10 Events and things to do in Japan in November

Lake_kawaguchi_and_mt_fuji Places to visit in Japan
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Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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November is the time of year when the temperature gradually drops, the leaves turn beautiful colors, and the locals love the harvest. In Japan, November is the height of the autumn season, and many events are held throughout the country. From festivals where you can enjoy autumn leaves and gourmet food to festivals where you can experience the old-fashioned atmosphere of Japan, there are many things to see and do. In this article, we will introduce several festivals and events that you can encounter during your visit to Japan in November.

1. Fukuoka Grand Sumo Tournament

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Sumo is one of the most traditional Japanese sports, and you should watch an authentic sumo match when you’re in Kyushu this November. The 15-day Grand Sumo Tournament, held every November at the Fukuoka International Center, is a great opportunity to see sumo wrestlers in action. The clashes between the wrestlers and the energy of the arena is something unmatched anywhere else in the world. You’ll be able to purchase a ticket for any day of competition from Nov. 13-Nov. 27.  

Dates: November 13 – 27

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2. Gion Odori

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If you are in Kyoto, why not take part in an event where you can feel the traditional Japanese atmosphere? Gion Odori in Kyoto is an event where many geishas and maikos dance on stage in a glamorous manner that will captivate the hearts of all who see them. This event is held every year from November 1 to 10, and anyone who has longing eyes for maiko and geisha will surely enjoy it. To view this Gion Dori, you must reserve and purchase tickets online in advance, so check the official website for more details.

Dates: November 1 – 10

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3. Momiji Corridor

If you visit Mt. Fuji in November, there is a local festival that you should definitely visit. It is the Momiji Corridor, where beautiful autumn leaves envelop the atmosphere around Lake Kawaguchi at the foot of Mt. Fuji in an atmosphere of gorgeous elegance. You can see it throughout the month of November, but the best time to visit is mid-November. Their leaves are generally well-dressed in red and yellow, creating a fantastic scene. At night, the venue is illuminated, and the red and yellow colors of the leaves rising in the jet-black night are very beautiful.

Alpsdake, (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons

4. Fujiwara Autumn Festival

Hiraizumi is one of Iwate’s most famous tourist destinations, attracting many people from all over the country. Fujiwara Festival annually in early November is a major festival that enlivens the local Hiraizumi community. It will be from the 1st to the 3rd this year. Many events are held to give visitors a taste of the local flavor, including Chuson-ji’s Noh plays and local performing arts. The venue is surrounded by the colorful autumn foliage, allowing visitors to enjoy the beauty of the autumn leaves and the traditional Japanese atmosphere.

Dates: November 1 – 3

Website: Fujiwara Autumn Festival

5. Flower Illuminations

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Hamamatsu Flower Park is a haven of greenery and flowers in Hamamatsu of Shizuoka prefecture. During the warmer months like spring, this park is filled with beautiful flowers in full bloom, but the park changes dramatically in late November when the weather turns colder. The illumination event that paints the night of Hamamatsu with fantastic colors of about 1 million LED lights is a great pleasure for many visitors. The fantastic fountain show and Christmas tree illumination will surely soothe your soul at night. You can also visit the Ashikaga Flower Park in the fall as well to witness its beautiful lights, one of the best being its hanging lights that look like wisteria!

Dates: October 1 – November 22

Official Website: Hamamatsu Flower Park

6. Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu

While Hakone’s most famous events in Kanagawa Prefecture include the Hakone Ekiden (relay race) on New Year’s Day, Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu (feudal lord’s procession) is another festival that should not be missed. Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu is an event that enlivens Hakone and is held every year on November 3, known as Culture Day. A total of 170 daimyos descend the path of the old Tokaido Highway. The sight of so many people weaving through the parade dressed in Edo period attire is quite impressive. It is also a good time to visit Hakone to view the beautiful autumn leaves as the mountains are covered with beautiful foliage during this time.

Dates: November 3

Information Website: Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu

7. Shichi-Go-San

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If you have ever been to Japan in November, you may have seen children visiting shrines dressed in kimono. This is a traditional Japanese custom called “Shichi-Go-San”, in which Japanese children wear kimono to visit shrines when they turn 3, 5, or 7 years old to pray for their healthy growth and longevity. Since this is a very private event conducted by each family in Japan, it is advisable to obtain permission from the children’s parents before pointing your camera at the children in kimono or uploading the photos you have taken to your social networking sites.

Dates: November 15

Information Website: Shichi-Go-San

8. Taimatsu Akashi

Fumihiko Ueno, (CC BY 3.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Taimatsu Akashi is a fire festival held in Sukagawa City, Fukushima Prefecture, and is counted as one of the three major fire festivals in Japan. With the history of over 430 years, this festival is said to have started when people raised torches to defend Suga Castle when it was under attack by the forces of Date Masamune. On the day of the festival, the sight of 30 huge torches, which are 10 meters long and weighing more than 3 tons each, blazing in the sky is so powerful that one can still feel the dignity of defending the city even now. If you want to catch this fiery festival, it is held on the second Saturday of November. 

Dates: November 12

9. Daigan-ji Temple Hi-watari (Fire-walking) Ceremony

Another fiery festival that will keep you warm in the cool autumn air is the fire-walking ritual festival at Daigan-ji Temple. This ceremony is a Buddhist practice in which sutras are read throughout the hall while people walk barefoot over the branches of cypress trees that have been set on fire. Visitors are welcome to participate in the ceremony, and many people walk on the hot cypress branches every year. If you would like to experience Buddhist practice, why not participate in this festival?

Dates: November 3

Official Website: Daigan-ji Temple Hi-Watari Ceremony 

10. Meiji Autumn Festival

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If you come to Shibuya of Tokyo in November, join this festival. Harajuku, located next to Shibuya, is a mecca for Kawaii culture. Meiji Jingu Shrine, only a short walk from Harajuku Station, hosts the Autumn Festival in early November. At the Meiji Jingu Autumn Festival, visitors can enjoy many traditional Japanese events such as satsuma biwa, koto performances and horseback archery.

There are a variety of events that take place in Japan in November, from the classic autumn leaf viewing to watching sumo wrestling, Japan’s national sport. Some festivals and events have been altered in 2022 due to COVID-19, so be sure to check the official websites and social networking sites for the latest information before visiting. Of course, don’t forget to visit Japan during this season to enjoy delicious Japanese food, since Japan is in the midst of harvest season, and the country is overflowing with delicious food. Why not make your autumn more enjoyable by participating in a Japanese event in November?

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