When is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

Choosing the best time to visit Japan depends largely on your interests, whether you seek the serene beauty of cherry blossoms or the vibrant hues of autumn leaves. Japan, a country with distinct seasonal changes, offers unique experiences throughout the year. The best time to visit Japan is generally considered to be spring and fall. These seasons provide not only the most comfortable weather but also the most aesthetically pleasing landscapes. And consequently, these seasons usually bring large crowds of tourists. So, when is the best time to visit Japan for you? Let’s go month by month.

pink cherry blossoms in front of mt fuji

Visiting Japan in January

January in Japan is the heart of winter. Ski enthusiasts will find this month ideal, especially in the northern regions like Hokkaido, where the snow is perfect for winter sports. Cities like Tokyo and Kyoto are colder and often have dry, sunny days, making it a good time to visit Japan if you enjoy quieter travels, as the New Year holiday rush typically ends after the first week.

January is also a good a time to visit if you’re on the prowl for the famous Japanese macaques. Also called snow monkeys. many macaques live in the mountain valleys of the Jigokudani Yaen-koen monkey park in Yamanouchi, Nagano prefecture. The JNTO suggests potential itineraries for macaque viewing in an article found here.

Visiting Japan in February

Continuing the winter season, February offers similar advantages to January. The Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan’s largest winter events, is a highlight this month. For those looking to explore cultural events, it’s a fantastic time. Cold yet manageable, urban exploration in less crowded conditions makes February a captivating month for visiting.

Visiting Japan in March

March marks the beginning of spring and is often considered the best time of year to visit Japan. The latter part of the month sees the emergence of cherry blossoms (sakura) in southern regions, a truly iconic scene. The weather gradually warms, yet the chill in the air remains, making it comfortable for touring the blooming landscapes.

Visiting Japan in April

April is peak cherry blossom season in most parts of Japan, including Tokyo and Kyoto. This month is exceptionally popular among tourists. The beauty of sakura frames every temple, river, and park, creating picturesque settings ideal for photography and picnics under the blossoms, known as “hanami.”

Visiting Japan in May

In May, the weather is warm and pleasant, with little rainfall, making it a good time to visit Japan. The lush greenery following the sakura season offers a different kind of beauty. Golden Week, a series of national holidays, occurs at the beginning of May, making some places busier than usual.

Visiting Japan in June

June brings the rainy season to most of Japan, except Hokkaido. While it may seem less ideal, the hydrangeas bloom beautifully in the rain, offering enchanting views. Gardens are lush and temples have a mystical feel in the mist, providing a unique experience despite the frequent showers.

Visiting Japan in July

July marks the end of the rainy season and the start of summer. Festivals like Tanabata and fireworks displays are prevalent throughout the country. The warm weather is suitable for exploring rural and mountainous areas, although it can get quite hot and humid in the cities.

Visiting Japan in August

August is the hottest month in Japan and is packed with festivals, including the famous Awa Odori in Tokushima. The vibrant celebrations and the energetic atmosphere make it a unique time to experience Japanese culture, though it is advisable to stay hydrated and prepared for the heat.

Visiting Japan in September

September often experiences the tail end of summer heat along with the onset of typhoon season. However, late September sees the start of autumn when the weather begins to cool, making it a more comfortable time to visit, especially towards the end of the month.

Visiting Japan in October

October is arguably the best time of year to visit Japan. The temperatures are cool and comfortable, and the autumn colors start to appear, creating stunning landscapes. This month offers an excellent climate for hiking and outdoor activities, as well as enjoying the fall festivals that celebrate the harvest season.

Visiting Japan in November

November is a spectacular month to visit Japan, as the autumn colors reach their peak. The weather remains cool and typically dry, providing perfect conditions for sightseeing and exploring the vibrant reds and golds that adorn the scenery.

Visiting Japan in December

December in Japan is crisp and cold, with the first snowfalls occurring in the northern and mountainous regions. And the first two weeks are less crowded, making it a favorable time for those who don’t mind the cooler temperatures. However, many ryokan properties lack significant heating, which can make stays quite chilly. Despite this, experiencing outdoor onsens during the winter can be exceptionally magical, especially in northern Japan, where you can soak in natural thermal hot springs surrounded by snow. 

As the month progresses, the country becomes busier with the onset of school holidays, and some attractions may close as preparations for the New Year begin. Cities like Tokyo experience chilly but typically clear days, ideal for enjoying winter illuminations and preparing for New Year celebrations.

When deciding when to go to Japan, it’s best to consider several factors. Think about the specific activities you’d like to do. Consider the weather and the experiences you’d like to have. For example, do you want to avoid popular and crowded festival periods? Or, would you like to experience holidays and festivals like the locals do?

While Japan offers distinct experiences throughout the year, spring and fall are widely considered the best times to visit. Whether it’s the cherry blossoms in spring or the vivid foliage in fall, these seasons offer the most striking natural beauty and the most comfortable weather for tourists. But we hope this month by month guide lends some assistance as you determine for yourself when is the best time to visit Japan. For more information on weather and climate in the various regions of Japan check out this article on weather and geography.