4 Season of Japan
If you like to think ahead, we've prepared month-by-month guides to the climate and seasonal highlights for major tourist destinations in Japan. Check them out for info about exactly what to expect, what clothes to pack, and what to do to make the most of the season!
Best Time to Travel in Japan (4 Season)
Cherry Blossom Season: March – April
- Spring in Japan is synonymous with cherry blossoms, which bloom all over the country around April each year. This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful times to visit Japan, and the sight of Japan’s cities and parks tinted in shades of pink draws visitors from all over the world.
Cherry trees only bloom for around two weeks, with the much-anticipated full bloom period lasting as little as a few days. However, because of Japan's varied climate, the trees bloom in a wave through the country over the course of around a month. To ensure you’re timing your trip just right to see the trees in full bloom, it’s best to check our cherry blossom forecast (yes, Japan forecasts the cherry blossoms!). Also be aware that popular tourist areas like Tokyo and Kyoto can get very busy during this period, so book your accommodation and other tickets well ahead if you can. To avoid the worst of the crowds, you can also check out our roundups of little-known cherry blossom spots in Tokyo and Kyoto.
If you can’t catch the cherry blossoms, spring in Japan has plenty of other flowers and scenery to offer. Plum blossoms are in bloom around February and March, while wisterias, tulips, roses, and nemophila bloom around April and May. While these flowers aren’t quite as prevalent as cherry blossoms, we're confident there will be more than enough beautiful flower fields, gardens, and parks to satisfy you!
Festival Season: June – August
- If you’re interested in Japan’s matsuri (festival) culture, summer is the best time to visit. Japan’s “big three” festivals are the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto (July), Kanda Festival in Tokyo (May), and Tenjin Festival in Osaka (July), but festivals are held throughout the country in the summer months. Japanese matsuri are important religious and cultural events, often with public performances like parades and dances to enjoy. The festive atmosphere, chance to dress up in summer robes called "yukata", and festival food and games are another highlight, particularly if you’re visiting with kids. To learn more about Japan's matsuri culture and when the dates fall, read our comprehensive guide to festivals in all 47 of Japan's prefectures!
Summer is also an amazing time for fireworks! Many of Japan's top firework shows usually happen during the summer months, drawing in spectators from all over Japan and even abroad. Some are so popular that you need to reserve the best viewing spots well in advance! Food stalls will often be set up near popular spectating spots, so even if you choose not to attend a festival, you can always have your fill of Japanese festival food at a firework show.
Of course, since Japan is an island country, summer is also a great time to visit its many coastal resorts and islands. Visitors flock to Okinawa in the south and the Seto Inland Sea area in the summer to soak up some sun and scenery. In Japan, many beaches are closed for swimming and surfing outside the summer months,
Fall Color Season: October and November
- For many people in Japan, the fall color season is just as an exciting time of year as the cherry blossom season. The change of the trees signals the end of a long, humid summer, and in October and November (and sometimes even December), people in Japan flock to parks and gardens to see stunning red maples and brilliant yellow ginko trees. Many shrines and temples hold special evening viewings on their grounds, and "otsukimi", or moon viewing festivals, are also a popular activity at this time of year.
An autumn trip to Japan has many benefits: while popular autumn color hotspots may be busy, the scenery is stunning, and the weather can be more comfortable than the winter and summer months, too. This milder weather makes it easier to enjoy all kinds of foods, including local autumn delicacies such as persimmons, grilled Pacific saury, and roasted sweet potatoes.
Winter Ski Season: December – April
- Japan’s mountainous geography is paradise for fans of winter sports. The ski season in Japan falls around December to April, with major resorts clustered around the area in the Japanese Alps and the northern island of Hokkaido, which is particularly prized among ski fanatics for its high-quality powder snow. There are around 500 ski resorts big and small throughout the country, including world-class resorts like Niseko in Hokkaido and Hakuba in Nagano. For more information on these, we've put together a guide to some of the best resorts for powder snow in Japan.
One highlight of a ski trip to Japan is the abundance of natural hot springs, delicious food, and great sightseeing to round out your trip. Here are some fantastic open-air hot springs in Hokkaido to get you inspired!
Do be aware that the winter season coincides with New Year's, which in Japan means a peak in domestic travel and scheduled holidays for many shops and attractions. Keep that in mind as you plan any activities from around December 29th to January 5th.
If you’re planning a trip to Japan, it’s worth considering avoiding these four domestic travel peaks:
Golden Week: April 29 - May 5
Bon Festival (Obon): August 13 - 15
Silver Week: September 19 - 23 (Note: This occurs every couple of years when two public holidays in September align to form a five-day holiday)
New Year's: December 29 - January 3 (Note: Japan doesn't have any official Christmas holidays, so this is actually like Christmas and New Year's combined)
For more info: https://www.tsunagujapan.com/when-is-the-best-cheapest-time-to-visit-japan/