The question is probably best answered with the response, “it depends.” This answer applies to the time of year and your visitor goals, travel budget, and interests.
The reality is that there are many factors involved in deciding to plan a trip to Japan, including convenience for flights or visas, seasonality or ideal time of year for weather, holiday periods with closures and festivities.
Your answer to these questions will depend on what is possible for a visit shortly!
For example, if you plan a trip during cherry blossom season with long weekends or public holidays, this might limit your options to one part of the country where it is convenient to travel from Tokyo.
If you are flexible on when to go, looking at Japan’s annual holiday schedule is an excellent place to start. Many of the most popular attractions have their own festivals, holidays, and closure dates, affecting your travel plans.
What are the best months to visit Japan?
While this article does not serve as an exhaustive guide to travel in Japan, it highlights some of the best periods and places to visit if you want to avoid crowds and experience a little more of what the country has to offer.
For most foreign visitors, Japan is often associated with spring (March-May), summer (June – August), and autumn/fall (September – November).
Japan’s high season runs from mid/late May to mid/late June and from late August through the end of October.
The national holiday Golden Week (April 29-May 5) is a major draw, while summer brings domestic and international tourists.
The least traveled season is winter which runs from December to February. This does not mean that there are no visitors during this period, but it does mean that the winter weather influences travel plans.
What is the peak season in Japan?
Overall, higher crowds and higher hotel rates coincide with holiday periods.
These include Golden Week in April/May, Obon week in August, New Year’s Eve, and the first couple of days of January.
In general, hotels will be at their highest rates during these periods, while both domestic and international flights are also likely to be more expensive.
One way to experience Japan on a budget during these busy periods is to avoid the larger cities (See Also: The Biggest Cities in Japan by Population) and consider traveling around the countryside or staying at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn).
Ryokans are usually smaller establishments with fewer guests, offering a relaxing retreat from the rigors of travel and local crowds.
What is Japanese Weather like?
The climate in Japan varies greatly from North to South. In general, the North is cold and snowy in winter, while the Sea of Japan side (Southwestern Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) enjoys a milder climate than borders on subtropical.
Inland regions such as Tohoku or Hokkaido can be pretty cold in winter, while the Sea of Japan side enjoys warmer winters than other areas in Japan.
The best time to visit Hokkaido is during the long Golden Week vacation period with fewer domestic visitors, which results in lower hotel rates and less crowded attractions.
Cherry Blossoms Season
Japan has always been famous for its beautiful sakura (cherry blossom) trees, which attract visitors worldwide.
The most popular period to view cherry blossoms is during late March and most of April.
Keep in mind that this is also a hectic time for travel as it coincides with spring break for primary, middle, and high school students.
The weather can be unpredictable during this time of year, with occasional snowfalls in some parts. The good news is that it usually only lasts for a day or two and does not affect cherry blossom viewing elsewhere.
In Hokkaido, the best time to view the delicate pink blossoms is during mid-April, while in Okinawa, from late February through early March is prime season. In Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, the blooming period usually lasts from mid to late April.
Is January a good time to visit Japan?
The beginning of the year is usually cold, with low temperatures in some parts.
It can also be wet and humid since it coincides with winter/spring rains on the Pacific side.
This may put a damper on travel plans, but it can be an excellent time to visit Japan if you are looking for lower rates at all types of accommodations, including ryokans.
Domestic flights are also easy on the pocket as this is a less-traveled period.
What is the weather like in January?
The beginning of January is a wet and gloomy season.
Days are short, temperatures drop to the low 30s in Hokkaido or below freezing in parts of Tohoku or Western Japan. This is also the wettest time of the year on average across much of Honshu and Shikoku.
Parts of Kyushu and Okinawa near the Pacific Ocean enjoy milder temperatures than areas on the other side of the island.
Tokyo is cold and dreary, with snowfall possible. This can be an excellent time to visit Kawagoe, famous for its Edo period (1603-1868) merchant houses known as Kura (storehouse), and well worth a day trip.
Kyoto is also cold but tends to be less wet than Tokyo or other parts of Honshu island.
Ski resorts in the Japanese Alps, including Hakuba, Shimotakai, Nozawa Onsen, and Myoko, are good bets for powder hounds with lots of fresh snow from January to early March.
Is February a good time to visit Japan?
February It’s less humid due to its location in the northern hemisphere; it’s warmer and has an abundance of cherry blossoms that have just started blooming.
Some mountain passes are closed for snow clearing, which usually starts on January 2 on some routes.
This period can be crowded in some parts of the country, like Kyoto for its famous sakura (cherry blossom).
Is March a good time to visit Japan?
March is the month of spring. It may be a little too early for many people to visit Japan as traditional hanami parties are not yet held in full swing.
Still, it’s also an ideal time because plum blossoms have just started blooming, and cherry blossoms are about to appear.
This is a perfect time to visit Japan for those who prefer peaceful walks along roadsides to partying under the sakura trees.
The plum blossom season will continue until around mid-March in Tokyo and Kyoto each year, so if you miss it in Kyoto by any chance, check out Himeji Castle, which holds the most splendid view of the seasonal pink flowers from mid-February to mid-March.
Is April a good time to visit Japan?
April is the most popular month to celebrate sakura (cherry blossom) viewing, or hanami in Japanese. This spectacular event is held from mid-March through early May when blossoming cherry trees are adorned with lanterns and enjoyed with food and drink under the blooming sakura trees.
Cherry blossom viewing is a Japanese tradition and one of the most famous Japanese and international travelers.
Sakura season, however, is short as it usually lasts no more than two weeks (so you must be fortunate to catch it).
Starting with yamazakura (mountain cherry blossoms) in northern Japan and followed by Momiji (Japanese apricot, sometimes called Japanese cherry) beginning around late March to early April.
Is May a good time to visit Japan?
There are still a few plum blossoms blooming in May, but it’s certainly not a month to go for the plums.
The sakura (cherry blossom) season may have passed by then, while some mountain passes remain closed due to snow.
What is the weather like in May?
In the south, such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyushu, warm but wet.
The Sea of Japan coast has more rainfall than that of the Pacific side during this time.
Is June a good time to visit Japan?
June is one of the rainy seasons, but it has sunny spells.
It’s the peak season for many flowers blooming in early summer, including rose and peony.
Many people come back to work after the summer holidays.
Conversely, it’s less crowded during this time of year.
Is July a good time to visit Japan?
July is the rainy season in Japan.
The Sea of Japan coast and Hokkaido enjoy warmer temperatures during this time of year.
Tohoku and Hokuriku (eastern Honshu) may be dry while Kanto (Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama) is wet; the latter has lower temperatures.
What is the weather like in July?
The warm and wet season will continue in Kanto and Kansai, which has already started in Kyushu.
July offers the chance to see watermelon boats floating down rivers or canals and spend time at summer festivals.
Is August a good time to visit Japan?
August is the peak of summer, but it’s also typhoon season in Japan.
It becomes hot and humid with little rain in Hokkaido, while there are frequent heavy showers in Kanto (Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama) and Chubu (Nagoya, Gifu).
What is the weather like in August?
The weather is generally clear and comfortable, but it starts to get hot.
It’s the warmest time of year in Hokkaido, while it will be particularly muggy around Tokyo during July and August.
August offers chances to see firework displays at summer festivals and strong sunlight for beach trips or outdoor activities.
Is September a good time to visit Japan?
September is the autumn season, but it’s still rainy or cloudy most of the time.
Many people are back to work after the summer holidays, so this might be one of the most crowded times in Japan.
There are some festivals held across the country, including Yabusame (horseback archery) in Tohoku.
What is the weather like in September?
The autumn colors become more vivid.
It’s still hot and humid in Kanto (Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama) and Chubu (Nagoya, Gifu).
September is also typhoon season in Japan.
Is October a good time to visit Japan?
October is a great month for traveling as it’s neither too hot nor cold.
There are many autumn leaves and festivals throughout Japan.
What is the weather like in October?
The weather is cool and dry, but it’s still warm enough for autumn activities like seeing maple leaves.
Is November a good time to visit Japan?
November is the peak of the autumn foliage season in Japan.
It’s also when autumn markets are held in many places.
This is the time of year for “kadomatsu” or pine decoration in front of homes since it symbolizes a good harvest for the new year.
What is the weather like in November?
The weather is cool, refreshing, and dry, perfect for autumn activities such as festivals and watching maple leaves.
The streets become quiet in the evenings when people retreat into their houses to enjoy delicious seasonal dishes with their families.
Is December a good time to visit Japan?
December is one of the best times to visit Japan, especially if you appreciate winter scenery.
It’s cold and dry in Hokkaido, while wet and humid in Kanto (Tokyo, Kawasaki, Yokohama); Hokuriku (Ishikawa, Fukui) is snowy.
It’s also when winter festivals are held throughout the country, including snow viewing.
It’s not as cold as January or February, so it’s a great time for sightseeing.
What is the weather like in December?
The days are short with little daylight, but it comes alive with all the lights and decorations during the Christmas season.
When should you not visit Japan?
Japan has some of the world’s most dramatic natural disasters, including several volcanoes (e.g., Sakurajima in Kyushu), an earthquake zone (Nankai Trough), typhoons (especially near Okinawa), and tsunamis on the Pacific Coast.
The country is at high risk for earthquakes, typhoons, and tsunamis because of its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Japan has been able to implement earthquake-resistant construction methods which have minimized damage from quakes in recent years.
In addition, most Japanese schools have anti-disaster training drills, so students are prepared for emergencies.
However, it is still recommended to avoid Japan during times of volcanic eruptions or major earthquakes. For the latest information on travel alerts, check with your local Japanese embassy or consulate in your home country.
Do not visit Japan during one of its typhoons periods when making plans to travel.
Many flights and train routes are canceled or delayed due to dangerous conditions. Typhoons can also dramatically increase the cost of traveling in Japan!
Remember, the weather is NOT the same everywhere in Japan; regional differences mean some areas might be getting heavy rain while it’s sunny and clear on another side of the island.
What are the Japanese Holidays?
Japan has 12 Major holidays during which all government offices and many businesses will close for the day. All banks are closed on these dates, except those normally open Saturdays and Sundays, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Traditionally, the Japanese prefer moving these national holidays to better weather days such as May 2 or late October when cherry blossoms start falling. For example, Golden Week went from April 29 to May 5 in 2016 for good cherry blossom viewing in many areas.
What is Japan’s hottest month?
August is the hottest month on average in Japan. The highest temperature on record was recorded in July 2018 at 105.98 °F (41.1 °C) in Tokyo.
What are some other hot regions of Japan?
Many regions in Japan are hot, including Aichi Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, Gunma Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, Tochigi Prefecture, and Yamaguchi Prefectures.
When is Japan’s driest month?
On average, December is the driest month of the year, with an average rainfall of 21mm (0.83″).
Is Japan too hot in summer?
The rainy season in Japan runs from June to mid-July. It is not uncommon for temperatures over 30°C (86°F) with 80% humidity during this time.
However, daily highs can reach as high as 40°C (104°F). During the rainy season, typhoons often hit across southern parts of Japan, causing high winds and flooding.
What are the coldest regions of Japan?
The coldest region is Abashiri, Hokkaido, with an average low of -13°C (8°F) during January.
What are the snowiest regions in Japan?
Most of Japan’s land does not experience regular snowfall; however, two areas do see steady snowfall: the mountains of Northern Japan and the islands of Okinawa.
Mount Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture had a record snowfall of 54 inches (137 cm) over three days from December 19-21, 2013.
In addition to being one of the snowiest places on earth, Niseko, Hokkaido, is also one of the most frozen inhabited places in the world. (You may also like: Does it Snow in Japan?)
What is Japan’s best month for viewing cherry blossoms?
In many regions, the best time to view the flowers is in April, before rain and wind make them fall from their branches.
What are the best months for seeing autumn colors in Japan?
The colors usually peak in November, but it is possible to find some nice colors until December 25 in many regions. The northern island of Hokkaido is known to have areas with spectacular fall colors that originated from broadleaf trees.
What is average humidity in Japan?
The average humidity is between 70%-80% for most months in Japan.
Which city in Japan has the best weather?
Sapporo has the best weather, with only 43 inches of precipitation or snow on an average year. Tokyo, on the other hand, receives 60 inches of rainfall annually and Osaka 58 inches.
What month does Japan have the most holidays?
July has the most holidays in Japan; it also has many public holidays on Mondays or Fridays.
What is the cheapest month to travel to Japan?
Based on average ticket prices over the past 12 months, the cheapest month to travel is October. The most expensive month to travel is March.
When is the best time to book a flight to Japan?
The best time of year to purchase airfare tickets for cheap flights from the United States (U.S.) to Japan (Nippon) is 5 months in advance.
Bookings should be made between 7 and 11 weeks before the departure date.
When is the best time to book a hotel room in Japan?
The best time to get cheap hotel rooms in Japan (Nippon) is 1 month before the desired accommodation. It is recommended to book between two to four weeks before the selected date.
When is the best time to buy a rail pass for Japan?
It is recommended to buy a train pass in Japan (Nippon) one month before you want your pass delivered. Passes are best purchased 13 days before your departure or more, depending on availability.
When is the best time to set up a mobile plan in Japan?
The cheapest month to sign up for a Japanese cell phone plan is one month before your scheduled arrival.