When November comes around, Japan transforms into a country filled with vibrant festivals, cultural celebrations, and breathtaking experiences. In this comprehensive guide, we will take you on a journey through some of the most captivating events that will make your November trip to Japan unforgettable. From the fiery spectacle of fire-walking in Hiroshima to the enchanting world of Studio Ghibli in Kyoto, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Fire-Walking Ceremony at Daiganji Temple
Date: November 3
Time: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
One of the most remarkable events in November is the Fire-Walking Ceremony at Daiganji Temple, situated on the scenic island of Itsukushima/Miyajima. During this festival, brave priests and members of the public walk briskly across searing hot coals with bare feet, showcasing their unwavering faith and determination.
The ceremonies generally kick off around 1 p.m., and the awe-inspiring fire-walking takes place an hour or two later. To ensure you don’t miss a moment, we recommend arriving early, as schedules may change on the day.
If you’re considering participating in this extraordinary ritual, be prepared for a truly unique experience. However, it’s essential to be aware that injuries are not unheard of, so exercise caution and respect for the sacred tradition.
How to Get There
Daigan-ji Temple is conveniently located just a short walk from Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima island. You can easily reach the island with a short boat trip from Hiroshima.
In case you can’t make it on November 3, don’t worry. There’s another chance to witness this incredible tradition. Daishōin Temple on Miyajima hosts a similar fire-walking ceremony on November 13.
Utsunomiya Gyoza Festival
Date: November 3 – November 5
For the food enthusiasts, the Utsunomiya Gyoza Festival in Tochigi prefecture is a must-visit. Utsunomiya is renowned for its gyoza, the delicious dumplings of Chinese origin that have become a staple in Japanese ramen restaurants.
The festival takes place at Utsunomiya Park in the heart of the city. Here, various stalls offer plates of three delectable dumplings for a mere ¥200. It’s an excellent opportunity to savor this mouthwatering Japanese specialty in a lively and festive atmosphere. You can find more about Gyoza here.
Ishigaki Island Festival
Date: November 4 – November 5
Time: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
If you’re looking for a diverse cultural experience, the Ishigaki Island Festival on the island of Ishigaki in Okinawa is an event you shouldn’t miss. This local festival offers a wide range of performances and attractions to captivate your senses.
Among the many exciting events are bench press challenges, stage performances, and live music. The festival typically culminates in a spectacular fireworks display on the second day, lighting up the evening sky with a kaleidoscope of colors.
teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live – GC
Date: October 9 – November 5
Step into a world of digital art and natural beauty at teamLab: A Forest Where Gods Live – GC in Takeo Onsen, Kyūshū. This unique exhibition invites visitors to explore Mifuneyama Rakuen Park, where ancient trees, hidden caves, and winding paths meet a stunning array of digital art, including colorful projections and illuminations.
The exhibit runs during the evening hours, creating a magical atmosphere that perfectly complements the park’s natural charm. The opening times vary based on the season, so be sure to check the schedule before your visit.
If you hold a teamLab Exhibition & Daytime “Rakan Bath” Combo Ticket, you’ll have the opportunity to view some of the indoor artworks from 11 a.m. Make the most of your visit by exploring the Excavated Path Leading to the Ancient Sacred Tree.
You can purchase tickets online or on the day of your visit. Prices range from ¥1,200 for adults during weekdays (excluding holidays and August 14–16) to ¥1,600 during other times. Children aged five and younger can enter for free.
For a more comprehensive experience, consider combination tickets starting at ¥5,200. These tickets include admission to the exhibition, access to the Daytime “Rakan Bath,” and a complimentary drink at EN TEA HOUSE Otoro.
How to Get There
The closest station to Mifuneyama Rakuen Park is Takeo Onsen. You can reach this station by taking the West Kyūshū Shinkansen. From there, it’s just an 8-minute bus or taxi ride to the park.
Date: November 10
Experience the elegance and grace of Kyoto’s Gion Odori, a cultural festival featuring performances by geiko (geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha) from the Gion Higashi district. This event takes place in the fall, as the vibrant foliage of Kyoto adds to the enchanting atmosphere.
Gion Odori is held at Gion Kaikan, near Yasaka Shrine, and has a history dating back to 1894. It’s one of Kyoto’s longest-running shows and offers a rare opportunity to witness the captivating performances of maiko and geiko up close.
Gion Odori 2023
Tickets for this enchanting event go on sale from August 1. Every spring and fall, Kyoto’s hanamachi (geisha districts) come to life with public dance performances, making it an affordable and respectful way to witness these iconic performing artists.
Kyoto Candlelight Concert: Best of Joe Hisaishi (Studio Ghibli)
Date: November 10
Time: 5:00 pm
Warm up a chilly November evening with the Kyoto Candlelight Concert: Best of Joe Hisaishi, featuring the timeless melodies from Studio Ghibli films. Therefore this enchanting event will transport you to the magical worlds of films like Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, and Princess Mononoke.
A string quartet will take you on a musical journey while you are surrounded by the soft glow of candles. Moreover there are two shows on this day, at 5 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., with each performance lasting 1 hour and 5 minutes.
Some of the songs expected to be played include:
- Kikujiro: “Summer”
- Kiki’s Delivery Service: “A Town with an Ocean View”
- Howl’s Moving Castle: “Merry Go Round of Life”
- Spirited Away: “One Summer’s Day”
- Laputa: Castle in the Sky: “Confessions in the Moonlight”
- My Neighbour Totoro: “The Wind Forest”
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: “Fantasia”
Ticket prices start at ¥3,900 for seats furthest from the stage (Zone D) and gradually increase the closer you get to the stage (¥4,900 for Zone C, ¥6,300 for Zone B, and ¥8,000 for Zone A).
How to Get There
The concert will be held at Kyoto Concert Hall, which is just a short 4-minute walk from Kitayama Station. Meanwhile if you’re traveling from Kyoto Station, a 15-minute ride on the Karasuma Line will get you there.
Mt. Fuji Marathon
Date: November 26
The Mount Fuji (Mt. Fuji) Marathon offers a unique opportunity to witness one of the world’s most famous mountains against the backdrop of a Japanese autumn. This event allows you to experience the natural beauty of Japan while participating in an exciting sports event.
How to Enter
Entry for the Mt. Fuji Marathon usually opens early in June and closes on September 30. Entry fees range from ¥10,000 to ¥25,000, a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime. Finish the race and earn a medal shaped like the iconic Mt. Fuji.
The marathon begins and ends at the Funatsu Parking Lot near Kawaguchiko Station. Moreover the route takes you on a loop around the two major lakes in the area, Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Saiko. Therefore be prepared for one challenging steep incline just before you descend into the Lake Saiko area.
How to Get There
Getting to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo is relatively straightforward. Moreover you can find detailed information on transportation options in our article. The key considerations are your budget and where you’d like to stay during this incredible event in Japan in November.
Fukuoka November Grand Sumo Tournament
Date: November 12 – November 26
Finally November brings the Fukuoka November Grand Sumo Tournament, marking the final of Japan’s six annual Sumo Tournaments, known as honbasho. Therefore this is a rare chance to witness the traditional sport up close and personal.
The sumo rankings are released a few weeks before the event, and it’s a thrilling experience to be a part of the atmosphere during the tense final matches of the day. Moreover Sumo matches take place throughout the day, allowing you to grab a meal and return for more exciting battles.
Finally the tickets come in various categories, including arena seats, Class S seating, and Class A seating. Prices start from ¥3,500 for arena seats, while Class S seating includes a guide from 2:30 pm and costs ¥16,902. Meanwhile Class A seating, which includes a guide, is priced at ¥19,000.
Moreover seating options range from box seating in tatami areas (seating four people) starting at around ¥40,000 to arena seats, which begin at ¥3,500. Therefore the most crowded times are typically on weekends and towards the end of the tournament.
If you’re not in Fukuoka during a tournament, there are still ways to witness sumo action in Tokyo, Japan in November.
Therefore November in Japan is a month of cultural exploration, breathtaking nature, and exhilarating sports. Whether you choose to witness the mesmerizing fire-walking ceremony in Hiroshima, indulge in mouthwatering gyoza at the Utsunomiya Gyoza Festival, or enjoy the digital art and natural beauty at teamLab in Kyūshū, there’s no shortage of unforgettable experiences waiting for you.