Taketomi Island pier in Okinawa

Five spots for a warm weather vacation in autumn in Japan

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By Liam Carrigan

We all know Japanese summers are hot, humid, and leave us drenched in a constant flow of sweat. If heatstroke doesn’t get you, then maybe the mosquitoes will!

However, being from Scotland, the only place in the world with a rainy season that runs from January to December, I have learned never to complain about sunny weather. Such climates are, after all, a treasured commodity to Glaswegians like me.

So, if you’re like me, the cool breeze that comes with September may not be universally welcomed. Maybe, you’d like to make that summer sun last just a little bit longer.

Of course, September also brings with it a four-day weekend. This presents a great opportunity to get away and enjoy a last little bit of sunshine and top up your vitamin D reserves before winter sets in.

With that in mind, here are five destinations in Japan where the summer sun lasts well into autumn.

5. Matsuyama, Ehime Prefecture

While Matsuyama is perhaps best known for its famous Dogo Onsen hot spring resorts, it also has one of the mildest climates in Japan. Located on the southwestern tip of Shikoku, Matsuyama faces out into the warming waters of the Seto Inland Sea, itself an offshoot of the tropical currents of the Pacific Ocean.

Matsuyama Castle’s defenses include extensive watchtowers and trick gates to foil invaders.

The undoubted jewel in Matsuyama’s crown is Matsuyama Castle. Most castles from Japan’s feudal period were built in the center of their respective cities, and Matsuyama Castle is no different in this regard. What sets it aside from most other castles, however, is its elevation above the city. Sitting atop a hill in the city center, Matsuyama Castle offers superb panoramic views, not just of the city but also of the coastline and Seto Inland Sea, including the numerous small islands that are dotted around the area. On a clear day, you can even see right across the water to the main island of Honshu.

The castle itself was originally built in 1628, with the current form of the main keep dating from 1820. It sits atop Mount Katsuyama which can be ascended either with a brisk 15-minute hike uphill or via a ropeway if you’re feeling a bit lazy.

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The sun shines all over Japan in autumn. You don't need to go to a special place to find it.

For 2020 in particular, I guess its a good chance to go to famous autumn leaf spots that would normally be crowded with foreign tourists. Kyoto temples etc. There are great colours all over the country.

Clear skies mean the best place to go are the mountains. If staying up there, note that it can get close to zero C overnight. Many mountain huts will start closing at the end of the month, so start planning soon.

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