Japan in October offers a captivating blend of traditional festivals, cultural events, and natural wonders. From breathtaking rice field art to vibrant music festivals and historical parades, there’s something for everyone to enjoy during this beautiful autumn month. Let’s explore the exciting events and activities you can experience in Japan in October.
Tanbo Art Festival in Aomori
Date: June 10 – October 9
The Aomori town of Inakadate has become famous for its Tanbo Art event held from early June until early October each year. “Tanbo” means rice field, and this ingenious art is created by growing different crops to paint enormous living murals. The murals can only be viewed from up high. One observation point is the Japanese castle-themed village office (Inakadate Village Observatory), where you’ll see “The Gate Fence and the Girl with the Pearl Earring” rice paddy art. It will be open from May 29 to October 9, with the exception of October 1.
You will be able to see the One Piece art from the other observation tower, Yayoi no Sato Observatory, open from June 10 to October 9. Both towers cost ¥300 and are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A free 9-seater shuttle runs between the two venues.
How to get there
From Shin-Aomori Station, take the Ou Line for 45 minutes until Hirosaki Station. Change to the Kuroishi Local Train and stay on for around 30 minutes to Tambo Art Station. From here, you can walk to the Yayoi no Sato Observatory in just 5 minutes.
M Music Festival 2023
Date: October 14 – October 15
Join a vibrant music festival that combines music, culture, and fun under a starry sky. Over the two days at M Festival, you’ll discover heart-pounding live performances and experiences. There isn’t just one genre to groove to—get ready for reggae, rock, ska, electronic beats, and everything in between. Along with fantastic sets and DJs, the festival invites you to explore its natural surroundings, from small babbling creeks to imposing wild mountains.
The festival will feature a riveting lineup that includes bands and artists from around the world. Different acts will play on different days, so make sure to check the website for details.
See Dachambo, the first Japanese band to perform at Burning Man; Rankin Taxi, a legendary Japanese reggae artist; Neomak, a female group from the Basque Country; These Three Words, blending the styles Latin, ska, acid jazz, punk, and new wave; and many more.
Nada no Kenka Festival
Date: October 14 – October 15
The Nada no Kenka Matsuri is a fighting festival held at Matsubara Hachiman Shrine in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture in October. The first day of celebrations sees seven yatai floats from seven different districts transported to the shrine for ceremonies between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The following day sees three teams of younger men in fundoshi (loin cloths) carrying three huge mikoshi (portable shrines) jostle and violently crash into each other in the area around the shrine from 9 a.m. until midday. The jostling/fighting is continued at 1 p.m. and again at 4:30 p.m.
Kobe Port Fireworks Festival 2023
Date: October 16 – October 20
In 2023, there will be a small-scale firework event with a 10-minute firework show every day for five consecutive days.
Officially the “Kobe Port Marine Fireworks Festival,” this event is rated as one of the top fireworks festivals in the Kansai region. In past years, approximately a quarter of a million people have gathered to see 15,000 explosive projectiles shot into the night sky. Meriken Park is the main free spot for viewing the fireworks, but expect huge crowds. The fireworks are launched from barges located between Kobe Harborland and Port Island.
How to get there?
Meriken Park is a few minutes’ walk from the Minatomotomachi and Motomachi Stations on the Kaigan Subway line. This station, along with the nearby Hanakuma Station on the Kobekosoku Tetsudo line, will no doubt get incredibly busy, so we suggest taking the 15-minute walk from Kōbe station instead (if that’s where you’re traveling from).
Jidai Matsuri: Kyoto’s Historical Parade 2023
Date: October 22
Want to see a slice of Japanese history? The Jidai Matsuri — Festival of Ages — is one of Kyoto’s biggest October draws.
It commemorates the founding of Kyoto as the Imperial capital by the Emperor Kammu in 794, so this is definitely one for the history enthusiasts. The Jidai Matsuri is a procession of over 2000 people in costumes from every era of Japanese history, departing from the Kyoto Imperial Palace in the morning and moving along a route several kilometers long to Heian Jingu Shrine. Geisha also participate in the Jidai Matsuri, dressed in junhitoe kimono, some of the most elegant and complex clothing in the world. This festival, established in 1895, is all about authenticity — the costumes, music, and symbolism are all historically accurate.
This festival is held annually on October 22.
The best places to view the parade are the Imperial Palace (in the morning) and Heian Shrine (around 2 p.m.), but get there early: the festival is mega popular. You can also check out the participants before and after the event.
How to get there
Both of the venues are near Jingumarutamachi Station, and Heian Jingu Shrine is near Higashiyama Station.
Kurama no Hi Matsuri
Date: October 22
Bonfires, torches, shrines, and gods are all out in the streets for this vibrant Kyoto festival. Taking place in Kurama, a small village north of Kyoto proper, the Kurama no Hi Matsuri is a cultural event rather than a big party, but it has energy to spare. The matsuri starts at about 6 p.m. in the evening when big kagaribi bonfires are lit along the village streets. In 2022, there was a scaled-down version, although it’s unclear how that will look like in 2023.
Households display their family heirlooms, and a procession of local children and adults carrying taimatsu (flaming pinewood torches that vary from 5kg to 200kg in weight) snake through the streets to Yuki-jinja Shrine in the grounds of Kurama-deru Temple (a hidden gem in itself). For the finale, teams of men carry mikoshi (elaborate palanquins) up the steep path to the shrine (this part was canceled for 2022).
Miyazakijingu Festival 2023
Date: October 28 – October 29
The Miyazakijingu Taisai (Miyazaki Shrine Grand Festival) is a traditional festival at one of Miyazaki Prefecture’s major Shintō shrines with a history of more than 140 years.
Colloquially known as Jinmu-sama, the festival features a “procession of the gods” on both days from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. Participants in the parade wear traditional garb, and some will be on horseback. In the evening on Saturday, there will also be entertainment in and around Jinmu-Sama Square.
Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Japan
Date: September 8 – November 5
Experience Halloween like never before at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka.
What to expect
Make your way through a terrifying Japanese horror maze, fight with monsters in Biohazard™: The Extreme +, fend off hordes of zombies — now, with added projection mapping — and steel yourself for even more blood-curdling attractions as part of the special Halloween Horror Night lineup. Discover the lineup here.
Tickets are limited, and lines are bound to be long, so it’s recommended to purchase your tickets in advance. Many of the Horror Night attractions are not suitable for children, but the little ones can enjoy a range of daytime Halloween activities, like parades and trick-or-treating.
Disney Music and Fireworks Festival
Date: September 2 – December 9
For the first time in Japan, Disney is bringing music and fireworks across the country.
Iconic and classic Disney songs will be synchronized to fireworks as the company celebrates its 100th anniversary. The tour will be stopping at various places, including Hitachi Seaside Park, Kirara Expo Memorial Park, Maishima Sports Island, Miyazaki Seaside Park, and Ginowan Tropical Beach. Doors will open two hours before the start time featured above.
A basic ticket costs ¥8,800 for an adult and ¥12,100 if you also want some goodies thrown in. Purchase your tickets here