That is a great question!
The simple answer is March & April or October to December.
Why visit then?
Most visitors to Japan think the best time to take a vacation in Japan is
- Spring time (late March – April), to see the cherry blossoms. Or
- Autumn time (Late October – Early December), to see the Fall colors and light-ups
More about when, why and where to visit Japan.
There an many reasons to see Japan at other times of the year too. There is so much to see and do at any time of the year. My experience with those who have visited Japan has been an almost universal comment, regardless of when they went, they say ‘We had the holiday of a lifetime and would like to experience Japan in another season’. So, in this post, I want to focus on each of the seasons.
How to pick the height of the season
Imagine the Japanese archipelago, it is a long string of islands (6,852 in fact) and stretches some 3,000+ klm (1,900 mls) North south, so the peak of each season varies from North to the South. Spring starts in the south and rolls north and the fall starts in the north and rolls south. So, try to match your trip to when the season crosses the places you want to see.
The best example of picking the right time to see Japan is the cherry blossom trees that only flower about two weeks a year. You can see these beautiful pink displays from late January in the south of the archipelago and as late as early May in the north.
Why not call us and let us help you pick the right time for you to visit Japan. Press here for full contact details.
Choosing the right way to see Japan
Choosing the best time to see Japan combined with the best way to tour Japan are very closely related to personal choice. We also have a blog about choosing the right tour of Japan covers many of the travel styles and pros and cons.
When is Autumn in Japan?
– Late October through Early December
The most spectacular time for a holiday in Japan
Many people consider that Autumn rivals spring as the best a time to visit Japan. In the fall in Japan, nature puts on a breathtaking show with its vast expanses of autumn colours. Leaves range from pinks to reds, yellows, burgundy and every shade of brown. The colours of the trees are supported by the magic carpet of fallen coloured leaves.
Set all that colour against the wonderful pristine landscapes in Japan or the impeccable Japanese gardens is one dimension. Now add the human intervention with the coloured trees lit-up at night around the spectacular Japanese temples and suddenly it is not hard to see why Autumn is a favourite time to be in Japan.
In planning your tour to see this spectacle, you can to pick the north Japan (Tohoku) to go in October or base your trip more to the south if you aim to travel in December. See our Autumn tours of Japan for some ideas
Don’t forget to check out our blog on the best time to visit Japan in Autumn and things to do in Autumn
When is Spring (Cherry Blossom time) in Japan?
– late March through April
Spring is the most famous time of the year in Japan
Spring in Japan is the cherry blossom season. Everybody in the world loves spring, however the Japanese have made it almost an art form. Most advertising suggests Spring is the best time to visit Japan, it is the peak tourist season too.
Dodging the huge spring crowds
To dodge the huge spring crowds there are two options to see the Cherry Blossom.
- Visit Japan in early spring (even mid-late February) for the blooms of the outstanding super pink Kawazu species of cherry blossom; or
- Visit Northern Japan (Tohoku and Hokkaido Island) in late April and even May. This opportunity is Japan’s best kept secret.
Although cherry blossom is famous, Japan puts on an extravagant show of flowers in Spring and the natural contrast of the colour displays with the temples and scenery make Japan in Spring a tourist Mecca. Off the beaten track you can share the season the way the locals do.
If you plan your trip to avoid the crowds, you can even avoid them in the main tourist centres planning well. See our cherry blossom tours of Japan for some ideas.
When is Winter In Japan?
– December through February
It is not only about Skiing – Japan is beautiful in Winter
Most people think Winter in Japan is about Skiing. There is indeed fabulous skiing and the best time to visit Japan for the snow is late December to late February. However, there is much more too in Japan in Winter.
Winter in Japan can be a wonderland of white. Definitely one of the best times to visit Japan. Many of the mountain passes are so deep in snow they are closed (even until early April). The white is so intense in some places that the scenery looks like it is just black and white, simply include a red temple or two and it looks ‘Photoshopped’. Winter starts earlier lasts longer in Northern Japan (Tohoku and Hokkaido), as it does in the Japanese Alps.
If you like fashion, winter is a wonderful time to visit. Then again Japanese food is at its absolute best in winter. There are some fascinating festivals in Winter Too. The city’s giant department stores that are surprisingly awash with Xmas decorations and music. Its a great time to see the snow monkeys and much more.
The world-famous Snow festival in Hokkaido such a magic experience. The Ice carvings are huge and when the play the coloured lights on them at night you will feel like you are in wonderland. If you can make this event, you will never forget the sights.
When is Summer in Japan?
– July through September
Summer is festival season.
Summer is a great time to visit because most of the festivals are held then. It is warm so you need far less clothing (luggage) plus there are longer days (to see more). You can often be warned off Japan in summer, particularly because June is typically the wettest month and August because of the heat and extreme humidity and September is known for typhoons.
However, summer is the time to enjoy the many summer festivals or better yet ‘head for the hills’ where it is pleasantly cooler. The Japanese Alps are spectacular and great time to escape the heat of the lowlands (read big cities) and enjoy the special treats of the mountain areas. The small traditional food stalls on wheels appear in volume. They create an atmosphere of their own on the balmy summer nights as you get amongst the Japanese people.
Don’t forget to consider Northern Japan (Tohoku and Hokkaido) at this time, there is so much to see along with the spectacular scenery and being north is avoids the heat and humidity.
Check our walking tours of Japan for some ideas too.