Japan is a fascinating country full of rich culture, architecture, and customs and traditions of an era that may not exist by the principles of time but lives on in the hearts of its people. Colors and Cherry Blossoms are only one aspect of this must-visit destination. The fact is that each month in Japan is known for its own festivities.
So, if you’re planning on visiting Japan but don’t know the single best time to go there, let us tell you something: there isn’t any specific month or time. Instead, each of Japan’s months and seasons has something special to offer visitors and the Japanese themselves.
In ‘Best month to visit Japan,’ we will cover some important facts on different months in Japan so you can determine the best month to visit the island.
Japanese summers typically begin from early June and go all the way up till the mid of September. Generally, the Japanese summer days are very hot and the temperature can range between 21°C and 32°C.
A lot of summer festivals or matsuri takes place in Japan, more so than in any other country. Needless to say, these festivals are fun and magnificent. Some of Japan’s most famous and exuberant festivals include the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, the Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka, the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, and the Awa Odori Festival of Tokushima, Shikoku.
While festivals make up most of what Japanese summers stand for, the hot months are also known for their extraordinary array of fireworks and fire show extravaganzas. Fireworks or Hanabi are not taken lightly in the Land of the Rising Sun. Gathering with your loved ones to witness the spectacular fireworks at a Hanabi taikai is incredibly entertaining, making it a perfect event. The fireworks seen in the skies of the Sumida River are the most dazzling and famous.
If you’re looking for a specific destination to beat the heat, Hokkaido is the by far the best place to travel in summer, since it doesn’t get as humid as the rest of the country. Hiking there is a true delight, with national parks filled with rugged peaks, crystal clear lakes, verdant greenery, and fields of colorful flowers. Hokkaido is especially known for its summer lavenders.
If you happen to visit Japan in the summer months but are not a fan of the scorching heat, you can opt for places like the Japanese Alps, Hokkaido, and Tohoku. Here, you still get to experience summers but minus a lot of the intense heat. Japanese prefectures are miles apart from one another, and naturally, the weather in each varies from one another.
Despite all summer fun, socializing and the fireworks and festivals, summers in Japan, if you are not the summer-type tourist, you can visit Japan in other months.
The spring months in Japan begins from the mid of March and goes all the way till May. This is again largely dependent on the location you will be visiting. Weather in spring can be menacingly deceitful; one day you will want to cover yourself up with the thickest of blankets, on others, you will want to wear as little clothing as possible. Recorded spring temperatures in Japan range from 4°C to around 18°C.
If there is one collection of Japanese months that we love, it is its spring months. Why? Because of the iconic Sakura or Cherry Blossoms, which are known to start blooming in early spring. The usual months of the bloom are the middle of March and the beginning of April, but these blooms and their timing may vary.
If you are head over heels for the Sakura blossoms, then you are better off visiting Japan in the months of April and May. This is when the Cherry Blossoms are in their fullest bloom, the flowers their best pink. However, keep in mind though, be prepared for large crowds and too many tourists in the spring months in Japan.
The Cherry Blossom months are not that beautiful when it comes to tourist accommodation. While everybody wants to revel in the beauty that is the Sakura, the crowds can make it difficult to get accommodation in hotels. If you are not a fan of huge crowds, mid-March and mid-April are the months you should avoid visiting Japan.
Apart from the Cherry Blossom months, the Golden Week (it is the amalgamation of the New Year’s holiday and the holiday of Obon in the month of August – back-to-back) is a busy season as well.
It isn’t that we are discouraging you from visiting Japan during these months. But a number of people wanting to go there do not want to get stuck in the crowds for hours on end, waiting for your turn to take in and enjoy the scenery. This is why we recommend going to Japan in late April but beware of the Golden Week. May can be wonderful, too: to be exact, the middle of May till its end.
In Japan, autumn starts from the middle of September till early December. While the spring and summer months may be hot, the Japanese fall is known to be quite pleasant in terms of weather. Fall in Japan has either 10°C or 15°C. This can move up to 21°C, too, be it nature’s will.
When the fall months start in Japan from mid to late September, the days can still be quite warm. Come October, though, and whatever warmth there is lingering from spring vanishes. There is a pleasant, noticeable change in the weather. Of course, the pleasant temperatures make for lovely skies, too. This is one reason why fall is such a great time to visit Japan. The fall months are symbolized by tragic yet beautiful foliage, and Japan seems to have an abundance of those, with all of its Cherry Blossoms.
You can consider visiting Japan in early December if you want to avoid crowds. Japan’s autumn beauty breeds popularity and crowded streets. However, it is not as thickly congested as in spring for the country’s famous cherry blossoms. Should you choose to still avoid the bustling crowds of Japan’s spring months, try early December when you can still catch a bit of the Koyo with a lot fewer people and tourists around.
What complements the outside foliage of Japan’s fall? A soak in an outdoor onsen while foliage-gazing. Soaking in the onsen is perfectly complemented by the greenery.
The foliage witnessed in September-October is similar to Japan’s spring months in several ways. Japanese autumns have a different sort of experience to offer when it comes to visual appeal and beauty. Not everybody is a fan of flashy beauty. Some people like looking at different, more subdued forms of beauty that are no less lovely than their cheerier counterparts. Nevertheless, there is a semblance of sophistication to autumn foliage that has been the source of inspiration for many writers and poets. It has a beauty of its own that remains unmatched.
Japan is known to have long winters, starting from mid-December till the middle of March, when most other countries are already welcoming spring. However, Japanese winters are colder; the temperature ranges from 7°C and 8°C till below 0°C range of -1°C.
While the cold temperature can be a deal-breaker for some, the Japanese winter is one of its best scenes. Japan not visited during its winter months is like letting fruit hang off tree branches when it is ripe for the picking.
Much like most other countries, Japan does not see many travelers darkening its doors in these months, wanting to explore its glorious culture. Winters may be only one cause for this lack of tourism; some people who are lured by the springtime hype prefer going to view cherry blossoms instead. Also, the lack of travelers during this time of the year maybe because very few people are free to take a trip to Japan during these months. This means you have found the least crowded months to visit Japan!
Why should you visit Japan in its winter months? Because with falling snow and trees lined with white, Japan is a different kind of beauty. We recommend visiting Hokkaido in the later winter months of Japan. You are sure to enjoy the Japanese Snow Festivals. This is also the only time to see the mysterious Tancho (red-crowned crane) and other rare Japanese birds like the Steller’s Sea Eagle and the Blakiston’s Fish Owl in their natural habitat.
Apart from enjoying all the snow of Japan and hiking through its famous mountain trails, another best part about visiting Japan in its winter months are the Japanese onsen or the hot springs. No country does hot and cold like at a Japanese onsen in winter.
You definitely do not want to miss out on sitting in a mountain onsen, enjoying all the white and green of the surrounding wilderness, snow drifting from the skies, and settling on to your hot, soaked skin.
The upside to visiting Japan in winter is that there are far fewer tourists. It’ll be freeezing cold, especially in the mountains, so it’s the perfect time for skiing and snowboarding at one of Japan’s fantastic ski resorts. Many of these resorts are paired with outdoor onsen so you can take a relaxing dip in a hot spring after your time on the slopes. I should mention the winter illumination; many of Japan’s commercial or business districts celebrate the winter season by hanging plazas and courtyards with brilliant, festive lights. It’s the perfect scene to enjoy while sipping a small cup of hot sake.
Have you decided upon a time? Is it the spring of Japan and its beautiful Sakura blooms? Do you want to revel in the summer festivals full of color and their dazzling fireworks? Or are you one to soak in an onsen during the autumn months? Or do you dream about experiencing Japan’s snowy winter wonderland? Whatever you choose, you are bound to have a good time.