When to go to Japan?

Japan has a very clear best time to visit: spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November). These two seasons have the best weather in terms of (limited) rainfall, a comfortable temperature and clear skies. The nature scenery is on its best during spring and autumn.

It can be advisable to avoid the Japanese summer from June to August, when both the temperature and humidity are very high. It can also be wise to avoid the Japanese winter (December to February), most parts of the country face a low temperature. Note that there can be a short rainy season in the month June, some years this lead to daily rain showers.

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The best time to visit Japan

The best time to visit Japan is during spring, from March to May. Around these spring months, the climate in Japan is friendly and comfortable. You will see the famous cherry trees in full bloom. Under a cool and sunny weather, the experience of walking through the line of cherry tree blossoms along the roads of Honshu will truly be memorable. Sakura, or cherry tree, blooms lasts up to May so you have three long months to enjoy its majestic beauty.

Another good time to travel to Japan is from September up to November. This is the autumn season and many great places in Japan look more stunning at this time of the year. The comfortable temperature allows for a quick tour at the museums and parks around Tokyo, or a long ride to the prefectures to witness the many autumn festivals held at this time of the year. During autumn, every corner of the country transforms into scenery every photographer loves. Different shades of red, yellow and orange make the trees look like paintings from a gallery. The nature scenery is on its best during both spring and autumn.

Better not go to Japan

The worst time to visit Japan is when climate becomes unstable and unkind, during the months of December to February (winter) and June to August (summer). The mid-winter season can be bitter cold and not conducive for touring. On the other hand, sudden downpours in June can ruin a trip while the hot, humid temperature in July and August will be unpleasant and inconvenient.

Aside from the climate, taking a trip to Japan in August when people are celebrating the Festival of the ‘ ‘Dead or O-Bon’ will not be too hospitable, because locals from around the country usually cramp the hotels and inns at this time and most capitalists jack up prices of accommodation and food. In December and January, as well during the New Year season, locals begin their long vacation and you will find many hotels, food and leisure areas closed because no one wants to work at this time of the year.

Weather and seasons of Japan

Unlike most of its Asian neighbors, Japan has four distinct seasons similar to the Western nations: winter, spring, summer and autumn. This makes it an interesting place to go, because all the perks and leisure are available for all types of tourists: from simple sightseeing, to mountain trekking and skiing. It is also quite interesting that the northern and southern parts of the country can have completely different climatic conditions. For example, the cities in Hokkaido at the northern regions often experience long, snowy winters, while the prefectures in the South is hot and humid during the summer months, and temperate in other months. This complex climate is due to the unique geographic location of Japan as well as its archipelagic character.

For the adventurous, outdoor-loving tourist, Hokkaido is the best place to be during the winter months from December to February. The place is often covered in snow and there are many ideal places to go skiing. If you visit japan in the wintertime, Tokyo is also a good place to visit, because unlike the mountainous regions, the cool weather is temperate enough to cover the area with a light blanket of snow. On the other hand, the Okinawa prefecture and its neighbors in the south enjoys subtropical climate for most part of the year, but the most convenient months for a trip would be autumn, from September to November when weather is cool and sunny.

During the brief wet months between June to July and sometimes, between August and September, Japan receives some rough lashings of tropical cyclones. People often prefer to stay indoors during these days, as most of the transport system, including the railways, can be shut down.

By the time spring and autumn come, flowers and cherry tree blossoms bloom and turn Tokyo, Hokkaido, and the rest of the southern area, into a bursting spectacle of colors and mesmerizing fragrance. When you visit Japan at this time, all the senses come alive as people begin the annual autumn festival, a traditional, festive celebration in gratitude of the good harvest.

To take full advantage of the good, temperate climate, refer to the table below to know the average temperature and weather you can expect when visiting Japan, especially those for long periods.

  • March to May: cool and dry (61°F to 75°F / 16°C to 24°C)
  • June to July: warm and wet (68°F to 95°F / 20°C to 35°C)
  • July to August: hot and humid (77°F to 95°F / 25°C to 35°C)
  • September to November: cool and dry (64°F to 77°F / 18°C to 25°C)
  • December to February: very cold with severe snow (below 64°F / below 0°C)

The weather overview pictures below (both °F and °C) perfectly show that the high amount of precipitation from June to September, which make it an inconvenient time to visit Japan. Further, you can clearly see.

Temperature and precipitation overview (°F) Temperature and precipitation overview (°C)
Weather of Japan (°F) Weather of Japan (°C)

Map and current weather of Japan

Drag the yellow iconStreetview iconto a location on the map for the "Google streetview" mode.
Click on the weather icon to see the forecast for the next days.

Best time to visit specific highlights of Japan

Japan has several spectacular places to visit, the best time to visit most of these highlights is during the months of March to May and September to November.

  • Ginza neighborhood: as one of the most modern and highly urbanized centers in the world, Tokyo boasts of high-end stores and luxury shops. One of the most visited shopping centers in Tokyo is Ginza neighborhood, a shopping paradise that sells the world’s fanciest brands. Tourists flock to this place all year round, but the most ideal time to visit is between March to May when the temperature is cool and dry.
  • Hiroshima prefecture: this southern prefecture has a scenic landscape and natural mountainous trails that lead up to the Shrine and the Tori Gate. A little island called ‘Miyajima’ is a favorite spot for viewing and there are cable cars that can bring visitors to Mount ‘Missen’. Visiting the island is possible all year, but the best time to come is March to May and September to November, which are the safest months when storms, bitter winter and very hot summer cannot spoil the fun.
  • Kyoto ancient sites: the best time to visit Kyoto’s mystique ancient sites is during the spring months, as well as during the autumn months from September to November. With the cool and friendly climate, walking through the 17 World Heritage Sites and the 2,000 temples and shrines in Kyoto will be peaceful and memorable.
  • Niseko Village and other ski resort towns in Hokkaido: Japan has one of the best ski resorts in the world and these are mostly found in Hokkaido. The best time to visit the ski resorts is, of course, during the winter months of December to February, when snow falls in Hokkaido almost every day to make its cities virtual winter wonderlands. In other months, when winter comes to a close, the ski villages transform into outdoor activity site for kayaking, mountain biking and whitewater rafting.
  • Sakura festivals: April is a great time to visit the temperate regions in the south where the ‘Hana Matsuri’, or ‘Cherry Blossom festival’ is celebrated with much color and festivity. As flowers are abloom in spring, people would adorn their homes with it and hold parade of intricately designed floats covered with flowers. Other spring flower festivals, also called ‘sakura’ festivals, are also held from March to May, including the ‘Ume Matsuri’, or ‘Plum Blossom Festivals’ and ‘Peach Blossom Festival’.
  • Theme parks: Japan has a number of very famous theme parks, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios in Tokyo. Visiting the parks can be done year round, but it is best to time your trip there during the spring and autumn months, to avoid getting wet from sudden downpours.

Below you find 2 recommended travel adventures in and through Japan, organized by G Adventures.

Discover Japan Japan Express: Osaka to Tokyo
Discover Japan Japan Express: Osaka to Tokyo

People who want to leave shortly, can find good last minute deals here: save up to 25% on Last Minute Adventure Travel Packages

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Skiing in Japan

In the winter months of December to February, skiers flock to the islands of Hokkaido and Kyushu to avail of the modern ski facilities and fun adventure snow parks and resorts in the two islands. There are over 500 ski villages in these places so tourists will never have any difficulty finding the best ski grounds and best accommodation at affordable costs. While the winter can at times come with snow storms, often times, the weather is ideal for some great, adventure-filled skiing.

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Pay special attention to

  • Japanese customs: Japan is also not an English-speaking country, so make early preparations to learn basic Japanese words. It is also respectful if you talk slowly and clearly with locals. Remember, as well, to take special attention to other polite moves such as talking on the cellphone quietly, especially in public places and not giving a tip for a service. Most importantly, if you decide to try out the ‘onsen’, or hot spring bath, make sure that you follow all the rules, including stripping naked and bringing your own soap before dipping into the public bath.
  • Respect local culture: like most of its Asian counterparts, Japan has many customs and traditions that every visiting tourist should learn about and respect. Most of the customary practices have been observed as far back as the ancient times and these are still being done even in ultra-modern places like Tokyo. Take special attention to gestures of respect when entering a restaurant, house, or office. Such as taking your shoes off before walking on a ‘tatami mat’, shouting “kampai!” before a drink, and using chopsticks properly.
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Do you have a question about visiting Japan? Or do you want to share your knowledge of Japan with other travelers? Please, visit our Japan forum.

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