There’s something magical about Japan in September. In fact, it’s one of the best times of year to visit! As the seasons change, there’s a burst of cultural festivities, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes. The month of September is a popular time, but with the summer holidays behind us, you’ll find fewer crowds (from locals, at least).
Late September marks the transition from summer to autumn, offering travelers a pleasant climate and a mix of cultural and natural delights. The weather conditions are generally milder and comfortable, with the hot days gradually subsiding and giving way to cooler temperatures. Get outdoors and enjoy the beginning of the fall foliage season and enjoy all of the traditional and modern wonders Japan has to offer!
Weather and Climate in Japan in September
The summers in Japan are brutal. There’s no denying it. September in Japan marks the wonderful transition from summer to autumn, bringing milder, more pleasant weather. As the crazy summer heat gradually subsides, cooler temperatures make it easier to get out and have fun!
It will still be pretty warm in early September, but it shouldn’t be too hot for outdoor activities (check the forecast, though!). Average temperatures typically range from 20°C to 28°C (68°F to 82°F) during the day, while evenings start to cool down.
As the month progresses, the weather becomes increasingly temperate. Central and northern regions experience more noticeable drops in temperature compared to southern areas. Coastal locations maintain slightly higher temperatures due to the moderating influence of the sea.
Rainfall decreases from the peak of the rainy season in June and July, but some regions might experience occasional showers, especially at the beginning of the month. Humidity lessens as the month unfolds, making things a lot more comfortable.
September is an excellent period to explore Japan’s natural beauty. It offers a glimpse of early autumn foliage, particularly in northern areas such as Hokkaido (I’ll be visiting this month!), where leaves begin to change color towards the end of the month.
Overall, September provides an inviting climate for various activities, whether you’re strolling through parks, visiting cultural sites, or enjoying the coastline. It’s a transitional month that showcases Japan’s charm and sets the stage for the picturesque autumn season ahead.
Festivals and Cultural Delights
Japan loves to celebrate and September is filled with summer festivals and dynamic dance performances. Get out and enjoy the joyful spirit of local celebrations, indulge in delectable street food, and move to the rhythm of traditional dances.
Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri
Immerse yourself in the heart of Osaka’s cultural fervor at the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri. Witness the exhilarating 300-year-old spectacle of ornate wooden floats being paraded through the streets, accompanied by captivating dance performances.
Silver Week and National Holidays
Coined to contrast “Golden Week” which takes place in late April and early May, Silver Week refers to a period of consecutive public holidays in Japan in September. It typically includes the weekend and a couple of additional national holidays, leading to an extended break for locals.
Silver Week occurs when two public holidays, Respect for the Aged Day (which falls on the third Monday of September) and the Autumnal Equinox Day (around September 23rd), are close to each other. When these holidays are combined with a weekend, it results in a multi-day break that allows people to travel, spend time with family, or engage in leisure activities.
During Silver Week, there’s often an increase in domestic travel within Japan, as people take advantage of the extended holiday to explore various regions, visit popular tourist destinations, or simply relax. It’s considered a peak travel period, so accommodations and transportation can be busier than usual.
Head to the west side of Ikebukuro Station for the Fukuro Matsuri in late September. It all began in 1968 when four shop associations banded together to create the event. While I’m hoping to go this year, I’ve never attended this event but here’s what the official Go Tokyo website says:
“The mikoshi (portable shrine) parade is an impressive sight with 14 large mikoshi and thousands of bearers who celebrate around the station’s west exit. Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Park will host folk song shows and dance performances. The area will be full of stalls run by local restaurants. Come and enjoy some great food while taking part in the celebration.” Sounds like a fun time!
Also known as the Moon Viewing Festival (“tsukimi” means moon in Japanese!), the Tsukimi Festival is a traditional Japanese celebration that centers around the appreciation of the full moon. This festival typically takes place in the autumn, most commonly in late September or early October, during the full moon closest to the traditional harvest season.
During the Tsukimi Festival, people gather outdoors in gardens, parks, or open spaces to view and admire the full moon. The full moon is often associated with beauty and serenity in Japanese culture, and the festival provides an opportunity for people to reflect on the changing seasons and enjoy the beauty of the natural world.
One of the key aspects of the Tsukimi Festival is the display of seasonal offerings, including rice dumplings known as “tsukimi dango.” These dumplings are round and white, resembling the full moon, and they are often arranged in patterns or placed on small altars as offerings to the moon. Other seasonal foods, such as chestnuts and taro, might also be enjoyed during the festival.
Traditionally, people decorate their homes and surroundings with pampas grass and other autumnal plants to create a festive atmosphere. The festival’s origins are rooted in Japanese folklore and agricultural practices, where the moon’s influence on the tides and the changing seasons played a significant role.
While it’s not a national holiday, the Tsukimi Festival is a cherished cultural event that showcases Japan’s connection to nature and its appreciation for the changing of the seasons. It’s a time for quiet reflection, family gatherings, and savoring the simple pleasures of life.
Events and Experiences
In addition to the natural landscapes and amazing festivals, there are many incredible events in Japan in September that offer a glimpse into the nation’s vibrant contemporary scene. Whether you’re into roller coasters, race cars, or video games, there’s something to see and do in Japan. Here are a few ideas!
If you’ve been wanting to get to Universal Studios Japan, Tokyo Disneyland, Fuji-Q Highland or any of the other great amusement parks in Japan, September is a good time. The weather is generally pleasant, and the crowds are often smaller compared to peak summer months.
Tokyo Game Show
Gaming enthusiasts from around the world gather in Tokyo for the Tokyo Game Show, one of the largest video game exhibitions. Explore the latest innovations in the gaming industry, try out new games, and engage with fellow gamers.
September hosts various jazz festivals across the country, offering a platform for both local and international musicians to showcase their talent. Enjoy live performances in diverse settings.
Japanese Grand Prix
Formula 1 racing enthusiasts (like us!) can witness the excitement of the Japanese Grand Prix. Held at the Suzuka Circuit, this event attracts racing fans from around the world.
Nature and Outdoor Activities
September is a wonderful time to enjoy outdoor activities in Japan as the weather begins to transition from summer to autumn. The milder temperatures and comfortable conditions make it an ideal month for exploring nature and engaging in various outdoor pursuits.
Higanbana Flower Viewing
Enjoy the beauty of the Higanbana, or red spider lily, which blooms in various locations across Japan during September. These vibrant flowers add a splash of color to the landscape.
Cycling and Biking
Rent a bike and explore charming countryside routes, coastal paths, or urban areas. Enjoy the scenic beauty of places like the Seto Inland Sea, Shimanami Kaido, or the picturesque landscapes of Kyoto.
Hiking and Nature Walks
September is perfect for hiking and nature walks as the weather is cooler and more pleasant. Explore scenic trails in areas like the Japanese Alps, Mount Fuji, Nikko, or Daisetsuzan National Park in Hokkaido. Witness the first signs of autumn foliage on your hikes.
Venture into the northernmost island of Hokkaido. Take in the bustling cities, embrace the serenity of natural landscapes, and relish in the charm of local traditions.
Coastal regions still offer warm temperatures in September, making it a great time for beach activities. Relax on sandy shores, swim, try water sports like surfing or paddleboarding, or simply enjoy a leisurely beach day.
The clear September skies are conducive to stargazing. Head to rural areas or observatories for unobstructed views of celestial wonders. Consider visiting coastal cities, the Achi Star Village in Nagano or the Nago Pineapple Park in Okinawa for unique stargazing experiences.
Visit Gardens and Botanical Parks
We love forest bathing! Explore the beauty of Japanese gardens and botanical parks as they showcase seasonal blooms. Admire serene landscapes and vibrant colors at places like Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa or the Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi.
River Cruises and Kayaking
Enjoy the tranquil charm of rivers and waterways through leisurely boat cruises or kayaking adventures. Cruise along the Hozu River in Kyoto or explore the Okinawa coastline by kayak.
Visit Temples and Shrines
Take advantage of the pleasant weather to explore temples and shrines nestled amidst natural beauty. Visit iconic sites like Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto or Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.
Farms and Fruit Picking
September is a time for fruit picking, including grapes, apples, and pears. Visit orchards in rural areas for a fun and delicious experience.
Soak in Hot Springs
Unwind in natural hot springs (onsen) that offer relaxation and rejuvenation. Enjoy the serene surroundings and soothing waters as you take in the beautiful September landscapes.
September in Japan offers a delectable array of seasonal foods that capture the essence of late summer and the transition into autumn. Make sure you try all the goodies!
- Sanma (Pacific Saury): This flavorful fish is known for its rich taste.
- Matsutake Mushrooms: Renowned for their aroma and unique flavor, matsutake mushrooms are popular this time of year.
- Grapes: You’ll see an abundance of juicy and sweet grapes at markets and grocery stores. Be sure to try varieties like Kyoho grapes!
- Fig: Figs are in season during September, offering a luscious and sweet treat. They are enjoyed fresh or incorporated into desserts and pastries.
- Somen Noodles: As the weather remains warm, somen noodles become a popular choice. These thin wheat noodles are typically served cold with a dipping sauce, providing a refreshing and light meal.
- Fuyu Persimmons: These offer a mildly sweet flavor.
- Shiitake Mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms are in season and widely used in Japanese dishes for their umami-rich taste and versatility.
- Japanese Pears (Nashi): Nashi pears come into season, offering a crisp and juicy fruit that’s often enjoyed as a snack or dessert.
- Nagaimo (Japanese Mountain Yam): This starchy yam is often grated and used as a condiment or ingredient in various dishes. It adds a unique texture to both savory and sweet preparations.
- Tsukimi Dango: In preparation for the harvest moon in September, tsukimi dango (moon-viewing dumplings) are enjoyed. These sticky rice dumplings are a symbol of the autumn season.
- Chestnuts: The arrival of autumn brings chestnuts, which are used in both sweet and savory dishes, such as chestnut rice and chestnut mont blanc desserts.
Indulge in the flavors of September by savoring these seasonal ingredients and dishes that capture the essence of the changing seasons in Japan.
Enjoy Japan in September
With its rich culture, culinary marvels, and captivating celebrations, Japan in September offers so many opportunities to create unforgettable memories. Whether you’re drawn to vibrant festivals, breathtaking nature, or immersive cultural encounters, this is a great time of year in this wonderful country.
Whether you’re here to stay or just for a visit, get outdoors and see Japan. After the hot days of summer, there’s a chill vibe (we’re all worn out from the heat!) and things feel so relaxed and fun. One of my favorite things about Japan is the unique mix of tradition and modernity — one minute you’re surrounded by neon lights and the next you’re standing in front of a shrine. You never know what you’ll see next. Happy traveling!