Japan is an amazing country, with a rich cultural history that contrasts with numerous technological advances. It’s the type of place where you can immerse yourself in bustling street life, admire the cherry blossoms in spring and enjoy the impressive sight of the towering skyscrapers. Discover authentic Japanese cuisine, which includes the traditional and the modern. Hike up the imposing Mount Fuji or explore the vibrant entertainment district of Roppongi. Choosing the best time to visit Japan depends on what you would like to do. No matter what time you decide to visit, you can look forward to a wonderful and unforgettable experience.
Japan experiences significant changes in its weather throughout the year. Summer is humid, with strong winds and heavy rains. Autumn brings a rich variety of colours in the natural landscape. Following that is the snowfall of winter, which is heaviest in the mountainous regions and northern parts of the country. The temperatures become warmer after that, during the spring season that brings with it the famous cherry blossoms. Each season offers you something incredibly different, so we’ll let you decide on your best time to visit Japan.
Experiencing summer in Japan depends on what part of the country you are in. In the south, summer can begin as early as April and last until October. The further north you go, signs of the summer start showing later, with cities like Sapporo only experiencing summer from July to September. Temperatures around places such as Tokyo, Matsuyama, Fukuoka, and the southern islands begin to reach degrees into the high 30s, with increasing humidity. It would be wise to enjoy the air conditioning of the shopping malls and restaurants around this time. If you’re hoping to spend time outdoors during these months, situate yourself in Hokkaido. This northernmost part of Japan has cooler and drier conditions than the rest of the country. You can enjoy the outdoors with more pleasant conditions, with the daytime temperatures peaking around 25 degrees Celsius – excellent conditions for mountain hiking.
Autumn takes place from September to November in the north, while other parts of Japan experience the colours of autumn from mid-October to early December. Across the country, the autumn season brings warm and dry conditions, making it the best time to visit Japan for great weather. In southern Honshu, Okinawa, Izu, Ogasawara, Shikoku, and Kyushu, autumn is close to the typhoon season and the bright colours in nature only reveal themselves from mid-October to early December. Pay close attention to the annual weather reports before deciding on where you choose to go to in Japan during this season.
Winter lasts from December to February. The winter season brings cold temperatures and strong winds to the northern parts of Japan, resulting in heavy snowfall. With these conditions, winter is the best time to visit Japan for skiing and snowboarding! The southern part of Honshu and further south throughout the Okinawa Islands experience milder temperatures, around the low 20s. Take a break from the cold and warm yourself up at one of the rejuvenating hot springs across Japan.
The spring season usually occurs from March to May, bringing the best weather conditions throughout Japan. Temperatures in the northern parts of Honshu and throughout Hokkaidorange from cold to cool. The further south you go in Honshu, the warmer the conditions you will experience. In Shikoku and Kyushu, you can enjoy moderate to warm temperatures, but be prepared for some rain, especially in Shikoku. The cherry blossoms begin blooming in the southern parts of Japan as early as January, while the north only sees the famous flowers bloom as late as May. The opportunity to witness the well-known cherry blossoms blooming makes spring the best time to visit Japan.
The typhoon season usually occurs from July to November, particularly in July and October, with the southern parts of Japan experiencing the heaviest conditions. The typhoon period brings extremely strong winds and heavy rains, even flooding, especially in the southern parts of Japan. It’s best to plan indoor activities if you’re visiting during this season. The northern parts of Honshu and Hokkaido experience a generally weaker typhoon season, so plan your holiday for the northernmost parts of Japan if you’re hoping to spend more time outdoors.
Average Temperatures around Japan
Knowing how many hours of daylight to expect during your trip to Japan will help you to get the most out of your time, and based on the season you will be travelling in, you can arrange your itinerary.
Summer: 04:25 – 19:00
The summer season may bring long hot days, but it’s also the best time for you to experience festivals, mountain hikes, mass folk dancing, or simply a cold beer on a city rooftop. You’ll have plenty of daylight hours to enjoy numerous events and watch the parades and spectacular firework displays in the evening.
Winter: 06:45 – 16:30
The sun sets early in winter, but with longer nights, you can enjoy the spectacular winter light displays across the country or indulge in a wintertime dish at a cosy restaurant. . Visits to an onsen, or hot spring, will warm your winter days.
How Much are Flights to Japan?
The various tourism seasons in Japan will influence the cost of flights during those times.
Peak Season: December-February
Heavy snowfall during this time results in great opportunities for skiing. The ski resorts usually see a high influx of tourists during these months. Make sure you book at least three months in advance so that you can secure your spot. You could pay 22% more on your flight tickets and accommodation in the peak season, than in any other time of the year.
Shoulder Season: March-May
Spring falls over the shoulder season and sees a slight drop in tourist activity. Locals and visitors get to enjoy the blooming cherry blossoms during this time, however. The shoulder season in Japan can have you paying 13% less than in peak season.
Low Season: June-August/September-November
The typhoon season runs through summer and autumn. The increased rain, wind and humidity results in much shorter lines at the attractions and restaurants. You can look forward to paying up to 18% less than in the peak season. Watch out for the price hikes in mid-August when families head to the coast for the school holidays.
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Throughout the year there are events and festivals to look forward to in Japan and you may want to plan your trip to make the most of these occasions.
Shogatsu – 31 December to 2 January
The Japanese New Year Festival, known as Shogatsu, is an event that you should definitely try to be in Japan for, to experience for yourself! Locals have all their homes and entrance gates decorated with ornaments made of pine, bamboo and plum trees. At midnight on 31 December, Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells for a total of 108 times, to symbolise the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief, and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires in every Japanese citizen.
It’s also the best time to visit Japan to enjoy a variety of special dishes, including seasonal osechi ryori and ozoni (or miso-based soup). Take part in numerous traditional games, such as hanetsuki (Japanese badminton), karuta (a card game) and takoage (kite flying). It’s also a tradition to visit the shrines and temples during Shogatsu.
Hanami – March to May
Hanami is a festival held to celebrate the blooming of the cherry blossoms (sakura) in Japan. It lasts from March to May due to the cherry blossoms blooming at different times across the country. The ancient festival is celebrated today with picnics under the cherry blossom trees in the parks. If you want to get a good spot, get to a park early. Some locals even try to secure a spot a day in advance.
Gion Matsuri – July
Visit Kyoto during July and witness one of the most exciting festivals in Japan. Gion Matsuri takes place throughout the month, finally finishing with a parade, called the Yamaboko Junkō on 17 and 24 July. The event combines religious observance with fun on the streets of Japan. Locals and visitors gather to the promenade in colourful yukata robes and satisfy their appetites with street food. Don’t miss out on this experience and perhaps you will find that your best time to visit Japan is in July. Admire the illuminated floats during the Yoiyama evenings – in particular, the two large parade floats.
Awa Odori – August
This event is the largest dance festival in all of Japan! Around the middle of August, dancers and spectators arrive in Tokushima to see and take part in the “Fool’s Dance”, which dates back more than 400 years! There are several events during the day to enjoy, but the main event is in the evening when thousands of dancers perform in the blocked off streets of downtown Tokushima. The city centre shuts down and transforms into a large dance stage. The festival also features food and game stalls outside of the stage areas. For anyone who loves dancing, being in Tokushima during August is the best time to visit Japan!
Nagasaki Kunchi Festival – October
The Nagasaki Kunchi is held annually in Nagasaki from 7-9 October. Locals have been celebrating the festival for more than 400 years. Discover historical aspects of Chinese and Dutch influence in the festival, reminiscent of their history in the city. The event’s highlights include dance and show performances representing Nagasaki’s many districts. There are also many street performances involving large floats, shaped like ships. The Nagasaki Kunchi offers you an artistic variety, with some performances calm and peaceful, and others wild and energetic!
Chichibu Night Festival – December
The Chichibu Night Festival is a festival dedicated to the Chichibu Shrine in the city, which is just a 90-minute drive from central Tokyo. This event is another one of the top festivals in December, making it the best time to visit Japan. Check out the floats ornately decorated with lanterns, tapestries and gilded wood carvings, along with music played on flutes and drums.
There’s also a spectacular fireworks display, which lasts nearly two and a half hours! The event takes place from 2-3 December, with a fireworks display on the evening of the 3rd. Make sure you get to the town early to secure yourself a spot from which to see all the action. Alternatively, you can reserve a seat. Otherwise, you’ll have to be content to watch everything on the big screen in front of the Seibu Chichibu Station.
Discover for yourself even more reasons why this East Asian country is such a popular holiday destination, with a great number of exciting things to do. Book your flights and accommodation, and discover your best time to visit Japan with Travelstart.
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