It is said that November is one of the best times to visit Japan for the weather is fairly cool. Aside from that, many Japanese festivals also occur at this time of the year. If you’d like to witness the fall foliage while experiencing the autumn culture of Japanese people, it would be best to participate in these three November events.
Ohitaki Festival at Kifune Shrine
This is an ancient sacred fire ritual that is mainly held in order to banish evil spirits and to thank the gods for the year’s harvest. You can join the festival at Kifune Shrine in Kyoto on November 7, 2017, from 11:00 AM. You can reach the shrine by taking an Eizan train from Demachiyanagi Station to Kibuneguchi.
Hitaki-sai at Fushimi Inari Taisha
You can also witness the same festival at Fushimi Inari Taisha, regarded as the head shrine of Inari, on November 8, 2017. 100,000 wooden prayer sticks will be burned during the event as a form of offering to the gods. It starts at 1:00 PM in front of the main shrine hall. A Kagura dance, a type of entertainment for the gods believed to have originated from Shinto religion, will also be held at 6:00 PM.
Momiji festivals are beautiful events to witness in Japan. The word “momiji” means “red leaves.” Although there are numerous places in the country celebrating this festival, the most famous one is held in Arashiyama (a pleasant, touristy district in the outskirts of Kyoto). This 2017, it will be held on November 12.
During the festival, you’ll be able to witness five elaborately decorated boats floating on the nearby Oi River. They will be filled with people dressed in Heian costumes playing musical instruments such as shakuhachi (a Japanese end-blown flute) and koto (a Japanese stringed musical instrument).
Other momiji festivals in Japan include the ones held at Tanzan Shrine in Nara Prefecture from October to December and at Kumano Nachi Taisha in Wakayama Prefecture in November.
This is a popular naked festival in the country which primarily occurs on November 25 at Hofu Tenmangu Shrine. The festival is also known as the “Naked Festival” due to the fact that you can witness men clothed only in loincloths (a single piece of cloth wrapped around the hips). The men who participate in this event are tasked to carry large floats along Hofu Street going to the sacred shrine. Hofu Tenmangu Shrine is considered one of the leading sacred shrines dedicated to academic learning.
Enjoy the month of November by joining some of the best festivals Japan has to offer. They are not only an opportunity for you to watch autumn foliage but also a chance to absorb the real meaning of Japanese culture.