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When is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

Alevin Chan

Alevin Chan

Last updated 15 March, 2024

Planning a holiday to Japan but not sure when is the best time to visit? Here are some tips on how to plan your visit for optimal enjoyment and advice on what to expect month by month. 

According to Google Flights, Skyscanner and the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS), Singaporeans love Japan. In reports released by the three organisations, The Land of the Rising Sun was frequently cited as among the top destinations we want to visit.

Part of Japan’s allure lies in that the country offers distinctively different experiences when you visit during different seasons – with cherry blossom viewing in spring, fireworks in summer, gorgeous ambers and scarlets during autumn, and skiing on powder-fine snow in winter.

With so many unique experiences to savour all year round, you may wonder which is the best time to visit Japan. To be sure, there’s no “wrong time” to visit, but depending on your preference for certain weather conditions, tolerance for crowds – and, of course, what you want to see, do or experience – you may want to pay attention to the timing of your trip. After all, if, say, you're redeeming the air miles you've been accumulating on your credit card for your Japan trip, you have to make sure you book the best time to visit to make your redemption worth it.

Table of contents

How to choose when to visit Japan

Here are some general tips and considerations to help you decide on when you should visit. 

Weather and season

One shortcut to choosing is to decide what weather conditions and seasons you want during your trip. For instance, if you can't stand hot or extremely cold weather, then you’ll be better off avoiding the summer and winter seasons, and choosing spring or autumn instead. 

Typhoon season runs from May to October, and peaks during August and September. There’s no need to avoid travel during these periods though, as on average only three typhoons reach the main island each year. 

But if you’re not keen on rainy weather, the rainy season in Japan usually lasts from June to mid-July, so plan and/or pack accordingly.

Activities and experiences

If your goal is to experience or participate in certain festivals, celebrations or other activities, then you’ll want to plan your trip in accordance with their respective timings. This can be an enjoyable way to increase your understanding of Japanese culture and history while collecting new and memorable experiences on your trip. 

This is also a good way for foodies to enjoy seasonal foods and specialities, which are often offered only during certain festivities. In stores, you can also pick up special-edition snacks (Sakura Kit Kats, anyone?) and souvenirs to bring home. 

Crowds 

Do you mind crowds? If so, then know that certain locations in Japan can become massively crowded during famous events such as hanami (cherry blossom viewing), Golden Week, and during the peak of autumn, when crowds flock to famous castles, temples and hiking trails for momojigari (to hunt for autumn leaves).

Accordingly, you’ll want to plan your trip during non-peak periods to avoid crowded conditions as much as possible. But this might be easier said than done. 

If you're determined to, say, enjoy the view of Mt Fuji framed by fiery-red autumn leaves from Chureito Pagoda, you may have to brace yourself for the inevitable crush of domestic and foreign travellers who have the same goal. 

You have certain advantages, though. For instance, you can go during weekdays and avoid weekends and public holidays. You can also time your visit early in the morning to get a headstart on the crowd.  

See also: Japan Travel Guide 2024: 13 Things to Note About Japan


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Japan month-by-month – highlights, weather and what to look out for

Due to Japan’s large geographical span, there will be noticeable differences in temperature depending on which region you are in. 

Unless otherwise indicated, temperatures mentioned refer to conditions typical of Tokyo as a benchmark. Do look up specific weather conditions for the regions you want to visit to be better prepared. 

January

The New Year celebration is the major event to look out for in January, and many shops and restaurants may be closed for one or two days between 29 Dec to 3 Jan. Expect to encounter throngs of merrymakers and travellers as you go out and about during the season. 

Things start to calm down from the second week onwards as the festive mood subsides and people start going about their lives as usual. This can make for a good time to visit, as the skies are usually clear and sunny. In Tokyo, ambient temperatures hover around a chilly range of between 10+ degrees C during the day to just above zero at night. 

February

Lunar New Year will bring increased crowds and tourists to Japan, so do watch out for that. But otherwise, February is also a good time to visit, with clear,  sunny skies and sightseeing spots free of the peak crowds seen in January. 

Temperatures are still in the winter ranges and coupled with increased precipitation; heavy snowfall could be seen in several parts of the country. This could prompt train cancellations, especially in northern Japan.  

March 

March marks the herald of spring, with early-flowering plants and trees adding splashes of colour to winter-white landscapes. The highlight comes later in the month, when cherry trees blossom, covering the country in a sea of pink. 

This is also one of Japan’s most crowded periods, with an influx of international tourists flocking to renowned cherry blossom-viewing sites. The second half of April is also when the spring school holidays take place, further increasing domestic travel within the country. 

Temperatures in March start to warm up by a few degrees, making for more comfortable and calmer weather. However, the northern region remains cold enough for winter sports. 


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April

The country’s cherry trees continue to blossom in April, reaching their full display and turning Japan into a surreal dreamscape. This is when hanami parties tend to go into full swing, with parks and greens filling up with impromptu picnics. 

There are also official Sakura festivals to enjoy, such as the Meguro River Sakura Festival and the Ueno Sakura Festival. Expect crowds, transportation delays and higher hotel room prices. 

In April, Japan’s weather is at its most well-behaved, with mild temperatures and clear, sunny skies. Daytime temperatures hover around the mid-teens, dropping to around 10 degrees C or so by nighttime. 

See also: Japan Travel Package Tours 2024: Itineraries, Where to Book, Prices

May

May is when one of Japan’s largest holidays – Golden Week – takes place, during which there is massively increased domestic travel, and heavy crowds should be expected. The holiday starts from the end of April to early May, so consider timing your visit in the latter half of the month to avoid the worst of the crowds and possible travel delays. 

Otherwise, Japan in May offers lush vegetation and comfortable weather, and is one of the most enjoyable periods for sightseeing and exploring the country. Don’t miss the many famous flower parks and gardens, which would be at their stunning best during this time of the year. 

You can ditch the heavy winter wear in favour of light sweaters and hoodies, as temperatures range from low 20s to mid-10s in May. 

June

June marks the start of Japan’s rainy season, so you should expect heavy showers that could strike without warning. While rain does not occur everyday, the skies tend to be dreary and overcast, which may not offer the best conditions for photo-taking; unless you’re going for a rainy-day aesthetic.

The rainy season is the ideal time to visit Japan’s many indoor attractions, from museums to art galleries and theatres to aquariums and department stores. You will also find water-loving hydrangeas in full bloom in June, adding some colour and cheer to the landscape. 

Temperatures start to get warm and humid, ranging from mid-20s in the day to high-teens at night. 


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July

The rainy season that starts in June tends to carry on until mid-July, with the weather continuing to turn warm and humid, marking the onset of summer. 

If climbing Mt Fuji is on your bucket list, know that July is when the mountain is open to climbers. Other highlights are cormorant fishing, as well as fireworks displays. Many local festivals also take place in July and August. 

Note that the summer school holidays start in mid-July, bringing with it intensified domestic travel throughout the country.

August

This is when Japan usually experiences its warmest weather, with temperatures hitting 30 degrees C or more during the day, making for hot and humid conditions.

Local festivals and fireworks displays continue throughout the month, bringing festive cheer, colourful displays, street stalls and night markets. 

Expect higher levels of domestic travel due to the summer school holidays, peaking in mid-August as families make visits to hometowns during the Obon festival. 

September

August and September is when the typhoon season takes place, but as discussed above, there’s little need to avoid travel during this period. Non-coastal areas may see winds and heavy rains, but these only last a couple of days, and good weather usually follows afterwards. 

Weather can still be hot and humid, hovering around high-to mid-20s, but sightseeing spots tend to see lesser crowds during this time, making for a perfect opportunity to explore famous hiking trails, national parks and other natural attractions

October

By October, the Japanese autumn is in full swing, having started around mid-September. The weather is at its most pleasant, with a reduction in humidity while temperatures stay in the mid-20s. 

This is also the best time to catch the stunning autumn landscapes featured in countless IG feeds. Expect to jostle with the crowds, especially at popular spots. You can also witness and participate in many harvest-themed festivals and activities. 


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November

During November, the temperature continues to drift downwards, hitting high- to mid-10s – refreshingly cool and with a bit of a bite come sundown. Autumn colours continue to blaze around the countryside, with popular viewing spots continuing to see peak crowds. 

However, travel activity tends to be low elsewhere in the country, so this is a good time for some cross-country sightseeing for those averse to crowds.

See also: JR Pass Guide 2024: Everything You Need to Know

December

Come December, Japan’s urban landscapes are transformed into dazzling wonderlands with massive light displays to celebrate the year-end festivities. This is when the country is at its most enchanting, with thousands of twinkling lights everywhere you turn. 

While not an official holiday, Christmas is widely celebrated with fried chicken, with snaking queues forming at KFC outlets everywhere. The main highlight, however, is New Year’s Day, which is one of the most important holidays in Japan.

Crowds are common at this time, and some shops and stores may close for a short period. Temperatures start to drop towards freezing, heralding the start of winter, with possible snowing in the northern regions. 


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the hottest month in Japan?

August is the hottest month in Japan, with temperatures reaching 30 deg C or more. Humidity is also at its peak, making for quite uncomfortable conditions.

When is Japan at its most beautiful?

Japan is widely considered to be a beautiful country all year round, blessed with abundant natural beauty, lovingly preserved ancient architecture, and some of the iconic modern landmarks in the world. 

Generally, spring and autumn are popular for vibrant flowers and stunning colourful displays, while summer offers verdant, lush landscapes to enjoy. During winter, snow-covered countryside scenes can convey an austere beauty. 

When are the school holidays in Japan?

Japan has three major school holiday periods. Summer holidays last the longest, around 4 days, from mid-July to August. There are also winter and spring vacations lasting 10 days each, from late December to early January and late March to early April, respectively.

Read more:
Japan Travel Guide 2024: 13 Things to Note About Japan
Japan Travel Package Tours 2024: Itineraries, Where to Book, Prices
13 Best Experiences that You Have to Do in Japan
Best Travel Insurance For Japan - Singapore

Tags Japan

An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.

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