When is the best time to visit Japan?
Pleasant temperatures and clear blue skies make late spring, which runs from March to May, and late autumn, which is from September to November, the best seasons to visit Japan.
Peak season: Spring – March to May – the cherry trees of Japan are in full bloom in late April
Autumn: September to November – cool, mild weather with some possibility of typhoons
Off-season: Summer – June to August – expect a lot of rain, with hot and humid weather in July and August
Winter: December to February – cool and chilly, with snowfall in the mountainous regions and sometimes, also in the cities
Cool, dry weather and clear skies characterize Japan during this month. With little to no rain, January is the sunniest, yet coldest month for Japan. Northern parts of Japan experience snowfall making it ideal to indulge in winter sports.
- Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go, truly breathtaking in winter
- Enjoy a cup of warm sake and take a dip in an onsen – the perfect antidote for cold evenings
Sunny, dry days continue to dominate this month. February is peak skiing season in northern Japan. With clear, blue skies, it is also the best time to view the often-shy Mt.Fuji-san.
- Experience the Sapporo Snow Festival with ice and snow sculptures galore
- Hit the slopes at one of the many top-class ski resorts in Northern Japan
- Drop by and say hello to the snow monkeys of Nagano
Crowds start pouring in by the end of March as temperatures get milder and pleasant. Tokyo and Kyoto take on an ethereal pink hue as delicate cherry blossoms are in full bloom towards the latter part of March.
- Attend a cooking class in Kyoto
- Explore electrifying Tokyo in super fast trains
- Visit Nagasaki and get an insight into the city’s moving past through its many museums and installations
April is the best time to view sakura blooms and the most popular time to visit Japan. The weather is perfect for traveling which also means that you can expect the country’s popular attractions to be milling with tourists and locals.
- Picnic under the alluring cover of the cherry blossom trees in Tokyo
- Take part in the Takayama Matsuri, one of the most beautiful festivals in Japan
Japan’s busiest domestic travel season, the Golden Week, falls in May. Temperatures are warm throughout the country though rains start in Okinawa.
- Cherry blossom can still be experienced in northern cities like Hakodate and Sapporo
- Delight in the sights and sounds of the Sanja Matsuri, a festival that takes place in Asakusa in Tokyo
Rainy season sets in throughout the country, except in Hokkaido. Temperatures are hot and humidity is high. It is advisable to carry light, waterproof jackets and of course, umbrellas.
- Stay in a hot spring ryokan in Hakone
- Explore hiking trails in Hokkaido
- Visit a Japanese garden, green and alive after the rains
July signals the beginning of summer as the rainy season ends across the country except for Okinawa, and high humidity sets in. A high tourist season for domestic travelers, a number of festivals are celebrated through the course of the month.
- Hike up Mt. Fuji
- Cool off at one of the beaches of Okinawa Island
- Marvel at the impressive floats of the Kyoto Matsuri festival
Heat and humidity continue though higher altitude regions like Hokkaido are pleasant. With schools closed and domestic travel at its peak, there is something exciting happening every weekend. Typhoon season starts to set in affecting the southern regions of Japan such as Okinawa, Shikoku and Kyushu the most.
- Witness one of the many firework shows or attend a weekend concert in Tokyo
- Escape the heat and head to Hokkaido for some nature therapy
Tokyo sees a heavy amount of rain during the first part of the month as typhoon season is in full force. The first signs of autumn start to show up in northern Japan towards the end of September as the rains clear up to reveal blue skies and milder temperatures.
- Witness an exciting Sumo wrestling match at the Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo stadium in Tokyo
- Hike the trails of Nagano
The milder weather in October is a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of summer, though there are periods of rain. Pleasant temperatures throughout the country make October one of the best times to travel to Japan.
- Enjoy sunny days in Hiroshima
- Visit the Daisetsuzan National Park for Koyo (fall color) viewing
Mainland Japan experiences mild and pleasant temperatures accompanied by crisp, cool air and a burst of colors. The best time to view falls colors in Japan, the temples, parks, and mountains take on a whole new look in November as they are surrounded by the reds, yellows and gold of fall leaves.
- Sit under a colorful fall canopy in one of Tokyo’s many parks
- View the temples of Kyoto against a backdrop of multi-hued fall leaves – a sight to behold!
Cool, dry weather continues in winter. Sweaters come out and locals head to Okinawa Island for a bit of warm. Northern parts of Japan are firmly entrenched in winter with the region experiencing moderate to heavy snow.
- Get into the festive spirit as Tokyo lights up for Christmas
- Get your fix of outdoor adventure as you ski down the mountains in Sapporo
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Weather in Japanese Cities
An archipelago stretching over 3,000 km from north to south, Japan experiences major variations in the weather by region. Find out the best time to visit Japan by city.
- Tokyo – is a great year-round destination but the best times to visit the city are from March – May and September – November which coincide with the cherry blossom and fall season.
- Kyoto – is simply spectacular in autumn and equally alluring in spring.
- Hokkaido – is a winter wonderland and best experienced from December to February at one of its many world-class ski resorts.
- Osaka – is best visited in spring and fall.
- Hakone – This tranquil, lakeside town is best experienced during springtime.
- Nagano – The ‘Roof of Japan’ sees the most tourists during the months of March to May.
- Fukuoka – Sitting in the southern part of Japan, the city is best visited from May until October.
- Mt.Fuji – Hike this symbol of Japan during the months of July to mid-September.
- Okinawa Islands – The beaches of Okinawa are at its most beautiful in summer, from June to October.
Japan Travel Tips
What is the best time to visit Japan for cherry blossoms?
The delicate pinks of the sakura or cherry blossoms are in full bloom and dress up the streets of Tokyo and Kyoto towards the end of March and the first week of April. Expectedly, you will also see huge crowds and if experiencing this stunning sight is on your bucket list, you need to plan your visit six months to a year in advance. But if jostling with the crowds is not quite your style, you could head to Sapporo which sees cherry blossoms in all its ethereal glory only in early May.
When is rainy season and typhoon season in Japan?
Early summer is rainy, but July and August are hot and humid except in Hokkaido, with temperatures in Tokyo reaching up to 88 °F. While autumns are cool, there is a possibility of typhoons, especially in Kyushu and Shikoku Islands, located in the South Western part of Japan, during the months of August and September.
When should I visit Japan to see fall colors?
The months of September to November see a color burst of a different kind with autumn leaves in deep reds, browns, yellows and golds framing the spectacular scenery of the country.
When is winter season in Japan?
Winter in Japan, which can be quite chilly, runs from December to February. Heavy snowfall is, however, mostly limited to the mountainous regions.
What to Pack for Japan
Lighter clothing in the summer is recommended, but jackets are necessary if you plan to explore the Alpine regions. If you are visiting in the spring then bring some warmer clothes as the temperature drops considerably at night. There is plenty of walking involved in any trip to Japan so pack your most comfortable footwear.
As a rule, the Japanese people are always meticulously dressed and you will be judged and sometimes treated based on how you dress. While Japan is less strict than other Asian countries about dress codes when visiting temples, it is always polite to cover shoulders and be dressed conservatively. Easy to slip on/slip off shoes are more practical when visiting temples, or staying in ryokans etc.
How to Dress by Season in Japan
Spring: This is one the best season to visit Japan. If you are visiting Japan in spring, layering is the key as there are considerable variations in temperature from day to night. It is wise to bring a light jacket as temperatures can drop significantly at night.
Summer: The country gets quite hot in summer so it is best to pack light clothes, cottons, breezy linens and garments in breathable fabrics along with sunglasses and hats. It is also when the country gets the most rainfall so don’t forget to pack an umbrella and rain jacket.
Fall: Pack layers. You will need sweaters and light jackets too.
Winter: Fill your suitcase with winter clothing including heavy coats/jackets, gloves, hats and scarves.
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Hakone defines the iconic image of Japan— with the majestic backdrop of Mount Fujiyama as it rises out of coniferous forest covered mountainsides, lakes and hot springs (onsen).
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