Have you been planning a family vacation to Japan for a while now? Well, we’ve got great news for you! We have compiled extensive lists of everything you can do with your family during the four distinctive seasons in Japan to help you decide the best time to visit Japan with your family. Read on to find your answer!
Japan is an Asian country with no shortage of stunning landscapes, astounding modern and ancient architecture, a rich culture, and delectable food. The country offers you abundant joy, memorable activities, and a fun-filled time through its distinctive annual festivals, amusement parks, sporting opportunities, museums, picturesque gardens, and so much more. It has an endless treasure trove of activities, places, foods, and events that you can enjoy with your family in different seasons.
So, without any ado, let’s take a look at the best time to visit Japan for a family vacation!
Here are all the places you can visit and activities you can look forward to doing with your family during the four distinct seasons of Japan:
Spring in Japan
Spring break is arguably one of the best times to visit Japan with your family. You will enjoy the wonderful weather and have the opportunity to take in the stunning cherry blossom spectacle during the flowering season in Tokyo and Kyoto. The blossoming trees look spectacular against Japan’s traditional and modern architecture. You can visit Yoyogi Park and Shinjuku Gyoen to view the Cherry Blossoms in all their glory.
When visiting Japan with your family in spring, you should also check out the Otaimatsu ceremony held from the 1st to 14th March. The ceremony held at the open balcony of Nigastsu-do involves young monks lighting giant torches and spinning them on the floor to release sparkly showers. Moreover, when in Nara, you can take your kids to Nara Park to feed the free-roaming deer. You can easily find special “deer crackers” for sale around the park, which are safe for these adorable creatures to eat. The park also houses some well-known temples you can visit with your family.
During your spring break family vacation to Japan, you can also visit Osaka and catch a match of the Grand Sumo Tournament known as the Spring Basho. It starts in March and is incredibly popular. So, make sure to book your accommodations and tickets in advance. You must also enjoy famous Japanese food, such as sanshoku dango, chimaki, and chanko nabe.
If you’re looking for a park to visit with the kids, you must head to Ueno Park, as it houses Japan’s oldest zoo, simply called Ueno Zoo. The zoo is well-known for housing giant panda bears. The park also has many adjacent museums, such as the Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Western Art, National Museum of Nature and Science, and more. These museums are the perfect places to visit with your kids if you want to encourage their interest in history, culture, art, and science.
Another incredible event to look forward to during your spring season visit to Japan is the Kids’ Olympics held at the national Kasumigaoka stadium in Tokyo on Children’s Day during Golden Week in Japan. The day celebrates physical fitness and healthy eating and includes many children’s sports, plays, and picnics.
However, since Golden Week is one of Japan’s busiest holiday seasons, due to the occurrence of four national holidays within seven days, you will need to think of accommodations and reservations beforehand. Moreover, spring is generally a popular time to visit Japan, so make sure you plan your trip accordingly and book the hotels and resorts you want before reaching the tourist spots.
Summer in Japan
Summer in Japan is easily one of the best seasons for families to visit the country because of its numerous celebratory festivals that will surely leave you with lasting memories from your trip. When visiting Japan with your family, you have to witness the annual Sumidagawa Fireworks festival in Tokyo. Held each year on the last Saturday of July, this remarkable festival entails a constant firework show launched from two separate locations – near Tokyo Skytree in the Sumida Ward and near Sensoji Temple in Taito Ward. The incredible display of fireworks will leave you and your kids in awe.
You must also become a part of the Gion Matsuri Festival in Kyoto, one of Japan’s most famous and biggest festivals. It starts in mid-July and involves people decorating large, antique wooden floats and pulling them through the streets. It’s surely a spectacle worth watching with your family. If you’re traveling with older kids who want an adventurous vacation, you can hike the volcanic Mount Fuji and take in the breathtaking sunrise views.
You can also witness the Hiroshima Lantern Ceremony that remembers those lost in the WWII bombing, offering a prayer for world peace as around 10,000 multi-colored lanterns float along the river. Then, you can head to Miyajima Island for some hiking and exploring the floating Torri gate. When visiting in summer, you should not miss out on Japan’s splendid, white sandy beaches – the perfect escape from the hot and humid weather! Take your kids to Naoshima Island or Katsurahama Beach for a memorable time. You can also visit a cat café in Japan or play Mario Kart at an arcade in Tokyo to keep things fun for the kids and adults alike.
Moreover, since summer in Japan can be quite sticky and warm, you and your kids can beat the heat with some Kakigori or shaved ice sold at many cafés in Tokyo during the season. Your kids can also enjoy Ramune soda that comes with a marble inside! During summer, you can try the delectable, heat-beating cold noodles available at ramen restaurants.
When heading on a summer season family vacation to Japan, make sure to pack your waterproof jackets and shoes to be prepared for the rainy season that starts during June and heads into early July. You will also have to adjust to the hot weather and the humidity.
Fall in Japan
If you want to avoid the crowd in the spring season and enjoy the scenery Japan offers to its visitors, you must visit the country during the fall. You can set up a family picnic in Yoyogi Park to witness the gorgeous autumn colors. The kids might also be interested in watching a fall sumo match at the Grand Sumo Tournament held in Tokyo.
Your family can also cozy up in the cool weather and enjoy a traditional tea ceremony or a steaming bowl of ramen. You can also try the natural hot springs near Lake Ashi and visit Fuji Safari Park to view the tigers, lions, and bears from the vehicle that will drive you and your kids through their habitats. If your family enjoys outdoor activities, you can traverse the hiking trails in Hakone that are certainly less exhausting than hiking Mt. Fuji.
A fall visit to the country should also include witnessing the Autumn Takayama Festival, also known as Hachiman Matsuri. It’s an annual festival to celebrate a good harvest in autumn. It involves a parade held in the Shimomachi area by the locals dressed in traditional kimono or hakama. They take 11 matsuri-yatai, large ornate festival floats around the city at night. One of the floats even features a marionette show. Traditional lanterns light the floats, and each of them reflects the Takayama district it represents. The festival is a beautiful look into Japanese tradition that you will surely enjoy witnessing with your family.
Visiting Japan with your family in autumn will also give you the wonderful opportunity to try some of its most famous seasonal foods, including the heartwarming oden, seasonal saki, persimmons, shinmai, yakiimo, nashi, pacific saury, and more. You can also try Japan’s famous hot pot dishes, such as nabe, sukiyaki, and shabu-shabu.
If you’re traveling with younger kids, you can experience Japanese Halloween by visiting Universal Studios Japan’s Halloween Horror Nights. You can also visit the DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland with your kids dressed up as their favorite Disney characters. Don’t forget to try the limited-edition Halloween sweets at supermarkets and convenience stores throughout the country.
You can also enjoy more fall festivals with your family, including the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri festival in Osaka and the Tori no Ichi in Tokyo. You can also head to Kanuma, well-known for its annual autumn festival that features decorative wooden floats. Lastly, if you are a nature-loving family visiting Japan in the fall, you have to visit the Hitachi Seaside Park to witness the stunning display of bright pink Kochia that you can walk through and admire. Kids and adults will both love the display of this unique plant.
Winter in Japan
A winter family vacation to Japan should include skiing, as the country has some of the world’s finest skiing spots and facilities. You can ski in Nagano and Hokkaido, which also features an ice sculpture festival. Your family can also have a great time at multiple snow resorts located around Tokyo. For instance, the Fujiten Snow Resort, located at the base of Mount Fuji, is a great place to book as it offers multiple slopes for skiing, depending on your expertise level.
You and your family can also enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival, which involves a giant display of snow and ice sculptures. The festival takes place in Susukino, Odori Park, and Tsudome and offers a great opportunity to visit to immerse themselves in a snow-filled activity.
The Odori Park features all the striking and impressive giant snow sculptures built with the help of mechanical diggers and bulldozers. Your kids will certainly enjoy admiring the gigantic, highly accurate, intricately designed sculptures of famous buildings across the world and Japanese cartoons.
The Susukino sculptures are made of ice, and they are nothing short of crystalline masterpieces that are worth admiring. Susukino also arranges a beauty contest in which young women compete for the title of Ice Queen. The third venue, Tsudome, is a sports center that features snow sculptures and offers many fun-filled activities, such as riding on a rubber tube towed by a snowmobile. Children and adults can also enjoy slides that you can ride by sitting on a rubber ring. Children can also ski using skis made from bamboo. You can also sit inside igloos, play snow golf, or explore a snow maze. The sports center also has a café that serves Hokkaido food that your family can enjoy.
Winter in Japan also offers the opportunity to explore striking winter illuminations. The best winter illumination you must see with your family will be at Lake Sagami. It features more than 6 million lights that create a marvelous sight. Your kids can also have a fun time at the amusement park near the lake as well. You can also ice skate at the bottom of the Tokyo SkyTree or walk along the Ginza district streets to witness the remarkable lights.
Moreover, you must try the best winter foods in Japan, including piping hot oden, fugu, ozoni, nikuman, and more. While visiting Japan with your family in winters will certainly be worth it, you must pack the right winter to avoid the cold, especially if you are traveling with little children. Pack snow boots, insulated jackets, beanies, thermal wear, gloves, socks, and other winter essentials for your trip to Japan. Also, some attractions might close their doors during winters due to the snowfall and holiday season, so make sure to do your research before planning your trip.
So, what is the best time to visit japan with family? The truth is that the best time to visit the country will depend on what you and your family have envisioned for your trip. For instance, while spring offers spectacular scenery and incredible festivals, it’s also the most popular season to visit the country, so you will have to deal with swarms of tourists.
Meanwhile, winter is relatively quieter but quite cold, so you must pack accordingly. Summer can be hot and sticky, but it has many fun festivals, foods, and activities for families visiting Japan. Lastly, autumn offers breathtaking views, hiking opportunities, spectacular festivals, and delectable food. With that said, only you can decide the best time to visit Japan with your family.
Enjoy your vacation!