September in Japan

September in Japan is still quite hot, but the humidity starts to abate. By the third week in September the days feel more bearable and the cooler nights are most welcome. Just as the Autumnal equinox approaches, we are able to enjoy the great outdoors more comfortably. The Autumnal Equinox is a public holiday in Japan; one of two holidays that fall around the third week of September which is known as Silver Week in Japan. You will be able to enjoy special events held during Silver Week, but here are another ten ideas to make the most out of an early Autumn visit to Japan;

1. Stock up on the Halloween supplies

Halloween goods at Daiso September 1st
Halloween goods at Daiso September 1st

Even if you are not going to be in Japan for Halloween, September is your chance to stock up on Japanese Halloween decorations and Halloween edition snacks. They make great souvenirs too. Hold onto them to throw a Japanese Halloween back in your home country! From the 1st of September, it's like a switch gets flipped somewhere and all the shops go into Halloween mode. Furthermore, you can enjoy Halloween decorations in shopping centers and at large tourist attractions. Some even have early Halloween events too.

2. Attend some seasonal events

One of things I love about September in Japan are the events. For me, August is too hot to comfortably enjoy the summer fireworks and festivals. But thankfully some "summer" festivals are actually celebrated in September, when at the very least, the night time temperatures are cooler. Furthermore, there are plenty of traditional festivals around the country in the month of September. Moreover, many of the autumn, even Winter, events begin. For example, the Halloween special events at Disney and Universal Studios Japan begin. You will even find some places start their night illumination at the end of September.

3. Enjoy some water play before the season closes

It surprises a lot of people to hear that in Japan there is a season for visiting the seaside. Out of season people rarely swim or hang out at the beach. Several of the beaches "close" at the end of August, but you can always find ones that are "open" until mid September. The weather is definitely still conducive to swimming. Likewise, the pools, aqua parks and splash pads follow the same pattern. All are closed, however, if there is a typhoon approaching. And that is one thing to be careful of in September - it is typhoon season still.

4. Fish your own barbecue!

While many of the water areas close up from mid September, fishing remains an option throughout the year. Although, some of the fishing parks close in Winter and some actually close in summer. By and large though, September is a good month to fish in Japan. Moreover, there are many restaurants where you can fish your own lunch or dinner. But in September, it's still warm enough to enjoy a barbecue outdoors. If you are not confident in doing it independently, you can find fishing parks that offer the service. Once you catch your fish they will gut it and either grill it for you or set you up to barbecue it yourself.

5. Pick some fruit and / or vegetables

Another hands on experience not to miss in September is fruit and vegetable picking or digging. In September, grapes and pears are ripe for the picking and it is a great month to dig for sweet potatoes. Vineyards for grape picking are a dime a dozen in Japan. Pear picking locations can be a little trickier to find, but they do exist. And there are sweet potato farms in most of Japan's prefectures that afford you the chance to dig.

6. Admire the scarecrows or make some of your own

September is scarecrow season in Japan. Many prefectures have several places where you can actually see dozens of scarecrows together as neighborhoods often have a scarecrow competition. I love seeing the creativeness of local farmers each year in September. If you are particularly into scarecrows and won't be visiting Japan in September, you'll be pleased to know that there are actually some villages and towns in Japan that have scarecrows all year round.

7. Explore the Japanese countryside

With the cooler temperatures and the decrease in bugs, September is a great month to get into nature. It is the perfect month to get out of the big cities and explore the countryside. If you are not that much into hiking there are always alternatives. For example, you can get a ropeway or cable car to the top of several mountains. In recent years, it has become increasingly easier to rent a bike to to see more of rural areas.

8. Snap some Autumnal colors

Buckwheat flowers
Buckwheat flowers

If for nothing else, get out of the big cities to see the stunning flowers that bloom around Japan in September. Here are some of the flowers, you can see large displays of, in September in Japan:

9. Camp

August is way too hot for the average person to camp, even by a river on top of a mountain. But by the second half of September, conditions become more suited to camping again. It might still be quite hot by the day, so at this time of year riverside camping or campsites at a high altitude are recommended. Due to the popularity of camping in September it is advised to book a campsite well in advance. There are plenty of campsites in Japan that offer full rental services - from the tent to cooking utensils and everything you would need for a one or two night camping experience. There are also some really great glamping sites dotted around Japan.

10. Taste some Autumn treats

Back at home, we have seasonal fruits and vegetables, but apart from a special Christmas or Easter dinner and a few Halloween dishes, we don't really have seasonal dishes. Here in Japan there are so many seasonal foods and September is no exception. For example are the seasonal dishes to celebrate "Tsukimi". The date of Tsukimi changes each year, but if often falls in September. This year, 2021, it will be from September 21st to 24th. People eat special dishes during the period to mark the occasion. Those foods include Tsukimi Dango, chestnuts and mochi in the shape of rabbits as in Japan it is a rabbit, not a man, on the moon!