Wondering what the best time to visit Japan is? While Japan is a great city to visit any time of the year, we’ve put together a detailed guide for the best time to go to Japan depending on your interests, events and weather conditions.
Overall, we think that for most people the best seasons to visit Japan are spring and late autumn. Not only is the weather more pleasant (not too hot or too cold) but you can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms or autumn leaves. Depending on your interests, you might prefer to visit Japan another time. Hopefully this guide will help you pick the best time to visit for you.
Best Time to Visit Japan by Interests
Cherry Blossom Viewing (Sakura) – The best time to visit Japan for cherry blossoms is the spring – usually end of March/early April for Tokyo and Kyoto. The cherry blossoms last only about a week and don’t bloom exactly the same time every year so if you want to see the sakura in Japan keep an eye on the forecasts at https://sakura.weathermap.jp/. The best places in Tokyo to see the sakura are Ueno Park (crowded and more of a party vibe) and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden (not overly crowded and is a peaceful spot for hanami).
Watching a Professional Sumo Wrestling Tournament – If you would like to watch a professional sumo wrestling match in Japan, the best time to visit is January, May and September. The sumo tournaments last 15 days – the dates can be found on the Japan Sumo Association official website.
Watching a Professional Baseball Game – Regular season games are held from late March to October.
Autumn Leaves – The beautiful autumn leaves can be seen in Tokyo for two weeks in late fall. The timing of the autumn leaves varies from year to year but the best time to see the autumn leaves in Tokyo is usually sometime from mid November to early December.
Good Weather – The months with the best weather in Japan are typically late March, April, November and early December. While winter can cold it is not too cold to explore Japan if you dress warmly. Summer is our least favorite season in terms of weather and it can be very hot and humid with a rainy season from mid June to late July. Also watch out for the typhoon season (from May to October with August and September being the peak of the typhoon season). You can see the average weather in Japan by month checking specific cities at weatherbase.com.
Avoiding Crowds – Be aware of visiting Japan during national holidays (including Golden Week in the spring and Ubon in the summer). Transportation and accommodation tends to be booked during these times as the Japanese are traveling. Japan is also more crowded during cherry blossom season.
Best Season to Visit Japan
Visiting Japan in the Winter
We have visited Japan twice in the winter and loved it. Winter in Tokyo is cold but not too cold – the temperature is rarely below freezing and it is rare to find snow on the ground. If you visit Tokyo in the winter you need to bundle up so make sure to pack a winter coat, scarf, globes, hat, and dress in layers.
If you visit Tokyo in the first week of December, you might still be able to see the beautiful autumn leaves. You can catch a professional sumo tournament in Tokyo for two weeks in mid-January.
The Sapporo Snow festival takes place in the winter (the dates are Wednesday, January 30 to Monday, February 11 in 2019).
You can also go skiing or visit the famous snow monkeys at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park which are best seen in the winter.
Visiting Japan in the Spring
Most people consider the spring the best season to go to Japan. Our first trip to Japan was in the spring because we wanted to see the beautiful cherry blossoms which we did. While the best time to see the cherry blossoms bloom varies by year you can usually see them for a week in late March or early April. However, many visitors also have the same idea so accommodation gets booked early and hotel prices will be higher during the cherry blossom season. If you visit later in the spring, you can catch a professional sumo wresting tournament sometime in mid May.
Temperature wise the weather in spring is great for walking around and exploring or hanging out at the park. You will probably need a light coat or a trench coat especially in early spring.
You might want to avoid Golden Week. The Golden Week consists of four national holidays within seven days and is one of Japan’s busiest holiday seasons. Trains, airports and tourist attractions get very crowded during Golden Week, and accommodation in can get booked out well in advance.
Visiting Japan in the Summer
Japan in the summer is our least favorite time to visit Japan mostly because of the weather. Summers in Japan can be hot and humid making it difficult to walk around and explore. Tokyo’s rainy season is from mid-June to late July. While it does not rain all day every day, you will need to bring an umbrella.
Since students in the Northern Hemisphere are on vacation in the summer, tourist attractions are more likely to be crowded with more families.
One reason to visit Japan in the summer is if you want to climb Mt. Fuji – the official climbing season is usually from early July to mid September.
If you do visit Japan in the summer, you might want to avoid Obon, which is a holiday during which the Japanese return to ancestral family places.
Visiting Japan in Autumn
Early fall is still hot and rain (September is the peak of the typhoon season) but late autumn in Japan is a great time to visit in terms of great weather. November is one of the best months to go to Japan. You can enjoy the autumns leaves in mid or late November. Late fall is chillier so you will probably need a light coat or a trench coat.