There is no bad time to travel to Japan! It is all about prioritizing your favorite destinations, deciding all the exciting things you would like to do, and then figuring out which month or season may be best suited for your itinerary. With that said, there are certain seasons that are particularly popular, and certain times of the year when it is best to avoid altogether if you can. In this article, we will provide everything you need to know when it comes to perfecting the timing for your next vacation to Japan!
The most popular season to visit Japan is Spring, when mother nature decorates the entire country with beautiful cherry blossoms known as Sakura. The Spring Sakura season generally begins around mid-March and lasts until end of April every year, and it is considered the most beautiful and romantic time of the year to see Japan. Meanwhile, the climate is relaxingly cool and comfortable, making this period ideal for outdoor activities and sightseeing. The only drawback to visiting Japan during Spring Sakura season is crowds and pricing: due to popular demands for hotel bookings by domestic and international tourists alike, especially in towns that are well-known for Hanami (viewing Cherry Blossoms) such as Kawaguchiko (Mount Fuji) and Hakone, it is important to book well in advance. Also, expect to pay substantially more for accommodations and having to deal with crowded venues when visiting popular tourist attraction.
Fall is an incredible season to visit Japan: experience the sights of autumn foliage and seasonal color changes taking over every shrine and temple throughout the country. The Fall season begins around mid-October and lasts until the end of November every year. While certain locations such as Nikko and Hakone experience surges in demands for accommodations, hotel bookings are generally less competitive and less expensive when compared with the Spring season. Meanwhile, the climate is also just as refreshingly cool and comfortable! Personally, November is my favorite month to visit Japan as a tourist, because flights and accommodations generally cost less during off-season months such as October and November, and most tourist attraction sites are usually not particularly crowded either.
Be sure to bring a nice and warm puffy jacket when visiting Japan during Winter! Winter gets cold throughout most of Japan especially in January and February, with Hokkaido recording the coldest temperatures and heaviest snowfalls. With that said, it is an incredible time to visit Japan, especially if you are an avid winter sports enthusiast! Japan is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world, with soft fluffy snow covering higher elevations throughout Northern Honshu and Hokkaido by mid-December every year. The popular ski and snowboard season usually lasts through winter and well into Spring until end of April or beginning of May. For those of us who just want to sightsee and relax, Winter is the best time of the year to see Mount Fuji! The iconic snow-capped Mount Fuji is best for viewing towards end of January until end of April, when sunny days are plentiful and low humidity allows for greater visibility. Meanwhile, if you decide to stay in cities such as Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka or Hiroshima, the temperature generally hovers between 0 degrees and 10 degrees Celsius, with the occasional chances of rain or snow, but for the most part chilly, sunny and pleasant on most days, especially within Greater Tokyo.
Summer is the time of the year when lots of tourists visit Japan while enjoying their summer holidays. Summer is a great time of the year to visit Japan's beautiful beaches and enjoy water sports such as surfing and snorkeling. Feeling the effects of climate change, Japan has witnessed unbearably hot summers reaching 40 degrees Celsius and beyond during August and September! Be sure to stay hydrated and bring lots of sunscreen! Plan your itinerary with outdoor exposure in mind, so that you won't be overexposed to heat and feeling sunburned.
Summer is a great time to visit Hokkaido, where the temperature is much more pleasant than the rest of Japan, averaging around 20-25 degrees Celsius in the peak of summertime, and due to the pleasant climate in Hokkaido, summer is the best season for viewing flowers grown in all kinds of colors, spread on fields after fields for as far as the eyes can see.
On the downside, if you would like to see Mount Fuji, avoid visiting Japan during the summer months. Why? First of all, you won't be able to see its iconic snow cap; secondly, visibility is often poor due to unpredictable weather conditions and humidity. With that said however, summer is the only time of the year when visitors can climb to the top of Mount Fuji and enjoy Japan's most sacred sunrise!
There are certain times of the year when tourists should avoid visiting Japan, here is the list and the reasons behind them:
Golden Week is the few times of the year when EVERYBODY in Japan goes on vacation! All schools and many businesses are closed during this time of the year, so wherever you try to go in Japan, you will never roam alone! During the Golden Week holidays, it is extremely difficult to secure bookings for domestic flights and reserve train tickets, because everyone is trying to travel at the same time. Hotel bookings must be reserved well in advance, and prices generally become much higher due to demand surges through this special week. Furthermore, expect to line up for everything: from dining out at restaurants, fighting your way through airport terminals and train stations, visiting tourist attractions… Even whilst hiking you will see massive lineups just before reaching the summit!
A similar reasoning to Golden Week: everybody goes on holidays and almost all schools, businesses, shops and restaurants are closed for the first 3 days of the New Year. However, this can also be the best time of the year to visit Japan, if you would like to experience the spiritual charms of Hatsunode - New Year's first visit to shrines and temples to bring luck and fortune. Shrines and temples become extremely congested through the first week of New Year, well into the middle of the night on the first 2 days. If you are not afraid to join the local crowds, Hatsunode is a fascinating cultural experience that will enrich your understanding of this unique Japanese tradition.
The typical rainy season in Japan: bring an umbrella and a pair of rain boots if you decide to visit Japan during the beginning of summer!
Also known as Typhoon season, this is the time of the year when typhoons and tropical storms are most likely to hit Japan, with the possibilities of extensive flooding and dangerously strong winds requiring everyone to seek shelter indoors for safety. With that said, this is also the best time of the year for storm watching and perhaps even extreme surfing, but please exercise high degrees of caution, and always adhere to local government's safety advisories.
Hopefully by now, you will have a much better idea about when to visit Japan! The truth is, Japan is beautiful in its own ways for different reasons throughout all 4 seasons of the year. No matter when you decide to visit, you will find reasons to fall in love and come back again during a different season! For all your trip planning needs throughout Japan, Wanderplans has a wealth of resources that will help create your perfect itinerary based on your personal interests and preferences. It is never too early to plan your next journey to Japan. Dream big and start wanderplanning now!