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When is the Best Time to Visit Japan? Japan Weather and Climate

When is the Best Time to Visit Japan? Japan Weather and Climate

when is the best time to vosot japan

Japan has 4 distinct seasons and visiting during each will give you a totally different experience. You may have visited Japan, but have you visited Hokkaido in the Winter, or Okinawa in the Summer? You may know what sorts of things you want to do in Japan; but, to make the most of your experience, you’ll want to read our guide to Japan’s four six seasons.

Japan Geography Overview

To understand Japan’s seasons, you first have to keep in mind the that Japan is spread over 3,000km (1,900 miles) north to south from Northern Hokkaido to the southern islands of Okinawa.

This latitudinal range lends itself to a huge variability in local weather. There are days in March where you can build snowmen in a freezing Hokkaido or soak up the sun on a warm beach in Okinawa.

Throw altitude into the mix ( higher elevations have cooler temperatures ) and you’ve got even more variability. Roughly 70 percent of Japan is mountains!

Japan Seasons and Weather at a Glance

Japan has 4 distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Some jokingly say there are fifth and sixth seasons you should watch out for as a new traveler, and those are the Rainy and Typhoon Seasons! It’s tough to define seasons with clear monthly distinctions because of the variability we discussed before, but here are some rough delineations.

Japan’s summer is hot and humid, often unbearably so. Winters can get quite cold as well. When people write that Japan’s seasons are “distinct” they better mean “intensely different!”

Spring is perhaps the most popular season for travel because the temperature is cool and comfortable. Many visit Japan to enjoy stunning displays of cherry blossoms (“Sakura“) across the country.

Autumn is the next most popular as the weather is similarly comfortable and there are spectacular views of autumn foliage (“Koyo“).

Let’s go over what to expect during each season in greater detail.

Spring in Japan

Spring is famous for the cherry blossom “Sakura” season, and you may experience a wonderful “Hanami” (cherry blossom viewing) across Japan. There are several different kinds of cherry blossom trees in Japan and you may notice the difference in colors and shapes. Many people enjoy “Hanami” day and night, as city governments have installed lighting specifically for cherry blossoms. A well lit Sakura tree in the dark creates quite the romantic mood.

The weather in Spring can still be cold in some northern region. Mornings and evenings can also get a bit cool. But, overall Spring is considered the most comfortable and enjoyable time of the year.

Best things to do in the spring in Japan

Summer in Japan

Summer in Japan can be exciting if you like festivals and don’t mind doing outdoor activities in hot and sticky weather. August is the hottest month of the year in Japan but many Japanese people travel in this month because schools are off and the Japanese holiday of “Obon” falls during this time. Summer is a good time to explore the more mountainous regions of Japan to escape from the heat.

Best things to do in the summer in Japan

Japan’s rainy season : Early summer

The majority of the country experiences a rainy season from June through mid-July. If you want to avoid frequent rainy days while you are traveling in Japan, it is important to consider to avoid these wet months.

However, please take a note that even during these months, you will have some sunny days and sometimes it rains before or after the sunny dry day so make sure to prepare for your umbrella.

Japan’s Typhoon season : Late summer

Japan also has typhoon season from late May through October, with majority of the typhoon occurring in August and September. If you’re from another region of the world think “tropical cyclone” or “hurricane”.

A typhoon’s approach will be well publicized on TV news and citizens are always extra careful to prepare. Often, heavy and high winds to cause cancellations of local transportation system (flights, trains, buses, ferry boats, and so on).

It is quite challenging to predict typhoons. If you are planning to visit Japan during the summer months, stay tuned on local news for up to date typhoon information. NHK provides news in English.

Autumn in Japan

Autumn season starts with a peak of typhoon season and it is still hot and humid in September. However the temperatures start to drop and going outside gets more comfortable around October. Which makes this time of the year one of the most pleasant and popular travel seasons in Japan. November gets cool, crisp and beautiful Autumn foliage peaks near the end of the month.

Best things to do in the autumn in Japan

Winter in Japan

During the winter months, northern part of Japan becomes very cold and gets lot of snow. Place like Hokkaido and mountain regions are usually snowy most of the winter season, while major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka tend to enjoy mild cold temperature with rare chance of snow.

If you don’t mind cold, winter is another exciting time of the year to enjoy some of Japanese unique experience such as “Onsen“(hot spring). Onsens are usually available in Japanese-style hotel (“Ryokan“) and you can find them with both inside and outside settings “Rotenburo“. Warming your body in an outdoor onsen while snow forms a small mound on your head is an amazing experience. If you are planning to travel during the winter holidays (Christmas and New Years), make sure to book far in advance as popular hotels and ryokans will be sold out quickly.

Best things to do in the winter in Japan

Japan’s National Holidays and Peak Seasons

When deciding the best time to visit Japan, after comparing above 4 seasonal pros and cons, one more thing you would ask yourself is “Will my travel dates be popular and crowded?”.

Below listed Japan’s National holidays are the time when most people take days off and plan vacations including the consecutive weekends. As many Japanese people try to take advantage of some of the long vacations such as “Golden Week” and “Obon” , these days are usually ended up one of the most crowded time of the year around many tourism spots across Japan.

Domestic air fare and hotel room rates are usually more pricy and hard to book during these holidays. So keep in mind to book far in advance if you are planning to visit during these holidays.

LIST OF HOLIDAYS IN JAPAN IN 2022

Jan 01 New Year’s Day
Jan 10 Coming of Age Day
Feb 11 National Foundation Day
Feb 23 The Emperor’s Birthday
Mar 21 Spring Equinox Day
Apr 29 Showa Day
May 03 Constitution Memorial Day
May 04 Greenery Day
May 05 Children’s Day
*** Part of Golden Week ***
Jul 18 Marine Day
Aug 11 Mountain Day
Aug 13 Obon
Aug 14 Obon
Aug 15 Obon
*** Not A Public Holiday ***
Sep 19 Respect for the Aged Day
Sep 23 Autumnal Equinox Day
Oct 10 Health-Sports Day
Nov 03 Culture Day
Nov 23 Labour Thanksgiving Day

LIST OF HOLIDAYS IN JAPAN IN 2023

Jan 01 New Year’s Day
Jan 09 Coming of Age Day
Feb 11 National Foundation Day
Feb 23 The Emperor’s Birthday
Mar 21 Spring Equinox Day
Apr 29 Showa Day
May 03 Constitution Memorial Day
May 04 Greenery Day
May 05 Children’s Day
*** Part of Golden Week ***
Jul 17 Marine Day
Aug 11 Mountain Day
Aug 13 Obon
Aug 14 Obon
Aug 15 Obon
*** Not A Public Holiday ***
Sep 18 Respect for the Aged Day
Sep 23 Autumnal Equinox Day
Oct 09 Sports Day
Nov 03 Culture Day
Nov 23 Labour Thanksgiving Day

What season would you choose to visit Japan?

Each season has its pros and cons. Consider the weather, crowd level, and what unique experiences each season offers.

For comfort, our recommendation is to visit in Spring and Fall. For “the grams” (best for photography) we recommend visiting when cherry blossoms are at their peak (late March- early April) or during the peak of the Autumn foliage (November). These really are must sees for those visiting Japan for the first time.

If you want to visit many cities/regions of Japan all at once during your stay in Japan, consider two things: 1) the weather can be very different on either end of your train ride; and 2) the Japan Rail Pass is the most economical and convenient way to travel around Japan.

Japan rail passes come in two types: Green cars (like first class) and Standard cars. Either can be purchased for 7 days, 14 days, 21 days and are only available to tourists!

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