Personally, Autumn is my favourite. The climate (well until recent years – but let’s not go there), food, events. November marks mid-Autumn and is the month of rich autumn colour and harvest festivals replete with good things to gorge yourself on. Here are some recommendations to enjoy:
Momiji Maple Viewing Tea Gathering
Held annually at Shukkei-en the historic Edo period Japanese landscaped garden downtown. The garden is centred around a large pond which is fed by the Ota River with several islets and has scenic bridges. Designed by a tea-master Shukkei-en Garden is dotted with pretty, thatched teahouses. The garden’s name means “landscape garden in miniature” and is modelled after a famed landscape in ancient China. The Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum is located adjacent to the garden.
November 10 @ 9:30 am – 3:00 pm ¥1500
Address: 2-11 Kami-Nobori-Cho, Hiroshima
Autumn Leaf Viewing at Yoshimizu-en Garden
Yoshimizu Garden [吉水園] is a lovely, private garden dating back to the late 18th century, and only open to the public on two weekends, twice a year. It is known for its stunning autumn leaves and is a great place to take in on the way to or from Sandankyo Gorge and a worthy destination in its own right. It is also a designated Prefectural Wildlife reserve and natural habitat of the Forest Tree Frog (frog lovers already probably know this but hey…)
Location: Akiota-cho, Yamagata-gun, Hiroshima Prefecture.
15 minutes’ drive from Toguchi Interchange on the Chugoku Expressway.
November 15, 16 @ 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
A quiet (romantic) stroll along Peace Boulevard between Chuo Dori Street and Peace Bridge, thousands and thousands of sparkly, coloured LEDs in various designs, shapes and sizes, around the city centre. This is very popular with young families and dating couples.
Location: Peace Boulevard, Hiroshima City
More information on Hiroshima Dreamination
Firewalking ritual at Daishoin Temple
Readings of Buddhist Sutras adds to the mystery of the event and if you’re going, I’d plan to be there well before 11 am when those readings begin. The reading is followed by the extravagant fire ritual, one that originated in India before reaching Japan. The fire rituals begin around 1 pm in the temple forecourt with a purification offering to the altar and the chanting of sutras. This is followed by two Buddhist monks circling the area with swords and then shooting 7 arrows into the air which worshippers struggle to retrieve. Finally, while mountain priests blow conch shells, the pile of cypress branches is ignited. After the fire burns down and only red coals remain, the head Buddhist monk, followed by the mountain monks and worshippers, walk barefoot across the coals chanting a prayer for good health and fortune. Members of the public are welcome to cross the ashes barefoot. (I’ve done it and it is pretty tame as the ashes are barely warm by the time one crosses them). Firewalking ritual takes place at Daishoin Temple on Miyajima twice a year on April 15 and November 15.
Location: Daisho-in Temple, 210 Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi
“Hi-watari-shiki” – November 15 @ 11:00 am Free
More information on Firewalking ritual
Ritual Fire-walking at Daigan-ji Temple, Miyajima
An impressive and somewhat elaborate ritual that culminates in priests and members of the public crossing hot coals in front of Daigan-ji Temple, which is located at the exit from Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima.
Location: Daigan-ji Temple, 3 Miyajima-cho, Hatsukaichi City
November 3 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
photo by Jackie Ikegami
The history of Ebisu Shrine, on the Ebisu-dori shopping arcade at the rear of Mitsukoshi department store and Yamada Denki. in downtown Hiroshima city, is intimately linked to the development of the castle town itself. Ebisu, one of the seven lucky gods of fortune (shichi-fuku-jin), is one of the best-loved of the huge pantheon of Shinto gods or kami in Japan.
During the three days, the shopping centres become overrun with shoppers. While the shrine could not be called an architectural wonder, the parades and activities provide a lot of entertainment.
In addition to the food stalls, other stalls selling trinkets and lucky charms add a vibe to the festival. There is also the constant faint sound of drums and spectacle of costumed people. An essential element: the barrel of fortune. Like a giant piggy bank just waiting to be filled, a huge barrel receives yen notes and other items donated in the spirit of superstition. Even a small gesture is fine, but you should give thought to participating in the symbolic activity. And it may be good fortune for you, until next year.
The main Chuo-dori road is closed to traffic on at least one night during the festival where two stages host kagura dance and taiko drum performances.
Location: Ebisu Shrine, 5-14 Ebisu-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima
November 18 – November 20 Free
Senda Wasshoi Matsuri Flea Market
Senda Wasshoi Matsuri Flea Market is a sprawling flea market in Higashi Senda-machi Park which is next to the former Hiroshima University building. The market also populated by food stalls and live bands performing on a small stage giving the event a lively atmosphere.
Location: Higashi Senda Park, 1 Chome-1 Senda Machi, Naka Ward, Hiroshima
November 10 7:00 am – 3:00 pm Free
** in the event of heavy rain it will be postponed until December 1.
English Kagura Experience
Hiroshima YMCA hosts regular performances of Hiroshima Kagura specifically for overseas visitors. As well as a short introduction in English, a screen next to the stage provides simple summaries of what is happening in each act. Audience members have the opportunity to ask members of the night’s kagura troupe questions with the help of an interpreter. The experience finishes with a chance to check out and try on the gorgeous costumes and masks and take souvenir photos.
Doors open and tickets go on sale at 18:30 on the day of the show. The show starts at 19:00 and finishes at about 19:45. The performance is followed by a bilingual Q&A and an opportunity to take photos with the players, masks, and costumes.
Katsuragi-zan by the Yasuno Kagura Troupe
November 2 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Hiroshima YMCA, 7-11 Hatchobori, Naka-ku, Hiroshima