Aina Water Park

Barbecue / BBQ Season in Japan.

I don’t know any Japanese people (in Japan) who don’t have at least one BBQ a year. That’s not to say everyone in Japan has them, just everyone I know! What I deduce from this; barbecues are popular in Japan. Autumn seems to be the most common season for them. Barbecues aren’t a thing in Ireland. We just don’t have the weather for them. If people do have a BBQ it’s usually impromptu on a fine day in their back garden. In Japan, they are organised well in advance, they are usually in a park or public space (that has public toilets) and they are quite the production.

BBQ Season

BBQ Season is actually really long in Japan. Designated BBQ sites usually open from April until the end of October. Riverside camps are popular in summer, but there are some riverside BBQ areas that get used all year round. (Kawasemigawara comes to mind!). Similarly at the park where we had an annual November barbecue for many years, its not unusual to see people barbecuing even in winter.

BBQ at a Local Park in Japan


We have a fixed date, with a particular group of friends, each year on the first bank holiday of November. We’ve been doing it for 7 years now and each time the riverside park we use is full with groups of people barbecuing. We used to do in on (public holiday) November 3rd annually when a nearby air show is on, but word got out the park is a good spot for viewing the air show without having to go to the Base. And the park is now too packed on that date. I haven’t named the park, because a few years after writing this the park made some changes including banning barbecues in the park.

BBQ in Japan

You can see a water pipe bridge in the picture above. That water pipe features in quite a few of Saitama’s autumn scenes! For example at the spider lilies at Tenjinbashi in Kawajima or the cosmos fields in Konosu.

The Barbecue!

In typical Japanese style it’s usually an early start and we meet at the station at 9.30am. We are usually designated drivers as we have an 8 seater car and we take as many people as we can. For the same reason we are also responsible for bringing some of the heavy-duty equipment such as the grill, our biggest camping fold out table, a large tarp, a picnic mat and other cooking items. Another designated driver brings more BBQ equipment, the food and the booze. And so on and so forth.

Team Work!

Team work at a BBQ in Japan

I was so impressed the first time I attended a BBQ in Japan at how everyone pitched in without a complaint and the finished “scene” was like something out of a camping magazine. I was / am equally impressed by how deftly everyone tidies up when it’s all over. The clean up, usually as sun is setting around 16.30, is unbelievably coordinated that it’s almost like everyone practised.

Everyone regardless of what they were doing or how much drink is in their glass stops when home-time is called. Then everyone takes on a job immediately, no dilly dallying or messing about, and gets everything cleaned up and packed up as diligently as they set up hours earlier in a much more sober state. The downside of being a designated driver (other than not being able to drink when everyone else is) is that we also have to bring at least one rubbish bag home!

Early November weather in Japan is perfect for a BBQ with blue skies, bright warming sunlight and in many places vibrant autumn leaves. Have you been to a BBQ in Japan? What were your impressions?

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  1. Haha, a bit of a difference to our ad hoc snags on the barby night yesterday! What a fun bonus with the air show rehearsal!.

    1. Author

      Sometimes its nice to be able to have a barbie on a whim, but I suppose the problem here is a lot of people don’t have a garden. We do, but we’ve yet to use it for a BBQ. Mmm, maybe something to try out this weekend!

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

    1. Author

      I’m not sure of the name of it, but its not 航空公園。 Its in Kawagoe, near Sayama along the river… haha, not a very good explanation sorry. I’ll find out the name and come back!

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