Japan is a country that sits near the top of most travellers bucket lists. We’ve put together this guide for those looking for the best time to visit Japan in terms of both climate and culture. Like most places, Japan has four seasons. Generally, the best or most popular times to visit Japan are Spring (March - May) for the stunning cherry blossoms. Autumn (September to November) is also a popular choice of travel dates. Having said that, with weather patterns varying across Japan, the best time to visit the country changes from area to area.
Winter - The winter weather in the West of Japan can be fairly bitter with heavy snowfall and frosty winds. The pacific coast however tends to be much drier and more palatable during winter. Culturally winter can be an interesting time to visit Japan, in particular the north which host several festivals and events.
Spring - Spring is the most popular time to visit Japan which is a result of the weather being at it’s finest and the cherry blossoms coming into bloom. You’ll find fairly consistent temperatures from March (13c) - May (23c) across the country.
It’s a busy time in Japan around spring time so plan your visit well in advance.
Summer - The Japanese summer can be almost tropical and feel extremely hot and muggy. If you are not a fan of these type of conditions then we’d recommend to head for the hills or the Northeast of the country where the temperatures are slightly cooler.
Autumn - Before Autumn properly kicks in there’s a brief typhoon season that hits around September time but October - the end of November can be some of the most colourful and eye opening times to visit Japan.
The Cherry Blossom is Japan’s seasonal hallmark and is the most popular time to visit the country. The blossom itself can sometimes only last 3 weeks so you’ll have to plan your trip way in advance. In Tokyo, the best time to catch the blossom is probably the last week of March or very early April. In the colder regions such as Sapporo, the blossom doesn't actually begin until May. If you intend to catch the blossom in the likes of Tokyo but they haven't quite started yet you should have time to travel around Japan to an area where the blossom is in full flow.
Late spring and late Autumn are generally the best times to visit the thriving Japanese capital, although it’s a year round destination. Winter is a fairly dry season and much quieter than summer and spring. Accommodation can often be much cheaper in this off peak period so if you don't mind slightly cooler weather winter can be an ideal time to visit. If you’re looking to visit in late March and April then book way in advance as these are usually busy months for Tokyo, with many tourists arriving to catch the cherry blossoms. The foliage in the cities parks makes for a pretty sight in late October and November, this coupled with a comfortable temperature mean that these months are also popular amongst tourists.
The best times to visit Hiroshima are consistent with the rest of Japan, Autumn and Spring are the most suitable from a climate point of view. The city is well known for the destruction it suffered at the hands of an atomic bomb in World War 2, the Peace Memorial Park commemorates this event and is well worth a visit. If you want to venture further into the significance of such events then you should also pay a visit to the Peace Memorial Museum, this is understandably a difficult museum to visit but holds an important nonetheless. The Shukkei-en Garden, located a short walk from Hiroshima station is a pleasant contrast to the war memorials and is particularly vibrant during Spring.
Nagasaki possesses numerous temples and rich Chinese architecture. Sadly it’s a port city most famous for the nuclear attack of 1945, of which there are multiple educational tours for. Most rainfall falls in June, July and September. The best times to visit are early Autumn and Spring, where temperatures are very reasonable. Nagasaki has a slightly warmer climate than elsewhere in Japan due to its southern location. Similar to Hiroshima, there are many peace parks and museums dedicated to its darker history as a city.
Kyoto and Osaka
The Kyoto Gion festival, one of the highlights of Japanese culture is held in July which makes a popular month to visit the region. Summer months are hot and humid however so often the best time to visit is during late Autumn when temperatures are more palatable. Winter tends to be fairly clear but cold, many businesses temporarily close 29th December - January 3rd for the Shogatsu (New Year’s holiday) but winter is generally uncrowded so can be a nice time to visit. You’ll find lots of buddhist temples and palaces at Kyoto.
Osaka is very similar to Kyoto in terms of best times to visit. The rainy season lasts from June into July but it’s not torrential every day. 24th and 25th July sees the Tenjin Matsuri festival, one of the largest in Japan and one of the best for firework displays.
If you’re wanting to see Japan’s iconic Mt Fuji, or even climb it, the best city to view it from is probably Hakone, located around 60 miles from Tokyo. It’s also a good place to head for in the summer months as the mountain air is much less humid than the surrounding major cities. The mountain needs to be free of snow in order to be able to climb it, meaning that July to September is the time visit if you want to be one of the 100,000 tourists that scale Mt Fuji each year.
What our members say
Joseph Milik -"I think Nagasaki -> Osaka -> Tokyo is a great start!
I loved Nagasaki (and Kyushu in general) - felt very different to the rest of Japan and the history around there (the gunboat diplomacy forcing the open country / atom bombs) makes it well worth a visit for at least 3 days.
Possibly stop off at Miyajima on the way back north - doesn't take more than a day and is such a pretty place to wander around. My top tip is the surprisingly quiet Daishoin Temple.
Osaka is great because you can access not only Osaka but Kyoto too very very easily. Those will keep you busy for at least a week if you let them - my personal favourite was a day trip to Nara which is gorgeous.
Tokyo doesn't really need anything said about it - you could spend a month there and not scratch the surface."
Linda Clarke - "Buy a JR pass, well worth it! I did Tokyo - Kyoto - Osaka - Hiroshima - Tokyo on the bullet train. Want to go back to Kyoto as there is so much to do there!"
Jennie Evans - "Suica is good for Tokyo travel. I’d recommend getting the train to Kamakura and Yokohama from Tokyo. Both by the sea and very worthwhile going to. Hakone is worth visiting too.
Also you can sometimes get deals with a hotel and bullet train travel included if you wanted to go to Kyoto - they can work out much better value than buying a train ticket and hotel separately, especially if you’re only visiting one other area that Tokyo."
Sherri Hall - "Japan is the best place I travel to from bucket list so far my Route was Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara, Hiroshima and Miyajima island.
Osaka, Kyoto Arashiyama area and back to Tokyo!! For just over three weeks,Went for cherry blossom season and got there before suma tournament but got go to the stables, a must!! I love Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima island,
Osaka, Tokyo just felt a little to mad for me. I felt so safe and was so easier once you got hang of the jr pass system, in Tokyo and kyoto u did not need it that much they had there own Oyster card system pusm which was so much easier and want to most place. If you only going to couple of the place it might not be best to buy the jr pass u can only buy it outside Japan. If your in london there it a japan gov travel centre in Holborn they were so nice and helpfully can and will answer any question - the website is the following https://www.japantravel-centre.com
This one country would defo go back in heartbeat. One other tip for flight go directly to Japanese airways they have code share with ba, fin airways but there prices are so much cheaper the go through ba own website by booking direct through Japanese airways own website got better flight times and saved hundreds of £, take extra memory for your camera you will be take loads of photos. The place is beautiful ?❤️ "
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If you still have more questions, feel free to drop me a message on [email protected] and I’ll be happy to help.