Japan is a country blending the traditional with the modern. Made up of four main islands and thousands of smaller ones, two thirds of Japan is mountainous, creating huge weather variations from island to island.
It has four main seasons, each with its own unique beauty, so a trip to Japan will provide something for everyone, whatever time of year you choose to go.
Spring (March to May) produces stunning blossoms on the cherry trees (sakura) turning the country a beautiful pink, attracting thousands of visitors every year to sit beneath them and picnic.
Autumn (September to November) brings the stunning colours of the fading leaves, perfect for a trekking trip or a train journey.
Winter (December to February) is fabulous for skiing with more than 500 ski resorts to choose from.
Summer (June to September) provides opportunities to climb in the Japanese Alps or to conquer Mount Fuji, or simply head to the coast.
The goodtrip team takes a look at when to travel to Japan, whatever it is you want to do in the Land of the Rising Sun there will be a season that is perfect for it!
So, when is the best time to visit Japan?
As a general rule if you want to travel when the climate is milder, the spring and autumn are best and though this is when visitor numbers are highest, it is also when the temperatures are cooler. Walking around the cities, visiting the beautiful Japanese gardens, amazing Buddhist temples and imperial palaces will be much more comfortable at this time of year. So don't forget to pack a comfy pair of trainers for when you are out exploring! You are also more likely to avoid a monsoon drenching during these periods.
If you want to ski, however, then Winter is the best time to head north to Japan’s world class ski slopes. If you are looking for a relaxing beach holiday or a strenuous trekking trip then heading to the Japanese Alps or the coast in Summer is an option.
Summer is June to August - Monsoon Season
The Summer period can be a less expensive time to visit Japan and although it can be extremely hot, humid and wet, with temperatures in the mid-20s °C to high 30s °C there are still plenty of reasons to visit.
Head to the coast, Japan has beautiful beaches everywhere, with soft white sands and sea of emerald green and a cooling breezes from the sea. Mid August has the ‘O Bon’, the festival honouring the spirits of ancestors, while June and July are popular times for trekking tourists. Escaping to the mountains is a great way to avoid the heat of summer - the higher destinations are cooler and there is less snow to navigate on the high tops. Mountt Fuji is hugely popular during summer with thousands of hikers attempting to conquer the summit - mid-July to mid-September is Mt Fuji’s main climbing season. If you are fancying tackling the tallest mountain in Japan then don't forget a bag, supplies and a decent water bottle! July is also a popular time for fireworks and traditional festivals.
Winter is December to February – Cold Season
Winters are cold and snow is common in the mountainous areas. Across central Japan, winter temperatures are around 5°C but will fall below zero in the far north and in the mountains. Winter, however, is mainly dry with clear blue skies and sun providing perfect conditions for a fabulous ski trip. The popular ski resorts are where prices are likely to be high and accommodation expensive but there are over 500 to choose from so a deal can definitely be found. What better way to remember your ski trip by with a goodtrip clothing customised ski resort t-shirt.
If you are travelling on a budget then visiting cities during winter will be when accommodation and flights will be at their cheapest. Be aware that many Japanese companies close over New Year so travelling at Christmas will be expensive and busy with local tourists and Japanese families.
Spring is March to May – High Season
Spring is a popular time to visit so it will be more expensive. Temperatures range from 4 to 18 °C making it cool and pleasant, but many tourists are attracted by the two week period when the cherry blossom arrives. Predicting when the blossom appears is not an exact science, but in general the flowers appear between late March and early April so this period can be busy with accommodation costing more, though you can still find a good deal if you look hard enough.
Golden week is in May, this is when all Japanese workers are given a week off. It is the most expensive time to travel so finding accommodation at this time may be difficult.
Autumn is September to November – High Season
Late September is when the colours of autumn begin to arrive, starting in the north of Japan and moving slowly south and for many travellers autumn is the best time to go. Average temperatures stay in the mid to high 20s °C in September and October is mainly dry and warm; even November is dry though a bit cooler.
Forests cover nearly 70% of Japan making it a stunning time to visit with foliage forecasts helping you plan where to go next. Lots of people are lured to the forests and walking trails during autumn making the most of the vivid and vibrant colours with late November being the most scenic time.
Whichever time you choose to visit Japan you will be guaranteed a memorable experience that will stay with you forever.
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