Japan

Travel Guide: When’s the Best Time to Visit Japan?

Japan in a Year: The Best Places to Visit Each Month

Let’s start off by saying that there’s no bad time to visit Japan. Every single day on the calendar, Japan is at its best, which is why tourists love going to the land of the rising sun. Whatever the season may be, there’s so much to see in the country. Let us take you through what you can see in Japan every month in a year!

January

Known for: New Year holiday, mid-winter activities

Hatsumode at Narita-san Temple in Inuyama, Aichi By KKPCW – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, CC

January is usually the continuation of the Christmas holidays. Though it’s not the favorite month of tourists since most shops and establishments are closed due to the holidays, there’s still so much to do when you visit Japan in January. You can try Hatsumode, a tradition of visiting the temple at the beginning of the year where people pray for a good year ahead. One of the most famous shrines to visit for Hatsumode is the Sensoji Temple in Asakusa or Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.

Tip: January is still the winter season in Japan, so best to wear winter clothing. Trying out onsen would be an ideal way to spend your January vacay too!

February

Known for: winter events, festivals

Sapporo Snow Festival by Denny Ryanto via Unsplash

Love month in Japan falls on chilly weather. Snow still falls this month, so you can still enjoy winter adventures such as skiing in the northern and central parts of Japan. During this month, the most popular event in Japan is Sapporo’s Snow Festival, where you can see majestic snow sculptures illuminated at night. Other winter festivals include Hirosaki Castle Snow Festival in Aomori and Tokamachi Snow Festival in Niigata.

Tip: For those who want to try winter sports, Niigata is the best destination for ski resorts.

March

Known for: early spring, strawberry season

Strawberry Season in Japan by Kaori K via Unsplash

People anticipate the early cherry blossom season during this month, usually in Tokyo and other warmer regions. However, the temperature still varies as some regions in Japan might still have snow. In March, you can enjoy fruit picking in Japan if you like strawberries! The strawberry season starts in March in the Kanto region, so we recommend that you visit this place to try tasting sweet and yummy strawberries from Japan’s leading strawberry producer!

Tip: March is pollen season, so if you usually get allergies, best to bring your medications.

April

Cherry Blossom Season in Japan by Bady Abbas via Unsplash

Known for: cherry blossom season in most parts of Japan

April is Japan’s busiest season because it’s officially the month when most cherry trees are in full bloom. Springtime in April draws many tourists from every part of the world to witness cherry blossom festivals and do hanami (cherry blossom viewing), picnics, sakura-themed shopping, and more. It’s a pink paradise every April in Japan, perfect for those who love sakura.

Tip: Book early and plan ahead if you want to stay near sakura spots, as accommodations can easily get fully booked due to the influx of tourists.

May

Ashikaga Flower Park by Aki Nakazawa via Unsplash

Known for: late spring and golden week

May is the holiday season for the Japanese. Their Golden Week, which starts from April 29 and ends on May 5, is a weeklong holiday when four holidays occur. For locals, it’s their time to rest and travel, which means it can get busy in places frequented by tourists. The best thing about May is its weather when it’s not too hot or not too cold. You can enjoy flower viewing aside from late-season cherry blossoms in Ashikaga Flower Park, Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden, and Hitachi Seaside Park, to name a few.

Tip: Hiking would be one of the best activities to do in Japan in May. The weather’s perfectly fine, and you can see many beautiful sightseeing spots while going on an adventure, whether you’re a pro or a beginner trekker!

June

Yosakoi Soran Festival photo via FB Page

Known for: summer and matcha season

June has unpredictable weather as the first half usually is when summer starts while midway to the end is its rainy season. Nevertheless, there are still so many fun things to discover at this time of the month. Take advantage of the summer by going to Hokkaido and witnessing its Yosakoi Soran Festival as dancers don colorful costumes and perform energetic dances to the sound of Soran bushi–that you can also join! Try Hokkaido specialties for a food adventure too!

Tip: if you’re not a fan of the rainy season, visit Hokkaido because it doesn’t rain so much in this region!

July

Known for: summer activities

Beach in Okinawa Japan photo by Sho K via Unsplash

If you’re visiting Japan in July, make sure to bring lots of sunblock and light clothing for it’s the summer season in the Land of the Rising Sun. July calls for summer activities such as going to the beach, kayaking and doing extreme water sports. Those who would like to just relax and have fun, head to Okinawa and enjoy its sparkling white sand and beautiful waters. Try parasailing at Manza Beach, sunset chasing at Okuma beach, or banana boating at Azama Sansan Beach!

Tip: Summer’s best time to indulge in kakigori! This shaved ice delicacy is a favorite among locals. Try Shirokuma kakigori if you want your dessert cute and yummy.

August

Known for: summer trips and festivals

Japan Bars and Restaurants by Antonio Prado via Unsplash

It’s still summer in Japan in August. There can be quite a few downpours, but it’s generally sunny most of the time. Another summer activity to try in Japan in August would be going to beer gardens! It’s a thing in the country where you can enjoy drinking cold beers and having an izakaya night with friends–the best way to enjoy summer nights! Beer gardens happen in hotels, restaurants, and outdoor venues such as Beer Terrace Sekirei.

Tip: Spend your summer nights attending music festivals! If you’re into the rock n roll genre, you’re in for a great summer when you visit in August!

September

Takachiho, Miyazaki, Japan by Ken Li via Unsplash

Known for: late summer and early autumn

September means back to school for Japanese students. For the locals, it’s usually not the month to travel, but for foreign travelers who would love to visit Nippon at this time of the year, there’s still a lot to enjoy here. One of the must-visits would be watching the action-packed sumo tournaments! For those who love the adrenaline, head on to Chiba or Miyazaki Prefecture, where the waves are best during this month.

Tip: There’s also a Silver Week which occurs towards late September when three consecutive holidays happen in a week; however, it doesn’t occur yearly. Keep in mind when you travel in the next few years though as most shops and establishments get crowded during the holidays!

October

Known for: autumn foliage and comfortable weather

One of the best months to visit Japan is October, which is also the start of autumn. Japan is extra scenic with its vibrant red and orange foliage, which is such a postcard-perfect sight! It’s usually Hokkaido, where autumn starts early. Japan usually celebrates its harvest festival during Autumn, so expect food festivals where you can taste traditional Japanese cuisine here and there! From sightseeing to hiking to food tripping, there’s a lot of things to do in Japan when you plan to visit in October.

Tip: Travel is relatively cheaper in October, compared to peak seasons such as May or December. If you want fewer tourists on your visit, October’s your best bet.

November

Known for: late autumn and illuminations

Mount Fuji by Tomas Malik via Unsplash

It’s still fall in Japan in November, and the weather is still perfect, which makes it another comfortable month to see Japan. If you happen to be in Japan this month, you’re lucky as it’s one of the best times to see Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan. It’s visible in Tokyo during this month, too, though this may vary depending on the weather. November is also the start of many winter illuminations in every part of Japan. Make sure not to miss the spectacular winter sculptures colorfully lit up at night for a beautiful evening!

Tip: It can be quite chilly towards late November, so pack warm clothing when you travel. Layer on and bring your best fashion-forward and take nice photos as you travel with a stunning autumn backdrop.

December

Known for: winter and Christmas holidays

Noboribetsu Hot spring in Hokkaido Japan

December is one of the most favorite months to travel to Japan by many foreigners. Apart from spring, winter is highly anticipated, especially in neighboring Asian countries that never taste winter. While winter illuminations are ongoing during this month, the must-try activity to do in December would be trying the onsen–natural hot springs where you go to relax. Go to Noboribetsu in Hokkaido, the most famous hot spring resort, and relax while enjoying the hot bath and chilly weather!

Tip: If you’re not into outdoor activities during wintertime, go visit local museums, art exhibits, or shop in Tokyo to enjoy your stay!

Note: Some of the events or tourist attractions mentioned above may be closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to visit their official social media pages for announcements and updates regarding their operations.

What’s your favorite season to visit Japan? Share it with us in the comment section below, and let’s all share our experiences as we look forward to revisiting Japan soon!

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