October is one of the most pleasant months to discover Japan, in regards to the weather. There are no national holiday weeks, and the Japanese people stay home or at school to study. Schools and universities enjoy this month to organize sporting events. Fall is right around the corner, and it starts from the northern part of Japan flowing to the south.
Tourism attendance is pretty high, close to the levels in April. Just like for the spring vacation, the European fall school vacation times are when Japan sees an increase in the number of tourists for approximately two weeks, which is shorter than the summer break. Therefore, we recommend travelers to book in advance for accommodation and activities in popular cities, such as Kyoto and Hiroshima.
Note that during this season, traditional lodging, such as ryokan with onsen (hot spring waters), are also rare, as Japanese or foreign tourists love to benefit from the unique ambiance in the mountain towns.
Climate and weather
Japan’s October weather is ideal for visiting. While morning temperatures may be a little chilly with the arrival of fall, the day is partly sunny with warm, beautiful light. Rainy days become scarce, moving aside for drier weather without clouds, ideal for enjoying family days out in the cities or countryside.
In Honshu’s heart, visitors can still experience temperatures up to 20 °C, while the island of Hokkaido will have some morning temperatures below 10 °C. Southern parts of Japan enjoy a gorgeous Indian summer, including Okinawa where the heat still allows for bathing in the ocean, despite a quite high humidity rate. As a general rule, the sun rises at approximately 6 a.m. and sets between 5 –5:45 p.m., depending on the region.
National public holidays
As a general rule, one unique public holiday is not worked in October:
- Second Monday in October -- 体育の日Taiiku no Hi, Undô-kai, Health and Sports Day
Top things to do
The number of matsuri (festivals) is diminished compared to summertime; however, each city celebrates the gradual changing of the seasons. The last bit of heat allows visitors to enjoy the leaves changing colors, as well as days out in parks and gardens.
Below is a list of Japanese seasonal attractions and events in October:
|Date||What to do||Where||Related|
|October 1||Enjoy Citizen Day by visiting some free museums, parks, and gardens||Tokyo||Visit|
|First week-end in October||Taste matcha tea and wagashi pastry served during a traditional ceremony at one of the city’s most famous schools at the base of the castle||Matsue||Food|
|October 7 to 9||Attend the Kunchi festival in Nagasaki’s Suwa shrine and admire Hono-Odori dances in several districts of the city||Nagasaki||Event|
|October 9 to 10||Participate in the fall edition of Takayama Matsuri||Takayama||Event|
|October 14 to 19||Pray for a good harvest in one of the city’s shrines and give a non-refined glass of Sake Doburoku as an offering||Shirakawago||Event|
|October 16 to 18||Visit the city during its taiko (drum) festival and admire the strength of men drawing gigantic three-ton Taiko-dai during Kakikurabe||Niihama (Shikoku)||Event|
|October 17||Celebrate fall in the Toshogu shrine and attend the parade featuring men in the traditional clothing of samurai||Nikko||Event|
|October 22||Go to the Imperial Palace or Heian shrine to follow Jidai Matsuri’s procession, one of the three main events of the city||Kyoto||Event|
|October 22||Finish the day in Kurama by admiring the inhabitants’ torch fire lit at 6 p.m., and then see the spiritual celebration in the Yuki-jinja Shrine||Kyoto||Event|
|Third week-end in October||Discover Nagoya’s festival and be immersed in feudal Japan with samurai and ninja parades||Nagoya||Event|
|Third week-end in October||Watch parades of floating tanks decorated with Edo colors during Kawagoe||Kawagoe||Event|
|Fourth week-end in October||Find local crafts at the best prices during the antiques fair||Kyoto||Shopping|
|October 31||Celebrate Halloween with the Japanese people||Everywhere in Japan (Shibuya and Nakameguro in Tokyo)||Event|
|All month long||Taste recipes made of chestnut and persimmon||Tokyo||Food|
|All month long||Take in photo-flowering cosmos under a beautiful, blue sky on Nokonoshima Island||Fukuoka||Visit|
|All month long||Admire the first red color changes of Japanese maple trees in Hokkaido, Tohoku, and the mountain regions||Northern Japon||Visit|
Travel packing tips
Mid-season clothes are wise for October, when temperatures greatly vary between the day and when the sun sets in the evening. Therefore, it is preferable to layer several clothes that can be removed according to the temperature. Cotton pants and long-sleeved shirts are perfect for this period, as well as a windproof vest for hiking.
Shoes should be comfortable and waterproof for a good walk, along with an urban pair of shoes for evening in the cities. It is still too early for winter boots.