When to travel to Japan (weather, etc.)

  • Summer is fun but very muggy. Check on how hot and humid places can get and think about your personal level of comfort. Generally, head north.
  • Just to tool around Japan, I like autumn best. Crisp warm days, stunning colours of autumn leaves (moving north), no big travel-heavy holidays.
  • Try to avoid the rainy season (tsuyu) for convenient sightseeing. For the middle part of Honshu (the main island) it’s mostly between June and July.
  • There’s also typhoon season, which can run through September in Tokyo. How serious it gets depends on where exactly you are. Different regions experience it much more lightly/seriously, depending on geography.
  • Spring is great. Unless you have pollen allergies. It can also be the most expensive time to travel, especially around Golden Week (early May).
  • Surprisingly, some smaller spots can have the most lovely cherry blossom experiences, e.g. Shinjuku’s park right in Tokyo. Some of the hanami meccas in the country, the top-rated places,​ I find ​not​ really ​worth traveling to see.
  • That said, cherry blossom season can be fleeting. It seems risky to plan a trip to catch it, given climate variations. But if you have flexibility to plan your in-country travel, you could make it work. Plan your trip with buffer time around the most likely peak dates.
  • Do consider winter.​ Amazing snow for skiing and lots of crazy stuff like ice sculpture competitions. And there’s nothing more relaxing & therapeutic than sitting in an outdoors hot spring bath with snow falling on you! Also, skiing+hot springs = common & amazing combination, whether at lovely rustic resorts or adventurous backcountry getaways.
  • But right around New Year’s, the entire country shuts down, including tourist places. New Year’s is a big deal.
  • For those familiar with the East Coast USA: Tokyo is like Washington DC, seasons/climate-wise. Going north/south is similar to Maine to Florida. Seasons change mostly the same way, including hot summers, hurricanes/typhoons, and freezing winters.

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