Japan’s borders are finally opening! When are YOU going?

Sensoji temple pagoda and gate lit up at night

After two and a half looong years, the Japanese government finally announced that from October 11, 2022, you don’t have to be on a tour or book your tickets through a Japanese travel agent or get a visa, as long as you can prove you are vaccinated and boosted!*

If you’ve been itching to go to Japan, now’s the time to get a trip in the works. The exchange rate is the best it’s been in thirty years, the tide of incoming tourist crowds won’t reach its previous peak for a year, and Japan dishes up glorious sights and events all year long.

For those of you who are ready to hop on a plane the minute the country opens

Here are some killer events that take place in October:

The Bakeneko Ghost Cat Parade

Costumed participants in the Bakeneko parade in Tokyo
The costumed participants in the Bakeneko Ghost Cat Parade (Bakeneko) never fail to delight and entertain. Truly an only-in-Japan experience

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Festival of 10,000 Lanterns (Oeshiki Ikegami)

Flower bedecked miniature pagodas in the Oeshiki Ikegami festival of 10,000 lanterns
This nighttime parade of golden pagoda lanterns festooned with streamers of white flowers is well worth the outing and the crowds. The revelers parade though the Ikegami neighborhood to the magnificnet Ikegami Honga-ji temple, which is lit up at night for the occasion

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Vast vistas of blooming cosmos flowers

Fields of blooming pink and purple cosmos flowers at Showa Kinen Park
Waves of blooming cosmos fields brighten Tokyo from late September to early October.

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If you can stand to wait until November, you can see the weird world of bonsai chrysanthemums!

Bonsai chrysanthemum figures at the Yushima Shrine in Tokyo
Gotokuji’s wooden pagoda is the perfect backdrop for splendid red and gold maple leaves in mid-November. You’ll find them here earlier than in central Tokyo.

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Not to mention the other crazy chrysanthemum displays all over Tokyo during the month of November

Bonsai chrysanthemum cart at Jindai Botanical Garden
This bizarre wagonload of chrysanthemum fox tails is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Anywhere.

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The best leaf-viewing spots in Tokyo are predicted to be at their peak around November 29.

Autumn leaves surrounding the Gotokuji Temple pagoda
Gotokuji’s wooden pagoda is the perfect backdrop for splendid red and gold maple leaves in mid-November. You’ll find them here earlier than in central Tokyo.

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And some of them are lit up at night!

Alley of gingko trees with autumn leaves lit up at night at Showa Kinen Park
These are in Showa Kinen Park, but they are not alone in their night-viewing leaf glowitude!

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But if you’re the kind of traveler who prefers to anticipate your trip and plan ahead…

Here’s how to pick the best time to see everything you’re dying to see, with weather notes:

Button for link to When is the best time to go to Japan?

And here are my favorite festivals and events, by month:

Button for link to festivals and events in Tokyo by month

Once you’ve chosen your dates, what else do you want to see while you’re in Tokyo?

Button for link to Jonelle Patrick's favorite shrines and temples in Tokyo
Button for link to Jonelle Patrick's favorite gardens in Tokyo
Button for link to Jonelle Patrick's favorite museums in Tokyo
Button for link to Jonelle Patrick's favorite only-in-Japan experiences in Tokyo

And if you’d like to see all the off-the-beaten-path places I take my friends to see when they’re in town, here’s a link to The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had:

Button for link to The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had

And if you’re looking for spectacular places to visit beyond Tokyo…

Every month I put out an e-magazine called Japanagram.

If you subscribe (it’s free!), every month you’ll get a spectacular Beyond Tokyo destination (with directions on how to get there), a Japan Home Cooking recipe, features on seasonal secrets, explanations of baffling Japanese stuff, and a chance to win some choice Japan swag. It’s free, and I’ll never share or sell your info (plus, of course you can always unsubscribe <sob!>) Click here to start getting it:

And finally, from me to you, safe & happy travels!

*They haven’t published the exact guidelines for incoming tourist visa travelers on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website yet (although that’s the page to check, once they do), but the prime minister announced that visitors from 70 countries will no longer have to apply for their 90-day visas before entering Japan (there will be a list on that MOFA site) as long as they are vaccinated and boosted. Until now, the only vaccines accepted for visa approval were Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, Astra-Zeneca, Janssen, and Bharat Biotech, but it’s still unclear if this new decision will deny entry to those who are vaccinated with other brands. It has also been hinted (but not confirmed) that visitors may be able to show a certified negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of landing instead of proof of vaccination. Again, the MOFA website is where that information will be posted.

 The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon

For three hundred years, a missing tea bowl passes from one fortune-seeker to the next, changing the lives of all who possess it…read more

“A fascinating mix of history and mystery.” —Booklist

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly e-magazine Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had

Published by Jonelle Patrick

Writes all the Japan things.

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