When to visit Japan
When to visit Japan
Best time to visit Japan
Japan is incredibly diverse in both landscape and climate. Outdoor Japan includes everything from exquisite parks and gardens in the heart of busy cities, to dramatic mountain ranges, dense forests, and tropical beaches.
When planning your trip we know you’ll want to be across the very best time to take in these exceptional spaces. The good news is that whenever you do time your visit to Japan there will always be spectacular scenery and plenty of exciting things to see and do.
The generally-accepted best travel periods for a country-wide tour are the spring and fall: March to May and September through to November. The former makes up the peak of the tourist season: coinciding with the cherry blossom season, when Japan’s parks and gardens are coated in delicate pink and white spray. There’s also a perfect temperate climate at this time – dry, clear, and warm. Generally peaking around late March and early April, cherry blossom season always brings the crowds to Japan, so we do recommend booking your accommodation, tickets and airfare well in advance.
Travelling through the autumnal months of September, October, and November sees equally pleasant weather but thinner crowds than spring. The lack of cherry blossom is more than countered by the dramatic autumn foliage, so we do believe that these months are an especially good time to travel to Japan, particularly if you’re planning to visit rural areas such as the Alps or Hakone.
Summer or winter are times to consider travelling outside of Japan’s core destinations. Instead of focusing on main island Honshu, look further north towards Hokkaido or south to Kyushu. Kyushu winters are balmy, with the mercury never really dropping below 10C. The warmer weather also sees a later extension of fall colours – still seen widely across Kyushu into December – and an early arrival of cherry blossom – which can appear as early as first weeks of February.
In the far North, Hokkaido offers the best ski resorts in Asia, with the powder at its best in January and early February. Hokkaido in late spring – May and June – is also glorious, with perfect temperatures to explore its dramatic, rugged natural beauty.
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Japan is a year-round destination, with something to offer whatever time of year you choose to visit. We’ve put together an overview of climate season-by-season and region-by-region below.
December to February
Fewer tourists visit Japan in the winter than any other season, so if you plan your visit well this can be an exceptional time to travel: avoiding the crowds, enjoying competitive rates, and accessing regions of the country which may not be considered at other times or year. The winter months are the best time of year for skiing, so if you’re looking for action on the slopes there’s nowhere better in Asia than the resorts of Hokkaido to the north, or Hakuba in the Alps. The central island of Honshu can be quite cold in these months, with average temperatures in Tokyo ranging from about 36 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit, and occasionally dropping below freezing. Keep in mind that the Christmas holidays are a busy time to travel so you’ll need to book your accommodation well in advance. Wherever you travel during this time, make the most of Japan’s warm outdoor hot springs – bathing outdoors amongst a carpet of snow is a truly magical experience!
Discover the winter season on our Essence of Japan example itinerary
March to May
Spring is undoubtedly most popular time for a visit to Japan. Japan in spring is the just the most beautiful place to be, with fantastic warm weather for sightseeing, and – if you time your visit right – a carpet of cherry blossom through the parks and cities. The climate at this time is pleasantly warm with barely any rain: temperatures in Tokyo average anywhere from 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so a t-shirt and light jacket or jumper should be all you need each day. The good weather and exceptional scenery brings with it an exceptionally high demand for accommodation: you’ll need to book well in advance and prepare for crowds. During Golden Week (usually April 29 to May 5), Japan will be at its busiest with many Japanese traveling around this time too.
See the world famous cherry blossom on our Highlights of Japan example itinerary
June to August
Summer in Japan is typically quite warm and humid. Average temperatures in Tokyo are between 64 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit, but can far exceed this in exceptionally warm days. Early summer also brings a short, sharp monsoon period, with rains peaking in June. While the parks and gardens will be beautifully lush, we recommend packing an umbrella wherever you go as the weather can change quickly. At such time of year we recommend heading north: Hokkaido in early summer is divine, with much cooler temperatures and a late spring blossom. Should you stick to Honshu, the summer sees a raft of exciting festivals – most famous of which is the Kyoto Matsuri festival in July – and its also the best time of year to attempt a climb of Mount Fuji.
Explore the best of Japan on our Grand Tour example itinerary
September to November
Fall months see a return to temperate weather, but less so the crowds and peak season pricing. October and November are particularly gorgeous and can be a little busy, but crowds never reach the peak of March and April. September and early December are considered shoulder season – seeing a dip in hotel rates – and if the weather works out can be exceptional times to visit. The autumnal months are the perfect time to get out and about, especially in the mountains which see a dramatic wash of reds and yellows. Now is the time to consider that multi-day hike on the Nakasendo or Kumano Kodo! Temperatures range in Tokyo will range 79 degree Fahrenheit in the later summer weeks of September to 79 towards the end of November.
Journey deeper into Japan on our Alternative Japan example itinerary
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