Travelling off-season: Sustainable Tourism in Autumn
Autumn, with its golden leaves and red beauty, is one of the favourite seasons for many people. Both for its beauty and for the weather, with temperatures halfway between the heat of summer and the cold of winter. In Japan, it also coincides with the end of the typhoon season, largely over by the end of September.
For travelling, autumn is an ideal period. After the peak summer season, when destinations are crowded and it is more difficult to enjoy a quiet holiday, comes this beautiful and pleasant period for travelling.
Benefits of travelling off season
Travelling off season has obvious benefits that every traveller has experienced. Destinations are less crowded, which allows you to enjoy them in a more relaxed way and have a higher quality experience. You have more space and time to appreciate and explore the most attractive destinations in Japan. Also, when travelling out of season the prices are cheaper, which allows any budget to include more amenities or activities for the same price.
But beyond these benefits, travelling in autumn has benefits closely linked to sustainable and responsible tourism that you may not be aware of.
Off-season travel and sustainable tourism
Travelling in autumn is a unique and enriching experience, with many benefits for both travellers and destinations. It allows you to explore Japan in a different way, discover lesser-known places and special events, while contributing to more sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism, which is essentially " meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (United Nations definition of sustainability), has a lot to do with not saturating the destination, taking into account its carrying capacity and not having a negative impact on its population, its environment or its biodiversity. Indeed, according to the GSTC criteria, we must take account of the capacity and integrity of the natural and cultural surroundings of the site.
As travellers, we can contribute to this much more easily by travelling off season:
1. Avoid overtourism
Overtourism is a major problem for the tourist destinations, the local population and also for you as a traveller. Japan is a country that attracts many international travellers because of its rich culture and tradition, its festivals, its landscapes... especially during the cherry blossom and summer periods. However, Japan has a lot to offer outside these times of the year. By choosing to travel off-season, travellers will avoid congesting locations, often fragile as it is an island nation.
This will avoid negative impacts on the country and allow you to benefit from a much better experience, appreciating the destination with calm, serenity and pleasure. If you want to slow down and enjoy slow travel without being surrounded by people all the time, come and discover the hidden charms of Japan in autumn. If you want to know more about slow tourism, we tell you more about the benefits a self-care vacation in this article.
2. Get deeper connections
As a consequence of the above is the fact of living deeper and more enriching experiences. By travelling calmly, surrounded by fewer travellers, you will be able to experience more quality interactions with the destination and the local population.
Local people will be more open and willing to welcome and share with the tourist if they don’t see their place of life suffocated, and can continue to enjoy an undisturbed routine of life. One of the GSTC's sustainable tourism criteria takes this factor into account when referring to local livelihoods: tourism activity should not negatively affect local livelihoods. We try to maximize local benefits and visitor fulfilment while minimize the adverse impacts on sensitive sites.
3. Add value to your journey
Live a unique experience and discover an unknown Japan by travelling off-season and getting to know lesser-known aspects of the country. During October and November, you will find in Japan numerous festivals (many of them related to harvest, with colourful parades and processions) and incredible light and illumination events.
Likewise, seasonal products are especially delicious in autumn. Sustainable tourism seeks to boost the local economy, and one way to do this is to consume local products.
The harvest season is an ideal time to try regional products, such as the rice harvested in autumn, called Shinmai (new rice).
Autumn is a time of countless attractions throughout the country. For lovers of culture and the arts, it is an ideal time too, as many major exhibitions are launched in October. By discovering lesser-known local factors, you can add value to your trip and make it unique.
4. Enjoy less-known amazing landscapes
When one thinks of Japanese landscapes, first think of the pink colours of Sakura. Clearly, the cherry blossom is a beautiful and special moment, but it is not the only one. The autumn colours that invade Japan at this time of the year are also beautiful, spectacular and special.
The Japan multi coloured autumn beauty is breathtaking. "One of the wonderful forms of beauty to be experienced in Japan is the way the hues of nature change as the seasons pass. When fall comes, colorful autumn leaves cover the mountains of Japan" (Portraits of Japan, JapanGov).
As it is a less crowded and quieter time, it allows you to experience the luxury of taking time to travel in a mindful, respectful and relaxed manner. However, it is not synonymous with inactivity, as there are plenty of hiking and trekking opportunities in autumn.
Enjoy hiking in Japan's nature parks at this time of year and be enchanted by the autumn foliage. By hiking these places in the off-season, and therefore making them less crowded throughout the year, we are protecting the place and promoting biodiversity conservation. The leaves change colour in October at higher elevations and in the north, such as Hokkaido, and in November in places like Tokyo and Kyoto.
To travel in autumn in Japan is to enjoy a unique atmosphere. The colours of the earth invite you to get in touch with nature by trying seasonal products produced in the region (such as Japanese chestnuts called Kuri, Matsutake Mushrooms or Sake), or to avoid the chilly at the opening of an art exhibition at the museum. It is a perfect time to take advantage of the benefits of travelling off-season and contribute to the wellbeing of the destination.
Indeed, every contribution we can make to sustainable and responsible tourism is a great act that not only benefits the local population, but also our experience as travellers and that of generations to come.
Do you also want to be amazed by the autumnal beauty of Japan?