The colours are changing into vibrant reds and yellows, and what was unbearable heat just a few weeks ago is now an ideal outdoor weather. Autumn is here.
With four seasons come seasonal delicacies, of which Japanese Autumns have many.
Various mushrooms come into season. A unique sort is the ‘Matsutake’ (まつたけ) mushroom. ‘Matsutake’ mushrooms are considered a delicacy. Japanese grown Matsutake can get very expensive, upwards 10,000 Yen. The overseas alternatives (Chinese, Canadian, etc.) are a little cheaper, but are considered inferior in quality.
Autumn is the season where chestnuts find their way into snacks and onto many seasonal cakes and desserts. Most of the time it’s just sweets, but there are some savoury options like chestnut rice.
Apples, Asian pears (nashi 梨), persimmons (kaki 柿), and the fig fruit are the more common seasonal fruit. The more lavish ones are the giant dark grapes.
Pacific Saury (Sanma さんま)
Saury is available all year round, but turning the Autumn the fish gets especially fatty and rich in flavour. ‘Sanma’ is (usually) served grilled with a dash of lemon juice and grated radish.
Japanese Autumn Festivals
Autumn has many cultural and culinary festivals, but because of the worldwide pandemic, most of the more elaborate festivals that draw large crowds are postponed or cancelled. It is always better to check with the organizers or the official websites of the festival before travelling.
Autumn walks and the Koyo(紅葉 falling leaves)
Although most of the open-air activities are affected by the pandemic, taking (mostly) solitary walks is still an option. Autumn could very well be the best season to enjoy the outdoors in Japan. The temperature rests somewhere in between fifteen and twenty-something degrees Celsius in the south and central Japan. Up north it gets a little cooler but still not that cold.
The colours depending on where one visits vary from rich gobsmacking carmine to lulling watercolour orange. Even if you live in one of the bigger cities like Tokyo or Osaka and are worried about travelling, nature is not that far. In Osaka Minoo Park or any of the other big parks, in Tokyo, the Shinjuku Gyoen or any of the other big parks are well worth a go.
Japanese autumns are pleasant to refresh yourself from the hardworking days. The weather is just right, and what it takes is a stroll through a park to understand why the great classical artists like Monet and Hokusai loved this season. Just remember to dress in layers for the evenings might get chilly.