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Here is the Best Time to Visit Japan

Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Wide Shot

Japan is a diverse and beautiful country that’s brimming with culture. For some travelers, visiting Japan is a dream come true, since it grazes bucket lists across the globe. One of the best parts about a visit to Japan is that the country offers something special no matter when you visit. So, if you’re getting ready to plan your Japan travels, here is the best time to visit according to the month.

 

January

In January, Japan is experiencing winter in full force. You’ll experience cold weather, snow in some areas, and a rush of holiday tourists during the beginning of the month. January is one of the best months for winter sports and soaking in the country’s hot springs.

Weather

While the temperatures in Japan in January are on the colder side, the days are often dry and sunny. Northern Japan will see plenty of snowfall, but the temperatures range around the country form -1°C in the north to 19°C in the south. There are more sunny days in the beginning of the month.

Festivals & Events

O-shogatsu: This festival takes place from January 1st to the 3rd. This New Year celebration prompts locals to visit their Shinto shrines around Japan. Buddhist temples also welcome visitors who want to ring in the New Year the right way. Popular temples for this type of visit are Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, and Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto.

Ohmato Taikai: An archery competition that has been around for 400 years and features 20-year-olds competing for the title. It takes place in the world’s largest wooden building, Sanjusangendo Temple, in Kyoto on January 14th.

Sounkyo Ice Festival: This snow and ice festival focuses on the display of ice sculptures and tunnels. There is a frozen waterfall, fireworks, and plenty of festivities to celebrate the beauty of snow and ice. It takes place between January 29th and March 5th.

Looking at Mt. Fuji

Image credit: Toshihiro Gamo – http://flic.kr/p/DDMHHZ

February

This month is a great time to visit Japan since the tourist crowds of the New Year have died down. The days are short and the weather is still quite cold, but it’s a good time to participate in winter sports and explore museums and shrines.

Weather

 The days are typically sunny and dry, with the northern region of Japan seeing snowfall. Temperatures range from 0°C in the north to 19°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Sapporo Winter: This is one of the largest winter-themed festivals in the world. There are giant sculptures of snow and ice, carved by talented artists from around the country. Visitors can try Hokkaido food and Jingisukan BBQ at the stalls.

Hadaka Matsuri: This ‘naked’ festival takes place each year in Okayama. A large group of men come together, wearing only loin clothes, to play an ancient game of competition. The event is massive, and people from all over the country gather to watch these men compete in the freezing weather.

Snow Light Path Festival: Taking place in the mountain town of Otaru, this festival is one of lights. There are 120,000 candles that turn this charming town into an absolute beauty for a few days in February.

A snowy Otaru Canal, Hokkaido

Image credit: David McKelvey – http://flic.kr/p/qHeBYz

March

March marks the official start of spring in Japan. The beginning of the month is usually quite cold, but by the end of March, the famous cherry blossoms start to bloom. If you’re traveling up north, expect cold temperatures for the entirety of the month.

Weather

The winter weather starts to taper off and temperatures become more mild in most parts of the country. Temps will range between 4°C in the north to 21°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Cherry Blossom Viewing: As Japan comes alive with color, visitors flock to see the blooming trees. You’ll see people viewing the flowers, smelling them, and taking tons of photos.

Cherry Blossom Tree

Image credit: David A. LaSpina – http://flic.kr/p/brRoo3

Sumo Spring Basho: This event takes place from March 11th until March 25th. This is the only time to see a professional sumo tournament in the city of Osaka. The matches run all day long so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to see them.

Saint Patrick’s Day: The largest St. Patty’s day event takes place in Tokyo on March 18th. There are various festivities, including a giant parade featuring cheerleaders and marching bands.

April

In April, spring is in full swing and the cherry blossoms are dotting the country in pink. Some people say that this is the best time to visit Japan.

Weather

The weather is extremely mild as winter starts to fade away. Temperatures range from 11°C in the north to 24°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Hanami: In Japanese, this means viewing the cherry blossoms. It’s part of the culture when it comes to spring in Japan, and hundreds of people can be seen interacting with the trees. Parks and green spaces will be flooded with couples and families who are picnicking under the shade of a cherry blossom tree.

Kanamara Festival: This famous festival takes place in Wakamiya Hachiman-gu Shrine, Kawasaki, in early April. It’s characterized by the pink penis that is paraded through the streets. The festival celebrates conception and the people pray for healthy marriages and children.

Beppu Hot Spring Festival: This week-long festival takes place in Oita and offers free admission to the hot springs. Visitors will see parades, marching bands, and portable shrines throughout the streets.

May

This month is the perfect time to explore Japan outdoors. The countryside is colorful with new life and the temperature is comfortable. The beginning of the month marks a holiday season in Japan called Golden Week so expect lots of crowds and tourists.

Weather

The weather is warm and the days are sunny. Expect temperatures ranging from 17°C up north to 26°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Hakata Dontaku: This event draws in two million people every year. It takes place in Hakata and has a history of 800 years. Expect lots of colors and lavish parades around the city.

Ageuma Shinji: Taking place from May 4th until the 5th, this festival features Samurai horseback riders who believe they can predict the harvest for the upcoming year. It’s an interesting local tradition and involves a lot of culture and costumes.

Aoi Festival: Taking place in Kyoto on the 15th of May, this festival features a traditional parade that dates back 1,000 years. Participants are dressed in traditional costumes and parade down the streets to the Shinto shrine. It’s a massive display of culture that can’t be missed when in Kyoto.

 

June

It may be surprising, but June is not the most ideal time to visit Japan. It has a reputation for being wet and gloomy so it’s become a low season for tourists. While it might rain often, this is a great chance to take advantage of cheap prices and smaller crowds.

Weather

June is the rainy season in Japan, and when it’s not raining, it’s often grey skies and gloom. Temperatures range from 21°C in the north to 29°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Dontsuku Festival: Taking place in early June, this fertility festival is characterized by geishas carrying carved phalluses through the streets of Higashi Izu-machi.

Rice Planting Festival: This festival dates back more than 1,700 years and takes place in Osaka on the 14th of June. According to the ritual, 12 women will plant seeds in the rice paddies while traditional music plays in the background.

Rice planting ritual, dancing people

Image credit: JJ-Walsh – http://flic.kr/p/tk4T5c

Yosakoi Soran Matsuri: This folk dance festival takes place in Sapporo and turns the entire city into a giant stage. There are more than 30,000 dancers who come here to perform throughout the streets and in various venues.

July

This is a great month to visit Japan because the summer season is well under way. There may be a significant amount of tourist crowds, but the weather is nice and the country is colorful.

Weather

The first half of July is the tail end of the rainy season. The rest of the month usually has hot and humid weather. Temperatures range from 25°C in the north to 31°C  in the south.

Festivals & Events

Kyoto Gion Festival: This is considered one of Japan’s top three festivals. It’s been happening for over 1,000 years and takes place in the historic Gion district of Kyoto. Expect many festivities and a main parade.

Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festivals: These festivals take place all over Japan and celebrate the myth of two lovers who were separated by the milky way. This festival is one of the largest of its kind and can be found just an hour from Tokyo.

Sumida River Fireworks Festival: This is Japan’s largest fireworks festival and it takes place in Tokyo. Nearly one million people gather here to watch more than 22,000 fireworks on display. Every year, the festival takes place on the last Saturday in July.

August

August is hot and humid in Japan, but it’s one of the most exciting times of year to visit. If you can handle the heat, this is a great month for Japan travel.

Weather

Southern Japan can get extremely hot during August, so if you want cooler weather, head up north. Temperatures range from 26°C in the north to 31°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Nebuta: This is the most iconic summer festivals in Japan. It can be found in Aomori Prefecture and lasts for six days from August 2nd to the 7th. It’s a dynamic festival that is packed with culture, tradition, and a modern twist on entertainment.

Awa Odori Festival: This is Japan’s largest traditional dance festival. It’s located in Tokushima Prefecture and features folk dancers who perform around the city. The festival draws in over a million people every year.

Summer Sonic: This is one of the top music festivals in Japan. It lasts for two days in both Osaka and Tokyo. It’s a modern music festival that features big names in electronic dance music, rock and roll, and hip hop.

September

Visit in September if you want to experience both summer and fall. The weather is nice enough to visit the beaches, but mild enough to spend plenty of time outdoors.

Weather

September weather can be hot and humid in the beginning, and a bit milder throughout the month. This month is typhoon season so you may experience wind and rain. Temperatures range from 22°C in the north to 30°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Ultra Japan: This is Japan’s largest modern music festival. It focuses on EDM and typically has an all-star lineup. In previous years, big names like Steve Aoki, Tiesto, Alesso, Hardwell, and Chain Smokers performed at Ultra.

Sumo Tokyo Basho: This tournament takes place in Tokyo and allows visitors to attend one of the best experiences in Japan. If you want to see authentic, Japanese culture, this is the place.

2 sumo wrestlers and referee in a ring

Image credit: Ivan Lian – http://flic.kr/p/74CmSW

Tokyo Wagyu Show: Foodies will love this 5-day food festival that takes place in Tokyo. It’s an outdoor festival that can be found in Hibiya Park, and it focuses largely on Wagyu beef. There will be all different styles and dishes to try.

October

This is an incredible month to visit Japan as the weather is mild, the summer tourist crowds are gone, and the fall foliage is in its peak.

Weather

The weather is warm without the humidity and there are typically low levels of rain. Temperatures range from 16°C in the north to 28°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Kochia Carnival: This outdoor festival is found on Kochia Hill in Hitachi Seaside Park, Ibaraki Prefecture. The park is covered with the colorful Kochia balls that grow here. Nature fans will love this festival and so will photographers for the vibrant colors.

Hokkaido Food Festival: October is Japan’s new harvest time which makes it the perfect season for a food festival. The outdoor event lasts for four days and can be found in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park. There are over 100 vendors who are all selling various dishes from the Hokkaido region. Expect to find lots of Ramen.

Odaiba Oktoberfest: Beer fans are going to love this festival which can be found in Tokyo’s Odaiba district. There will be tons of German traditions, food, and of course, lots of beer.

November

Autumn colors truly come alive during November, making this month one of the most beautiful in Japan. This is a great time for hiking and visiting outdoor hotspots like Mt. Fuji.

Weather

The weather in November is typically mild and dry, making it one of the best times of year to visit. Expect temperatures ranging from 8°C  up north to 24°C down south.

Festivals & Events

Tori no Ichi: This traditional festival is held at the Otori Shrine in Tokyo’s Asakusa region. It happens every year and is a way for locals to pray for luck in their lives and in business.

Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival: This yearly festival is held by the lake at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The stunning autumn leaves make the scenic destination even more beautiful and draws in thousands of people who want to take a look. Expect various activities and festivities going on here during this time.

December

December is a month full of special events, colorful lights, and excitement. The weather is colder but it’s still new and exciting as the holidays approach.

Weather

In December, the days are short but the weather is relatively mild. It’s mostly cold, but is more on the mild side so it’s easy to handle. Temperatures range from 2°C in the north and 21°C in the south.

Festivals & Events

Winter Illumination Events: These events are held all around the country and involve tons of Christmas lights. There will be lighting ceremonies, entertainment, and food as people gather across Japan to celebrate.

Christmas Markets: Tokyo is sprinkled with colorful Christmas markets during December. Similar to those found in Europe, these markets have crafts and decorations for sale, as well as holiday treats and food.

Christmas Markets in Toyko Japan

Image credit: Dennis Amith – http://flic.kr/p/21UYaAY

Chichibu Night Festival: This traditional festival is held from the first to the sixth of December in Chichibu. The festival lasts for six days but the main festivities and the parade are held on the third of December.

There’s always something interesting to see in Japan, no matter what time of year you visit. If you want nature, authentic culture, and delicious food, Japan is the perfect destination; all-year-round.