This new series of blog posts will help you with every step of planning your own Japan trip. This time: when’s the best time to visit?
Japan is a country with very distinct seasons so there’s no bad time to go. Every season has different pros and cons – and there will be many seasonal flavours and events that you can’t experience at any other time of the year. And if the weather isn’t ideal for you, head to Hokkaido for cooler weather or Kyushu/Okinawa for warmer weather. Let’s go through the seasons first.
Springtime in Japan is a lot of people’s dream holiday, thanks to the sakura/cherry blossom fever. If you get the timing right, it’s one of the most beautiful sights in the world, plus you’ll be able to try sakura-themed food, drinks and much more.
The downside is that March/April is an extremely popular time to visit and the best viewpoints and tourist spots will be very crowded. If you have to see the sakura, consider staying somewhere other than Tokyo/Kyoto as they’ll be less popular and you’ll get a more unique experience.
May/June will be quieter and hotter with many more flower displays to visit – I saw azaleas, roses, irises and hydrangeas. Just make sure to arrive after Golden Week (when everyone in Japan is on holiday) and before the rainy season.
If you’re used to heat and humidity – and manage to avoid the worst of the rainy season – Summer is a really fun time to visit Japan. There’s events, festivals, fireworks, fireflies, flower displays and lots of beaches, plus it’s the only time of year you can climb Mt Fuji. You’ll also get to try all the delicious icy treats! I’d love to see the annual Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama but even early June was too hot for me in Japan, having only lived in chilly Scotland.
Autumn is my preferred time to visit – the weather is pleasantly warm compared to the UK and the autumn colours as the leaves turn can be just as beautiful as sakura. Japan is also very into celebrating Halloween with special events at theme parks, costume parades, seasonal kawaii designs and limited edition flavours.
There are really no downsides to this time of year, though September is typhoon season and best avoided.
I get plenty winter weather at home but I would still love to experience it in Japan too. You’ll get the best views of Mt Fuji and can ski in the mountains, bathe in snowy hot springs or visit the Sapporo Snow Festival. The main downside is that the days are very short.
Christmas is just another day, but there will be illuminations in the cities and plenty themed products and flavours. New Year is the biggest event of the Japanese calendar and would be an amazing experience but be aware that many places will be closed and temples will be very crowded.
If you have a particular interest, there is almost certain to be an event you’d love to visit. Just try Google. Here’s some notable ones for the sort of people who read my blog.
- February: Sapporo Snow Festival (ice and snow sculptures)
- May: Design Festa, Tokyo (art, craft, fashion and design event)
- July: Fuji Rock Festival (rock/pop outdoor music festival)
- August: Pikachu Outbreak, Yokohama
- August: Komiket, Tokyo (huge comic/anime event)
- October: Shibuya Halloween Street Party, Tokyo (informal costume event)
- November: Design Festa, Tokyo (art, craft, fashion and design event)
- December: Komiket, Tokyo (huge comic/anime event)
- My guide to seasonal flowers & festivals
- When to travel at Japan Guide – includes average temperatures and weather
- Cheap and free events diary at Japan Cheapo
- JNTO’s guides to events & festivals and antique/flea markets
- My Japan Trips master page has tons of links and resources
- My Planning For Japan series tracked preparations for my 2016 trip