When the long and humid summer finally comes to an end in Japan, the leaves change color and temperatures start to cool down. The cries of the cicadas cease, jackets and thick blankets are taken from storage cupboards, and kotatsu tables are set up in households all over the country.
Autumn, or fall, is the favorite season of many people for the annual festivals, delicious food, and the sights of leaves changing from green to yellow, orange, and red. If you plan to visit Japan in autumn, you’ll be able to try all kinds of experiences that aren’t possible any other time of year. Here are some useful words that you will hear, and maybe use, in Japan during the autumn season!
With months of humidity and sticky heat of summer finally coming to an end, people breathe a sigh of relief at the pleasant fall breeze by saying “suzushii,” which means “cool.”
Feel free to say it along with everyone else when you taste the first wind in the air that doesn’t feel like an oven breathing on you.
Like cherry blossoms in spring, the leaves changing to various shades of red, brown, orange, and yellow is considered an important and exciting time, especially in the countryside where you can drive for hours looking upon hills and mountains of these bright colors.
“Momiji” refers to the Japanese maple tree, on which are the iconic shapely leaves that change so beautifully every year. The shape of momiji inspired the well-known momiji manju cakes that you can buy in Hiroshima.
Like many foods such as sweet potato and shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts are in season this time of year. “Kuri” is the Japanese word for chestnut (“marron” when used for sweets), and in autumn, you are likely to see marron pudding and even marron lattes at cafes and restaurants. Give them a try, as they are only available for a short time.
“Aki” is the Japanese word for “autumn” or “fall,” and the cooler weather lasts from around October to the end of November when the temperatures drop with the arrival of winter.
This means “autumn appetite.” It is said that we get a much bigger appetite in autumn, so much so that it got its own name! It isn’t clear whether humans naturally want to store more fat in our bodies in preparation for winter, or having “shokuyoku no aki” is due to the many delicious foods that we can eat at this time of year.
Autumn is arguably the best season in Japan, with great weather, lovely scenic views, and limited edition food and drinks. With the cooling weather and the many fall festivals taking place all over the country, everyone seems to be in a better mood this time of year, so make sure you try to visit in October or November and use this useful vocabulary while you’re there!