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The Best Time For Visiting Japan

A complete guide to travelling Japan in any season

Kyoto Temple Sakura
Image Copyright: @Ollie_Ronin



Japan is known for having some of the most expressive seasons in the world. The spring is full of the famous cherry blossoms, which have been meticulously planted for hundreds of years to bring all the shrines, streets, and beautiful temples alive each year. The summer begins with peaceful fireflies, includes warm tropical rain, and a landscape full of vibrant green mountains. The autumn is famous for its maple leaves and fall foliage, decorating the many temples and hiking trails. And the winter? It receives some of the highest amounts of powder snow in the world, creating a paradise for winter sports. Although, sometimes this weather can be a little extreme, so it can be a challenge to determine the best time to visit Japan. So...

When is the best time to visit Japan?

What's the best time for the cherry blossoms?

What's the best time for the autumn leaves?

In this article, we’ll answer some of the most common questions for planning your next trip.

The Cheapest and Quietest Time to Visit Japan

Kyoto Japan Cherry Blossoms Sakura
A rare snowy day at Kiyomizudera in Kyoto. Image Copyright: @Ollie_Ronin

Excluding the popular ski resorts, the cheapest and quietest time to visit Japan is during the winter months of January and February. This period is considered the low season, and less tourism means lower prices for accommodation and flights, and a more peaceful experience for sightseeing and attractions.

However, there are a few caveats:

  • As with most destinations, the holiday periods such as New Year’s Eve and Christmas are generally more expensive.

  • NYE in Japan is mostly a family occasion so don't expect a lot of wild parties, and most businesses will be closed for a few days in the first week of January.

  • These months are naturally the busiest time for ski and snowboard destinations such as Hakuba and Niseko. So if you're planning on skiing, accommodation will be more expensive in these locations.

But for the main attractions in Japan such as Tokyo and Kyoto, January and February are the cheapest time to visit. Your flights and accommodation can even be half the price compared to peak holiday periods.

The Busiest Time for Visiting Japan

Kyoto Japan Cherry Blossoms Sakura
Pontocho Alley, usually bustling with people, is quiet during off-peak periods. Image Copyright: @Ollie_Ronin

The busiest time for visiting Japan naturally coincides with the two most beautiful seasonal events: the cherry blossoms and the autumn leaves. The peak season for the cherry blossoms is from late March to early April. For the autumn leaves, the peak season runs from mid-November to early December. Japan's temples and shrines have spent hundreds of years designing their gardens around these two events. This attracts a large number of people from all over the world who come to witness the stunning architecture built among the cherry blossoms and maple leaves.

Although most people believe it's worth the cost, the tourism during this time can make travelling in Japan quite challenging, the popular attractions get very crowded and most accommodation options are usually booked out.

The Best Time To Visit For The Cherry Blossoms

The philosopher's path in Kyoto with sakura
The philosopher's path in Kyoto. Image Copyright: @Ollie_Ronin

The best time to visit Japan for the cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese) is from late March to early April, depending on the location. During this time, the cherry trees bloom and create a stunning display of pink and white flowers. It’s the most popular time to visit Japan, with many parks and temples hosting special events to celebrate the season.

While you can see them blooming for approximately 2 weeks, the complete full bloom period only lasts a few days, and many photographers will tell you, this is a unique experience. However, most people don't mind so much about getting the timing perfect, and the actual dates for full bloom can fluctuate a lot depending on the weather.

If you want to experience the best cherry blossoms in Japan, then your main focus should be on Kyoto. Although the entire country experiences cherry blossoms, there is nowhere else that celebrates them quite like the ancient capital. They've spent hundreds and hundreds of years designing their streets, temples, and shrines for the cherry blossoms. It's truly a different experience.

The cherry blossoms will bloom based on temperature, so if you come early you can find them blooming down in southern Japan on the island of Kyushu, and if you're a bit late then you can head to higher elevations or towards the northern area of Japan. Japan provides a daily forecast for the cherry blossoms so you can track the peak blooming period during your trip, although the forecast isn't accurate until about the 15th of March.

The Best Time to Visit for Autumn Leaves

One of Kyoto's temples during autumn. Image Copyright: @Ollie_Ronin

The best time to visit Japan for the autumn leaves (Koyo in Japanese) is from mid-November to early December, depending on the location. During this time, the trees change color and create a stunning display of red, yellow, and orange. The koyo season is more forgiving than the cherry blossoms, you get about a full month of beautiful colours so it doesn't matter if you're a bit early or a bit late.

Much like the cherry blossoms, the autumn leaves change based on temperature. In fact, the mountains of Japan are famous for their stunning autumn colours. Thousands of people flock to the Japanese Alps, especially Kamikochi, to witness the mountains changing colour. Autumn in the Alps usually reaches its peak in the first two weeks of October.

The Best Time to Visit Tokyo

the best time to visit Japan
Tokyo. Image: Marc Veraart

Both Tokyo and Kyoto are popular destinations in Japan, and each has its own unique attractions and events. Tokyo is less dependent on the expressive seasons because the main attractions are a unique part of the city and less focused on nature, so the best time to visit is when the weather is comfortable. Winter, Spring, and Autumn, from September to May are the best times for visiting Tokyo, this is when the weather is mild and there are many outdoor events and festivals. The summer months can be very hot and humid, with a lot of warm rainy days.

The Best Time to Visit Kyoto

The philosopher's path in Kyoto with sakura
A summer sunset on the river in Kyoto. Image Copyright: @Ollie_Ronin

In Kyoto, the best time to visit is either during spring for the cherry blossoms, or during autumn when the leaves are changing color. Both seasons offer a stunning array of natural beauty, cultural events, and comfortable temperatures, making them popular times to visit. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, then winter is the quietest time for Kyoto, and if you're lucky you might even get some snow.

The Rainiest, Hottest, and Snowiest Months in Japan


The hottest month in Japan is usually August, with temperatures reaching as high as 35°C in most parts of the country. Visiting Hokkaido is a popular option during summer, as the temperatures are about 6 degrees lower than the rest of the country.

The rainiest month in Japan is typically June, which is also the start of the typhoon season. It's also worth noting that summers in Japan usually have a lot of rain even outside of June.

The snowiest month is typically January, this is also the coldest month in Japan and the best option for skiing or visiting temples with much less people.

The Best Time For Hiking in Japan

Hiking in Japan, the best time to visit Japan
Hiking in Japan. Image Copyright: @Ollie_Ronin

Early autumn, specifically mid-September to early October is usually considered the best time for hiking in Japan. During this time the high-elevation mountains and the Japan Alps come alive with vibrant colours, along with mild temperatures and less rain than the summer months.

If you prefer to hike with lush green foliage and comfortable temperatures for camping, then summer - July and August - are the best options. Although during this time it's best to focus on mountains that exceed 1500m in order to avoid the 35-degree temps that can occur in August. Or you can simply head to Hokkaido where you'll always avoid any uncomfortable heatwaves.


The best time to visit Japan depends on a variety of factors, including your personal preference, itinerary, and the specific activities you want to experience. Japan is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, making it an amazing destination for travellers at any time of year. Whether you’re interested in experiencing the exciting city life of Tokyo, exploring ancient temples and shrines in Kyoto, or hiking in the stunning Japanese Alps, every season in Japan offers something unique. In fact, some travellers visit more than once just to experience both the autumn leaves and the cherry blossoms.

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