One of the first things that come to mindwhen planning a trip to Japan is: When is the best time to travel there? Stretching over 3000 kilometers from northto south, the islands of Japan span multiple climate zones and offer beautiful naturalsights across the country throughout the year: from floating ice in the seas off Hokkaidoup north, to jungles in the southern islands of Okinawa, and a wide range in between.
With beautiful cherry blossoms each spring, fireworks during the heat of summer, fall foliage in autumn and snow festivals duringwinter, Japan loves celebrating each of its four distinct seasons, not to mention theplethora of festivals that take place year-round.
With so much worthwhile to experience acrossthe calendar, here is a general month-by-month overview to help you decide “When to travelto Japan”.
January January is generally a pleasant month to visitJapan thanks to sunny, dry weather along the Pacific coast and lots of powder snow alongthe Sea of Japan coast.
However, days are short and vegetation isbarren.
The most prominent holiday in January is NewYear, when many people make the year’s first visit to a shrine or temple.
Two inconveniences with the New Year holidayare that many shops, restaurants and tourist attractions close for one or a few days, andthat there is a big increase in traffic, which can be frustrating.
However, the rest of the month comes withrelatively small crowds or tourists.
February Temperatures and weather conditions in Februaryare very similar to those in January, and travel activity remains relatively low throughoutthe month, making it quite a pleasant month to visit the country.
This month also marks the peak of the wintersportseason, offering large volumes of high-quality powder snow in the mountains along the Seaof Japan coast and in northern Japan.
The season starts in the higher mountainsin November and lasts in many resorts until early May.
However, the best conditions for skiing arefound from January to early March.
Aside from winter sports, February also bringsabout many majestic winter scenes in places such as the Shirakawago farm houses, snowmonsters in Zao, the drift ice off Hokkaido of course the internationally famous SnowFestival in Sapporo which is held for one week each year in Hokkaido’s capital city.
March In March the areas in the north are stillcold, but we see the first signs of spring in the southern half of the country, withplum blossoms offering nice natural spectacles.
By the end of the month, the renowned cherryblossom season usually has started in warmer parts of the main islands, such as southernShikoku and Kyushu.
One inconvenience is that domestic traveltends to increase in the second half of the month, mostly due to spring school holidays.
April April is one of the best months to travelin Japan.
Temperatures are comfortable throughout thecountry, it is relatively sunny and it is the peak of the famous cherry blossoms.
In the average year the blossoms move fromthe south to the north during the entire month.
There cherry blossoms come with an increasein domestic travel, and some popular sightseeing spots get flooded with crowds of domesticand foreign tourists.
May May is another favorite month to travel inJapan.
Temperatures hover around 20 degrees throughoutmost of Honshu and vegetation has started to develop as well.
One of Japan’s most popular holidays, knownas Golden Week, takes place from late April to early May.
It is a collection of four national holidaysduring a week, which causes a very high increase in domestic travellers.
If you are travelling during Golden Week, we recommend booking your accommodations and making train reservations well in advanceto ensure yourself of a stress-free trip.
The rest of the month though is one of thebest to travel, with lush vegetation and nice temperatures in most parts of the country.
June The weather in June gets heavily affectedby the rainy season.
Temperatures continue to increase but thepercentage of sunny days starts to decrease as many days are either cloudy or rainy.
Hokkaido up north gets less affected by therainy season and other places such as Hakone or Mount Koya can be very atmospheric andscenic to visit on a rainy day.
The rainy season in Okinawa down south usuallylasts from early May to late June July Once the rainy season ends around mid July, weather conditions are very hot and humid.
The humidity level is so high it can makeyou sweat even by just standing outside.
If you are looking to escape the heat, Hokkaidois again a very nice destination to enjoy some cooler temperatures and a drier atmosphere.
July to September is the best time for beachholidays in Okinawa.
July also marks the opening of the Mt Fujiclimbing season, which lasts until the beginning of September.
August August is the hottest and most humid monthwhich can make sightseeing very tiring.
On the other hand, a great thing about summerin Japan is its high number of festivals and fireworks.
They usually attract large crowds of peoplewearing traditional yukata and make for a great opportunity to mingle with the locals.
It is important to note that due to the schoolholidays from late July to end of August, there is a considerable increase in domestictravel activity.
It gets especially intense in mid August duringthe week of Obon, a nationwide annual Buddhist event when people visit their home town tocommemorate their ancestors.
September September sees a fair amount of rainy andcloudy days, while temperatures and humidity levels remain high.
Alongside August it is also the peak of thetyphoon season, with an average of around one per month hitting the main islands.
Typhoons cause heavy rain and strong windsin wide parts or in all of Japan for one or two days.
A positive thing is that they are often followedby very sunny weather.
Popular sightseeing spots are less crowdedin September, as August crowds have mostly disappeared.
October Thanks to generally comfortable weather conditions, October is one of the most pleasant months to travel in Japan.
Autumn colors have started appearing in Japan’snorthern regions and higher elevations.
November With mild and pleasant weather conditionsthroughout the month, November is one of the best months to travel in Japan.
The autumn colors are at their peak in manyregions of the country, offering spectacular sceneries of vivid red orange and yellow colors.
Except around popular autumn leaf spots, thetravel activity is generally rather low.
December Winter is starting in December with temperaturesfalling to cooler levels and vegetation turning barren.
Generally dry and sunny weather conditionsalong the Pacific coast and low domestic travel activity make it a good month to visit Japan.
Throughout the season, illuminations of variousshapes and sizes are held in many cities.
Do keep in mind that in winter the sun onlyshines for around 10 hours each day and scenic landscapes may not look their best due tothe barren state of vegetation.
At the end of the month, travel activity sharplyincreases due to the New Year holidays.
Hopefully this video has given you some helpfulinsight into where to visit in Japan depending on the time of year.
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