Autumn is almost here, at the end of September the nights will become cooler and the leaves will soon start to change color. Here are seasonal highlights in and around Hiroshima that you shouldn’t miss.
You can find a longer list and more detailed descriptions about upcoming events, Kagura, Wagashi, Junkissa and Koyo (autumn leaf viewing) spots in the Autumn GetHiroshima magazine. The magazine will be available from 9.19 at restaurants, hotels and information centers around Hiroshima city.
As always, it’s a great time to eat お好み焼きOkonomiyaki in Hiroshima. Best to choose the local, layered style for the true Hiroshima taste. A popular local chain is Mitchan and I have enjoyed a meal or two at the original branch near the YMCA. We have so many other favorites: Lopez in Yokogawa, Sari-chan, Nakataya near Peace park is a good choice for anyone with allergies/vegetarians, Ichiriki in Tokaichi and Toraji in Ushita are all fantastic. Autumn brings bigger appetites for the local specialty as it’s finally cooled off and the idea of sitting around a hotplate for a meal is actually nice.
It is also a great time to try Wagashi sweets. In the magazine, writer Matt Mangham discovers that Hiroshima city has many fabulous traditional sweet shops that serve freshly made creations beautifully designed to fit the season. Did you know you can book a sweets taxi to take you around to sample many of the amazing shops around the city? (Call (in Japanese) anytime of day to book your Sweets Taxi tour: 082-252-8180. You can also take a Wagashi class at many of these shops and try your hand at making a beautiful dessert in this traditional style.
Long-running Wagashi shop Kaorudo Harunaga (Ushita and Itsukaichi’s Coin-dori area) is another fantastic wagashi shop that also has amazing apple pies, roll cakes, cheesecakes and many other seasonal delights.
Enjoying a meal at a Junkissa old-style cafe is a passion of writer and restaurant-livehouse-performing artist, Goto Izumi. She takes us on a journey to explore her favorite old-style coffee houses around Hiroshima. You shouldn’t expect sparking clean and modern or top-of-the-line espresso here, these are not S’bucks. Instead, Junkissa have a style and character all their own. Chamonix Mont Banc (3-17 Horikawa-cho, Naka-ku) is on the top of her list. She also introduces Nakamura-ya (1-5-15 Sakai-machi, Naka-ku) and Fuji (4-20 Dobashi-cho, Naka-ku) too (you can find all these locations on the map inside the magazine.
Festivals 祭り Kumano Brush (9/22-23), Shirakami Shrine festival (10/28-29), Miyajima: fire-walking (11/3), Daishoin Momiji (11/16-30), Grand Inoko (Giant Rock) festival (11/8-9) in Fukuromachi park is a huge boulder lifted by ropes attached to tall bamboo poles, it is quite an amazing spectacle. The Ebisu-ko (11/18-20) festival is a big Hiroshima city event when food and game booths take over the city center.
Many Kagura performances at Shrine festivals in Hiroshima like the Shirakami-san festival at a city center shrine, next to the ANA Crowne Plaza. See gethiroshima events for more listings.
Koyo See the Autumn Color’s Guide-Hiroshima for pictures and details of the best places to enjoy nature this season. Of course Miyajima is at the top of everyone’s must-see list in autumn, it will be crowded on clear days (especially on the weekend) but use the backstreets and head up to the top of Mt.Misen for some picture postcard views of the surrounding island.
For autumn Leaf viewing in Hiroshima city: Mitaki temple, Shukkeien gardens, Hijiyama park, Mt.Ogonzan
Outside the city
As mentioned above, Miyajima island should be visited at least once in autumn.
The mountainous area of Gokurakuji in Itsukaichi is stunning and can be reached in about 40 minutes drive from the city, or there is a bus from Itsukaichi JR train station. It is a great place to take walks, nearby hot bath and meals at a lodge and stunning autumn views at a temple and around a small lake. Buttsuji temple in Mihara is about an hour’s drive away, but makes for a great daytrip.
Sankeien Gardens in the Hiroshima airport area is a must-see for anyone flying in and out of Hiroshima this season. The Yoshimizuen garden in Kake is also beautiful. The stunning walks and views at Sandankyo gorge and
Taishakukyo gorge are magical. There is a bus to Sandankyo from Hiroshima’s bus center (SOGO dept store).
Tsutsuga Oicho Giant Gingko tree in Akiota-city and Ozekiyama Koen park in Miyoshi are also wonderful daytrip locations this season.