The best season to visit in Japan entirely depends upon what you plan to do. With its warm temperatures and beautiful cherry blossom displays, spring is definitely a great time to see Japan in all its glory. For those who wish to escape the crowds then winter can be the quietest season whilst summer and autumn are famous for hiking. Each season boasts its own charm with a variety of festivals throughout the year.
Spring in Japan
Beginning with the most popular season, spring is undoubtedly an exciting time to visit Japan. Along with mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine, another reason to visit Japan in spring is for the cherry blossom season. In early April Japan becomes adorned in cherry blossom once the cherry trees reach full bloom. The nation’s famous temples and castles are arguably the most picturesque at this time.
The historic city of Kyoto is one of the most beautiful places to visit during the full bloom but expect to encounter large crowds. Hotel prices are at their highest and long distance train tickets should be booked in advance. Another busy time is during Golden Week week where most schools close down at the end of April and the first week of May.
Summer in Japan
If you wish to climb a mountain or hike though the idyllic valleys, then July and August offer guaranteed sunshine. Hiking trails become busy at this time with local and international tourists. Summer is also the best time to climb the iconic Mount Fuji as it is the only time when the mountain is not covered in snow.
The Gion Matsuri, Kyoto’s biggest festival takes place in July and is a fun, vibrant event with two parades and a big summer party. It is best to avoid visiting Japan in June as this is the rainiest month of the year. The rest of the summer is bright, generally dry and very warm so be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen.
Autumn in Japan
Stunning shades of red, orange and green adorn Japan’s trees and forests between September to November making autumn another popular time to visit. Similarly to the cherry blossom season in spring, the autumn leaves are a spectacular site. The maple and ginko trees create beautiful autumn foliage that attract visitors from around the world.
For a truly romantic experience, Nyuto-onsekyo offers the chance to experience the calming sensation of the natural hot springs whilst taking in the bright autumn colours in the surrounding woodland. Though this season brings lots of tourists, the hiking trails are far more tranquil at this time.
Winter in Japan
From December to February, temperatures drop and the total hours of sunshine become far shorter. Aside from this, winter is the best time to visit for those with a passion for winter sports. Venture to the north of the country and you will find a large number of ski resorts each boasting a thick blanket of snow. Hokkaido is particularly popular for skiing and snowboarding amongst Japan’s mountain peaks.
Another reason to visit during the winter months is for the Sapporo Ice Festival in the second week of February. This festival boasts astonishing ice and snow sculptures from classic temples to ice age creatures. It is a spellbinding festival and one that makes the sub-zero temperatures worthwhile.
During New Year many shops, restaurants and sites close down for the holidays and transport becomes extremely busy. From New Year’s Day, thousands of locals gather at temples and shrines to welcome in the New Year. In Tokyo the Emperor makes a rare appearance on the balcony of the Imperial Palace on January 2nd.