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When is the Best Time to Visit Japan? Japan Weather and Climate

when is the best time to vosot japan

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When is the Best Time to Visit Japan?

Japan has 4 distinct seasons and visiting during each will give you a totally different experience.  You may have visited Japan, but have you visited Hokkaido in the Winter, or Okinawa in the Summer?  You may know what sorts of things you want to do in Japan; but, to make the most of your experience, you’ll want to read our guide to Japan’s four six seasons.

Japan Geography Overview

To understand Japan’s seasons, you first have to keep in mind the that Japan is spread over 3,000km (1,900 miles) north to south from Northern Hokkaido to the southern islands of Okinawa. 

This latitudinal range lends itself to a huge variability in local weather.  There are days in March where you can build snowmen in a freezing Hokkaido or soak up the sun on a warm beach in Okinawa.

Throw altitude into the mix (higher elevations have cooler temperatures) and you’ve got even more variability.  Roughly 70 percent  of Japan is mountains!

Japan Seasons and Weather at a Glance

Japan has 4 distinct seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.  Some jokingly say there are fifth and sixth seasons you should watch out for as a new traveler, and those are the Rainy and Typhoon Seasons!   It’s tough to define seasons with clear monthly distinctions because of the variability we discussed before, but here are some rough delineations.

  • Spring : March – May
    Feels very nice during the day, and is chilly at night. Mostly sunny days with a more showers near the end of May.
  • Summer : June – August
    Lots of rainy days and high humidity in June (Rainy season). Hot and humid.  Typhoon season falls towards the end of this season.  
  • Autumn : September – November
    The temperature starts cooling down and feel pretty comfortable throughout the day.
  • Winter : December – February
    Cold days with most northern Japan receiving heavy snow.

Japan’s summer is hot and humid, often unbearably so. Winters can get quite cold as well. When people write that Japan’s seasons are “distinct” they better mean “intensely different!” 

Spring is perhaps the most popular season for travel because the temperature is cool and comfortable. Many visit Japan to enjoy stunning displays of cherry blossoms (“Sakura“) across the country.

Autumn is the next most popular as the weather is similarly comfortable and there are spectacular views of autumn foliage (“Koyo“).  

Let’s go over what to expect during each season in greater detail.

Spring in Japan

Spring is famous for the cherry blossom “Sakura” season, and you may experience a wonderful “Hanami” (cherry blossom viewing) across Japan. There are several different kinds of cherry blossom trees in Japan and you may notice the difference in colors and shapes. Many people enjoy “Hanami” day and night, as city governments have installed lighting specifically for cherry blossoms. A well lit Sakura tree in the dark creates quite the romantic mood.

The weather in Spring can still be cold in some northern region. Mornings and evenings can also get a bit cool. But, overall Spring is considered the most comfortable and enjoyable time of the year.

Best things to do in the spring in Japan

  • “Hanami” (Cherry blossom viewing, picnic under the “Sakura” tree.)
  • Hiking, canyoning, rafting, camping, just about anything outdoors.

Summer in Japan

summer in japan

Summer in Japan can be exciting if you like festivals and don’t mind doing outdoor activities in hot and sticky weather. August is the hottest month of the year in Japan but many Japanese people travel in this month because schools are off and the Japanese holiday of “Obon” falls during this time. Summer is a good time to explore the more mountainous regions of Japan to escape from the heat.

Best things to do in the summer in Japan

  • Scuba Diving (recommended in Okinawa and southern islands of Japan)
  • Wear a Japanese summer kimono “Yukata” and go enjoy local summer festivals
  • Go hiking to Japanese alps or explore Hokkaido
  • Lay down on the beach
  • Eat Japanese style shaved ice “Kakigouri”


Japan's rainy season : Early summer

The majority of the country experiences a rainy season from June through mid-July. If you want to avoid frequent rainy days while you are traveling in Japan, it is important to consider to avoid these wet months.

However, please take a note that even during these months, you will have some sunny days and sometimes it rains before or after the sunny dry day so make sure to prepare for your umbrella.

Japan's Typhoon season : Late summer

Japan also has typhoon season from late May through October, with majority of the typhoon occurring in August and September. If you’re from another region of the world think “tropical cyclone” or “hurricane”. 

A typhoon’s approach will be well publicized on TV news and citizens are always extra careful to prepare. Often, heavy and high winds  to cause cancellations of local transportation system (flights, trains, buses, ferry boats, and so on).  

It is quite challenging to predict typhoons. If you are planning to visit Japan during the summer months, stay tuned on local news for up to date typhoon information.  NHK provides news in English. 

Autumn in Japan

winter in japan

Autumn season starts with a peak of typhoon season and it is still hot and humid in September. However the temperatures start to drop and going outside gets more comfortable around October. Which makes this time of the year one of the most pleasant and popular travel seasons in Japan. November gets cool, crisp and beautiful Autumn foliage peaks near the end of the month.

Best things to do in the autumn in Japan

  • Pack the camera and photograph the fall foliage
  • Hike and walk along the fall colored trails
  • Visit temples (like Kiyomizu Dera in Kyoto)

Winter in Japan

winter in japan

During the winter months, northern part of Japan becomes very cold and gets lot of snow. Place like Hokkaido and mountain regions are usually snowy most of the winter season, while major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka tend to enjoy mild cold temperature with rare chance of snow.

If you don’t mind cold, winter is another exciting time of the year to enjoy some of Japanese unique experience such as “Onsen“(hot spring). Onsens are usually available in Japanese-style hotel (“Ryokan“) and you can find them with both inside and outside settings “Rotenburo“.  Warming your body in an outdoor onsen while snow forms a small mound on your head is an amazing experience. If you are planning to travel during the winter holidays (Christmas and New Years), make sure to book far in advance as popular hotels and ryokans will be sold out quickly.

Best things to do in the winter in Japan

  • “Onsen” (Natural Hot Springs)
  • Skiing and Snowboarding 
  • Seeing scenic landscape and villages dusted in snow
  • New Year’s Celebrations in Japan
  • Go to Sapporo Snow Festival (February)
  • Enjoy Japanese soul food such as “Nabe” (hot pot) and “Ramen

Japan's National Holidays and Peak Seasons

When deciding the best time to visit Japan, after comparing above 4 seasonal pros and cons, one more thing you would ask yourself is “Will my travel dates be popular and crowded?”.

Below listed Japan’s National holidays are the time when most people take days off and plan vacations including the consecutive weekends. As many Japanese people try to take advantage of some of the long vacations such as “Golden Week” and “Obon” , these days are usually ended up one of the most crowded time of the year around many tourism spots across Japan.

Domestic air fare and hotel room rates are usually more pricy and hard to book during these holidays. So keep in mind to book far in advance if you are planning to visit during these holidays.


Jan 01    New Year’s Day
Jan 09    Coming of Age Day
Feb 11    National Foundation Day
Feb 23    The Emperor’s Birthday
Mar 21    Spring Equinox Day
Apr 29    Showa Day  
May 03   Constitution Memorial Day
May 04   Greenery Day
May 05   Children’s Day
*** Part of Golden Week ***

Jul 17      Marine Day
Aug 11   Mountain Day
Aug 13   Obon
Aug 14   Obon
Aug 15   Obon
*** Not A Public Holiday ***

Sep 18    Respect for the Aged Day
Sep 23    Autumnal Equinox Day
Oct 09    Sports Day
Nov 03   Culture Day
Nov 23   Labour Thanksgiving Day


Jan 01    New Year’s Day
Jan 08    Coming of Age Day
Feb 11    National Foundation Day
                (Observed on Feb 12)
Feb 23    The Emperor’s Birthday
Mar 20    Spring Equinox Day
Apr 29    Showa Day  
May 03   Constitution Memorial Day
May 04   Greenery Day
May 05   Children’s Day
                 (Observed on May 06)
*** Part of Golden Week ***

Jul 15      Marine Day
Aug 11   Mountain Day
               (Observed on Aug 12)
Aug 13   Obon
Aug 14   Obon
Aug 15   Obon
*** Not A Public Holiday ***

Sep 16    Respect for the Aged Day
Sep 22    Autumnal Equinox Day
                (Observed on Sep 23)
Oct 14    Sports Day
Nov 03   Culture Day
                (Observed on Nov 04)
Nov 23   Labour Thanksgiving Day

What season would you choose to visit Japan?

Each season has its pros and cons. Consider the weather, crowd level, and what unique experiences each season offers.

For comfort, our recommendation is to visit in Spring and Fall. For “the grams” (best for photography) we recommend visiting when cherry blossoms are at their peak (late March- early April) or during the peak of the Autumn foliage (November).  These really are must sees for those visiting Japan for the first time. 

If you want to visit many cities/regions of Japan all at once during your stay in Japan, consider two things:  1) the weather can be very different on either end of your train ride; and 2) the Japan Rail Pass  is the most economical and convenient way to travel around Japan.  

Japan rail passes come in two types:  Green cars (like first class) and Standard cars.  Either can be purchased for 7 days, 14 days, 21 days and are only available to tourists!