As the Tokyo summer heat starts waving goodbye, September strolls in, bringing with it a cool breeze and a calendar jam-packed with things to do. Gone are the days of relentless heat; it’s now time to relish the crisp air, grab a light jacket, and step out to explore.
As you swap your ice-cold beers for warm sake, Tokyo’s got a lineup that’s just as transitionary. Think street dance-offs at the Yosakoi Oedo Soran Festival, electric beats at the ULTRA JAPAN Music Festival, and fireworks painting the night sky at the Chofu City Fireworks Festival. But it ain’t all just about the events. September is also the month to take leisurely strolls along the Meguro River or discover the hidden corners of Kagurazaka without breaking a sweat.
And hey, while Tokyo’s calendar is packed with cool shindigs like the Ōkunitama Shrine Autumn Festival, let’s not forget the simple joys. Sipping on a latte at a sidewalk café, or hunting for vintage finds in a tucked-away alley? Yep, September’s the time for it.
So, whether you’re here for the big events or the chill vibes, Tokyo in September is ready to show you a good time. Let’s dive in and make the most of it!
Meguro Sanma Festival
Stroll the lively streets of Meguro as the tantalizing aroma of grilled sanma (Pacific saury) fills the air. This festival celebrates the seasonal arrival of the Sanma fish. Thousands flock to get a taste of this grilled delicacy, served with a generous sprinkle of salt and a side of freshly grated radish. And if you’re wondering about the cost, the joy of tasting fresh Sanma is complimentary! Just remember to arrive early – it’s a popular affair.
Tokyo Game Show
If the world of video games beckons you, Tokyo Game Show at Makuhari Messe is your next stop. With its pulse on the latest in gaming technology, it boasts hundreds of demos and booths. Big-name developers to indie game creators showcase their latest projects here. Be ready for immersive VR experiences, lively panel discussions, and a sneak peek at future gaming trends.
Ikebukuro’s premier event, the Fukuro Festival, is a harmonious blend of the traditional and the contemporary. Spread over two weekends, this festival showcases traditional mikoshi (portable shrine) parades, rhythmic dance performances, and the local community’s vibrant spirit. As the evening approaches, don’t forget to sway to the beats of local musicians performing live.
Sumo Autumn Basho
The earth shakes at Ryogoku Kokugikan as sumo wrestlers lock horns in the Sumo Autumn Basho. Witness these athletes’ dedication, power, and technique in one of the six major sumo tournaments in Japan. While the electrifying bouts are the highlight, the rituals, ceremonies, and the crowd’s energy add to the unique experience. If you’re aiming for a closer view of the action, consider booking your tickets in advance.
Akasaka Hikawa Festival
Step back in time with the Akasaka Hikawa Festival. Located amidst the modern skyscrapers of Tokyo, the Hikawa Shrine offers a serene backdrop to this historic celebration. Grand horseback processions, ornately decorated mikoshi, and traditional folk dances transport you to old Edo.
Kichijoji Autumn Festival
Kichijoji, a favorite among Tokyo’s neighborhoods, brings out its rhythmic best with its Autumn Festival. The festival, centered around Musashino Hachimangu Shrine, sees a flurry of activity as mikoshi (portable shrines) make their way through the streets. Amidst the traditional beats, enjoy live music sessions ranging from jazz to pop. As you walk around, be sure to try the neighborhood’s specialty treats from street vendors.
Mukojima-Hyakkaen Gardens in Sumida ward becomes a vision in gold during the Hagi Festival. Celebrating the delicate beauty of the hagi (Japanese bush clover), this festival is a floral treat. Wander through paths flanked by these blossoming beauties, participate in tea ceremonies, or simply sit down for some poetic inspiration, just as many have for centuries.
Asakusa Samba Carnival
Asakusa, known for its historic charm, transforms into a riot of color, feathers, and beats during the Samba Carnival. Feel the streets vibrate with the energy of samba schools parading with a zeal that rivals Rio’s. Dancers in elaborate costumes, percussionists, and floats create a spectacle that’s a visual and auditory treat. Make sure your cameras are ready!
ULTRA JAPAN: The Beat of Tokyo’s Heart
Unleash your inner raver at Tokyo’s premier electronic music festival: ULTRA JAPAN. Odaiba’s Ultra Park becomes an electrified haven of booming basslines, radiant light shows, and world-class DJ lineups. While it’s a musical journey, the festival is also a culinary treat with gourmet food stalls catering to every palette. Put on your dancing shoes and immerse yourself in this electrifying experience.
Stretched over a whopping 11 days, the Daradara Matsuri in Shiba holds true to its name, which loosely translates to “lengthy.” Located at the Shiba Daijingu Shrine, attendees are treated to traditional music, spellbinding dance performances, and plenty of local food to keep the energy going. And what’s the highlight? It’s said that attending ensures a year’s worth of good health and happiness!
Wa No Akari x Hyakudan Kaidan:
Blend into an illuminating experience at the Hotel Gajoen Tokyo with the Wa No Akari x Hyakudan Kaidan event. Showcasing hundreds of lanterns and light art pieces, this event merges modern artistry with traditional aesthetics. As you ascend the ‘hyakudan’ or 100 steps, each floor reveals a different theme, creating a mosaic of lights, colors, and sensations.
Senzoku-Ike Autumn Festival
Nestled in the quaint corner of Ota ward is Senzoku-Ike, a serene pond that comes alive during its autumn festival. Traditional performances grace the edges of the water, while boat rides offer a different perspective of the festivities. As you stroll, indulge in some delicious street food, perhaps a warm ‘taiyaki’ as a nod to the upcoming cooler months.
Yosakoi Oedo Soran Festival
Vibrant costumes, dynamic dance moves, and contemporary beats intertwined with traditional rhythms – that’s Yosakoi Oedo Soran Festival for you! Tokyo’s streets are splashed with color as hundreds of dance teams bring their A-game, competing with enthusiasm and showcasing the splendid fusion of modern and classic dance styles. An electrifying event, it promises a visual and auditory feast.
Chofu City Fireworks Festival
As the summer heat fades, Chofu City offers a fiery respite with its grand Fireworks Festival. Picture thousands of pyrotechnics painting the night sky, reflections shimmering in the Tama River, and gasps of awe from the crowd with every burst of color. Grab a picnic blanket, some snacks, and join the locals as they lay back and enjoy the celestial spectacle above.
Atami Sea Fireworks
The coastal town of Atami, just a Shinkansen ride away from Tokyo, offers a mesmerizing display with its sea fireworks. As darkness envelopes the skies, the waters light up with multi-colored reflections of the pyrotechnics above. Claim a cozy spot on the beach or opt for a traditional ryokan with ocean views for an elevated spectacle. Either way, it’s a romantic rendezvous with nature.
Setagaya Hachimangu Fall Festival
Delve into the heart of Setagaya with the Hachimangu Fall Festival. A celebration that’s deep-rooted in the neighborhood’s traditions, it features vibrant processions, rhythmic taiko drums, and enthusiastic shouts of ‘Wasshoi!’ echoing through the streets. And while you’re there, enjoy the local delicacies and crafts available at various stalls.
Onjuku Ise-ebi Festival
Head to the coastal town of Onjuku in Chiba for a festival dedicated to the king of crustaceans: the Ise-ebi, or Japanese spiny lobster. It’s a culinary paradise for seafood lovers. Participate in Ise-ebi themed games, watch the grand parade, and, most importantly, feast on a variety of lobster dishes, be it grilled, boiled, or in a sumptuous bisque.
Kappabashi Kitchenware Street Festival
Tokyo’s kitchen district, Kappabashi, celebrates its craft in September. The streets come alive with stalls displaying everything from traditional Japanese kitchenware to modern culinary gadgets. Culinary demos, food stalls offering gourmet bites, and workshops (think knife-sharpening or pottery) ensure that there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a professional chef or just a foodie at heart.
Hike Up the Takaosan Mountain
September is the perfect month for hiking, and Mt. Takao offers a convenient escape from the city hustle. Just an hour away from central Tokyo, Takaosan has multiple trails suitable for both beginners and seasoned hikers. Once at the top, reward yourself with a panoramic view of Tokyo and, if the skies are clear, a majestic glimpse of Mt. Fuji.
Stroll the Meguro River
While Meguro River is renowned for its cherry blossoms in spring, its charm in September is under-the-radar. The serene waterside setting becomes a tranquil spot for evening walks, especially with the trees beginning to show the earliest autumnal hues. Bonus: check out the stylish cafés lining the river for a quick snack.
Get Lost in Kagurazaka’s Alleys
Once known for its traditional entertainment with geishas, Kagurazaka now marries the old with the new. Wander its stone-paved paths, discover hidden shrines, and indulge in some of the finest French patisseries the city offers. The blend of Tokyo’s past and cosmopolitan present is evident here.
Rediscover Tsukiji’s Outer Market
While the inner wholesale fish market has moved to Toyosu, Tsukiji’s Outer Market remains a foodie’s delight. Sample some of the freshest sushi, savor the flavors of grilled seafood sticks, or just relish a matcha ice cream. September’s pleasant weather makes the culinary adventure even more delightful.
Tokyo Weather in September: From Sunnies to Sweaters
September in Tokyo? It’s like that moment you realize your iced coffee tastes just as good warm. The month starts with summer trying to stick around a bit longer—cue the sunnies and occasional ice creams. But by the time you’re midway, there’s a noticeable chill in the mornings and evenings. Those lightweight sweaters you packed? Yeah, it’s their time to shine.
You’ll feel the humidity drop, making your jaunts around the city less of a sticky adventure. But keep that umbrella handy, because Tokyo does like to throw in a sprinkle or two, just to keep things fresh. By the end of the month, the trees start hinting at the autumn spectacle to come, with subtle changes in their leafy attire.
So, whether you’re rocking your sandals or pulling out those comfy ankle boots, Tokyo in September keeps you on your toes, outfit-wise. It’s a blend of warm days, cool nights, and that unmistakable feeling that something new is just around the corner. Tokyo in September? It’s unpredictable but in the best way possible.
The Sum Up
If you’ve managed to tick off even a handful of these experiences, consider your September in Tokyo well-spent. And if you haven’t? Well, there’s always next year or the ever-alluring October just around the corner. Because, in a city as vibrant as Tokyo, every month offers a new set of wonders waiting to be discovered.