Where to Visit in Japan This November

Hey you! November in Japan is the perfect time for a getaway. With the fall colors at their peak, cooler temperatures, and fewer crowds, it’s an ideal season to explore this incredible country. But with so many options, where should you go?

Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.

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In this article, I’ll share my favorite places to visit and the best things to do in Japan in November. From world-class cities like Tokyo and Kyoto to charming towns tucked away in the mountains, I’ll give you an insider’s guide to the best spots and hidden gems.

You’ll discover where to soak in hot springs under fall foliage, sample seasonal delicacies, and immerse yourself in ancient temples and gardens.

Whether you want to join vibrant festivals, hike quiet trails blanketed in red leaves, or just cozy up at a cafe, you’ll find inspiration for an unforgettable autumn adventure.

So get ready to fall in love with Japan all over again. This November, I’ll be your travel guide to the land of the rising sun. Now, let’s go!

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Why Visit Japan in November

Chilly yet Pleasant Autumn

The average high temperatures hover in the mid to upper 50s Fahrenheit. In comparison, lows drop to the 30s and 40s, especially at the viewing spot for Mt. Fuji, other mountainous areas, and northern regions.

Pack a light jacket, hat, scarf, and gloves. The temperatures are chilly but still pleasant for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Some days may feel quite warm in direct sunlight.

Gorgeous Fall Foliage in November

One of the biggest highlights in early November is the autumn foliage. You’ll enjoy the lovely view of vibrant red and golden hues – it is a sight to behold.

Popular spots include Nikko, Kyoto, Kamakura, and Mt. Takao. The foliage peaks around mid-November, so aim for the first half of the month for the best views. 

November Spells the end of Typhoon Season

The excellent news is that November marks the end of the typhoon season. You can expect mostly clear skies with little chance of rain. 

Some days may see overcast weather and sporadic showers, but rainfall is generally light.   

Fewer Crowds in November

With kids back in school and cooler weather, November sees dwindling crowds compared to the peak summer season.

Popular destinations like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto will still have moderate visitor levels but shorter queues and more elbow room. Accommodation rates have also become more affordable.

Overall, November offers a perfect blend of pleasant weather, gorgeous fall scenery, and smaller crowds. Pack for chilly days, bring your camera, and get ready to enjoy the beautiful autumn in Japan!

November Cherry Blossoms

Unbelievably as it may sound, I found cherry blossoms in Japan in November!

I know they are typically in full bloom during Spring, but I found Fuyu Zakura trees in their best form in Gunma Prefecture when I went to Sakurayama Park in November.

Illuminations in Japan 

Winter illuminations or light festivals in Japan start as early as November and continue throughout December. 

Since it began, illumination attractions each year have gotten more extravagant and spectacular as thousands of Christmas lights adorn trees, lighting up streets and districts!

In Marunouchi, Tokyo, the neighborhood’s business district, Nakadori Street, shone brightly during winter. With around 360 trees lit by about 1.2 million champagne-colored LED bulbs, they run the illumination from November 16, 2023, to February 18, 2024.

Buildings like the Marunouchi House, with its fully lit-up 7th-floor terrace, and nearby landmarks such as the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Station were also illuminated.

Another light festival worth mentioning is the illuminated flower village Nabana No Sato in Nagoya.

When I visited in late November, I was amazed by the amount of lights used for the autumn leaves illumination. I was told 5.8 million LED lights were used, and thousands of workers worked for four months to set up the impressive display!

When you visit, I highly suggest walking through the magically illuminated garden and pretending you are in a fairyland surrounded by pixie dust. I did!

After that, climb up the viewing deck and marvel at the intricate outlines of figures and shapes created by the lights from above.

The Nabana No Sato illumination runs from October 22, 2023, to June 2, 2024. But check their schedule online since they are closed on select days.

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Top Destinations to Visit in Japan in November

So, where do you go when you arrive in Japan in November? Here are some of my recommendations:

Nikko National Park

About two hours north of Tokyo, Nikko National Park is one of Japan’s most popular spots for autumn leaf viewing. Here, you get to experience walking under a canopy of color along the shores of Lake Chuzenji or over the red wooden Shinkyo bridge.

The park’s mountainous landscape becomes a sea of red and gold, especially stunning when viewed from an onsen (hot spring) or ryokan (traditional inn). 

Add a Nikko or Hakone trip to your itinerary for early November to enjoy the fantastic view. You should also include trips to shrines and temples when fewer people visit Japan.

You don’t want to visit in late November as all the leaves would be gone by then. I had the misfortune of visiting Nikko late in November during my first visit to Japan, and all I saw were bare branches.

Kyoto Trip in November

Kyoto used to be Japan’s capital, and, unsurprisingly, Kyoto is lively in autumn.

What to do when in Kyoto?

During your visit, you can stroll through the bewitching Arashiyama bamboo grove. In there, you’ll be enthralled by the golden ginkgo trees lining the pathways.

Want more? You can always explore the historic Fushimi Inari shrine, where thousands of vermilion torii gates wind through the verdant mountainside.

For a truly magical experience, visit the Kiyomizu-dera temple, which is particularly stunning when illuminated at night. Kyoto’s autumn foliage is a sight to behold. It offers a peaceful retreat from the loud and bustling streets of Tokyo.

Where to go in Hokkaido in November

Visit Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. Don’t miss out on some of Japan’s most dramatic autumn colors. During this time, the cooler climate produces vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red maple leaves, creating a breathtaking landscape.

Explore Onuma Quasi-National Park near Hakodate to see the postcard-worthy nature trails surrounding lakes and ponds. It is the best place to appreciate the glorious views of fiery November fall foliage against the setting of lofty mountains.

Take a panoramic ropeway ride up Mount Hakodate for scenic vistas of the city and bay enveloped in autumnal grandeur.

As Japan’s fall foliage season is brief, typically lasting only a few weeks in mid-November, be sure to plan your trip accordingly to capture the full beauty of autumn in Japan. This time of the year, Japan promises an unforgettable adventure.

Visit Fukuoka during the Fall

November is a good time for visiting Fukuoka. The weather is cool, not too cold. There are many things to do. Try Hakata ramen, go up to Fukuoka Tower, or visit the City Museum.

Don’t miss classic attractions like Yusentei Park for stunning fall foliage, where trees are dazzling bright orange and crimson red.

Moreover, November brings the excitement of one of Japan’s biggest sumo tournaments, offering an unforgettable experience. 

You can buy tickets online and enjoy the matches alongside food stalls, soaking up the lively atmosphere. Opting for mid-week matches ensures a quieter experience if you’re not focused on seeing the big names or the grand finale.

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Japan Festivals and Events in November

One of the best times to visit Japan is in autumn, especially in November when the fall foliage is at its peak. Some of the best places to spot vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow are:

Meiji Jingu Gaien Ginkgo Festival (November 1-15)

Over 2,000 ginkgo trees turn a brilliant yellow at Meiji Jingu Gaien Park in Tokyo, creating a stunning sea of gold. The park stays open late for the festival, so you can stroll along tree-lined paths in the evening glow. Food stalls feature ginkgo-inspired fare like ginkgo tea, cakes, and dumplings.

Shichi-Go-San Festival (November 15) 

This festival celebrates the growth and well-being of 3-, 5- and 7-year-old children. Families dress children in traditional kimonos and take them to shrines to pray for their health and prosperity.

During this season, you may spot adorable kids in colorful kimonos at shrines and parks across Japan.  

Kokubunji Temple Autumn Festival (November 15-16)  

At this lively festival in Tokyo, Kokubunji Temple is illuminated with lanterns and bonfires. Monks chant sutras as visitors sip amazake, a sweet, fermented rice drink.

Treat yourself to tasty festival fare like yakitori, okonomiyaki, and candied apples. The highlight is a dramatic fire ceremony where monks ablaze giant bonfires to purify the temple grounds.

Tokyo Motor Show (November 22-December 1)

Rev your engines at the Tokyo Motor Show, one of the world’s largest auto shows. Held every other year, this massive event showcases the latest vehicles, technologies, and concept cars from leading Japanese and international automakers. Even if you’re not a hardcore gearhead, seeing the future of transportation on display is fascinating.

With colorful autumn scenery as a backdrop and so many cultural events to experience, November is an ideal time for an engaging and memorable trip to Japan. Bundle up, grab your camera, and immerse yourself in the season!

Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival

I attended the Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival in 2023, held at Lake Kawaguchi. The best part was seeing the beautiful autumn leaves against the backdrop of Mt. Fuji! I can literally make a post card out of the picture I took. 

The Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival is one of the most popular autumn events in Japan. The festival takes place at the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchi, one of the Fuji Five Lakes, from early to late November every year.

The event features colorful autumn leaves stretching around the Lake Kawaguchi area, and the fantastic scenery can be enjoyed with the glorious view of Mt Fuji.

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Packing Tips for Visiting Japan in November

November is a gorgeous time to visit Japan, with autumn leaves glowing red and gold. It’s also a month filled with cultural festivals and events that showcase Japan’s rich history and traditions.

But before allowing yourself to make plans, don’t forget to check if you have the following items to take with you to Japan.

  • Clothing: Pack suitable autumn clothes in a sturdy backpack or suitcase. Bring a jacket for chilly evenings and an umbrella for occasional rain showers.
  • Power Adapters: Japan has Type A and Type B electrical outlets. Check the compatibility of your devices with Japan’s 100V electrical system.
  • Travel Documents: Don’t forget your passport, visa (if needed), and essential travel documents. Bring a copy for emergencies.
  • Medications: Pack enough prescription medications in original containers for your trip. You should also consider including a basic first-aid kit.
  • Travel Essentials: Bring a reusable water bottle, guidebook/maps, language translation app/phrasebook, portable charger, and universal travel adapter for your November travel.