you best of luck!

WHAT To Wear?

The temperature will be (roughly): 
In October: 19 to 23 degrees during the day with up to 6 degrees drop in the morning and at night. In November: 14 to 18 degrees during the day with up to 7 degrees drop in the morning and at night.

       It’s good to prepare a raincoat or umbrella as it might rain more during September to October. Other than that, I feel that (if you are not particularly afraid of cold) wearing a good quality sweater  (with or without a jacket) should be sufficient. If you are going for Momijigari, prepare a thicker autumn coat in additional as it might be colder in higher altitudes.  

       In my first “noob” trip to Japan in mid-December, I wore a thick winter coat since the promoter at a local winter shop in Malaysia claimed that I needed it. They also recommend me to buy a few packets of winter warmers (heat packs) and long-johns… Of course, I bought all of those because I was still inexperienced and promoters will be promoters. Ended up, I was drenched in sweat in Osaka (the first day there) and I rushed into the toilet in a restaurant to take out the heater package under my clothes. They were “killing” me. Literally.

       One thing you should always remember, is to bring a pair of good shoes. Since you are going to walk a lot in gardens or mountains, bring at least a pair of sport shoes.

       Other than that, you should definitely try the Japanese Traditional clothes on. Although Yukatas are more affordable, mid Autumn might be too cold for it. I recommend renting a Kimono or Hakama from the local shops.  

WHERE: One destination you should not miss in Autumn (in popular cities) 

       If you are flying into Tokyo, one of the most famous spots in Autumn is Meiji Jingu Gaien, a 300 meter long with ginkgo trees line-up along it. It is best that you schedule your visit from November 17th to December 3rd because the Meiji Jingu Gingko Festival will be held during that time. Another highly celebrated Garden in Tokyo is Rikugien. This garden features maples, ginkgo and more and there will be beautiful illuminations during the nights.

       If you are flying into Sapporo, Hokkaido, the Jozankei Ravine is the best place to go. An hour-long bus will bring you to your destination from Sapporo.

       Most people would choose to touch down at Osaka Kansai Airport since it is one of the cheapest flight destination on the list of budget airline AirAsia.

       Visitors to Osaka should definitely hike to the Minoo waterfalls. If you have more time, definitely hop onto a train to Kyoto, where the Kiyomizu Temple is located. For those who long for a different experience, the surrounding red trees will be listed up at night from 12th November to 4th December.

WHAT to eat in Autumn? 

Try not to miss these seasonal treats if you are visiting Japan in the peak of autumn.
1. Maple leaves Tempura — Minoo, Osaka.
2. Momiji Manju - Miyajima Island, Hiroshima
3. Chestnuts
4. Pacific Saury
5. Matsutake Mushroom
6. Eggplants
7. Sweet potatoes

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