Best time to visit Japan

Japan, a land of profound natural beauty and rich traditions, offers a unique experience every season. Having visited Japan during each distinct period, I’m excited to share an in-depth look at what you can expect in each, helping you pick the perfect time for your visit based on your interests.

Japan has four distinctive seasons, although average temperatures are not consistent across the country. You have the cherry blossom season in the Spring, Matsuri and celebrations in the summer, colorful leaves in the autumn and fairy tale snow in the winter.

My favorite time of year to travel to Japan is in October, when the summer heat subsides and t-shirt weather prevails. At the end of the month, the country turns into a beautiful canvas of red, orange, and yellow foliage, which is a great backdrop for hiking and photography. October is also the ideal time to experience the Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto, held on October 22nd. This festival is one of the city’s grandest, featuring a parade of participants in elaborate costumes that span Japan’s historical eras from the Samurai to the Meiji periods.

So, which is the best time to visit in Japan? In this guide, I will compare all four seasons and explain why they are great for a visit.

Looking for assistance in planning your journey to Japan? Consider having a tailor-made Japan itinerary created just for you!

Cory from You Could Travel exploring Yoshino in the spring, during the cherry blossoms
Cory from You Could Travel exploring Yoshino in the spring, during the cherry blossoms

Spring in Japan (March – May)

Spring in Japan is nothing short of magical. This is the ideal time for cherry blossom viewing parties, known as hanami. My visit during the cherry blossom season was a highlight, with delicate pink sakura creating the perfect backdrop for my photography. I especially recommend Yoshino for hanami and less crowded locations like Osaka and Kagoshima.

As beautiful as sakura time is, Japan is also the most expensive and the busiest in the spring. Sakura blooming time can be fickle as it’s weather dependent. Not only that you have to visit during the priciest time of the year, but you also need to plan for a longer holiday if hanami is your goal!

What to Expect

In the spring, temperatures range from 4ºC to 18ºC. The air is crisp, with occasional rain showers that make the cherry blossoms seem even more vibrant.

Accommodation prices peak, so book early, several months in advance. Wearing layers is advisable as mornings and evenings can be chilly.

Visiting Kyoto in August to enjoy matsuri while wearing yukatas
Visiting Kyoto in August to enjoy matsuri while wearing yukatas

Summer in Japan (June – Mid-September)

I’m not going to lie, visiting Japan in the summer is not ideal unless you don’t mind humid scorching heat. During this period, Japan experiences the rainy season called tsuyu (梅雨), and lasts from early June to mid-July.

During a sweltering August visit, I explored the lush landscapes of Hokkaido, escaping the heat of the mainland. I know many Japanese also head to Okinawa during the summer holidays, but please be aware that typhoons can happen at any time.

You’ll want to visit in the summer for ice cream, frozen treats like Kakigōri and the tones of festivals like Obon or Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri.

What to Expect

Expect hot, humid conditions with temperatures between 21°C and 32°C. Recently, Tokyo has seen temperatures closer to 40°C!

Activity wise, summer is great for attending festivals and climbing Mount Fuji. Bear in mind that the peak season for climbing Mount Fuji is from around July 20 to the end of August.

To survive summers, light clothing and hydration are key. Also, try to schedule outdoor activities in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.

Cory in Tokyo in Nezu Muzeum Garden in the autumn
Cory in Tokyo in Nezu Muzeum Garden in the autumn

Autumn in Japan (Mid-September – Early December)

I know I probably sound like a broken record, but honestly, autumn is such an incredible time to visit Japan.

My autumn travels were highlighted by the koyo (colorful leaves) viewing, which look so impressive, you won’t know what to photograph first. Places like Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto offered breathtaking views of fiery red and golden leaves. The weather is warm during the day with long sunny days and cool, crisp evenings.

October is fabulous for the Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto, and November is fantastic for the Ginkgo festival in Hachioji.

What to Expect

Cooler temperatures ranging from 10°C to 21°C make exploring comfortable. Visiting any of Japan’s national parks during this season is highly recommended for koyo viewing.

Autumn is perfect to head to Nikko to see the stunning Kegon Falls or Kanazawa for its perfect Kenrokuen Garden.

People walking around Tokyo Midtown during the Christmas illuminations
People walking around Tokyo Midtown during the Christmas illuminations

Winter in Japan (December – February)

I think winter in Japan is such a great time to visit because prices are very affordable, and the landscape is straight out of a fairy tale. Sure, the weather is colder, but in exchange you get stunning countryside with traditional wooden houses covered in a blanket of snow.

December in Tokyo is especially beautiful, when I got to see parks and gardens have surreal winter illumination. I even got to see Christmas markets with mulled wine and ice rinks.

Besides, when it’s too cold, head straight to an outdoor onsen in places like Nagano and relax in the hot water while admiring the falling snowflakes.

Of course, February is a great time to visit for the famous Sapporo’s Snow Festival. The elaborate ice sculptures and snow statues transform the city into a winter wonderland.

What to Expect

Winters are cold, with temperatures often dropping below freezing, especially in northern areas like Hokkaido.

Skiing, snowboarding, and onsen visits are perfect during this season.
Pack warm layers and waterproof footwear. Winter is also a great time to enjoy Japan’s seasonal delights, such as fugu (puffer fish) and nabe (hot pot).

View of Snowy mount Fuji from Hakone
View of Snowy mount Fuji from Hakone

Weather and holidays in Japan that could affect your plans

Let’s talk a little about why the weather should be considered when you pick your time to visit. Japan is positioned on the so-called ring of fire, which makes natural disaster a possibility. Before visiting Japan, check the weather patterns and make sure there are no weather warnings.

Typhoon season in Japan

Typhoon season starts from June through October in Japan. Typhoon season in Japan is very common, with around seven of these tropical storms affecting Okinawa and around three of them reaching Honshu. Typhoons in Japan bring strong winds and heavy rainfall, and they are usually experience in August and September.

It’s important to remember that any part of Japan can be hit for a typhoon, including all the major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

Rainy season in Japan

In Japan, the rainy season is called tsuyu, and it lasts from June until mid-July. This doesn’t mean that you will experience rain every single day, but generally speaking, the weather is hot and humid with a lot of rainfall. It’s worth noting that Okinawa gets impacted by this about a month earlier, and Hokkaido doesn’t get as much rain. Grab an umbrella, have some thin waterproof layers, and you will be fine.

Important holidays in Japan

Hholidays in Japan can make travel expensive, especially during Golden Week. This table lists all the significant holidays throughout the year in Japan, including both national and local observances.

DateHoliday
December 31 to January 3New Year
January 1New Year (Shogatsu)
January 8Coming of Age Day (Seijin no hi)
February 11National Foundation Day (Kenkoku kinenbi)
March 21Spring Equinox Day (Shunbun no hi)
April 29 to May 7Golden Week
April 29Showa Day (Showa no hi)
May 3Constitution Memorial Day (Kenpo kinenbi)
May 4Greenery Day (Midori no hi)
May 5Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi)
July 17Ocean Day (Umi no hi)
August 13-17Obon (Tokyo celebrates in July)
August 11Mountain Day (Yama no hi)
September 18Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro no hi)
September 23Autumn Equinox Day (Shubun no hi)
October 9Health and Sports Day (Taiiku no hi)
November 3Culture Day (Bunka no hi)
November 23Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinro kansha no hi)
December 23Emperor’s Birthday (Tenno no tanjobi)
List of the most important holidays in Japan which can affect travel

Japan Climate Guide

DestinationJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hiroshima48°F (9°C)50°F (10°C)55°F (13°C)64°F (18°C)73°F (23°C)79°F (26°C)86°F (30°C)90°F (32°C)82°F (28°C)73°F (23°C)63°F (17°C)54°F (12°C)
Kanazawa43°F (6°C)45°F (7°C)52°F (11°C)63°F (17°C)72°F (22°C)77°F (25°C)84°F (29°C)88°F (31°C)81°F (27°C)70°F (21°C)59°F (15°C)50°F (10°C)
Kyoto46°F (8°C)48°F (9°C)54°F (12°C)66°F (19°C)75°F (24°C)81°F (27°C)88°F (31°C)90°F (32°C)82°F (28°C)72°F (22°C)61°F (16°C)52°F (11°C)
Miyajima Island45°F (7°C)46°F (8°C)54°F (12°C)63°F (17°C)70°F (21°C)77°F (25°C)84°F (29°C)86°F (30°C)79°F (26°C)70°F (21°C)61°F (16°C)50°F (10°C)
Okinawa66°F (19°C)66°F (19°C)70°F (21°C)75°F (24°C)79°F (26°C)84°F (29°C)88°F (31°C)88°F (31°C)86°F (30°C)81°F (27°C)75°F (24°C)70°F (21°C)
Osaka48°F (9°C)48°F (9°C)55°F (13°C)66°F (19°C)73°F (23°C)81°F (27°C)88°F (31°C)90°F (32°C)82°F (28°C)72°F (22°C)63°F (17°C)54°F (12°C)
Tokyo50°F (10°C)50°F (10°C)55°F (13°C)66°F (19°C)73°F (23°C)77°F (25°C)84°F (29°C)88°F (31°C)81°F (27°C)70°F (21°C)61°F (16°C)54°F (12°C)
Tsumago39°F (4°C)43°F (6°C)50°F (10°C)61°F (16°C)70°F (21°C)75°F (24°C)81°F (27°C)84°F (29°C)75°F (24°C)64°F (18°C)55°F (13°C)45°F (7°C)
Sapporo28°F (-2°C)29°F (-2°C)36°F (2°C)49°F (9°C)59°F (15°C)67°F (19°C)73°F (23°C)76°F (24°C)68°F (20°C)57°F (14°C)43°F (6°C)32°F (0°C)
A clear view of the average monthly temperatures for each destination, making it easier to plan travel based on climate preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best month to go to Japan?

My favorite month to visit Japan is October. The weather is great for traveling and outdoor activities because it’s mild and doesn’t rain much. October provides a comfortable climate in which you can enjoy exploring cities and countryside alike without the discomfort of extreme temperatures.
October marks the beginning of the autumn foliage season in many parts of Japan, especially in the northern regions and higher elevations.
Culturally, October is a celebratory month in Japan, filled with festivals and events that showcase the country’s rich heritage and lively community spirit. One of the most famous events is the Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto.
For travelers interested in food, October also offers the chance to taste seasonal delicacies when the focus shifts to foods like sweet potatoes, persimmons, and mushrooms.

What is the cheapest month to go to Japan?

January tends to be the cheapest month to visit Japan because it is in the middle of winter. Aside from areas popular for winter sports like skiing in Hokkaido or the Japanese Alps, the colder weather tends to deter tourists, especially those looking to enjoy Japan’s outdoor attractions and gardens.
International travelers can expect cheaper airfare to Japan during January as airlines and travel agencies aim to attract more tourists during this off-peak time. Hotels and guesthouses offer discounted rates to increase occupancy after the New Year peak.

When should you avoid crowds in Japan?

To avoid crowds in Japan, it’s important to plan your visit during the off-peak travel times and steer clear of major national holidays and festival periods. If crowds bother you, it is advisable that you don’t travel during sakura season or Golden Week. You’ll want to come to Japan during off-peak season, which is January – February.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory Varga is a licensed travel agent and published travel writer. Her main expertise is writing about Japan, where she happily lives with her husband.
Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan and wants to share more about the local customs with the rest of the world.
While Cory has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries, Japan remains her favorite place to live and write about. Cory is multilingual.

Comments

11 responses to “Best time to visit Japan”

  1. Yishyene C Avatar
    Yishyene C

    Heya! What an informative post about Japan. I’m going there this November.. the last time I was there was hmm over 15 years ago when I did a 5-week homestay – that was December/January.

    I’ll have to plan to visit during Spring sometime!

    1. Cory Avatar
      Cory

      I think the best time to visit Japan is during Spring if you want to enjoy the sakura season for sure!

  2. Anisa Avatar
    Anisa

    I agree the cherry blossoms are really something special in Japan. Yes it may be more expensive and more crowded, but I think it is definitely worth it.

    1. Cory Avatar
      Cory

      I agree. That’s why the best time to visit Japan is Spring. So worth it!

  3. Lien Avatar
    Lien

    I love ‘best time to visit…’ series as I think it is nog always so straightforward. I think I would go for spring with the blossoms 😉

  4. val hansen Avatar
    val hansen

    Your pictures are so gorgeous..I am so wanting to travel to Japan!

    1. Cory Avatar
      Cory

      Thank you so much!

  5. Alexandria Iveson Avatar
    Alexandria Iveson

    Really great post! We are planning a south east asia trip for 2019 including Japan so great info to have 🙂

    1. Cory Avatar
      Cory

      I hope you now feel more informed on the best time to visit Japan during your travels!

  6. Best Travel Dating Website Avatar
    Best Travel Dating Website

    This is the best time of year because of the Cherry Blossoms and all the beautiful spring colours.

    1. Cory Avatar
      Cory

      I totally agree! the best time to visit Japan is during Spring!

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