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What Is the Best Season to Visit Japan? (It Depends)

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Poppy has been living in Japan for over six years. She likes to read novels, write, and play video games.

Japan is on a lot of people's travel wishlists, and for good reason, too! The scenery, history, sightseeing spots, food, safety, people, pop culture, and festivals are just a few of the reasons why this country is so popular to visit.

While planning your trip, no doubt the issue of when to visit is an issue. Which season is the best? What can you do in specific times of year you can't do at other times? How about the weather? This article aims to pin it down for you and help decide which season would be best to visit and get the most out of your trip to Japan.

A bird in a cherry blossom tree

A bird in a cherry blossom tree


Spring in Japan starts in mid-March and lasts until the end of May. If you're looking for cherry blossoms, or sakura, they actually tend to blossom at the end of February or the very beginning of March, when it's still cold. The beginning of May is also Golden Week, several consecutive holidays where many businesses are closed and people are off work. Hotels tend to be busier and more highly priced at this time.

However, the second half of May has some of the best weather of the year (on the mainland). It's warm enough where you can walk around comfortably without a jacket but it's before the mosquito and cockroach season.

Festivals and Events

  • Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo (May)
  • Hinamatsuri Doll Festival (March)
  • Inuyama Festival (April)
  • Omizutori in Nara (March)

Visit if you:

  • Want to see the cherry blossoms (very early spring or late winter).
  • Are hoping for the best outdoor weather (in May).
Fireworks are a common sight in summer in Japan

Fireworks are a common sight in summer in Japan


Summer is my least favourite season because of the bugs and the humidity, but it's a great chance to visit Tokyo DisneySea for its seasonal events. Surfing is also popular in the Enoshima and Chiba areas, and the tropical islands of Okinawa have all kinds of marine sports such as snorkelling.

There's also a great variety of seasonal food in summer, such as somen noodles, kakigori (shaved ice), unagi (eel), and various watermelon-themed desserts and snacks. Summer is also the season for many festivals and hanabi (fireworks). Visiting Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost prefecture, is a good idea in summer as it's a little cooler than other parts of the country. You can also see Hokkaido's famous lavender fields in June.

Lavender in Hokkaido

Lavender in Hokkaido

It should also be noted that June is rainy season in Japan and should be avoided if you're hoping to engage in a lot of outdoor activities. Rainy season, or tsuyu, can sometimes last until partly through July before it gets super hot.

Festivals and Events

  • Mitama Matsuri in Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine (July)
  • Gion Matsuri in Kyoto (July)
  • Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka (July)
  • Sumidagawa Fireworks in Asakusa, Tokyo (July)
  • Aomori Nebuta Festival in Aomori (August)
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Visit if you:

  • Want to see seasonal fireworks.
  • Would like to try marine sports and other summer activities in Okinawa.
  • Are interested in seeing ajisai (hydrangeas).
  • Want to try seasonal summer foods.
Autumn leaves near Osaka Castle in Japan

Autumn leaves near Osaka Castle in Japan


The hot weather can last all the way through September and October sometimes, but the cooler months are pleasant. There is some delicious food up for grabs in this season too, such as oden (dashi-based soup), shinmai (new rice), persimmon fruits, sweet potato, and pumpkin.

You can also see some gorgeous views of changing autumn leaves this season.

Festivals and Events

  • Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri in Osaka (September)
  • Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto (October)
  • Hachiman Matsuri in Takayama (October)
  • Zuiki Matsuri in Kyoto (October)
  • Kichijoji Autumn Festival (September)

Visit if you:

  • Are looking for milder weather during your visit.
  • Would like to try seasonal foods.
  • Would like to see the changing autumn leaves.
A shrine in winter

A shrine in winter


Winter is incredibly dry in Tokyo and the surrounding areas as the humidity is almost non-existant. For those visiting Hokkaido or Nagano, winter sports are abundant in this season! It's also a fantastic time to visit Okinawa, as there are far fewer tourists and the weather is comfortable at around 20 degrees. In the colder areas, temperatures drop to below freezing, making it the perfect weather for a stay in a ryokan (traditional inn) with a hot spring!

Winter is also a great opportunity to experience Christmas in Japan, from fried chicken to special cake to the brilliant illumination displays found all around the country. The clear weather also often means you can get stunning views of the snow-capped Mt. Fuji!

Mt. Fuji in winter

Mt. Fuji in winter

Festivals and Events

  • Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido
  • Tsunan Snow Festival in Tsunan
  • Lake Shikotsu Hyoto Festival in Hokkaido

Visit if you:

  • Prefer colder weather.
  • Would like to experience Christmas and New Year's in Japan.
  • Want to enjoy Japanese hot springs.

The bottom line is that whenever you plan to visit Japan, there will be a unique experience awaiting you here! It all depends on your wishes and goals. Make a plan, start jotting down things you'd like to do, and plan your trip accordingly!

© 2022 Poppy

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