Seiryu-e – a Sophisticated Blue Dragon Festival at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto
Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai
Many Japanese people associate Osaka, the largest city in West Japan, with a commerce-centric megacity with super modern buildings and always busy and talkative “Osakan” people. But there is more about Osaka than that. Osaka is surrounded by beautiful nature (especially in the mountainous areas with crimson and yellow hued autumn leaves) and rich in traditional events that celebrate the good harvest in autumn. In this article, I picked up some of the most popular spots for “momijigari” (hiking trips to admire beautiful autumn leaves) and interesting fall festivals in and around bustling Osaka.
Well, putting it simply, momijigari admiring colorful autumn leaves, same as “hanami” is admiring cherry blossoms in spring. But, basically, you don’t have drinking parties while admiring the beautiful colors of autumn leaves like during hanami. Just enjoy the colorful views of the mountains in hiking gear. The best time for momijigari varies depending on tree type, but it is arguably best around the second half of November.
• Popular Momijigari Spots in Osaka
1. Osaka Castle Park, Central Osaka
2. Daiitokuji in Mt. Ushitaki, Kishiwada
3. Osaka EXPO Commemorative Park, Suita
4. Settsu-kyo Gorge Park, Takatsuki
5. Mt. Inunaki, Izumisano
6. Mino-o Park, Mino-o
• Popular “Akimatsuri” Fall Festivals in Osaka
7. Moon Viewing Festival at Mozu Hachimangu Shrine, Sakai
8. Otori Danjiri Festival, Sakai
9. Hiraoka Shrine Fall Festival, Higashi-Osaka
10. Tengu Festival, Mino-o
11. “Masu-no-ichi” Flea Market at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Osaka City
12. Sakai Matsuri, Sakai
13. “Ohitaki” Bonfire Ceremony at Namba Shrine, Osaka City
Located in Central Osaka, Osaka Castle Park is home to one of Japan’s most famous castles for its spectacular beauty. In autumn, ginkgo trees with golden leaves and zelkova and maple trees with crimson leaves stand out against the towering keep of Osaka Castle. Especially, the view of the castle seen through the 300-year-old ginkgo tree is picturesque indeed. Autumn Festival also takes place on November 3rd and 4th. Check on the following link for more details about the festival: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/popular-osaka-autumn-events-festivals-2018/.
Image courtesy of Today
A couple of minutes’ walk from:
• Morinomiya Station on the Loop Line JR or the Osaka Subway Chuo and Nagahori Tsurumi-Ryokychi Line
• Osakajo-koen Station on the JR Loop Line
• Tenmabashi Station on the Osaka Subway Tanimachi Line
• Tanmachi-yonchome Station on the Osaka Subway Chuo and Tanimachi Line
• Osaka Business Park Station on the Osaka Subway Nagahori Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Line
Image courtesy of Nankou Oronain
Mt. Ushitaki is located along the border between South Osaka and Wakayama. It is also home to Daiitokuji Temple, which was built about 500 years ago, whose two-story pagoda is designated as a nationally important cultural property. In autumn, the pagoda of brilliant vermilion blends in well with crimson leaves on maple trees around it. Here is the official website of Kishiwada City: http://www.city.kishiwada.osaka.jp/soshiki/36/daiitokuji.html. (In Japanese)
The park was built in 1972 at the former site of Osaka EXPO held in 1970 to commemorate the event. There are so many trees in the area that you probably can’t see everything in a single day. You will ask where the best momiji spot in the park, I would recommend Momiji Waterfalls. In autumn, the breathtaking views of crimson and yellow leaves on the maple trees there is quite beautiful in contrast with the falling water that dashes against the rocks at the bottom with flying splashes. Here is the official website of EXPO Park: http://www.expo70-park.jp/languages/english/
Settsu-kyo boasts beautiful nature and is a good and comfortable place for Osakan people to relax as it has an easy access to Central Osaka. In the area around the Akuta River, which runs through the valley in the park, there are some forest trails that pass through the valley with a lot of maple trees. In autumn, the forest turns into beautiful red. For more information, visit the official website of Takatsuki City: http://www.city.takatsuki.osaka.jp/ .(In Japanese)
From Takatsuki Station on the JR Kyoto Line, take the bus bound for Shitanoguchi or Tsukawaki (taking about 15 minutes). You can reach the park entrance within five minutes from Shitanoguchi or Tsukawaki.
Mini-o Park is about 30 minutes’ train ride north away from central Osaka. Go on the walking path along the stream from the park entrance to the Mino-o Waterfalls. It is the best spot for viewing fall colors in the park. The scene of the bright red leaves on maple trees stands out against the background with the waterfalls, which looks like a large band of white kimono sash hanging from the rocks. Also, the historic and venerable Ryuanji Temple nestles in the forest. The contrast of the temple’s vermilion “Taiko-bashi” bridge with the red foliage will take your breath away. Here is the park’s official website: http://www.mino-park.jp. (In Japanese)
• From Mino-o Station (Hankyu Mino-o Line):
A 400-meter walk to the park entrance.
Mt. Inunaki is known as a place for doing religious training. A long time ago, ascetic hermits called “Yamabushi” used to walk deep into the forest for meditation. Actually, there is a hiking trail to the “ascetic waterfalls” and you sometimes might see monk trainees sitting under the falling water for religious training as you hike through the woods enjoying the colorful fall leaves. Osaka’s only onsen hot spring resort town is at Mt. Inunaki so you can refresh yourself in a hot spring even if you don’t stay there. However, Mt. Inunaki is far away from central Osaka, so you should give yourself plenty of time if you plan to take a one-day trip. Check on the following website for more details: http://www.inunakisan.jp/. (In Japanese)
• From Izumisano Station on the Nankai Main Line:
Take the Wing Bus Nambu service bound for Mt.Inunaki (taking 40 minutes, ¥470 charged each way).
• From Hineno Station on the JR Hanwa Line:
Take the Wing Bus Nambu service bound for Mt. Inunaki (taking 30 minutes, ¥410 charged each way).
The word “Akimatsuri(秋祭り)” refers to Japanese fall festivals in Japanese. But I would like to use the word “harvest festivals” to describe Japanese akimatsuri in a manner that is easier for you to understand because many of the akimatsuri festivals date back to ancient or medieval times when people used to practice solemn ceremonies and celebrate a good harvest (especially rice). The times have changed, but Japanese akimatsuri stayed and became one of the fun activities in fall, coming with “mikoshi” – portable shrines, “dashi” – festival floats, “odori” – dances, and festival food and drinks.
Moon viewing is a traditional event called “Tsukimi”, which originated among noble people in medieval Japan. This is why tsukimi somehow has a cultured ring to it. But the moon viewing festival at Mozu Hachimangu Shrine is really powerful. The festival features the massive (4m tall) portable shrine called “futon daiko, attracting more than 100,000 people from all over Osaka and other regions. The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month on the old lunar calendar, which makes the festival dates differ from year to year (but somewhere between mid-September and October). Click on the following link for more information about the festival: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/moon-watching-festival-osaka .
• From Mozu Station on the JR Hanwa Line:
10-15 minutes’ walk to a shrine.
Image courtesy of Kyoww
If the Moon Viewing Festival at Mozu Shrine can be liked to “powerful”, Danjiri Festival may be “wild”. Danjiri Festival is held twice in a year in September and in October. The September Danjiri Festival is nationally famous for its aggressive danjiri mikoshi parades around the seaside of Kishiwada, and the October Danjiri Festival is held around the areas on the mountainside (and less high-octane). But the danjiri mikoshi seen in the latter festival is worth your attention, having elaborate carvings and beautiful decorations on them. I would say it is ideal to see both festivals if you can. Visit the official website for more information: http://www.ootoritaisha.jp/gyouji/
Said to have been built at the behest of Toyotomi Hideyori, the son of the great lord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Hiraoka Shrine is one of the most venerable shrines in Japan. The fall festival called Shugo Festival honors the deities of a good harvest of the year. In addition, the highlight of the festival is an energetic procession of mikoshi called “futon-daiko”, which shape looks like an inverted pyramid with huge cushioned drum standing on the top. The view of the mikoshi, which weighs about 2 tons and carried by 50 to 70 people will excite you. Check the following link for more information: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/hiraoka-jinja-shugosai/.
Tengu is a legendary creature depicted in many local folk stories in Japan. Its red face looks grotesque and has an unnatural nose, which makes Tengu’s appearance somehow lovable. At Tengu Festival, some people go around the neighborhood disguising as Tengu and chase after kids and women. Thus, children cry out for help and women run around happily. They are finally caught and hit by the Tengu with their broom-like bamboo staffs. This custom is believed to bring luck to people. Besides, the festival is local-oriented but pretty enjoyable. Click on the following link of the official website if you are interested: http://www.nanokaichi.com/saikouji/tengumatsuri/tengumatsuri.html (in Japanese).
Every year, Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine practices the religious ceremony called “Taka-no-ichi Shinji” in October. During the ceremony, rice harvested at the shrine’s fields is offered to the deities. Other than this. some events take place to liven up the festivity. For example, the flea market, which is believed to be the oldest of its kind in Japanese history, is held in the shrine. A lot of open booths line up at the shrine approach to its main hall. There is also a high school sumo wrestling championship to honor the deities (on another day, though). Visit the official website of the shrine if you are interested in this festival: http://www.sumiyoshitaisha.net/.(In Japanese)
• From Sumiyoshi Taisha Station on the Nankai Main Line:
3 minutes’ walk to the shrine.
• From Sumiyoshi Higashi Station on the Nankai Koya Line:
5 minutes’ walk to the shrine.
Image courtesy of Osd4117
I would say Sakai Matsuri is a comprehensive event that gives you chances to enjoy what a typical Japanese matsuri consists of: a parade of people in various costumes, carrying “futon daiko” mikoshi, enjoying concerts and other stage performances, eating and drinking at festival food stands, participating in tea ceremonies and so on. Especially the Grand Parade, the festival’s main part, boasts its procession of 7000 strong people in a variety of costumes that represent each era in Sakai’s long history. This reminds you of “Jidai-matsuri” in Kyoto. Unlike religious festivals with the purpose of praying for good luck or bumper crops, this festival is just for fun, organized by the local government and communities of the city. Refer to the following article if you are interested: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/sakai-matsuri-2018-experience-sakai-citys-largest-celebration-year
Ohitaki refers to the ritual ceremony of putting religious offerings into the fire. The origin of this ceremony, also known as “Goma-daki”, came from ancient India. Wooden votive slips, which people have written their various wishes on, are gathered in front of the shrine hall and then the priests set a fire on them. Some sutras are chanted during this ceremony. After the ritual, about 4000 pieces of sticky mochi are up for grabs. The priests throw it from the second floor of the shrine. Purchase a ¥100 ticket for a snack and you can enjoy a bowl of “zenzai”, sweet red-bean soup with small pieces of mochi. Here is the official website of Namba Shrine: http://www.nanba-jinja.or.jp/event.html .(In Japanese)
From Hommachi Station or Shinsaibashi Station on the Subway Midosuji Line:
5 minutes’ walk to the shrine.
Some of the Momiji spots and fall festivals I picked up for this article are very familiar to many Japanese. On the other hand, others are local-oriented or at community-based events. Nevertheless, encountering something new and different there makes you feel more excited. I hope your trip can be full of pieces of small serendipity.
So, if you would like a local guide to spend a day with you or take you to a festival and tell you more information, please check the banner below.
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Check it out! URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4274/
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Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!
A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!
Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai
Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai
Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai