Best Time to Visit Japan
Japan’s distinct and changing seasons drive food, customs, celebrations, and the rhythms of daily life. The information below will help you know what to expect and pack, or help you think about when you want to make that next trip. We think it will help you select the best time to visit Japan.
The Five Distinct Seasons in Japan
Winter (mid-December – early March)
The winter in Japan’s Kyushu, Honshu and Shikoku islands is typically moderately cold, with mountains on the east receiving large amounts of fresh snow. Every 5 years or so the cities of Osaka and Tokyo may be blanketed with a week’s worth of snow. In the southern and western parts of Japan it is typically dry and often sunny, with temperatures ranging from 32 to 59 degrees (note that all temperatures are shown as Fahrenheit). In northern Japan and in the mountains winters are just that, with snow and the cold weather typically lasting until the end of April. The quality of the snowfall in the Nagano area, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, and the north island of Hokkaido, is consistently among the best in the world – dry, light, powdery and in mass quantities.
Spring (March to early June)
In the spring, southern and western Japan can be quite warm and sunny, from 59 to 77 degrees. Northern Japan ranges from 50 to 68 degrees. Snow remains on the hills into April or May in northern areas. And like Spring in much of the U.S., weather can range significantly from mild, to warm, to cold, on a daily basis. This is the most popular time to visit as the cherry blossoms emerge, temperatures warm, and humidity is low.
Rainy Season (mid-June to mid-July)
Basically, think Seattle or Belgium in the spring or early summer. The temperatures are usually quite pleasant, and the rain often drizzly rather than heavy, but there can be a few stretches of days without seeing much of the sun. The rainy season in Japan spreads slowly from the south, and reaches north of Tokyo, but doesn’t usually affect Tohoku or Hokkaido. Temperatures range from 68 to 86 F in the south-west and 59 to 77 F in the north. Although rain can be very prevalent, there is little wind, and popular sites can be a lot quieter. In our view this is a great time to see gardens, art and museums. In this season, Japan and its shrines, temples and hallowed grounds glisten and gain an even more atmospheric quality.
Summer (mid-July to late September)
Hot fun in the summertime! Think the East Coast or the South of the United States and you’ve got a feel for how summer can be in Japan. Typically it is quite warm in July but not yet particularly humid. However, the humidity level tends to increase over the summer with August being particularly humid. Temperatures in most of Kyushu and Honshu range from 77 to 95 F. The north of Japan escapes the heat a little but still has high humidity.
Travelling to Japan in the summer is fine if you pack light, quick-drying clothes (not jeans!), a hat, and travel light. It’s a popular time for the Japanese to visit their home towns, and there are many festivals and fireworks displays. Often locals of both sexes wear summer Yukata, which is essentially a light robe but is very comfortable in the summer months. The men may also wear a Jimbe, which provides greater ease of movement and is essentially a very lightweight pair of shorts and a loose top that ties across your torso and again, provides nice airflow to keep you cool in the summer. We recommend trying both and they make great (and useful) souvenirs of your trip as well as good gifts.
Autumn (October to early-December)
Think pleasant thoughts as this is a great time to visit Japan from a weather (and food) perspective. Southern and western Japan are typically warm and sunny. Temperatures range from 68 to 77 F, with the possibility of typhoons (Pacific hurricanes) affecting southern Japan. Northern Japan is cooler, with temperatures from 59 to 77 F, but winter and much cooler temperatures start earlier, around November.
To contact us regarding your trip to Japan, just email us at Artisan@ArtisanPacificTravel.com.