With typhoon season largely over by the end of September, October offers some of Japan's fairest and most comfortable weather. It's a time of harvest and harvest festivals, outdoor excursions, autumnal hikes and art and culture.
Prime harvest time, food tastes great in October, from Japanese pears and persimmon fruit to rice, soba noodles and sake. Niigata, a top-sake and rice producing region, is a great place to sample some of the seasonal sake varieties and even catch a glimpse of the rice harvest in action.
The picturesque Hoshitoge Terraced Rice Fields look great in autumn and the rice is generally harvested through until mid-October. For quirky rice field art, head to Inakadate Village in Aomori: It has become an internet sensation in recent years.
There are festivals throughout the year in Japan, and the month of October is no exception. Many of them have evolved from simple harvest festivals to the colorful parades and processions you can see today. The Takayama Autumn Festival , on October 9 and 10, is a particularly impressive affair.
Believed to have originated as a primitive harvest festival itself, Halloween has taken off big in Japan and become a major fixture on the October event calendar. You can find costume parties at most of the bars and clubs in the big cities over the last two weekends of the month, but Shibuya , in Tokyo , is without doubt the center of the nation's celebrations. Expect to see Mario, Minions and a host of cuter characters thrown into the mix of gory characters typical at Halloween.
While you will have to wait until November for the best colors in Tokyo , Kyoto and other warmer regions, Tohoku , Hokkaido and more northerly and higher altitude locations peak at various times throughout October.
Popular spots in central Japan include Kurobe Gorge and the similarly-named but separate Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route . The Karasawa Col in the Kamikochi area is another highly-regarded spot, that is extremely popular with hikers.
Japan has a huge selection of National Parks throughout the country and whether the leaves have turned or not, October is an excellent season to explore them. Some of the best include the Towada-Hachimantai park straddling Akita , Aomori and Iwate prefectures, and Oze National Park which spans four different prefectures.
For something a little less active, visit one of the many leading art galleries or museums throughout the country. Autumn is traditionally considered the time for the arts in Japan, and many of the biggest and best exhibitions begin in October.