The good news for anyone planning a trip to Japan is that there is really no single “best” time to visit this awesome country, which can make it hard to choose when to visit, since each individual season has its own highlights. Japan is a four-season country, and is an awesome destination to visit no matter what time of year you are there. So this should help you choose what time of year is best for you.
Main Features of Japan’s Climate
- January: cool dry and sunny with heavy snow
- February: cool, dry and sunny, peak of ski season
- March: milder and warming up, start of spring
- April: warmer, dry and sunny, peak of cherry blossom
- May: warm and dry, start of rainy season
- June: hot and humid, plenty of rain
- July: cool but humid, high end of rainy season
- August: hot and humid, with some cooler regions
- September: clear and hot, with some humidity
- October: cooler and drier, start of autumn
- November: cool and mild, peak of autumn
- December: cool to chilly and dry, start of winter
The Best Time to Visit Japan is from March to May and September to November
Spring in Japan is mild and cool, getting warmer from March to the end of May. The best time for sakura blossoms is usually the end of March through April, and the weather up to the end of May is not too hot.
Autumn is the other peak period, from mid-September to November, when leaves get colorful and start falling. Temperatures are milder summer, and get cooler as you head towards the end of November, the best month for seeing the fall foliage across Japan.
Since most popular destinations are in the main island of Japan (Honshu), it is better to provide some details on the weather of major tourists cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, etc. in each month.
Visiting Japan in January
With temperatures in Tokyo ranging from 2°C to 10°C, January in Japan is a pleasant time to visit. Most of the country is dry and sunny, though obviously chilly, with heavy snowfalls only happening in the far northern regions. The tourist attractions are less crowded too, though the short days can be a downside, as can the barren winterized parks and countryside.
Visiting Japan in February
February sees almost no change in temperatures in and around Tokyo, Nagoya, or Osaka, and the days remain pleasant, bright and sunny, and crowds are almost non-existent. However, it is the best time for winter sports, though, as it is the peak of winter.
Enjoy winter sports such as ski and snowboarding in Japan.
Visiting Japan in March
March is the beginning of spring, and sees temperatures rising a little in Tokyo and the surrounding cities, jumping to a balmy 13°C to 14°C during the day. The weather is milder, though there is a higher chance of snow showers in some areas. And as the month progresses, the sakura blossoms begin to come out, and the first main tourist season begins with their arrival.
Visiting Japan in April
The main season for the sakura blossoms, April is considerably warmer all around, with temperatures rising to a pleasant 18°C to 20°C in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. This is the busiest month of the peak season in spring, as majority of the tourism is centered on the amazing cherry blossoms, and the month also incorporates the school holidays in the early part and the start of Golden Week in the latter.
Visiting Japan in May
By May, the tail end of the spring and start of summer, temperatures are starting to really warm up, ranging from 23°C to 24°C during the day. The start of the month incorporates the latter part of Golden Week, one of the nation’s busiest travel seasons, though the remainder of May is one of the best times to visit Japan. Vegetation is lush and green, temperatures are more comfortable, and the tourist destinations are less crowded once more.
Visiting Japan in June
While the rainy season runs from early June across most of the country, the month also sees a sharp increase in temperatures, with daytime temperatures around Osaka, Nagoya, and Tokyo ranging from 25°C and upwards. Hokkaido is a popular destination in June, as it is least affected by the rains, and the Onsen are popular in the rainy season, where the skies can be dreary and overcast, even when it’s not raining.
Visiting Japan in July
July is one of the hottest months, with the daytime ranges reaching from 25°C to as high as 31°C around the major central cities of Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. There is also less rain as July progresses, and the lower elevations become hot and humid, making mountain destinations like Hokkaido even more popular. July is also the month when Mt. Fuji opens for climbing, for those that want to reach the top of an active volcano safely. Mid-July is also the start of the school holidays, so local travel increases.
Visiting Japan in August
August sees the same rough temperature ranges as July, with even less chance of rain. August is also popular for local travel to beaches, though the higher elevations are often more comfortable this month. Hot and humid, many head for higher elevations and cooler climes in the north. But this is the best time for festivals, and the famous Obon Buddhist festival week occurs in mid-August.
Women dance to music during the Obon Buddhist festival.
Visiting Japan in September
September is the peak typhoon season in Japan, and the lowest tourist period of all, with temperatures of around 25°C to 29°C, humid weather, and strong wind and rains for several days when typhoons hit the coasts of Okinawa, Kyushu and Shikoku. However, when there are no typhoons, the weather is pleasant, if hot and humid, and tourist destinations, where open, are almost completely without crowds.
Visiting Japan in October
October is the beginning of the second peak season for tourism in Japan, with lower temperatures and milder weather. Ranging from 22°C to 24°C around Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, the weather remains warmer and drier, and later in the month, trees start to show the fall color changes, and the crowds begin to line up once more.
Visiting Japan in November
Probably one of the best months to visit central Honshu’s main cities of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, November has milder temperatures, from 17°C to 18°C, with bright clear skies and plenty of sunshine. The autumn colors are spectacular, and with the exception of the most popular “autumn leaf” spots, travel activity tends to be relatively low.
Visiting Japan in December
December is known as a good month for Japan tour due to the dry weather and lower temperatures, with sunny days and temperatures of around 12°C to 13°C in the major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka. However, as the schools break up for the winter holidays in late December, things do begin to get busier, while days get shorter. December 29 is the closing time for some attractions, but December does also see the beginning of Japan’s famous ski season.
Overall, the best times to visit are from March to May and October to December, though there are actually some better times for budget travelers outside these periods, if you are open to less comfortable weather. It’s best to avoid periods of high local travel, such as Golden Week and school holidays, but Japan is definitely a country you can visit all year round.