Image: Dang Son, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ok, time for us to ‘fess up: This is a bit of a trick question, as - depending on your preferences - there’s definitely an argument to be made for each of the four seasons to be crowned the best time to visit Japan. And - as your trusty, go-to trip planning platform - we’ve obviously got your back. So, sit back, slip off your shoes and get comfy as we do what we do best and get you living your best travel life!

Winter

When? December to mid-March

As a relatively small and slender country, Japan manages to wear several different hats at once. If you love winter for its sporting opportunities, for example (or even just a stroll through an icy-cool winter wonderland, complete with twinkling lights), you’ll find everything you need in the north for a fabulously snow-filled vacation, whereas if you’re open to a winter break but not crazy about the cold, you may enjoy *slightly* milder temperatures in the major cities, such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, giving you that quintessential crisp winter’s day. For balmier vibes, you can always head to the southern subtropics, which will give you average temperatures of 18-20°C.

No matter where you are in the country, however - nor how cold it gets - you’re sure to be joined by blue skies and sunshine. In fact, winter can be the perfect time for enjoying snow-dusted villages, natural hot springs (onsen), snow monkeys, seafood and the perfect wintery landscapes. Now would also be a great time to view Mount Fuji, as the skies are statistically clearest at this time of year.

Ski resorts aside (and Japan is a worthy contender for some of the best in the world!), another plus to booking a winter vacation in Japan is that it’s off-peak, meaning crowds will be far smaller and prices cheaper! However, an important point to note is that although tourists may be fewer, you’re likely to come across a considerable number of locals over Christmas/New Year’s, thanks to the extended winter break they enjoy. This means that some accommodation may be at high occupancy, so it’s best to book well in advance. Some places, such as restaurants, museums and shops, may also be closed during this time as well.

Winter is - by far - the cheapest season to visit Japan - perfect for frugal travelers!

Spring

When? mid-March - May

It’s difficult to argue against spring being one of the best times to visit Japan - it’s certainly the most popular, anyway! Filled with cherry blossom and bright red leaves, it’s definitely at its most vibrant roundabout now, and thanks to the temperatures warming up (although still somewhat unpredictable!), it’s also easy and comfortable to be outdoors. As somewhat of a double-edged sword, however, you should also expect it to be very busy because of all this, so if big crowds don’t faze you, read on!

Some more on the iconic sakura cherry blossoms - arguably one of the most iconic (and romantic!) things to experience in Japan. Not only do they bloom at different times throughout the country, but they also only do so for about one week per location, so if you want to enjoy them throughout the entirety of your vacation, we recommend starting in the south of the country and working your way to the north. However, Mother Nature - as we all know - can be unpredictable, so don’t make this the sole purpose of your trip or you could leave disappointed!

Spring also brings with it Golden Week - a series of four national holidays that all fall within the week of April 29 - May 5. As such, you should expect a jovial atmosphere and off-work locals getting stuck into all the celebrations. Again - like during Christmas - if you like the sound of visiting at this time, make sure you book train tickets and accommodation well in advance, as this is the busiest travel time for residents. If not? You probably won’t be missing all that much if you book your spring break before or after! (In fact, common advice is to avoid Golden Week altogether!)

In short, if enjoying incredible hikes and taking sensational photos is high on your agenda, you won’t find a better time than now to visit.

Summer

When? June - mid-September

It’s all too common to hear ‘summer’ and assume this season is the best for a vacation, but in Japan, this is exactly when it tends to rain (at least the early part of summer, anyway!). In fact, London may get the worst rep when it comes to wet days, but Tokyo actually has more than double the amount of rainfall each year! What’s more, it can also get pretty sticky with heat and humidity.

And that’s not all; late summer in Japan is typhoon season, too! So far, so … unpromising. However, it’s not all doom and gloom at this time of year. With summer comes an array of colorful festivals (matsuris), lively celebrations, epic parades and out-of-this-world firework displays. It’s also a great time for outdoor activities, such as mountain hiking (this is the official season to climb Mount Fuji, for example), biking, chilling on the beautiful coastal areas and scuba diving, when the weather allows for it (and it will allow for it - the rain and typhoons are not constant!).

Again - like with winter - you can pretty much choose your climate depending on what area of the country you go to. Ok with the heat? Central Japan will probably be fine for you. After some cooler conditions? The mountainous areas should prove significantly more comfortable! It really depends what kind of vacation you’ve got in mind.

Fall

When? mid-September - November

The weather starts to clear up by October, paving the way for some of the most beautiful fall foliage around, which typically tends to peak towards the end of November.

One of the best things to do at this time of year is the Nakasendo trail, which consists of walking through the ancient postal towns, cycling along the breathtaking Kamon river and kayaking down the tranquil bay at Ise Shima. Book your 12-day tour here

This is also another great time to see Mount Fuji, thanks to an explosion of vibrant color and crisp and comfortable temperatures.

Considering this is such a magical season to visit Japan, you might also be surprised at how relatively quiet it is (especially compared to cherry blossom season!), which is another plus!

Some other highlights include chrysanthemum shows, several fall festivals and maple-viewing spots (complete with a deep-fried maple leaf which you absolutely must taste!).


So, when will you book your trip to Japan for? Let us know!