Autumn 2022 will be full of back-to-back holidays! With two three-day weekends in September and national holidays in October and November as well, are you looking at your calendar and wondering when and where to go?
Here, we pick up the best spots for fall travel from Okinawa, Hokkaido, and Osaka (according to research by travel agency HIS), which are popular destinations this fall. From autumn foliage spots to art museums perfect for the fall season of art, we will share a variety of fun travel ideas!
Autumn 2022 travel trends
Summer 2022’s Obon holiday saw no activity restrictions for the first time in three years, and there was a huge uptick in the number of domestic travelers.
This fall, during what’s known as Silver Week, there are two consecutive three-day weekends in September, from the 17-19th and 23-25th, making a maximum of nine straight holidays if the vacations are connected.
October will also see a long weekend (8-10th), and November will see its share, with the 3rd and 23rd as public holidays.
The number of travel reservations from September to November is expected to be 243% higher than the previous year (according to travel agency HIS), suggesting that tourist destinations around Japan are expected to regain their liveliness.
In addition, most prefectures have launched "prefectural discount" programs, such as the resumption of the Motto Tanoshimou! Tokyo travel discount campaign for Tokyo residents on September 1, 2022. The launch of Nationwide Travel Support, a tourism stimulus measure for the entire country, is also under consideration. Japan is moving toward a recovery in travel demand.
What are the top 3 popular domestic autumn travel destinations?
In the fall of 2021, there was a relatively high need for trips to nearby areas. But in 2022, as in the pre-Covid period, there is a resurgence in long-distance trips accessible by air or bullet train.
The most popular autumn destinations for this year's September-November period were Okinawa in first place, Hokkaido in second place, and Osaka in third place (according to HIS data).
Many visitors to Okinawa are looking for marine activities and to enjoy the ocean; those to Hokkaido are looking to enjoy autumn foliage and hot springs; and those to Osaka are looking to enjoy Universal Studios Japan, according to HIS.
This fall, try extending your trip to a sightseeing spot you have never visited before!
Okinawa Autumn Recommendation #1: Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Motobu-cho)
Located near Cape Bisezaki on the Motobu Peninsula in the northwestern part of Okinawa's main island, the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium exhibits various creatures living in the Okinawan sea.
Although typhoons tend to hit Okinawa in September and October, visitors to the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium can enjoy the aquarium even in bad weather without getting caught in the rain. Another reason for recommending the aquarium as an autumn destination is that there are fewer visitors than during the high season in July and August, so you can enjoy your visit in a more relaxed atmosphere.
The facility is built to recreate the marine world from the surface of the water to a depth of around 700 meters. Starting with Invitation to the Great Sea (4th floor), where you can see the aquarium from above, visitors can go on to Journey to a Coral Reef (3rd floor), where they can get up close to the creatures living around the coral reef, Journey to the Kuroshio (2nd floor), which represents the dynamic world of migrating fish, and lastly Journey into the Deep Sea (1st floor), where they can go down to the sea floor. Each floor leads visitors into the world of the deep sea.
A must-see is the Kuroshio Sea, a huge tank where you can observe the symbolic whale shark and the Nanyo Manta, the world's first successfully bred manta ray. Outside the museum, there is also the Okichan Theater, where you can enjoy a show by Okichan the dolphin and her friends, and the Sea Turtle Pool, where you can observe sea turtles below and above the water.
Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium沖縄美ら海水族館
- Address 424 Ishikawa, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa 905-0206
- Phone Number 0980-48-3748
- General Admission: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., 1,800 yen
- After 4 PM Ticket: 4:00 p.m. to until last admission, 1,310 yen
- Off-season: 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. (last admission at 5:30 p.m.)
- Peak season (7/23 - 8/31/2022; 12/29/2022 - 1/3/2023): 8:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. (last admission at 7:00 p.m.)
・Closed on the first Wednesday of December and the following day (Thursday)
Okinawa Autumn Recommendation #2: Ishigaki Island & Miyako Island (Ishigakijima & Miyakojima)
Ishigaki Island is located more than 410 km southwest of the main island of Okinawa. It is known for its beautiful emerald green sea and white sandy beaches. There are many places to visit, including Kabira Bay, Tamatorizaki Observatory, Ishigaki Island Stalactite Cave, and the Hirakubozaki Lighthouse. Still, many might opt to simply enjoy relaxing on the beach.
Each beach has unique points: Fusaki Beach is famous for its beautiful sunset, and Ishigaki Island Sunset Beach has incredibly clear waters. You can enjoy hopping around the island from beach to beach to find your favorite spot! Also, the Ishigaki Island Festival will be held from November 5-6, 2022, with parades, concerts, fireworks, and much more.
In the remote islands of Okinawa, there are still days that feel like mid-summer heat until mid-October, and you can enjoy the ocean without any problem. From November, the beaches on the island close, so if you want to play in the ocean, be sure to visit ahead of time.
Marine activities offered by tour companies, such as snorkeling, can be enjoyed all year round. Also, July to October is the best season for stargazing, thanks to the clear weather. Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park, which includes Ishigaki Island, was recognized as the first protected Dark Sky area in Japan. You’ll love coming here in autumn, relaxing, and enjoying the stunning night sky.
Miyako Island, located between Okinawa Island and Ishigaki Island, is also recommended. There are beautiful beaches all over the island, including Yonaha Maehama Beach with 7 km of pure white sand - said to be the best beach in the East - and Nakanoshima Beach, surrounded by coral reefs where snorkeling and diving can be enjoyed.
There are also local beef brands such as Ishigaki beef on Ishigaki Island and Miyako beef on Miyako Island that are worth trying out.
Okinawa Autumn Recommendation #3: Water Activities (throughout Okinawa)
Okinawa offers year-round tours to enjoy water activities such as sea walks, parasailing, jet skiing, snorkeling, SUP (stand-up paddleboarding), and kayaking. Autumn is not as hot as summer and is rather comfortable, and there are fewer tourists than during the peak season, so you can enjoy yourself in a more relaxed atmosphere.
SUP is a recommended activity, as it is larger than a surfboard, and even beginners can master it with a bit of practice. You will love floating above the clear blue ocean.
Okinawa has many places with clear water and shallow depths, making snorkeling safe even for those who haven’t tried it before. Parasailing and flyboarding can also be enjoyed because it is still warm in Okinawa in autumn.
Hokkaido Autumn Recommendation #1: Jozankei Onsen (Sapporo)
Jozankei Onsen is one of Hokkaido's leading hot spring resorts, accessible in about an hour by direct bus from Sapporo Station. Many people visit on a day trip from Sapporo.
The reason we recommend this as an autumn destination in Japan is for the magnificent fall colors. Jozankei is surrounded by mountains on all sides, so visitors can enjoy the foliage just by strolling through the hot spring resort.
The hot spring resort area is dotted with bridges overlooking forests and valleys, such as the red Futami Suspension Bridge, and the autumn leaves reflected in the water are a sight to behold. Red is not the only color of autumn in Jozankei, but you can also see various colors, including yellows and oranges. The leaves tend to begin to change color in October, and you can check our Japan foliage forecast here.
The Autumn Leaves Kappa Bus, a bus tour in which local volunteer guides take you to the autumn foliage spots around Jozankei. Buses are also available to the surrounding autumn foliage spots.
There are also a variety of ways to enjoy the autumn foliage, such as the Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort's Autumn Leaves Gondola, from which visitors can enjoy the autumn foliage from above by taking a ride in the air.
Jozankei Nature Luminarie by NAKED is held every night from early July to late October around Futami Park and Futami Suspension Bridge. Visitors can enjoy gorgeous performances using illumination techniques and projection mapping. The area becomes one with the forest and water, creating a fantastic atmosphere.
Recommended ryokan inns nearby
Hokkaido Autumn Recommendation #2: Asahikawa Asahiyama Zoo (Asahikawa)
Asahikawa Asahiyama Zoo, accessible in about 40 minutes by direct bus from Asahikawa Station, is a spacious 151,000 square meter zoo where 650 animals of around species live.
The zoo's most distinctive feature is its unique behavioral exhibits that showcase the animals in their natural habitat. Visitors are fascinated by unique exhibits such as the Penguin Pavilion, where penguins can be seen swimming energetically as if flying through the air from a tunnel-shaped passageway, and the Polar Bear Pavilion, where 300 kg polar bears dive into a huge pool and swim around actively.
Don't miss the Seal Pavilion, where seals play in a cylindrical tank, and Mogumogu Time, where keepers feed the animals and explain their unique behavior.
Asahikawa's autumn season deepens in late September, and the mornings and evenings can get chilly, so be sure to bring warm clothing. Nearby Asahiyama Park is at its best in early October when the autumn colors peak - be sure to visit after enjoying a trip to the zoo!
Hokkaido Autumn Recommendation #3: Goryokaku Park (Hakodate)
Around the moat, there is a 1.8-km long promenade allowing visitors to enjoy the fall colors while leisurely walking around. On the bank inside the moat across the second bridge, you can see the autumn leaves of azaleas that have been cut into circles.
Osaka Autumn Recommendations #1: Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)
Universal Studios Japan is packed with Hollywood blockbuster movie-themed attractions and shows featuring popular characters. The world's longest and highest coaster, The Flying Dinosaur, and other thrilling attractions include 3D & 4D features that have an unbelievable impact!
From September 8 to November 6, 2022, the special NO LIMIT! Halloween event will be held. Horror attractions such as the nightmarish Street Zombies event in which guests are attacked by a horde of zombies that take over the park in the evenings, and Biohazard™: The Extreme +, where guests can experience the world of the popular Resident Evil video game series.
Minions and Sesame Street friends will appear in exclusive Halloween costumes, and a Halloween-only meet and greet will be held. Also, if you say "Trick or Treat!” to the crew, you will receive a cute candy bar!
Universal Studios Japanユニバーサル・スタジオ・ジャパン
- Address 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana Ward, Osaka, 554-0031
- Phone Number 0570-20-0606
・Hours: Check official WEB site
・Admission: Check official WEB site
・Closed: Open daily
*Contents and prices of menus and goods are subject to change without notice. Please be patient in the event that items are out of stock.
Osaka Autumn Recommendations #2: Osaka Castle Park (Osaka)
Osaka Castle Park is located in Osaka City. This vast park, covering a total area of 1.055 square kilometers, is home to the Osaka Castle Keep and other historical buildings, plus cherry and plum trees, and a variety of spots to enjoy seasonal flowers. During the fall foliage season, the 300-year-old large ginkgo tree in front of the castle tower and the 1 km-long row of ginkgo trees on the east side of Osaka Castle glow with golden colors.
The autumn foliage in the spacious Nishinomaru Garden, located on the west side of Osaka Castle, is also outstanding. Around 300 cherry trees with bold red leaves overlap with the imposing Osaka Castle, creating a sense of dignity. There is also a maple garden you’ll love strolling around. The autumn foliage season in Osaka Castle Park is from early to late November. Enjoy the beautifully colored ginkgo and zelkova trees against the backdrop of the castle tower!
Osaka Autumn Recommendation #3: Abeno Harukas Museum of Art (Osaka)
At 300 meters in height, Abeno Harukas is the tallest skyscraper complex in Japan, with department stores, offices, a hotel, museums, and an observation deck.
The Abeno Harukas Museum of Art, located on the 16th floor, is recommended to check out especially in autumn. From September 17 to November 20, 2022, the Kazuo Umezu Grand Art Exhibition will be held, showcasing works by Kazuo Umezu, a manga artist, TV personality, and songwriter. There is a garden on the same floor, so after viewing the exhibition, you can take a relaxing break under the autumn sky. If you take the escalator up one floor, you will also find CAFFE CIAO PRESSO, where you can relax.
After viewing the art, visitors can take the Harukas shuttle elevator to Harukas 300 (Observation Deck), a three-story structure spanning floors 58-60. The view here is spectacular, and on some days, you can see the Rokko Mountains in Hyogo, over to Kyoto, and even the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge to Awaji Island, and more.
From the 12th to 14th floor of the tower building is Abeno Harukas Dining, one of the largest gourmet restaurant areas in Japan. Here you can find a number of restaurants serving up many different cuisines, including Japanese, Western, Chinese, Korean, and Italian.
*The information in this article is current as of September 2022. Please check official websites for the latest information.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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