Best time to visit Japan

Best time to visit Japan


temperature & rainfall

Location: Tokyo | Kyoto | Sapporo
Itís a four season place to vacation, with nothing too extreme to deal with and so there isnít necessarily a best time to visit Japan. However, the climate does vary from the mountainous north to the subtropical islands of the south. Cherry blossoms famously take centre stage in spring, but less well known, the autumn leaf turning season is glorious in November. And, of course, winter snow brings visitors galore to play in the powder.

When to visit Japan


month by month guide

  • If you want to catch the cherry blossom season, it varies geographically. Starting in January in Okinawa, but at their best in late March to April in the Honshu region. In Hokkaido, you want to get there in May for the full array.

  • Cherry blossom time is festival time, but be warned Ė the world and his wife will be there. Not quite the Zen experience it is meant to be really, but very festive and cultural all the same, often with more emphasis on sake than cherry.

  • Snow seekers want to head there between December and February to pose on its famously pure powder.

  • New Year, Japanís Golden Week (beginning May), and O-bon (09 - 17 August) are when the Japanese travel en masse. Hotels book out, trains are packed and prices soar.

  • Japan has a rainy season, from mid-May to end June or sometimes as late as mid July, but it is never extreme.

  • If you want to catch the autumnal leaf change, November is the prime time in Tokyo and Kyoto.

  • You get typhoons knocking in around end August, September and October. Check out the Japan Meteorological Agency's English-language website

Best time to visit Japan


responsibletravel.com recommends

Ruth Hubbard, Product Manager of one of our suppliers, Inside Japan Tours:

ďYou can only climb Mount Fuji in July and August due to snow at other times of year. Plus everyone climbs it at night, because they want to catch the sunrise at the top. So every night, there are thousands of people on the slopes during these months. Donít forget that 70% of the country is mountainous, so there are many more peaks to climb, such as the gorgeous Kamikochi National ParkĒ
Jeremy Spencer of one of our suppliers, Oku Japan, gives good advice on where to go in Japan:
People think cherry blossom marks the end of spring, but I think it marks the end of winter. And most of Japan is still very dried out and brown when the cherry blossom is out at the end of March/April, which is the cherry blossom season. Whereas in May, new lush green growth is coming through. And so if, like me, you are interested in plants and flowers, the cherry blossom is a bit of a red herring.

Festivals & events in Japan


Our cultural pick from the Japan calendar

Did you know that...?


Japan is falling down with festivals, from the O-bon Buddhist festivals to the Sapporo Snow Festival. However, a simpler seasonal event is the planting of paddy fields, a serene sight happening everywhere during May and June. And check out the amazing displays during rice harvest, at the rice art festival in the small village of Inakadate, Aomori, every September.
Photo credits: [Itsukushima Shrine: Floyd Manzano] [Kamikochi NP: Tanaka Juuyoh] [Cherry blossom: Ron Cogswell] [Festival: Glenn Waters]
Written by Catherine Mack
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