From mid-November to mid-December, the Japanese partake in momijigari, or "autumn leaf hunting" by walking around and admiring the beautiful autumn leaves. The season also influences its gastronomy in aspects of ingredients and presentation, when foods like persimmons, Pacific saury, and sweet potatoes are typically enjoyed. This culture is more evident in Kyoto, where you can find homages to the season in its cuisine, from lavish kaiseki meals to colourful wagashi sweets.
Kyoto may be famous in Japan for its shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) and yuba (tofu skin), but come autumn, special dishes incorporating seasonal ingredients are abundant. Kaiseki dishes may be decorated with maple leaf shapes, and include ingredients like persimmon and luxurious matsutake mushrooms. Autumn is also the perfect time to try kuri gohan (chestnut rice), a beloved Kyoto dish, and the mizuna hotpot – mizuna is a small, leafy green with a mild pepper flavour which makes it ideal for hotpots. Pair any of the meals with some fresh sake produced in spring and left to age till autumn, known as akiagari, which has rich, complex flavours to complete the autumn meal experience.
At HOSHINOYA Kyoto, a luxurious Japanese-style resort, you can indulge in these autumn delights while gazing out the guest pavilion windows that beautifully frame the nature. Located within a protected forest, access to this riverside resort is by boat only. To enjoy the outdoors, reserve a spot on the Japanese-style boat called Hisui, and spend a tranquil time making matcha green tea as you sail through the wooded mountains of Arashiyama for its amazing foliage. You can also opt for an overnight package that includes an incense ceremony, Zen meditation, and a houseboat ride.
Address: 11-2 Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Nishikyo Ward, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0007