Best time to visit Japan

Updated: 09th December 2020


When is the best time to visit Japan?

The best time to visit Japan is generally in spring or autumn when the country is at its most beautiful thanks to the budding of cherry blossom and stunning autumnal colours. The weather is also great at this time with mild temperatures.

Seasons and Weather in Japan

What are spring and autumn like in Japan?

Spring (March – May) sees a lot of the country ablaze with beautiful white and pink cherry blossom. The locals like to sit out beneath the cherry blossoms and it's an increasingly popular time to visit the country. Temperatures during these months begin to rise and it is before the hot rainy season. Autumn (September – November) sees similar temperatures, which are now a welcome respite from the muggy heat of the summer. The country also now changes into a haven of red and scarlet leaves which contrast strikingly against the deep blue clear skies.

What's summer like in Japan?

Summer (June – August) sees the start of the rainy season. The rains aren’t seen every day like in some monsoonal countries but when they come they are heavy. The temperature after the rain is generally quite high and can be uncomfortable if you are moving around. Summer also sees lots of great festivals (or Matsuri) in Japan and there are lots of spectacular firework shows going on across the country.

What's winter like in Japan?

Winter (December – March) is a beautiful time to visit Japan, especially if you are venturing to the ski slopes of Hokkaido or Nagano. These areas are carpeted in a brilliant white coating of fresh powdery snow making the traditional Japanese onsen (hot springs) even more fun to sit in. Nagano is also a great place to visit in the winter because of the resident snow monkeys who appear in bigger numbers at this time of year. Most towns and cities in the northern regions of Honshu island experience some degree of snow but major cities like Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka receive minimal snowfall during the winter months.

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Climate | Tokyo

Temp Min °C23611151923242115105
Temp Max °C101114192326303128221713
Rainfall (mm)626112613915016818218621523510844

Climate | Kyoto

Temp Min °C124914192324201383
Temp Max °C8913192427313328221711
Rainfall (mm)50801201301602402301302201008050

Climate | Sapporo

Temp Min °C-7-7-3381317181372-4
Temp Max °C-1-131117222526221682
Rainfall (mm)110100907060606014011011090100

Best Time to Visit by Region

Japan may not be the largest country in the world, yet the climate varies considerably between the islands. From the temperate continental climate of the north - characterised by long, cold winters, to the humid subtropical climate of the small Ryukyu Islands in the southwest, you'll always find somewhere to go no matter the time of year.

When is the best time to visit Tokyo?

The futuristic capital of Tokyo sits on Honshu island, Japan's largest. It's considered a year-round destination though there are definite benefits to visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. Firstly, these periods experience less extreme weather conditions with generally mild temperatures. Secondly, there's the beautiful colours of cherry blossom and autumnal leaves to enjoy.

Summers in Tokyo can be hot and stick, with high humidity and a short rainy season between May and June, while winters are cold. That's why spring and autumn are considered the best time to visit.

When is the best time to visit Hakone and Mount Fuji?

The notoriously camera shy Mt. Fuji and its surrounding national park is one of Japan's most popular attractions. Unfortunately the volcanic peak is often shrouded in cloud, especially during the warm and humid months between May and September. For the best chance of a clear view, visit in the cooler months of November to February.

Fuji is only a short distance away from Tokyo so the seasons here are similar to those of the capital. Expect beautiful pink-covered landscapes in spring and red leaves in autumn. If you're thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji, visit between July and mid-September.

When is the best time to visit Kyoto?

The city of Kyoto, and its many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, lies further west on Honshu island. Similarly to Tokyo, the best time to visit is either spring or autumn. In March and April Kyoto is awash with the delicate pink of cherry blossom season while between October and November the fiery reds of autumn take over. At these times of year, temperatures are more pleasant and better suited to sightseeing.

When is the best time to visit Hiroshima and Miyajima Island?

Located on Honshu island and close to Kyoto, the city of Hiroshima is also best visited in the spring months of March to April and autumn months of October and November. As elsewhere in Japan, the climate is mild and the landscapes stunning with seasonal colours. The same goes for the nearby island of Miyajima though it's important to consider the tide if you want to see the famed floating torii gate. High tide is best if you want to see it 'floating' on the water.

When is the best time to visit Hokkaido?

Hokkaido is Japan's second largest island and the northernmost prefecture. Here the winters (December to February) are long and cold while the summers are cooler than elsewhere in Japan. Thanks to its climatic conditions, the island is considered the country's prime winter destination with excellent skiing opportunities and the chance to experience traditional onsen out in the cold.

There are many great reasons to visit Japan in the winter but Hokkaido in particular is the place to go as it's home to the Sapporo snow festival. Each year the island's capital transforms into a winter wonderland with snow sculptures and fairground rides.

Best Time to Visit Japan
Map highlighting the best time to visit Japan by region

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Yamagata Hanagasa Festival Parade


Japan celebrates its highly unique cultural heritage with a number of festivals and special events held throughout the year. Here's our guide to the best of them.

When is the Cherry Blossom Festival?

Known as hanami in Japan, the traditional custom of 'flower viewing' has become one of the most popular times to visit Japan with cities decorated in beautiful cherry blossom. From the end of March to early May when the flowers bloom outdoor parties are held throughout the country with people heading to parks for picnics.The Cherry Blossom Festival is a particularly good time to visit in terms of weather also.

When is Tenjin Festival in Osaka?

Held on the 24th and 25th July every year, the highlights of the Tenjin Festival include processions of drummers, ceremonial floats and fireworks in the evening to honor the deity Sugawara and the Tenmangu Shrine.

When is Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo?

Taking place in mid-May in odd numbered years, the Kanda Matsuri festival honours the Kanda Myojin Shrine with a day-long procession and parades of shrines through central Tokyo. Other events are held over the week.

When is Obon?

This annual Buddhist event in mid-August is a time for families to commemorate their ancestors with lanterns, special dances, food offerings made at house altars and shrines in order to guide the spirits on their return to this world.

When is Takayama Festival?

The annual Autumn Festival held in the town of Takayama is in honour of Hachiman Shrine with a dozen festival floats known as yatai paraded through the streets when the weather is fine. Some of the floats have sophisticated mechanical dolls that perform movements during the parade. The Takayama Festival takes place on the 9th-10th October each year.

What is the Sapporo Snow Festival?

Held in the city of Sapporo on Hokkaido island, the Sapporo Snow Festival is Japan's largest winter event with hundreds of splendid snow and ice sculptures lining Odori Park. Large snow slides are set up Tsudome community dome and visitors flock here in February each year to enjoy the winter wonderland.

What is Golden Week?

In Japan Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays that take place within a week including Showa Day celebrating Emperor Showa's birthday; Constitution Day; Greenery Day, a national holiday dedicated to nature; and finally, Children's Day with families praying for the health and success of their sons. During these holidays the Japanese like to travel so trains, hotels and popular sightseeing spots are overcrowded and need to be booked months in advance to ensure availability.

What is Gion Matsuri in Kyoto?

Gion Matsuri, the festival of Yasaka Shrine, is one of Japan's most famous festivals with a spectacular grand procession of floats or hoko as they are known in Japanese, which can reach enormous proportions at 25 metres tall. At night the area around the Kamo River swells with food stalls and markets.

See Also

Check out the following useful resources to help plan your visit to Japan:

Best Places to Visit - destinations in Japan not to be missed
Tourist Visas - what you need to know prior to travel
Top Travel Tips - information about money, food and luggage forwarding
Traveller Reviews - what our passengers say about our Japan tours
Transport in Japan - handy info on getting around by train in Japan
Top 10 Japan Experiences - get the most out of your time in Japan
Cherry Blossom Festival - all your frequently asked questions answered
Travel Alerts - current travel advice for Japan