When is the best time to visit Japan?

05:14 06/07/2024

With its history and myriad of magnificent natural sceneries and attractions, Japan is regarded as one of the most attractive destinations for foreign travelers.

When it comes to traveling, aside from planning which specific location to check out and what to do, choosing when to go is also of paramount importance. Each season, each period, and each time of the year will greatly influence the agenda of your trip. 

Many people may say that spring and autumn are the best times to visit Japan as they coincide with the cherry blossom season and the fall foliage. Though not incorrect, we believe that the time of your visit should be chosen depending on other criteria as well, such as the types of activities you want to do, things you wish to experience, and so on rather than just following the popular consensus.

Therefore, in this article, GoEMON will help you decide which would be the best time to visit Japan depending on your needs and travel plans. Let’s jump right in, shall we? 

1. Best time to visit Japan in terms of the weather and seasonal activities 

Weather in Japan is more on the extreme side: summers can get obnoxiously hot while winters can be freezing cold. Thus, the transition period from spring to summer (March to May) and from summer to winter (September to November) where the weather is relatively pleasant with temperatures not too hot nor too cold are generally the best times to visit the country. 

However, those who want to hit the slopes and mountains in Japan should visit the country when it is at its coldest, which is around the beginning of January to late February. The most suitable location for such winter activities would be Hokkaido. Located in the northernmost region of Japan, Hokkaido is usually covered in a thick blanket of snow throughout the winter, making this the perfect time and place to participate in winter sports or go for a relaxing dip in the onsen. 

The same goes for summer: those who want to get the best experiences of Japanese summer festivals (natsu matsuri) and fireworks festivals (hanabi taikai) should come to Japan during the peak of the summer season - during June and September. Do keep in mind that the weather during this period can be absolutely brutal, with high temperatures and humidity, so make sure to bring a portable fan and a UV umbrella with you at all times! 

Additionally, most of Japan will experience the rainy season during early summer. The weather during this period will be rather cool, but rather gloomy and humid. This might not be the best time to visit Japan for those looking forward to taking part in outdoor activities like cycling or hiking. 

2. Best time to visit Japan for cherry blossoms and fall foliage 

The best time to visit Japan for travelers who are looking forward to hanami - cherry blossom viewing, varies widely depending on the region and weather conditions of each year. For warmer regions like Kanto and Chubu, cherry blossoms will be at their peak around from the last week of March to the first week of April; whereas sakura won’t be in bloom until mid-April in colder areas in the north like Hokkaido. 

As for fall foliage, the leaves will start to change color from September to November, reaching their peak in November. 

3. The best time to visit Japan in terms of the food

Food is another crucial aspect when it comes to travel. There are just certain seasonal foods that you can’t get when outside of the season or even if you can, they wouldn’t taste as good. There is seemingly nothing better than having mochi during spring, kakigori - shaved ice during the summer, roasted sweet potatoes during autumn, and steaming hot nabe during the winter. Thus, this is an important factor that food lovers should keep in mind when planning for their trip to Japan. 

4. Best time to visit Japan for lower prices and to avoid the crowd

There are two high seasons in Japan: (1) March to May and (2) September to November. The first one coincides with the hanami - cherry blossom season and the Golden Week - the longest national holiday period in Japan, whereas the second one is when the foliage in Japan starts changing colors. These events draw huge crowds of both domestic and international tourists, which in turn also drive up transportation and accommodation. Thus, those who want to get the lowest prices and avoid the crowd should time their trip aside from these two seasons. 

Choosing when to travel is crucial when it comes to planning your trip to Japan. We hope that this article was useful in helping you find out which period would be most suitable for your Japan trip! 

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