Sunday, January 29, 2023


What is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

Travelers have the good news that there are better times to travel to Japan. However, this can make it challenging…

By Chan , in Travel , at January 23, 2023

Travelers have the good news that there are better times to travel to Japan. However, this can make it challenging to choose when to go. Each season is unique and has its highlights.

If you plan a trip to Japan, it is essential to consider whether you prefer better weather or fewer tourists. Some people hate the cold or the heat and humidity of the summer, while others are happy to skip the crowds.

Spring is the best time to visit Japan. Other times of the year offer more opportunities for seasonal activities, such as summer Matsuri (festivals), winter Onsen hot springs, skiing, and snowboarding.

We have compiled this comprehensive guide to the best time to visit Japan. It includes information about the weather and national holidays you should be aware of.

This page is regularly updated and was last modified on September 26, 2022.

Japan’s Seasons and When to Go

  • Japanese Seasons 101
  • Japan’s Peak Travel Seasons and National Holidays
  • Spring in Japan
  • Summer in Japan
  • Fall in Japan
  • Winter in Japan

Japanese Seasons 101: The Essentials

Japan is truly a year-round tourist destination. The Japanese culture is exceptional in its deep appreciation for the seasons. You’ll notice that each season and sub-seasons is celebrated with seasonal food and festivals. We recommend that you take advantage of every opportunity to visit Japan.

Highlights from Japan’s Seasons

  • Spring has a reputation for its cherry bloom season. If you’re fortunate and don’t mind crowds, you can experience Hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in all its glory. This is a popular time to go on a honeymoon in Japan.
  • Summer has been deemed the most festive season of the year. There are many colors throughout the country, and the opportunity to hike in the mountains and enjoy the beautiful coastal areas.
  • Autumn is another magical time of the year that is highly popular, with its brilliant autumn colors and pleasant temperatures.
  • Has excellent seafood and boiling springs. It also offers some of the finest powder anywhere in the world, making it a great place to ski or snowboard.

Weather in Japan by Month

  • January is the New Year’s holiday. February can be great if you’re not afraid of the cold. There are very few tourists in February (with the notable exception being the Chinese New Year).
  • The cherry blossom season, which is in late March and early April, is beautiful but also one of the most expensive and crowded times.
  • It’s a great time to visit, as it has pleasant weather and few people.
  • Although June is often lovely, it can also be rainy and humid.
  • July and August can be sweltering and humid. However, they are also vibrant with many festivals.
  • It’s possible to enjoy a pleasant, if not desirable, September in the middle to late season. There are fewer tourists than in fall or summer. Typhoons may sometimes disrupt plans.
  • October and November offer pleasant autumn weather but also attracts crowds that rival spring, especially for the November fall foliage.
  • If you are not sensitive to cold, early December is a great time. But mid-to-late December is very busy for New Year’s.

How geography affects seasons and weather in Japan

It’s helpful to have an understanding of Japan’s geography before discussing weather in Japan. Although Japan might seem small, especially compared to China, it is significant.

It is important to remember that Japan’s seasons and weather can vary significantly from one place to the next. Japan extends from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.

Hokkaido has more severe winters than other parts of Japan. Okinawa, however, has long summers and more relative warmth all year. Things tend to be more moderate in the middle — Tokyo or Kyoto on Japan’s central Island of Honshu —

The general rule is that the locations to the west and south tend to be warmer than the ones to the east and north. Keep in mind, however, that areas at higher elevations like the Japanese Alps tend to be more relaxed.

To keep this article as simple as possible, we will be focusing on the weather and seasons in Honshu, specifically Tokyo and Kyoto.

Japan’s Peak Travel Seasons and National Holidays

Despite Japan’s popularity, it is possible to avoid crowds at all times of the year. This requires you to visit the country at “off” times, such as in the morning, or to focus on less-visited places.

If you want to feel like you own Japan (at least to a certain degree), you can visit Japan. Avoid visiting Japan during peak season.

Japan’s Peak Travel Seasons

Below is a list of Japan’s most popular times of the year. These peak travel times are also a time when hotels and Ryokans can expect to see a spike in the cost of accommodation.

  • New Year’s Eve: Beginning in the last week December and continuing into the first week January.
  • Chinese New Years: The precise dates of each year vary, but they are most often in February or January.
  • Cherry Blossom Season begins in the second half of March and continues into the first half of April.
  • Golden Week A longer holiday week typically occurs in May’s first week.
  • Obon A long holiday period which usually takes place in the middle August.
  • National Holidays Please see the list below of Japanese national holidays.

Japan’s National Holidays 2023 and 2024

Japanese love to travel and will use any weekend off to travel within Japan, which leads to high demand.

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS JAPAN 2023

  • February 11: National Foundation Day ( Kenkoku Kinenbi).
  • February 23, The Emperor’s Birthday
  • March 21: Spring Equinox Day ( Shunbun hi).
  • April 29 – May 5: Golden Week Peak Travel Days
  • April 29: Showa Day (Showa no hi)
  • May 3: Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo kinenbi)
  • May 4: Greenery Day (Midori no hi)
  • May 5: Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi)
  • July 17: Ocean Day ( Umi no hi
  • August 11: Mountain Day ( Yama hi).
  • August 12-16: Obon Peak Travel Days
  • September 18: Respect For The Aged Day ( Keiro hi).
  • September 23: Autumn Equinox Day (Shubun no hi)
  • October 9: Health and Sports Day Taiiku hi
  • November 3: Culture Day (Bunka no hi)
  • November 23: Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro kansha no hi)
  • December 31 – January 3: New Years Holidays

UPCOMING NATIONAL HOLIDAYS in JAPAN IN 2024

  • December 31 – January 3: New Years Holidays
  • January 1: New Year’s Day – Shogatsu
  • January 8: Coming of Age Day ( seijin no hi
  • February 11: National Foundation Day ( Kenkoku Kinenbi).
  • February 23, The Emperor’s Birthday
  • March 20: Spring Equinox Day ( Shunbun hi).
  • April 29 – May 5: Golden Week Peak Travel Days
  • April 29: Showa Day (Showa no hi)
  • May 3: Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo linen)
  • May 4: Greenery Day (Midori no hi)
  • May 5: Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi)
  • July 15: Ocean Day Umi No Hi
  • August 12 – Mountain Day ( Yama hi )
  • August 12-16: Obon Peak Travel Days
  • September 16: Respect For The Aged Day ( Keiro hi).
  • September 23: Autumn Equinox Day (Shubun no hi)
  • October 14: Health and Sports Day ( Taiiku hi
  • November 4: Culture Day (Bunka no hi)
  • November 25: Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro kansha no hi)
  • December 31 – January 3: New Years Holidays

Japan’s Spring

Ah, spring.

Japan’s spring season lasts approximately from mid-March through May, depending on where you live. Spring weather is unpredictable. Temperatures can range from 40 to 65 degrees F (4 to 18 degrees C). You may still need your winter coat on some days, but you might not wear a sweater on others.

Japan’s most celebrated season is spring. It is represented by the iconic SakuraSakura (cherry blossoms) that bloom between the second and third quarters of March and the first half of April. However, sakura bloom times can vary depending on where you live.

We receive more inquiries about Japan during cherry blossom season than at any other time of the year. It is so popular that we often cancel new inquiries months or months in advance.

Although the beauty of cherry blossoms in bloom is undoubtedly beautiful, it must be clarified if flower viewing in Japan is worth the possible downsides.

Travelers who want to travel to Japan try to arrange their trips to coincide with the Hanami season. But Mother Nature is unpredictable. Some years the SakuraSakura blooms earlier than others; others may arrive later. In “lucky” years, they might stay on the trees for several weeks, while others may be blown away by strong winds or rain.

This unpredictability and impermanence have inspired Japanese poets over the centuries.

Avoid Cherry Blossom Season

First, let’s be honest: cherry blossom season is fantastic. You must decide if it’s worth all the effort, extra expense, and endless crowds.

The problem with cherry blossoms is not their unpredictable nature, as mentioned above, but that they have become almost too famous for their good. The cherry blossom season has been a popular time to visit Japan, but the last few years have seen record numbers of tourists (mainly from Asia, Europe, and the USA).

Peak cherry blossom season is the “worst.” It lasts between mid-March and mid-April. In terms of popularity, it’s comparable with Europe during summer vacations.

This is what it means for you, the traveler.

  • More tourists
  • Lower accommodation availability
  • Higher prices for accommodation
  • It is essential to plan ahead

JAPAN ACCOMMODATION STORAGE

Most cherry blossom season requests are received up to one year in advance. Many hotels and motels fill up quickly, so it is possible to book with less notice.

Most travelers need to be aware that Japan’s popularity as a tourist destination is a major problem. The JNTO’s main challenge was to attract more tourists to Japan. Now, the main problem is dealing with the massive influx.

Unfortunately, more rooms are needed for travelers who want to travel. The situation is especially dire in Kyoto, where there is a severe shortage of hotel rooms. This is also an issue for the best Japanese hotels, which tend to have fewer rooms.

Notably, guides are also in minimal supply. It is often difficult to find excellent guides in Japan if you don’t give enough notice.

Golden Week in Japan

Cherry blossom season, despite its downsides, can be an excellent time to visit if you plan well.

But, there’s one week in spring we recommend you avoid unless it is necessary: Golden Week. Golden Week, along with the Obon holiday in august and the New Year’s holiday, is Japan’s most popular travel week.

The Golden Week begins in April and ends the first week of May. Each year’s calendar is different. This time of year is a busy time for Japanese people to travel, which makes it a costly time to travel around Japan.

If you are wondering what all the fuss is about, it is essential to point out that Japan’s Golden Week could be more exciting. It’s simply a collection of several non-particularly-exciting public holidays in a row.

You can travel during Golden Week, but you might want to shift your dates.

Last Tips for Visiting Japan in Spring

After reading all the above, you might prefer to avoid the Golden Week and cherry blossoms in favor of smaller crowds.

Although late April is a great time to visit Japan, the popularity of cherry blossom season has increased recently, and this month is now famous. Also, Golden Week can affect April. It is possible to visit Japan in mid to late May. There are generally warmer temperatures and fewer tourists, though May is becoming more popular.

As May turns into June, spring weather transitions into Japan’s hot and humid summer.

Summer in Japan

Japan’s summer season lasts approximately from June to September, depending on where you live. The summer heat is hot and humid, ranging from 70 to 90 degrees F (21 to 32 degrees C).

July and August are the hottest and wettest months of the year. If you’re sensitive to humidity, it can make sightseeing uncomfortable. Summer can be one of Japan’s most lively times, despite or perhaps because of its extreme climate.

Japan hosts more festivals than any other country globally, and Japanese Matsuri is often breathtaking in its beauty, tradition, and splendor.

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There are many great festivals throughout the year. However, the summertime hosts many of Japan’s most popular festivals, including Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri and Osaka’s Tenjin Matsuri. Also, there is the Awa Odori festival, which takes place in Tokushima on the island of Shikoku. Not to mention the numerous lively (and delicious!) matsuri throughout the country.

Summer is known for its spectacular fireworks displays and matsuriHanabi (fireworks) is a severe Japanese tradition. Going to a Hanabi taikai is both culturally rich and entertaining. The Sumida River Fireworks in Tokyo are the most famous. However, there are many other fireworks displays throughout the country.

It sounds great, but is it worth enduring Japan’s summer heat and humidity?

What are the Summer heat and humidity in Japan?

Other than the typical crowds, there is one downside to visiting Japan in the summer. The heat and humidity can sometimes make it uncomfortable.

Our experience is that summers in Tokyo are more like summers here in New York City. Although it is hot and humid, the days are long, and people are having fun. It’s worth the effort if you don’t melt in this weather. Kyoto is closer to a more humid city like Washington, DC. It can be challenging to fit too many things in if you aren’t used to this weather.

It all depends on how much you enjoy this kind of weather. Californians who are used to mild weather might find it difficult, but those who have lived in other seasons will likely be fine.

There are still ways to enjoy a milder Japanese summer than the one you have been experiencing, even if your summer isn’t overly hot and humid.

Tips for Summer in Japan

Japan is a vast country that stretches from the northern extremities of Hokkaido to the subtropical southern Okinawa. You can therefore choose the climate you want when you visit Japan.

Furthermore, the temperatures in mountainous areas like Japan’s Alps, even in central Japan, are more relaxed than in Tokyo and Kyoto.

If you are visiting Japan during summer and want to reduce your exposure to heat, humidity, and heat, you should spend as much time in areas like the Japanese Alps and Tohoku. While you still enjoy summer in Japan, it will be milder than if you stay in major cities.

Japan’s Typhoon Season and Rainy Season

Japan’s rainy season is milder than most other countries in Asia. Depending on where you are located, the rainy season (also known as Tsuyu or the plum rain) runs from early June to mid-July.

It’s not the rainy season, so travelers should expect it only for some days. The rains, while sometimes heavy, aren’t usually heavy. This is unlike torrential rain in many Asian countries. This time of year is loved by many, but it’s worth looking at other times.

Typhoons, also known as hurricanes, are most common between May and October. The peak occurs in the late summer. Storms can also affect other parts of Japan, but Okinawa and southwestern Japan, in particular, are the most vulnerable. It’s common for typhoons in late summer to disrupt travel plans (e.g., flight cancellations) from Okinawa to other parts of Japan.

Japan’s summer continues into September, but October is just around the corner, and autumn begins.

Japan: Fall

Autumn in Japan can last from mid-September to early December, depending on where you live. Japan’s autumn is considered the most pleasant season (weather-wise), with temperatures that range from 50 to 70 degrees F (10 to 21 degrees C).

Fall is known for its pleasant temperatures and clear weather, especially in the later part of autumn.

Although autumn technically starts in September, it is still quite warm (sometimes very stifling) during this time of the year. However, with October’s arrival, fall officially begins.

Tourists also flock to Japan’s October season due to the milder weather. Its popularity is lower than November’s when the autumn travel season starts. Autumn is entirely in swing by November, and you can see the fall foliage all over Japan.

Tips for Fall Travel to Japan

By visiting in early December, you can avoid the crowds in October and November. There are still some Koyo, but you will likely see fewer tourists. It is a beautiful experience to soak in an outdoor hot spring while admiring the fall foliage.

In many ways, Japan’s autumn foliage season resembles Japan’s cherry blossom season. These are both in terms of their appeal and potential downsides. Koyo travel is similar to hanami season travel. This means you will have to contend with more tourists, less accommodation availability, higher accommodation prices, and need to plan.

To better understand fall or spring travel, please refer to the spring section.

Winter in Japan

Japan’s winter season lasts approximately from December through mid-March, depending on where you live. The winters in Japan are cold, with temperatures between 30 and 45 degrees F (-1 to 7 degrees Celsius). It is cold. But if you can overlook this fact, which is sometimes a “dealbreaker” for some, you will find that winter is one of the best times to visit Japan.

Except for a few exceptions (described below), Japan, like other destinations around the globe, tends to have fewer visitors during the winter months. This is because most people prefer to travel at more popular times, such as cherry blossom season, and not everyone can use vacation days to visit Japan at this time of the year. This is a shame, especially if you want to see Japan with few tourists!

Japan’s mountains are home to a lot of snowfall, making them an excellent place for snowboarding and skiing. Hokkaido is the best place to experience Japan’s famous powder, while the Japan Alps are the most popular (the latter hosted the 1998 Winter Olympic Games).

The best part about visiting Japan in winter is enjoying Japanese hot springs. Onsen is also available at other times, but nothing can compare to the feeling of sitting in a hot spring on a mountain, with snow falling as you soak. This is a must-do experience in Japan.

Tips for Winter Travel to Japan

You will find fewer tourists visiting Japan in winter. However, there are notable exceptions.

Many people ask us to travel during the New Year’s holiday. While it is a beautiful time to visit, we also must consider possible drawbacks. It’s a long holiday period, not just in Japan but worldwide. This means that it’s hectic for both Japanese tourists and Japanese families visiting their loved ones or on vacation.

For example, Kyoto’s charming streets will be bustling with people from all over Japan and around the globe. It’s a beautiful atmosphere full of holiday spirit (Japanese), but it’s worth considering for those who want more peace and tranquility.

Because Japanese people are allowed to take several days off for New Year’s Day (far more than Europeans or Americans), accommodation prices in Japan are often very high. Repeaters book the most luxurious ryokans up to a year in advance.

Concerning the New Year in Japan, many places will be closed between the end of December (generally after Christmas) and a few days into the New Year.

This could include but is not limited to, some restaurants, museums, and shops. Although there are some exceptions, it is reasonable to assume that most restaurants will close between December 31 and January 2nd or 3.

This can be a great time to explore more remote areas of Japan. It is also a great time to visit Japan, as most shrines and temples, such as Kyoto, are open during the New Year’s holidays.

When will you visit Japan?

Choosing the right time to visit Japan is often the first step in planning your Japan vacation. This guide should help you better understand Japan’s seasons and the best times to see them.