September in Japan marks the start of the gradual cooling of temperatures from the summer months.
There are still a lot of hot days at the beginning of September, so you need to make sure to continue to hydrate and take other precautions against heat stroke well into this month.
But once Japan transitions toward the end of the month, the mornings and evenings begin to cool down.
The cooler temperature gradually travels starting from the northern regions like Hokkaido downwards, and it begins to feel a lot more like fall.
At the end of September (on a Monday and Tuesday between the 18th and 23rd every year) there are two public holidays: Respect-for-the-Aged Day and the autumn equinox, forming a four-day weekend!
Lots of Japanese people take this break as an opportunity to travel within the country, so be aware that this could affect the prices, congestion, and capacity of transportation and lodgings.
September also marks the start of fall and this change in seasons is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors.
Today, we’ll be showing you the best flower field escapes and the perfect cycling routes that even beginner cyclists can enjoy when you get the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
The three best flower fields to visit in September
Let’s kick things off with an introduction to Japan’s flower parks!
You can find lots of different flower parks and flower fields blooming across the entire country with new flowers and colors each season.
In September in particular, you’ll be able to see autumnal flowers like the cosmoses and red spider lilies blooming.
So how about admiring the beauty of these flowers as you take a stroll through a calming natural space and breathe in that refreshing fall air?
Over five million red spider lilies! (Kinchakuda, Saitama Prefecture)
One of the most popular places to see red spider lilies is Kinchakuda in Saitama Prefecture.
From mid-September until October, the five million red spider lilies in this flower field, surrounded by trees and a beautiful babbling stream, bloom into a magical sea of red.
There are plenty of facilities, like campgrounds and barbecue areas, nearby, as well as a hiking trail, making this the perfect spot for those who want to spend a day surrounded by nature.
[Note] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this spot is closed throughout 2020. Note that camping overnight is prohibited, but you can still use the barbecue area and day camps during the day.
Hitachi Seaside National Park (Ibaraki Prefecture)
You can see all kinds of flowers throughout the year in this massive 215-hectare park!
September is the perfect time to view fall flowers like pampas grass, cosmoses, and one of this park’s stars—the kochia (more commonly referred to as summer cypress or burning bush.)
Kochia bushes are also known in Japan as hoki-gusa (broom plant) because the branches can be dried and turned into brooms.
Kochia bushes change color with the seasons, from green in the summer to a beautiful red in the fall months, so September is the perfect time to catch them mid-transformation!
Hana-no-Miyako Park, Yamanaka Lake (Yamanashi Prefecture)
This flower park in the highlands near Mount Fuji has a free flower field and plantation area to enjoy alongside the Seiryu-no-Sato water park.
In the flower field and plantation area, you can gaze across a vast sea of flowers with the silhouette of Mount Fuji hovering majestically in the background.
During September, you’ll find golden cosmoses, zinnia, and buckwheat flowers blooming here, which you can view while cycling on one of Lake Yamanaka’s bikes for hire throughout the park.
Seiryu-no-Sato is also a great place to enjoy with kids thanks to its playgrounds, water attractions, and greenhouse flower gardens.
Cycling through the sea breeze
Our other recommended activity for September is cycling because September is the perfect month for it now that the ferocity of the summer heat is waning.
Cycling is not only the perfect way to enjoy the cool breeze but is also the perfect way to explore a new town or village and discover little-known out-of-the-way gems.
Perhaps one of the most famous cycling routes is the Shimanami Cycling Road around the Seto Inland Sea.
It spans the 70 km channel between Onomichi City in Hiroshima Prefecture and Imabari city in Ehime Prefecture and is often cited as a cyclist holy ground.
The 70 km course crosses numerous islands within the Seto Inland Sea and provides cyclists with break and toilet facilities, places to fill up on water, etc.
But not to worry if you don’t have a bike!
You can hire one out in this area, easily sightsee all over the islands and drop them off at any of the multiple terminals along the cycling route.
There are lots of places where you can drop by with your bike along this route, but one of the most loved is Onomichi U2 in Onomichi City, Hiroshima Prefecture.
It’s a unique place that combines a restaurant, shop, and accommodation where you can check in with your bicycle.
There’s even a cafe and bakery that specializes in fresh local cuisine from the nearby coast, so feel free to pop in even if you’re not planning on staying!
The 2 prefectures that are connected by Shimanami: Hiroshima and Ehime
The Shimanami Highway spans two amazing prefectures for sightseeing—Hiroshima, and Ehime.
Hiroshima is famous for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Dome, the deer/maple-populated island of Miyajima, and its unique cuisine including Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki pancakes, oysters, and anago conger eel dishes.
Ehime is home to one of the three best antique hot springs in Japan, Dogo Onsen, and is loved by foodies as one of the prominent mikan orange growing regions of Japan and for its local octopus-based specialties.
The climate of the Seto Inland Sea, which lies between two of the main Japanese islands, Honshu and Shikoku, is pretty good.
The great weather has made Okayama Prefecture one of the biggest fruit-growing prefectures in Japan and well worth a trip to visit its fruit farms and art galleries.
We also recommend checking out Naoshima in Kagawa Prefecture.
A cycling spot famous for its hot springs
Lastly, since it’s September, we want to tell you all about one of the cycling routes in the Kanto region that’s especially great in this season—Chichibu Cycling Course.
Chichibu is only 80 minutes away from Tokyo, but is surrounded by greenery, mountains and clear streams.
There are so many ways to enjoy this area, whether it’s visiting Chichibu’s historic shrines, temples, and hot springs.
Being inspired by its green valleys or sightseeing spots where you can look up and stare at a sea of clouds, or sampling its famous soba.
And with a bike by your side, it makes it easy to enjoy all of these things in the space of a single day.
The Chichibu Cycling Course features a number of routes for every skill level from beginner to expert.
The beginner’s course offers a comfortable route alongside beautiful streams, soba restaurants, and throughout the countryside and is perfect for traversing with the entire family.
September is also autumn buckwheat season, so we recommend a cycling tour to sample the soba dishes that are made from it.
For expert riders, there’s a 100 km course that goes all around Chichibu and a challenge course that winds all the way up to a mountain shrine that sits at 1100 m above sea level where you’re rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views for your trouble.
Cycling through the fields and forests and alongside beautiful babbling springs is the perfect way to shed the fatigue and weariness we accumulate in our everyday lives.
You can get hold of the Chichibu Cycling Map “CLELE” from here. Please make sure to check it before you set out on your ride!
[Note] There are points of the cycling course that pass by residential homes or along public roads, so make sure to ride while observing traffic rules so that you don’t ruin your holiday with an accident or a visit to the police station!
The Chichibu mountains are also home to bears who are active from spring through to fall.
If you’re planning to travel through these mountains, please make sure to carry a bell or a music player to scare any bears away and if you do encounter one, please try not to agitate it.
- Written by Sumire Hayakawa
- Translated by Carley Radford